23 Ways To Get On Yer Bike In New Zealand

19 May 2015

If you're looking for a way to gear up your next holiday, grab your Lycra and head east. Tourism New Zealand has officially launched the country's 23 Great Rides: more than 2,500 kilometres of trails twisting their way around New Zealand's wide open plains, national parks, mountains peaks and tranquil lakes.

Research conducted by Tourism New Zealand indicates around a quarter of all Aussies are intrigued by the notion of cycling the land of the long white cloud.

The remaining 75 per cent might be swayed when they see some of the landscapes they could be rolling through with the alpine air at their back.

The 23 Great Rides project, also known as Nga Haerenga or 'The Journeys', has been in development for some time, with the mostly off-road routes now ready to welcome keen peddlers. So, where can two wheels take you?

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Easy Does It: Otago Central Rail Trail

150 kilometres, 1–5 days, easiest

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 The original and still the best, the Otago Central Rail Trail (Image: hedgehoghouse.com)

New Zealand's original 'Great Ride' explores the beautiful Otago region on the South Island, following former gold rush rail lines. The entire trail takes in around 20 charming townships, meaning plenty of places to stop for a leg stretch and perhaps a pint.

You can begin your ride in either Middlemarch or Clyde before hitting the easy gravel trails. The landscapes change from rugged mountains to river gorges, through tunnels and over bridges. You can even grab a Rail Trail Passport and have it stamped along the way. Adorable!
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Packs A Punch: The Old Ghost Road

80 kilometres, 1–3 days, intermediate–advanced

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 Saddle up for the Old Ghost Road Cycle Trail (Image: Camilla Stoddart)

They call it The Old Ghost Road because of how you look after you finish it. Just kidding. This challenging trail involves some intense terrain and isn't for the faint of heart (or legs).

Starting in Westport, two hours from Nelson on the South Island, you'll discover wild and untamed lands interspersed with steep inclines. Old mine sites and ancient ruins are just some of the highlights along the way, as well as the lake from which the route takes its name (Ghost Lake).
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Take Your Time: Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

312 kilometres, 6 days, easy–intermediate

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 Cycle the Alps 2 Ocean trail around Lake Pukaki (Image: Miles Holden)

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is an easy and all-embracing ride. The longest continuous ride in New Zealand takes you from high (Aoraki Mount Cook) to low (the coastal town of Oamaru); from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean.

Along the way you'll spy glacier-fed lakes, snow-capped peaks, limestone cliffs and bone-dry grasslands as you travel through the distinct Otago and Canterbury regions. This is an epic ride that gives cyclists an unparalleled introduction to the South Island.

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnGKsvZ57LE&feature=youtu.be[/embed]
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Northern Highlight: Motu Trails

91 kilometres, 1–3 days, easy–advanced

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 See the North Island on the Motu Trails (Image: motutrails.co.nz)

This 'triple threat' of cycle trails links three shorter trails in one – perfect if you love diversity or don't feel up to the whole 91 kilometres. The Dunes Trail (22 kilometres), Motu Road Trail (67 kilometres) and Pakihi Track (21 kilometres one way) join forces to create the Motu Trails, kicking off in Opotiki about an hour and a half outside Rotorua.

From the beaches of the Bay of Plenty Coastline to the 100-year-old, advanced-level Pakihi Track sluicing its way through remote forest, the Motu Trails take in the best of the North Island.
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Southern Fancy: The Queenstown Trail

90 kilometres, 2–3 days, easy–advanced

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 Explore Queenstown by cycle (Image: Miles Holden)

On a fine day, you will see countless cyclists peddling around the Queenstown area. The aptly named Queenstown Trail embraces the best of Q'town and surrounds, from the charming gold rush town of Arrowtown to outlying Frankton, Gibbston and Lake Hayes.

You can DIY on the Queenstown Trail, choosing to stop off for a wine tasting, a food tour or even a bungy jump along the way. Follow the trail over the historic Shotover River, or the Kawarau Bungy Bridge if you're keen to take the leap.

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Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to New Zealand.

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Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg