New Zealand info

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Simon_m, 4 Mar 2019.

  1. Simon_m

    Simon_m Veteran

    Hey there, just got back from a holiday in NZ south island, and thought I would share some cycling info in case anyone is thinking about going. (our holiday wasn't a cycling holiday)

    So we flew into Queenstown and drove to Arrowtown

    The roads are mostly quiet and we are in peak summer season. Cars and heavy trucks about, but not busy like in the UK "A roads". Very few if any side roads, so there is only one road to the destination due to the mountainous terrain. A bit like places in the alps.

    Divers on the whole seem ok, we are in tourist areas though. I was put off cycling here by blogs and reports of bad driving and cyclists being hit by cars. Driving can be fast, 100km seems to the national speed limit and most drive slightly above this as, on a whole, it is quiet with not many police, good roads with clear visibility.

    Lots of trail cycling routes and companies hiring those types of bikes. We did a ride which was on a trail with some road use and it was fine.

    Roads are good quality, so much better than the ones at home which seem to be full of holes and a patchwork of different repairs. Some have a small strip for cyclists, but not all. A lot have rumble strips on the side and central road marking lines. On the drive up to Christchurch, there was a scenic route off the main road which we drove. This had more holes and was rougher, but again, not as bad as our roads.

    Seen a few hardy adventure cyclists during a very windy and heavy rain day. Scenery is breathtaking and worth it, it is VERY hilly and mountainous, wet & windy. 9meters of rain a year in places. Long distances between towns/food stops. Can drink from lakes and streams though. Wild camping is allowed unless signed otherwise, like fires too.

    We picked up hitchhikers along the way. People seem friendly. Terrain and features very similar to Colorado and Wyoming areas.

    North island looks more flatter, no mountains Fromm the plane.

    Saw 1 peloton of road bikes near Wanaka, must be local group.

    On drive to Christchurch saw lots of adventure cyclists. Gave them a wave

    In the city there were cycle lanes here and there, a lot of people just cycle on the pavement which seems to be allowed. Lots of crazy Lime scooters about. City not busy at all.

    So on the whole it looks like if you are out of the main cities, the roads are in good condition and relatively safe. There are probably a few redneck types who like to scare cyclists as they do here in the UK. I would say go for it, hard work with the weather and hills though
  2. OP

    Simon_m Veteran

    forgot to add this picture. probably more to add...

    Attached Files:

    FishFright likes this.
  3. OP

    Simon_m Veteran

    another pic i just found

    Attached Files:

    • bike.jpg
      File size:
      548.1 KB
  4. IaninSheffield

    IaninSheffield Regular

    Sheffield, UK
    Simon, thanks for this post. Am heading out to New Zealand next year for a bike tour. Traveling about the same time of year as you went (although North Island), mainly camping & poss. some hostels, 60ish miles a day.
    Firstly, I've also read some less than complimentary accounts of NZ drivers, so it was reassuring to hear the counter position from you. Appreciate you weren't on the bike so might not feel able to comment, but could I ask a coupla questions to help with my budgeting?
    • Did you get a sense of whether campgrounds (commercial, rather than DoC) are relatively easy to drop on and a typical nightly cost for expedition-sized tents?
    • Did you eat out much and if you don't mind saying, what were typical costs e.g. a coffee/beer, fish & chips, sandwich ... or anything else?
    • Did you notice how much bike parts are such as tyres, tubes, brake pads for example? Similar to UK perhaps?
    • Were you outside much in the evening/nightime & if so, how low did the temperature drop? Bit cooler than the day, or long trousers & warm jacket kinda cool?

    Be really grateful for your thoughts.
  5. OP

    Simon_m Veteran

    Hi there, how you doing/ We didnt do the north island, so am not sure what that is like to cycle on. I was pleasantly surprised how great it was in the south. Such a shame I was put off by blogs and reviews I read. Would defo go back if I had the money and time. Just that nasty long flight. Would even move there! but weather not the best lol. You will have an amazing time, you are very lucky.

    Yeah so we did hire bikes for a day, just mountain bikes but we were on the roads too and it was fine. I guess you will get the odd redneck like you do cycling in the UK, who loves to run you off the road. I hope you get on ok out there and don't get quashed with the last thoughts being "simon said it will be ok" lol. Massive joke and I am sure you will be fine.

    We did hotels and air B&B as we were there for a wedding. From what I could tell, you would be able to just drop in on most of them. The bigger towns you may need to book. Wanaka is very popular with outdoorsy types, so you may need to book if you were to stay in a place similar to that. (Wanaka is South island btw). If you have a route planned, you may want to book just so you have it confirmed. I am always scared that we will get to our finish town only to find the campground fully booked. I am planning next years france trip now and booking things.

    Costs for your tent, I'm not sure again, as we hotel'd and air B&B. I would imagine it would be cheap as the country is geared up for it. I dont know if you can wild camp in country. There may have been signs which said you cant in towns, but in the countryside you can.. I would check. Eating and drinking is £££. I'm not sure we saw any campsites, a lot of people do the RV thing, i dont know if they just pull over anywhere or they go to campsites.

    Really sorry I am not more helpful!

    Yep so we are out a lot and cooked for ourselves. I would say the places we went to, touristy towns, the prices are similar to here, london prices which was shocking. Ideally what I would do is find a town you are staying in, find a eatery online and then check their menu prices. We thought it was pricey compared to France lets say.

    Again, sorry we didn't really look for any of that as that wasn't our holiday. We went to a few outdoor shops while it was wet one day, just to kill time, and prices were similar to here for coats, bags etc

    aha I can help here. so evening temps, it did drop a little, but we were happy to sit on the lake with a pizza and a can of beer and it was fine in shorts and tee shirts. Where we were, they can get 8meters of rain a year or something. It is very similar to our weather, where we were anyway. We were in shorts most days over 2weeks. North island is different.

    One good thing, we were able to drink straight from the lake with cups. The wine is good, again £££. We didn't find it cheap like when you go to France. Is it any better? It is ok, not ground breaking.

    Hope that is ok, that is the best I can do.
  6. IaninSheffield

    IaninSheffield Regular

    Sheffield, UK
    Simon, thanks so much for such a detailed response. Your comments have been incredibly helpful.
    I'm not too worried about the traffic. Having commuted into Sheffield on busy roads for the last fifteen years or so, I've had my fair share of 'unpleasant' moments. I don't doubt the good will outweigh the bad in NZ.

    I suspected it might be a bit pricey out there, so thanks for that confirmation. And I'll keep my fingers crossed for those drier, warmer conditions, but will have gear for the damper stuff if it comes.

    Thanks once more :thumbsup:
  7. OP

    Simon_m Veteran

    no probs. Tried my best with the small amount of info I have lol Enjoy and look fwd to the blog next year. July next year we are doing another coast to coast through France. I can help you with France lol. Should be another amazing trip this time over the alps.
  8. IaninSheffield

    IaninSheffield Regular

    Sheffield, UK
    Have a great time in France Simon.
    Did a short, one-location, alpine trip a few years ago, As you said 'amazing!'
    Simon_m likes this.
  9. oBeast

    oBeast New Member

    We just moved back from NZ after living there for 3 years. Here's some of my thoughts.

    • We didn't do much camping, more hiking so pre-booked usually. If your schedule is flexible, then there should be availability, but often limited. NZ is a small country and locals book their holidays in advance for the next holiday season. This way they get the cheap prices and those booking later get charged more or don't get anything at all. Pre-booking is strongly recommended. Last (NZ) summer we did have to do an ad hoc stop at a commercial campground and set up our 3p tent & car and I think it was $70 for the spot / night.
    • The food in cafes / restaurants is usually UK prices, except if you are in some very rural, non-touristy area, where you can get a crackin' deal on fish & chips etc. Food in supermarkets is much more expensive than in the UK, especially produce. NZ wine is cheaper in UK, than in NZ. South Island has lots of hops crops, so there are lots of local breweries. Way to cut the food bill, if you cook yourself, is to buy produce straight from farms. You'll see a lot of signs for produce for sale on the roadside. Also high quality beef is 1/2 the price that of UK. Pak'n'Save is a cheapest bulk supermarket, Countdown is like Tesco and New World is like Waitrose.
    • I didn't have a bike in NZ, but have a look at for prices, it's a nationwide chain.
    • Feb/March is North Island will be quite pleasant. We lived in Auckland and temperature rarely drop below +14c around that time. Climate is very different in NZ. A cloudy, humid day +17 will feel quite cool, whereas sunny, dry +17 will feel like +25. The sun is really strong and you'll burn even on cloudy days if you're not careful. However, if you get all the way to Wellington, it's a different story. WLG is really windy and can be very cool/wet, so plan accordingly. Having a wind blocking layer (rain jacket) and a packable puffy is a good combo.
  10. IaninSheffield

    IaninSheffield Regular

    Sheffield, UK
    @oBeast Thanks so much for that extensive and detailed response. Incredibly useful in helping me think forward.
    Unfortunately I suspect that I'm unlikely to be in a position to pre-book camp sites (or hostels) more than a night or two in advance, as my plans will adapt to accommodate weather, local advice, new information etc. But it's good to know that I can't necessarily expect to just turn up and there to be free spaces. And $70 for a patch of ground?! Wow! Just back from a couple of brief camping tours here in the UK where the average for a backpacker was £7, albeit it's getting towards the close of the under-canvas season for all but the hardy amongst us.
    Thanks especially for that weather advice. I shall pack accordingly and not forget the sunblock!
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice