Getting the Most out of Cycling in New Zealand

The majority of us who live in New Zealand know we’re very lucky. We have a huge range of landscapes from spectacular coasts to majestic mountains.

But what makes NZ so special is the fact that these very diverse landscapes are in a relatively small area, so you won’t have to travel for a long time to start to experience very different views.

Because of this, New Zealand has become a very popular place for people wanting to go on a cycling holiday.

Both islands offer many great riding experiences but if you only have time to spend in one island then you may want to try the south the first time you’re here.

We’re quite a modern country, so you can expect all the usual modern amenities but don’t be surprised when the people here are extremely laid back and chilled out; that’s how we are.

Cycling to mount cook

Riding towards Mount Cook – Photo thanks to: MagicalWorld.

Great Places to Cycle

There are too many superb places to cycle here to list them all but here but here are a few;

Kaikoura to Maruia Springs

I don’t think this is a popular route but I enjoyed it.

  1. You start in Kaikoura which is a lovely seaside town in the south island, famous for sea attractions including swimming with wild dolphins and whale watching.
  2. I recommend you stay there at least a couple of days as there are plenty of things to do.
  3. You then ride south along the coast, enjoying the views. You have various options for getting to your destination but you’ll finish at Maruia Springs which is a lovely place with real volcanic hot springs.
  4. Have a look on a map and see which route you fancy doing but riding it in one day will be extremely difficult as it’s almost 200 km, so it’s a good idea to break the trip up into a number of days.

They have accommodation at Maruia Springs which was quite reasonable. We loved their food, especially their eggs benedict with smoked salmon!


I absolutely love this place! I’m a bit of an adrenaline junky, so for me Queenstown is perfect.

It has all kinds of fun things to do including giant swings, jet boating and paragliding.

Queenstown is also great for either a base to do various day cycling trips (where you return each night to Queenstown) or as part of a longer cycling tour in the south island.

Either way, make sure you ride on the Crown Range Road it is out of this world.

If you’re planning a longer tour involving Queenstown then try to include Mount Cook as it has some truly fantastic views.


This is another seaside town which we loved staying at; the people seemed very friendly.

Like Queenstown, you can either use this as a base for day trips or part of a longer tour.

There are plenty of amazing views to be had north as you get into the region of the Abel Tasman National Park and beyond.

You could also head west inland eventually reaching the west coast.

Have a good look on a map and online and decide where you want to cycle in but you should find most places offer some great cycling experiences.

Planning the Trip

You need to make a choice when planning the holiday.

Do It Yourself

You can either plan where you’ll be riding each day and book accommodation yourself. You would hire bikes from one of the many hire companies.

This is a great option for travellers on a tight budget. You can read more to check a good site with various cycling trails.

If you’re planning everything yourself, make sure you plan the route with very conservative distances. First of all, riding for many days is obviously much harder than a single day ride. And secondly, you’ll usually find things to delay you, so you need to allow for this.

Use a Company

Or you can use a touring company. Most of them will have a pre-planned cycling route, with the accommodation booked in advanced.

A guide will also usually ride with the other cyclists, with backup transport for the luggage and people needing a rest. You can read more to find an example of a company doing bike tours in NZ.

What to Bring

Make sure you research;

  1. Packing for the cycling holiday.
  2. What items to bring.

These really need another guide but just to say something very important. Remember you’ll be carrying everything you pack along with you day after day while you cycling in roads that are often very steep. So only pack what you really need.

Saying that, you will need to pack good wind and rain gear as our climate can change depending on where you are. Also pack some thermal gear which you’ll need especially in the Alps!

And pack a good torch, a travel bike repair kit, travel first aid kit and insect repellent (especially if you’re visiting the amazing Milford Sounds).

These bicycle tips were brought to you by a guest writer Jack, who is writing for They have been running bike tours for over 25 years in various countries, including New Zealand, around the globe.