I'm looking for some advise, possibly somebody to join the trip or host me on the way (would be great!). The approximate route I have planned so far is starting in Christchurch, going to Greymouth (and pancake rocks), Wanaka, Queenstown, Te Anau, possibly Miliford Sound, Cromwell, Omarama, Grenaldine, Windwhistle and back to Christchurch. It is already quite packed for 3 weeks, so I may skip its parts or take shortcuts, since I would like to experience some other activities if possible on the way.
Some questions I have are first about shortcuts:
- is it possible / reasonable to get on the other side of lake in Queenstown and take a route through Mavora Lakes to Te Anau?
- looks like Omarama -> Christchurch has several possible routes, any suggestions of nicer vs faster one? As usual I would prefer avoiding crowded main roads.
I'm coming to New Zealand from far away and I won't have my bike with me. Any suggestions where I could rent / buy (with re-sale option) a bike in Christchurch? What would make more sense?
I myself took the road from Queenstown to Mavora Lakes and Te Anau.
I definitely recommand it. It was one of the most beautiful road I took in New Zealand.
To cross the lake you have to take a touristic steam boat. It brings you to the other side of the lake and form there you have a gravel road bringing you to the mavora lakes (roughly 80km if I remember well). Then you have another 50-60km to Te Anau.
The gravel road is nice to bike (could be very muddy if raining).
It is a quite remote area (cars are not allowed on the boat, so not much traffic on the road), lost in the mountains. There is one major climb, but not much harder than others in New Zealand.
It took me to days to reach Te Anau, one night at the Mavora Lakes (beautiful but quite cold area at night)
Also I tell you a quick advise for biking in New Zealand, most of the time the water from creeks and rivers is good for drinking. As there are many rivers everywhere, you don't need to carry to much water with you (makes it easier for remote areas).
As for a bike in Christchurch, I can't really help you. But I know that there are some renting companies there. So keep looking for it and enjoy your trip!
Also on your way form Omarama to Gerladine, there is a small road going from lake Pukaki, called the Tekapo Canal Road. Not really a shortcut, but far less trafic that on the main road and an amazing view on Mount Cook and the surrounding mountains, and also a great salmon fishing area.
Thanks a lot for information and confirming the Mavora route! Looks like this and Tekapo Canal Roas is what I'm going to try.
I've just been reading your post on the alternative route past Mavora Lakes. My friends and I will be cycling through queenstown to Bluff in the new year and would be interested in any opportunity to avoid the main road. You say it is a gravel road. We will be riding touring bikes with panniers. Do you think it will be a possible?
The route is relatively easy and riding it shouldn't be a problem with touring bike. There are some fragments with larger stones and some crossings of small streams, but it should be fine, especially for the views you get in return.
Most of the time the road looks like this:
and that stream was the hardest moment where I had to take off my shoes.
The route from Queenstown to Mavora lakes was probably the best thing on my cycle touring in NZ. It's quite easy, just get the boat across from Queenstown to Walter Peak station.
From there it's 50 km to the DOC campground at Mavora Lakes (toilets, water, tables). Then another 33 kms to the Junction with the SH94 to Te Anau. Another 31 km from junction to Te Anau. So total of 114 kms.
Not too steep.
Another great route and option when heading east is the Central Otago railtrail, starts at Cromwell , 60 kms from Queenstown, to Clyde, Omakau, Ranfurly.
The best cycling guide is Pedallers' Paradise by Nigel Rushton.
I'm sure there are good bikeshops in Christchurch, eg
Cycle trading Co
John Bull cycles
Laurie Dawe Cycles
good luck and enjoy!
I see, thanks a lot! I think the cycling guide is going to be useful. For the Clyde railtrail I wonder if I could still reach Omarama this way, my map shows some trail from Hills Creek, but it goes through high mountains and I'm not sure if it's good for bike.
A lot of people cycle in NZ successfully and they have fun. There are many trip blogs on the web.
"Kiwis" are generally friendly but drivers are often not very understanding or tolerant. They should not be trusted. It is best to avoid the main highways, where possible, near cities, at dusk and at peak traffic periods. There are certain other narrow winding sections of main road which are best avoided when the road is busy. Road shoulders are often narrow or non existent.
New Zealand is a relatively windy place and there are some big hills. Many cyclists average about 70 km per day.
A new wilderness cycle trail is under construction between Greymouth and Ross. It has some very exciting sections. Some may be a bit rough for a heavily laden road bike. Get the latest info before starting as there are some missing bits.
Probably the single most useful source of info:
I am a Kiwi and have some sketchy knowledge of the area as a motorist. I believe the only way to Te Anau from Queenstown is down the eastern side of the lake.
If you are a thrill seekeer Queenstown has the stuff for you, while there will be snow up high, skiing will be out, but the many ways to bungy are all there, jetboating, etc.
Chch to Greymouth brings the question which mountain pass? November will still be pretty cold, especially if you are camping it. The longer one is less altitude being the Lewis pass. You will enjoy the natural hot water pools!!
I know someone who has a bike shop in Chch but they only sell expensive bikes, I dont know anywhere that you can buy/resell deal, I think you will have to buy second hand and then resell, the best trading site there is "trademe".
Good Luck, the scenery is spectacular.
Thanks, seems like Lewis Pass is additional 70-80km and it also goes through more major road / highway. I will be well prepared for cold conditions, e.g. even below freezing at night, so the only doubts I have is about altitudes, which adds a lot of effort.
I found some elevation profiles of those two roads:
and first part of
I should be fine with Arthur
I did Christchurch to Hokitiki, adding Greymouth isnt really required, unless you have a specific reason to go there. I did the first day up to Arthurs pass campsite. It was a long day. There is a big climb up, but the wind is the real issue. If its reasonably calm you will make Arthurs pass, then into Hokitiki on day 2. The scenery everywhere is awesome. What you will need to look out for is the sandfly, a small biting creature everywhere on the west coast. Seriously, as soon as you stop for even 5 minutes, these little suckers bite and will cause your legs to itch intensely for at least 1 week. The bite is nothing for the first day, then they flare up. The insect repellents were useless. Do not leave Hokitiki without this, I guarantee you will thank me, get a small bottle of baby oil, and a small bottle of Dettol, mix them together 50:50, and put this on your legs as soon as you stop for the night to camp. This is a local tip passed on to me by some fishermen. IT WORKS a treat.
New Zealand is awesome to cycle, I didn't have any issues with traffic, or other problems. I'm looking at doing it again in January. I noticed a comment above about the weather, it was very cold at the top of Arthurs Pass, and I was there at the height of summer.