Wondering if anyone has done a bicycle tour of South Island, New Zealand, and if they have any suggestions for my wife and me. We're considering celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary by doing a self-supported tour of South Island on our tandem for the first two weeks of Dec '09. Plan would be to start out in Christchurch, so if anyone knows a Warm Showers or other cycling-friendly contact there, we'd certainly appreciate it. Many thanks.
Hi there --
Professor friend of mine who taught at the U in Christchurch on an exchange sent these tips for you ...
"No camping - stay in the "backpacker" (hostels). Avoid December and January as that is when all the foreigners in RV's are out on the road. The very far north and the very far south are the best."
HTH ... obviously, he wasn't paying attention to the fact that your enquiry was to a hosting site.
I've also been to the South Island (on a bus tour). I especially love the Queenstown and Arrowtown areas. Wish I'd known to ride the Kingston Flyer when I was there. Also, do NOT, NOT, NOT attempt to ride to the Milford Sound. I am quite certain no bikes would be allowed to get anywhere near the tunnel. I wish I had done the bus-there-fly-back tour from Queenstown rather than bus in both directions. If you can't find enough hosts in Warm Showers, try hospitalityclub.org
My husband and I toured the northern and central parts of South Island for a month in February some years ago. My favorite places were Marlboro Sounds (worth a side trip to camp in the Sounds for a few days), Nelson and Golden Bay, and Dunedin over on the east coast south of Christchurch. The campgrounds are generally extremely comfortable and well equipped, but watch out for tour buses with lots of kids who stay up all night playing loud music. The west coast has a lot of rain so you might want to spend less time there, although the glaciers next to the rain forests are fascinating to see. But I preferred the sun and beautiful beaches in the other parts of South Island.
In 2006 we cycled the South Island. Check out the story on our website www.kayaks2.com
Dear NZ cyclists,
5 years ago I cycled the south island for 4 months. There are not really any roads that aren't good, although everyone will tell you which place is better, you can't really go wrong.
There are 2 supergood touring guides, called 'pedallers paradise' by Nigel Rushton, somewhat my bible those months. They are for sale in bikeshops. If you send me your address I could try and send you a copy.
The SI is mountainous, but the roads often stay low, so you have good views with 'minimum' effort. I loved the west, cause I love rugged coast and rain, but most people prefer the sunny and drier east. If you are taking buses in between rides, you could cover a few very pretty places in limited time.
I actually thought the ride to Milford Sound was awesome, the tunnel was no problem at all, you just need some lights so cars can see you.
Also great for cycling is the Queen Charlotte track, a 2 day ride on single track. You can easily arrange with the small boats that leave from the southern end, to drop you at the northern end, and for them to leave your bags at the jetty of a campground further down the trail. Then you can enjoy the trail without luggage. It's not very hard, but you'll occasionally have to walk small sections.
Also great is Banks Peninsula, south of Christchurch, this is definitely steep and hard though.
My highlights were the Central Otago Railtrail, an easy ride (depending on weather) on a wide path, from near Queenstown to near Dunedin. Cafe's every 20 to 30 kms for a refreshing drink (or hot cuppa!).
Also awesome was an 80 km offroad ride (not rough) from Mt Nicolas station (across from Queenstown with the steam ferry Mt Earnslaw) to the south. You will be more or less alone for those 80 kms and there is an awesome campground 1/2 down called Mavora Lakes.
I road all this with a fully loaded bike without suspension.
I live in Southland (near the bottom of the South Island) and you will find me on warmshowers.Get in touch if you are down this way on your trip and I would be happy to take you for a ride and show the best part of New Zealand. The ride through Lake Mavora is a great ride as someone has said.
A great ride is through the Rainbow and Molesworth Stations - a trip I have done 4 times. This is down the middle of the South Island and information can be found about it by putting in a google search "molesworth staion NZ" The road is open over the summer but Molesworth can be closed in hot conditions because of fire risk. It is shingle road and a few steep climbs but awesome riding.
My husband and I ride a tamden as well but have never taken it on a trip.
For our off ride travelling we pull a trailer behind our bikes (BOB). Derek has modified it so we have Fox Float R shock suspension.It glides over the bumps.
It will be great to have you in New Zealand!
I live in Auckland now, but lived in Dunedin from 2002-2007 while studying at Otago University. I managed to tour around the South Island quite a bit during that time.
I would definitely recommend the Otago Rail Trail and Moleworth station. If you don't mind gravel roads, there are a number of back-roads around the Queenstown/Lakes area.
Queenstown is a must-see, and a great place to let your hair down for a couple of nights ;)
Also, I would recommend cycling on the West Coast, rather than the East Coast - far less traffic and much more beautiful scenery. From Christchurch, you could cycle to Hamner springs (Beautiful and hot springs are soo relaxing!), over the Lewis Pass, and on to the West Coast...
A work of caution, though - New Zealand drivers are not renown for their sympathy to cyclists!