Cycling in New Zealand
Following the New Zealand Job Summit in 2009, Prime Minister John Key unveiled his own contribution – a cycle trail (Nga Haerenga – “The Journeys”) extending from one end of the country to the other – as a means of stimulating local tourism economies. In the previous year 356,900 people had toured New Zealand on cycles. Almost 43,000 of these were international tourists who generated almost $160 million to the New Zealand economy. None of these cycle trips were co-ordinated in any systematic fashion, and the opportunity to capitalise on this niche market by integrating business, employment health and recreational components had remained unrecognised and untapped. The purpose of the New Zealand Cycleway concept was to capitalise on this potential.
By the end of 2009, the Government had committed $50 million to develop the Cycleway – initially intended to extend from Cape Reinga in the North to Stewart Island in the South. While this initial concept no longer dominates the proposal, there has been major progress on 18 major rides through some of New Zealand’s most iconic landscapes. The first of these trails along the Waikato River was begun in late 2009, linking existing trails to form a 100 kilometre Waikato River Trail, and by the end of 2010, all eighteen of the proposed trails were under construction or in advanced stages of planning, and the 64km St. James Cycle Trail near Hanmer Springs was completed. The aim is to have the entire system up and running by early 2013.
The design and grading for degree of skill and difficulty has been a key ingredient in the success of the trails, and the development of this grading standard has included a wide range of stakeholders – cyclists, Department of Conservation staff, trail builders etc. The result is a comprehensive set of standards and guidelines (for surfaces, widths, bridges, inclines etc.) that guide and determine the development of all of the Cycle Trails, and by which they must abide. The commonly accepted mountain-biking standard of degree of difficulty of 1-6 has been adopted and the trails have been developed to ensure that each trail caters for the widest range of rider skills, so that no ride on any of the trails will extend over more than two grade points.
All of the rides are in visually stunning locations that already have the support of a tourism infrastructure (lodgings, food, amenities etc.) and that are easily accessible to the tourist. They are also located in areas with surrounding established cycling experiences that will no doubt benefit from the increasing numbers of visitors.
The Cycle Trails
For the current state of completion please consult the New Zealand Cycleway website www.nzcycletrail.com
Twin Coast Cycle Trail
- Pou Herenga Tai (Northland)
The 84km trail will pass through the centre of the Far North district between the picturesque Hokianga Harbour and the famously beautiful Bay of Islands. The trail will cater for all levels of riding ability including beginners and families.
Hauraki Rail Trail, Coromandel
The 77km Hauraki Rail Trail will follow the path of two historic railway lines running from Thames to Paeroa, Paeroa to Waikino, and Paeroa to Te Aroha. A new path will also link Waikino to Waihi.
Waikato River Trails, Waikato
The Waikato River Trails extend 100km along New Zealand’s longest river, the “Mighty Waikato”. The journey takes in five lakes, four hydro dams and a number of small towns and villages. The trails connect with the heart of the Waikato and showcase the very best of the region’s natural environment.
Pureora Timber Trail, Waitomo
This spectacular 77km trail will offer riders the chance to experience the rich heritage of the Pureora Forest Park. Cyclists will ride through forest terrain, passing 800-year-old trees, a bush tramway and historic timber-milling sites. Situated within a three hour drive of Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua and Taupo, the trail will cater for all levels of cycling ability.
Motu Trails, Bay of Plenty
This trail will start at Matawai, 70km from Gisborne and finish in Opotiki, 55km from Whakatane. The trail takes in the Old Motu Coach Road and the Pakihi Track. There are views of the Pacific Ocean, Motuhoura, Whakaari and of bush clad peaks, river valleys and waterfalls.
Pathway of Fire (Te Ara Ahi), Rotorua
The Pathway of Fire Trail offers viewing of some of the most unique geothermal sites in the world. Riders will be able to experience outstanding landscapes, lakes and exotic forests as well as significant historical and cultural sites.
Lake Track, Taupo
Starting 15 minutes drive west of Taupo, this 93km trail will start in Whakaipo Bay and pass through the village of Kinloch before reaching the Waihaha River and State Highway 32.
The full trail will start on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu, cross the 294-metre Hapuawhenua viaduct, pass through Tongariro and Whanganui National Parks and then the cross the Bridge to Nowhere. Riders will then take a jet boat ride down the Whanganui River to Pipiriki and cycle to Wanganui along the Whanganui River Road.
Hawke’s Bay Trails, Hawke’s Bay
Hawke’s Bay Trails, including the Landscapes Ride and the Water Ride, will offer 124km of dedicated cycle trails. Riders will be able to traverse mountainous lookouts and lowland rivers, wetland margins and enjoy stunning views the Hawke’s Bay’s sweeping coastline.
The Old Ghost Road, West Coast
The Old Ghost Road Trail will resurrect a long forgotten 19th century gold miner’s road connecting the once thriving town of Lyell with Mokihinui on the Northern West Coast of the South Island. Starting and finishing 45 minutes from Westport, this picturesque trail passes through native forest and traverses open tussock tops and ridges.
Nelson/Tasman Trails, Nelson
These trails will appeal to a wide cross section of cyclists and day trippers. The Nelson/Tasman region is an outstanding cycling destination. It is close to iconic attractions such as the Abel Tasman National Park. The region also has good weather and is renown for its strengths in the arts, and in food and wine.
St James Cycle Trail, Hanmer Springs
The trail starts and finishes at the Maling Pass and St James Homestead entrances which are 25km apart along Tophouse Road. It is recommended to start at the Maling Pass entrance as there is more downhill this way and the predominant wind comes down the valley behind you.
Westland Wilderness Trail, West Coast
This 120km trail will start in Greymouth and run along the coast before turning inland to follow an historic tramway to Kumara. From here it will pass through rainforest to Milltown in the Arahura Valley. The trail will then follow the Arahura River to Lake Kaniere and then on to Hokitika and Ross.
Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, North Otago
This 312km trail begins in the Southern Alps at Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, descends 780m through the Mackenzie basin, and down the Waitaki Valley to Oamaru and the Pacific Ocean. The trail includes multiple access points to begin or end a ride or to ride local sections only.
Roxburgh Gorge Trail, Central Otago
The 34km Roxburgh Gorge Trail starts in Alexandra and follows the Clutha Mata-au River through the Roxburgh Gorge to the Roxburgh Dam, linking with the Otago Central Rail Trail and the Clutha Gold Trail.
Clutha Gold Trail, Central Otago
The full trail is an easy 2-day ride with stopovers at either Millers Flat or Beaumont villages. Accommodation is available at Millers Flat and Beaumont along with a range of farm home stays along the route. Accommodation is also available at either end of the trail at Lake Roxburgh village, Roxburgh and Lawrence towns.
The Queenstown Trail, Queenstown
Surrounded by Queenstown’s stunning mountain ranges, this 90km trail covers diverse terrain taking in lakes, rivers and the Gibbston wine producing region.
Around the Mountains, Queenstown
This 175km trail will begin with a steamship boat ride from Queenstown on the TSS Earnslaw across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak. The cycle trail then heads through Walter Peak and Mount Nicholas Stations, and along the Von Valley, Lake Mavora. It then follows the Oreti River and from Mossburn along the old railway line to Lumsden.