It is the quintessential dream of any adventure-curious traveller. To ride the length of a country. When choosing which country, it would be hard to look past one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world: New Zealand.
Races such as Tour Aotearoa cover similar ground, but with limited positions available and tight deadlines, events such as this are difficult for even the fittest and most versatile of riders. With this in mind, many people are opting to ride the length of New Zealand in their own time, on their own schedule and with no rules to follow.
Guide book author Jonathan Kennett knows the mountain bike trails in New Zealand better than most and is the mastermind behind extreme cycling event Tour Aotearoa.
New Zealand is an ideal country for bike-packing, where you travel light and fast, with fat tyres so that you can ride the great cycle trails and tracks, and gravel roads, where you’ll find the best scenery and the fewest cars.Jonathan Kennett, New Zealand trail guide book writer and Tour Aotearoa founder Share
Replicating the route of Tour Aotearoa will be the best choice for those looking for an end-to-end cycling holiday with a difference. And there is even an acknowledgement for completing it.
“The route description will be available in the Kennett Brothers book Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails. Riders can contact the Kennett Brothers with their intention to do the ride and then take photos at the 30 control points in order to receive their Tour Aotearoa certificate,” Jonathan adds.
The Kennett’s provide a couple of tips for those traveling to New Zealand to ride the length of New Zealand.
“First, New Zealand has great cycling routes and it has horrible cycling routes, so choose carefully to ensure you ride the safest and most enjoyable routes. Secondly, this is a hilly country – if you arrive with loads of gear in front and rear panniers, you will probably regret it."
For most people, the ride will take at least a month, but the times will range from two weeks to eight weeks. Along the way, riders are encouraged to log in to the Tour Aotearoa Facebook page where riders will be encouraged to post on, and blog their journey.
It comes as no surprise that this ride will bolster tourism in New Zealand. Time will tell, but Jonathan predicts: “…after Kiwis, the most common nationalities to do the replica ride are likely to be Australian, American, British and French, although there is no reason why riders from any country would not be interested.”
There will be something for everyone on this truly special New Zealand adventure. New Zealand's topography and variety of landscapes in such close proximity make it ideal for bike-packing. Expect to see completely different things every day, from massive iron-sand beaches, to ancient forests, to lush farmland, volcanoes, modern cities, mountains, rivers and lots more.
- travel light – there are a lot of hills to climb
- choose your route carefully making sure to link in as many of the Great Rides of the New Zealand Cycle Trail as you can
- allow plenty of time – it will take at least a month