The Best Biking (and Ebiking) Trails in New Zealand From a Local

Last updated on June 24th, 2021

Featured Image: Rosemary riding her Moustache ebike on the Arrow River trail near Queenstown, NZ

Ebiking is the new must-do in New Zealand, and wearing lycra is not compulsory

By Rosemary Neave, Guest Contributor

I love the freedom of cycling – for me, it is contemplative. Mind you, I am not an extreme cyclist – my road less travelled is more likely a 3 metre wide well-surfaced pathway. Slow enough to enjoy the scenery, but fast enough to make progress to the next stop – hopefully with a coffee along the way.

The popularity of ebikes is surging 

With an ebike, I don’t even need the wind at my back.  Ebiking is the new must-do in New Zealand, and wearing lycra is not compulsory.

New Zealand is famous for its Great Walks which were often at capacity before Covid.  Now it seems cycling – and more especially ebikes – are claiming space as a ‘must-do” when visiting New Zealand.  Locals have taken to biking in a big way and ebikes especially are racing out the door, many sold out before they even arrive in the country. 

According to the latest research, more people in New Zealand are planning to buy an ebike or escooter than are planning to buy an EV car. The survey also showed that  among 55 to 64-year-olds, 23% are planning to buy an ebike/scooter, with 18% of over 65s.

Conservative but affable Prime Minister John Key was also minister of Tourism when he came up with the idea of a cycle trail the length of New Zealand. One story is that he had the idea while shaving one morning in 2009.  His New Zealand Cycleway project become the National Cycleway Project – aiming to link up and extend the network of existing paths.

The rest is history – Covid and Climate Change helped the project along, as well as increased government funding for cycleways.  Now almost every city and town in NZ is working on a cycleway.

woman in blue coat in front of Sydney Harbour Bridge

Rosemary in Sydney, Australia 

My Recommendation: #Lovemymoustache 

I am on my second electric bike, having worn out the first. I prefer Moustache ebikes, which are made in France.

Moustache is named after the iconic “moustache” handlebar design. The bars are a point of pride for the company, which the owners say can be considered a modern take on the famous moustache handlebars of the past.  #lovemymoustache 

I commute on the bike on our separated cycleways in Christchurch, and enjoy cycleways when travelling – last year, I did over 5,000 kms. Whenever we go on a NZ holiday, we take our bikes.

So if you are planning a trip to NZ – include some cycling! 

 

A person biking beside water in New Zealand

One of Otago’s great trails

My Top South Island Trails

Otago Rail Trail: This was our first, and remains one of our most popular trails.  It follows an old rail trail, so very easy riding.  152 kms – 1-5 days Easy Grade all the way, ebike friendly. Linking up to some memorable small gold mining settlements, basically, you ride pub to pub – what is hard about that.  A perfect trail to try out an ebike for the first time.

Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail: 322 kms over 1-7 days  – this is our longest trail starting in our Southern Alps and ending at the sea. I have done it once and would do it again.  

The Clutha Gold Trail and Roxburgh Gorge Trail:  this follows the mighty Clutha river and the old gold workings – and includes a jet boat trip.

The Queenstown Trails:  still being developed, with more added all the time, and eventually will link all the way to Dunedin.  My recommendation is forget Queenstown and stay in Arrowtown  – much more beautiful and less touristy with heaps of history and lots of trails from there.  There are more trails opening all the time – last month the Lake Dunstan Trail opened near Cromwell. It looks amazing, and I can not wait to ride it all.

West Coast Wilderness Trail: There’s no better way to get up close to the West Coast’s lush rainforest, pristine rivers, tranquil lakes and rugged beaches, with the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps a truly sublime backdrop – especially in winter, a fabulous time to ride.

At the top of the South Island – explore the Nelson area on the Great Taste Trail through Nelson’s food growing regions, or if you are an intrepid and experienced rider head for The Old Ghost Road.

Biking along the coast of New Zealand

Cycling along the beach in Christchurch, one of New Zealand’s premier cycling cities

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North Island Trails

While our South Island Otago bike trails are the most well known, the North Island is developing cycle trails all the time. From Northland, on the Coromandel, along the Waikato River through Rotorua and Taupo.  I love them all, but favourite is probably the Hawkes Bay Trails – another easy ride 200 kms over 1-4 days, instead of pub to pub, this one is vineyard to vineyard.  Very easy cycling around one of New Zealands food bowls.

Most towns and cities have cycle trails, and bike hire available.  Some car rental companies will provide a bike rack, so you can hire a bike and take it with you.

A red SUV with bikes on the back

Rosemary takes the bikes everywhere when they travel

Resources

Nga Haerenga – New Zealand Cycle Trails: This is where you will find the list of multi day trips.  They have an app you can download.  There are 22 multi day rides, and many other shorter heartland rides.

The Kennett BrothersNew Zealand’s leading publisher of cycling history and guide books.

Tour Aotearoa – If you are really keen you can ride the 3000 kilometre Tour Aotearoa route from Cape Reinga to Bluff.  Ride it with others once a year, or in your own time. It includes nine Great Rides and 11 Heartland Rides

 

Interesting in Biking Trips?

Visit WomenTravel.Info to find a trip for you!

 

Born in Australia, Rosemary now lives in Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand. Before that Rosemary lived in Auckland and Waipu. Her blog, Women Travel New Zealand and Women Travel the World have been built as a way of connecting women travellers with women-run tourism ventures around the world. For more on New Zealand visit: https://www.womentravelnz.com/

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