5 Picturesque Cycling Trails in New Zealand

Jonah Andersson March 13, 2013
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Queenstown Trail

5 Picturesque Cycling Trails in New Zealand

New Zealand is a country of rich cultures and traditions, intriguing history and some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world. A cycling holiday here is one of the best ways to experience and explore this wonderland of flora, fauna and culture.

With so much on offer, cyclists are spoiled for choice, so to help you plan your cycling holiday in New Zealand we’ve chosen 5 of the best and most picturesque cycling trails available in New Zealand.

Queenstown Trail
Image Credit: Queenstown Trail by queenstowntrail on Flickr.com

The Queenstown Trail

The Queenstown Trail is an intermediate-level trail that stretches through 90km of Queenstown’s most stunning landscapes.

It will generally take rides about 4-5 days of cycling to complete the trail, during which riders will get to experience pristine rivers and towering mountain ranges up close and personal. The ride takes cyclists through the stunning Queenstown Bay, the historical mining town of Arrowtown, and the well known winery town of Gibbston.

With beautiful bridge crossings and varied terrain taking riders up and down through hills and valleys, there’s never a dull moment and plenty of room to challenge yourself.

bike trails new zealand
Image Credit: Flickr.com

Pathway of Fire Trail

The Pathway of Fire trail gets its name from the Orakei Korako thermal area through which is passes. This is a great trail for the whole family, with easy terrain and exciting landmarks to explore, including Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, Waikite Hot Pools and the Te Kopia Geothermal Field.

It’s exciting, educational and entirely breathtaking to see these natural wonders from the back of a bicycle and experience the rich Maori culture in the area. The ride takes about 2 days, beginning at Rotorua and coming to an end at Lake Ohakuri, where riders can return to Rotorua by shuttle or boat.

Ruapehu-Whanganui Trail

Taking riders between 4 and 6 days to complete, the Ruapehu-Whanganui Trail is an intermediate ride that begins on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu and makes its way through two national parks rich in diverse flora, fauna and history.

This trail will take riders through the unparalleled 294-metre Hapuawhenua viaduct, over the stunning “Bridge to Nowhere” then on a jet boat ride down the Whanganui River to cycle along the Whanganui River road.

Best experienced in summer, this ride is sure to leave you breathless in more ways than one.

Around the Mountains Trail

Another short ride at 2-3 days long, this ride is great for beginners or families with kids, with easy terrain and plenty of creature comforts available to riders.

The trail begins with a steamboat ride from Queenstown across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak, which the kids will just love. From here riders will follow crystalline rivers and historical railway lines through 175km of New Zealand’s most secluded rural areas, finishing up in Lumsden.

With plenty of cosy options for dining and accommodation, easy terrain at a relaxed pace, and a wealth of local history and culture, this trail is perfect for cyclists looking for relaxation over exertion.

New Zealand Cycle Trails
Image Credit: Flickr.com

Taumaruni – New Plymoth Forgotten Highway Cycle Trail

Amongst the trails for road bicycles in the world, the Taumaruni – New Plymoth Forgotten Highway Cycle Trail is a 180km ride that follows the Forgotten World Highway from Taumarunui to New Plymouth on predominantly sealed roads, though there are some areas of gravel road.

Riders experience remote wilderness, lush farming lands and cool coastal scenery, through ancient landmarks, historical villages, wine country and modern cycle tracks. This is an advanced trail with challenging terrain and not a lot of accommodation or dining options along the way, so riders should be fit, experienced and well prepared, but the ride is more than worth it.

These are just 5 magnificent trails of a plethora of picturesque cycling trails all throughout New Zealand. After just one, you’ll be hooked – New Zealand will be your cycling destination for many years to come, and you’ll have a hard time exhausting your list of trails to try.

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Jonah Andersson

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