Cycling 4450 km around New Zealand (Aotearoa)

Moles-worth road Hanmer Springs - New Zealand

Two very long years before going back on the road and I will say that I missed the adventure & total freedom of being on my bike. After Australia in 2010, I went back to France few months to find a job to make money and continue my travels, flew to New Zealand and also worked as a photographer for 10 months. I had only 2 months left on my Working Holiday Visa (WHV) so I need it to make the best of it and decided to buy a second hand TREK 3700 disk brake to ride around this astonishing country.

Cycling during Summer in New Zealand

New Zealand's summer months are December to February, bringing high temperatures and sunshine. Days are long and sunny, nights are mild. Summer is an excellent time for cycling, walking in the bush and a variety of other outdoor activities. ...Summer is the best time of year to go camping in New Zealand.

From Hanmer Springs (140km North of Christchurch)

Where to stay while cycling touring in New Zealand?

DOC manages more than 200 campsites throughout New Zealand. They are places to relax, enjoy and explore the outdoors. Choose from forest settings, lake-shores and sandy beaches.

Check their website: Here


Warm Showers is a non-profit social networking service for people engaging in bicycle touring to arrange home stays. The platform is a gift economy — hosts are not supposed to charge for lodging. The platform is accessible via a mobile app and a website based on Drupal software.

Find the best affordable hostel: If you are the kind of person that likes a bit more comfort or simply did not take a shower for the past week and need to chill out few days before to hit the road again,HostelWorld has the largest inventory of hostels in the world, with millions of reviews from fellow backpackers. Agoda is also a great deal and has lots of advanced search and filters for finding hostels, hotels, and unique accommodation.

From Hanmer Springs:

Molesworth road: The distance between Hanmer Springs & Blenheim is 145 km. The road distance is around 257 km. Molesworth Station lies in the High Country between Marlborough and North Canterbury – a high, remote area surrounded by snow-capped peaks most of the year. A working farm as well as being a reserve, it now belongs to the Crown, having fallen into disuse through over-grazing and rabbit damage last century. Today after decades of intensive conservation Molesworth Station is a wonderful area to visit: remote and wild, with beautiful river valleys, high tussock land, mountains and pasture.

The Rainbow road: The Rainbow Road is a ‘wilderness driving’ experience across private land. The 112‑kilometre road from Hanmer to St Arnaud (via Tophouse Rd and Wairau Hanmer Springs Hydro Rd) is accessible by 4WD vehicles only (2WD to Lake Tennyson).

Combined with the Acheron Road, this makes a good round trip.

Allow at least three hours to drive from Hanmer to State Highway 63, on a road which crosses Rainbow Station courtesy of the runholder. 

From Hanmer, the route follows the Clarence River along Molesworth’s boundary with St James Conservation Area to its origin at Lake Tennyson. After crossing the Alpine Island Saddle (1347 m), it follows the Wairau River through Molesworth and Rainbow Station to State Highway 63 near St Arnaud (85 km from Nelson/131 km from Picton via Blenheim).

Road conditions

  • The road is unsealed, with areas of potholes and corrugations.

  • Several road bridges are narrow with no barriers. Please pass with care and be aware of other road users.

  • The highest point on the road is Wards Pass (1145 m) which is a 245 m elevation gain from Cobb Cottage.

  • The road is exposed to the weather during its entire length, with interpretation shelters offering some shelter, although they are not enclosed. 

  • Carry your own water for the trip, or boil/treat water taken from streams.

Be prepared

  • Careful and slow driving is needed on the narrow, unsealed road. 50 km speed limit applies through the Station.

  • No mobile coverage.

  • No fuel or food available.

  • Check your spare tyre before you go – space saver tyres are not suitable.

  • Follow the Molesworth care code.

  • Keep to roads and marked walking routes only, as cross-country cycling is not permitted.

  • These are high altitude routes where weather conditions can change rapidly. Always carry wind and water-proof clothing.

Download Brochure Molesworth Download brochure Rainbow Road

Picton to Wellington - Ferry

From Picton to wellington

Checking-in with a bicycle

If you are travelling on a bicycle, check in at the passenger terminal at least 45 minutes prior to departure time. If you are bringing a vehicle with bicycles on a rack, then follow the normal vehicle boarding instructions.

Picton bicycle check-in procedure

  • Arrive at least 45 minutes before departure

  • Go to the passenger terminal

  • Park/lock bicycle outside in the racks provided

  • Have booking confirmation ready (having the document open on your phone will do)

  • Go to check-in counters and exchange booking confirmation for boarding passes and access code

  • Check-in large bags (this includes backpacks)

  • Wait in terminal until boarding is announced

  • Collect bicycle and follow red line through security gate using access code provided at check-in

  • Wait in bicycle boarding area for marshal's instruction to board (this might be after the vehicles have boarded, so please be patient)

  • Follow marshal's instructions to bicycle area and lock your bike

Interislander Website


From crystal-clear streams and magical forests, to epic biking trails and thermal mud pools, Rotorua has it all. The city offers a raft of attractions and experiences for everyone from adventure-seekers to those just looking to unwind.

Sitting within the Pacific Rim of Fire, Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland with bubbling mud pools, clouds of steam, and natural hot springs perfect for bathing and relaxing in. After marveling at the distinctive landscapes and volcanic activity within a geothermal park, enjoy a simple soak in a natural hot stream or indulge in a wellness getaway at a luxurious spa.

Have you got the right gear?

If you’re planning to travel by bike, there’s no getting around it—you’ll have to bring stuff.

The central truth for this stuff: less is more. Countless cyclists end up shipping excess stuff home a week or two into their ride after they realize how little they actually need and precisely how heavy their extra stuff is.

The other central truth: the less weight you carry, the more fun it is to ride. In time, you’ll figure out what works best for you. Bike touring check list

Are you a big fan of the Lord of the ring?

It is now a permanent attraction complete with hobbit holes, gardens, bridge, Mill and The Green Dragon Inn. Matamata, home of the Hobbiton Movie Set, is a small agricultural town in the heart of the Waikato region, nestled at the base of the Kaimai ranges.

Cycling the Famous Takaka hill


This Takaka Hill northern side approach starts in Upper Takaka. The Takaka Hill northern side climb is 9.096 km long. You gain 677 height meters, so the average gradient is 7.44 %. The climb is ranked 3056 in the world.

Related post: Choosing A Tent for Bicycle Touring -Discover Evolution

Golden Bay:

Te Waikoropupū Springs (also known as Pupu Springs) are the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand and the largest cold water springs in the southern hemisphere, with a clarity rating of 75m, meaning they also contain some of the clearest water ever measured. The springs are located on the other side of the hill, near the town of Takaka, and are a 'wahi tapu' - sacred place - to the local Maori tribe. You can take a leisurely stroll around the walkways and read the interpretive panels along the way.

Wharariki beach near farewell spit

Book a tour:

Cycling from Hanmer springs to Christchurch


Classic route - Hanmer springs to Culverden (40km) relentless up and down to Rangiora usually headwind, then slog for the remaining 100km. Definitely a race to include in your program.

Lonely Planet Cycling New Zealand (Travel Guide)

Download here

Lake Tekapo

Tekapo may be a small alpine village in the Mackenzie, but it packs a big punch. Recently named the ‘most Instagrammed location in New Zealand,’ Lake Tekapo has reached international stardom with its turquoise waters and painted mountains; all which provide the most stunning backdrop to a little church that has brought thousands to witness its beauty.

The small town that has long been a Kiwi favorite holiday destination is now reaching international visitors more than ever. With a good mix of tour operators, shops and restaurants, Tekapo is a town on the rise. Located only an hour’s drive from Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Lake Tekapo has become a base for all sorts of activities in the region.

Things to do:

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From Te Anau to Milford sound:

The road is absolutely stunning and you will love it ! 118,1 km in 8h08mn but who wants to cycle eight hours straight without enjoying the beauty of stunning and breathtaking landscape? Cycling during summer is fine but if you attempt to be there during wintertime (May to September), the Milford Road can be extremely challenging as the weather can change rapidly. The road can often be covered in snow and ice, and there is a risk of avalanches.

Beware of the Tunnel at the end, you will definitely want to get a bike light (front & rear) before to enter as it could be very dangerous.

Cycling the Mavora Road to Queenstown

The ride to Mavora Lakes is a wilderness journey that showcases Southland’s most stunning highlands. This smooth and safe trail winds its way between rugged alpine mountains, ancient glacial valleys, native beech forest and picturesque farmlands. This incredible ride is part of the ‘Around the Mountains Cycle Trail’ and it can be ridden in either of two directions.

Without a doubt, the most stunning access to the lakes begins in downtown Queenstown. The journey starts by crossing Lake Wakatipu on board the historic steamship TSS Earnslaw. From Walter Peak Station you’ll follow the Mt Nicholas farm road alongside the lake, before heading gently up through the head waters of the Von River, which lies under the watchful eye of the Livingston Mountains.

Cycling from Queenstown to Westport

What to see?

Be ready to be wet and eaten alive by sun-flies!

It took me 6 days to ride from Queenstown to Westport, it rained during three consecutive day non-stop, day & night. I was soaking wet and I had nothing dry to put on, everyday I was getting to sleep in a wet tent and hardly could cook anything either. I had to wait to arrive to Fox Glacier to finally find an affordable Backpacker for the night in the order to wash and dry all my clothes. When I went back on the road the rain was gone but sun-flies appear and without the advice of few people I will had not think of purchasing a "repellent" and trust me you definitely want to buy one before going any further.

1- Wanaka

2- Fox Glacier

3- Punnakaki Rock

The Pancake Rocks at Dolomite Point near Punakaiki are a heavily eroded limestone area where the sea bursts through several vertical blowholes.

The foundations of the Pancake Rocks were formed 30 million years ago when minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface.

Related post:

Have you got a Traveling insurance?

Travel insurance for and intrepid families. You'd rather not think about all of the things that might go wrong on your trip, but these things can and do happen. World Nomads travel insurance has been designed by travelers for travelers, to cover your trip essentials. Even if you run out of travel insurance or leave without it, World Nomads can offer you cover. We don't just keep you and your family protected - with us, you'll travel smarter and safer.

Check Traveling Insurance Page

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