November 2014: Nga Haerenga - The New Zealand Cycle Trails

New Zealand has a trail to suit every client’s fitness and experience, making it the perfect destination to explore on two wheels.

The Queenstown Trail. Photo: Miles Holden
Twenty three spectacular ‘Great Ride’ cycle trails and a selection of cycle touring routes make up the network known as Nga Haerenga - The New Zealand Cycle Trail. The Māori meaning of Nga Haerenga is ‘the journeys’, both in a physical and spiritual sense, which is what your clients can expect to experience on The New Zealand Cycle Trail.
 
The Great Rides are the premier rides on The New Zealand Cycle Trail. They are predominantly off-road trails that showcase the very best of New Zealand’s landscape, environment, culture and heritage. 
 
New Zealand has a trail to suit every client’s fitness and experience, making it the perfect destination to explore on two wheels. Whether your clients are after an easy ride with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery and local attractions, or a more adventurous ride with hill climbs and spectacular vistas, there is something to please everyone. 
 
Serious cycling enthusiasts may like to take on the challenge of cycling the length of New Zealand from Cape Reinga to Bluff, otherwise known as The Ultimate Ride. The ride takes in 9 Great Rides which are connected by quiet country roads. At a relaxed pace the 3000km journey takes two months to complete – definitely not for the faint hearted!
 
Below is a brief overview of each of the Great Rides. To explore each of the trails further click here. To learn more about cycling in New Zealand click here.
 

NORTH ISLAND

 
Twin Coast Cycle Trail
Grade: Easy – Intermediate
Location: Northland
Duration: 2 days (84 km)
This trail is steeped in historical significance of early New Zealand history, dating from before the land wars. Some sections of the trail are still under construction and will be completed in 2015.
 
Hauraki Rail Trail
Grade: Easy – Intermediate
Location: Waikato/The Coromandel
Duration: 2 days (83km)
The Hauraki Rail Trail showcases some of the best scenery New Zealand has to offer and is rich in pioneering history. 
Watch a video on the Hauraki Rail Trail here (4 minutes 6 seconds)
 
Waikato River Trail
Grade: Easy – Advanced
Location: Waikato
Duration: 1-4 days (100km)
This cycle trail follows New Zealand’s longest river, the mighty Waikato. Highlights include towering dams, suspension bridges and long meandering boardwalks.
 
Te Ara Ahi
Grade: Intermediate
Location: Rotorua
Duration: 2 days (66km)
Cycle through a thermal wonderland of steaming vents, bubbling mud pools and spectacular geysers.
 
Motu Trails
Grade: Easy – Advanced
Location: East Coast (Ohope)
Duration: 1-3 days (11-91km)
Three cycle trails make up the Motu Trails, cyclists have the option to combine them all. The Dunes Trail is the easiest of the three and meanders along the stunning Bay of Plenty coastline for 11 km.
 
Great Lake Trail
Grade: Intermediate
Location: Taupo
Duration: 2 days (71km)
The stunning Great Lake Trail follows the shores of beautiful Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, from Waihaha to Whakaipo Bay. 
 
Mountains to Sea
Grade: Intermediate – Advanced
Location: Whanganui/Manawatu
Duration: 4-6 days (317km)
Riders traverse two national parks that are rich in natural and cultural heritage. Riders begin at the Central Volcanic Plateau and cycle towards the sea in Whanganui.
 
The Timber Trail
Grade: Easy – Intermediate
Location: Central North Island
Duration: 2 days (83km)
This trail follows old tramlines and specially designed track. The views offered from eight large suspension bridges along the trail are nothing short of spectacular.
Watch a video on the The Timber Trail here (1 minute 30 seconds)
 
Hawke’s Bay Trails
Grade: Easy – Intermediate
Location: Hawke’s Bay
Duration: 1-4 days (187km)
The Hawke’s Bay Trails offer three distinct cycling experiences: the Landscape Ride, the Water Ride and the Wineries Ride – each are spectacular in their own right.
Watch a video on the Hawke's Bay Trails here (4 minutes 13 seconds)
 
Rimutaka Cycle Trail
Grade: Easy – Intermediate
Location: Wellington/Wairarapa
Duration: 2-3 days (115km)
From the head of Wellington Harbour, the trail circumnavigates the bush-clad Rimutaka Mountain Range, passing through tunnels on an old rail trail and skirting around the wild southern coast.
 

SOUTH ISLAND
 

Dun Mountain Trail
Grade: Intermediate – Advanced
Location: Nelson Tasman
Duration: 4-6 hours (38km)
Riders climb the flanks of Dun Mountain on New Zealand’s first railway line, before descending back to Nelson.
 
Tasman’s Great Taste Trail
Grade: Easy – Intermediate
Location: Nelson Tasman
Duration: 1-4 days (38-175km)
Enjoy combining great tastes of food, wine, beer and even local art with scenic cycling across boardwalks and trails next to the sea through to forest trails and back country roads. This trail connects Nelson with Kaitariteri the popular entrance to the Abel Tasman National Park.
 
Queen Charlotte Track
Grade: Intermediate – Advanced
Location: Marlborough
Duration: 2-3 days (70km)
Ride through lush coastal forest, around historic bays and along skyline ridges. Enjoy local hospitality at a variety of cafés and accommodation options located along the track.

Little River Rail Trail
Grade: Easy – Intermediate
Location: Canterbury
Duration: 2-3 days (115km)
Ride from Christchurch to Little River, through a changing landscape that has seen a thousand years of human history.
 
Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail
Grade: Easy – Intermediate
Location: Canterbury and Otago
Duration: 6 days (310km)
The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is the longest continuous ride in New Zealand. The trail encompasses a World Heritage National Park, glacial fed lakes, hydro dam lakes, golden tussock land, limestone cliffs and Māori Rock art.
 
St James Cycle Trail
Grade: Easy – Advanced
Location: Hanmer Springs, Canterbury
Duration: 1-2 days (64km)
The trail offers a mix of riding grades through stunning and diverse scenery including soaring mountain peaks, crystal clear rivers, high-country lakes, alpine meadows, sub-alpine beech forest and expansive grassy river flats.
 
The Old Ghost Road
Grade: Advanced
Location: West Coast
Duration: 2-3 days (80km)
Riders cycle past mining relics of a bygone era, ascend through picturesque native forest and break out onto alpine tops. 
 
West Coast Wilderness Trail
Grade: Easy – Intermediate
Location: West Coast
Duration: 4 days (120km)
This trail offers riders spectacular landscapes of dense rainforest, glacial rivers, lakes and stunning views of the snow-capped Southern Alps.
 
Clutha Gold Trail
Grade: Easy
Location: Central Otago
Duration: 2 days (73km)
The Clutha Gold Trail showcases the area’s history of Māori moa hunters, Chinese gold miners, European pastoral farming, mining and rail.
 
Otago Central Rail Trail
Grade: Easiest
Location: Central Otago
Duration: 1-5 days (150km)
New Zealand’s original ‘Great Ride’, opened to the public in 2000. The Rail Trail traverses ever-changing mountainous, dry and rocky landscapes, high country sheep stations, spectacular river gorges, tunnels and viaducts.
Watch a video on the Otago Central Rail Trail here (4 minutes 5 seconds)
 
Roxburgh Gorge Trail
Grade: Easy
Location: Central Otago
Duration: 1 day (34km)
The Roxburgh Gorge Trail is a spectacular one-day ride between Alexandra and the Roxburgh Dam, following the Clutha Mata-au River.
 
The Queenstown Trail
Grade: Easy – Intermediate
Location: Queenstown/Arrowtown
Duration: 2-3 days (99km)
This trail takes in the Gibbston wine area, the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown and the stunning landscapes of Lake Hayes, Frankton and Queenstown. Riders will uncover hidden ruins, amazing architecture and historic bridges.
 
Around the Mountains
Grade: Easiest – Intermediate
Location: Otago/Southland
Duration: 2-3 days (175km)
This trail offers the best of back country cycling around Queenstown and Northern Southland. Some sections of the trail are still under construction and will completed in late 2015. 
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