Leg 2 – Oceania (+/- 2000 km)
Countries: North and South Island, New Zealand
I gave myself 7 weeks cycling time in New Zealand and on the 24th October, 2016 I flew into Queenstown. From there I headed south and cycled an anti clockwise loop through Southland and back up into Otago before heading over to Mount Cook.
Once I had completed my loop of the very south I took Highway 6 up the west coast to the very tip of the south Island before taking a ferry from Nelson to Wellington on the North Island.
After spending the best part of 4 months cycling through the hustle and bustle of South East Asia I was looking forward to the peace, tranquillity and unspoilt vistas that everybody who has cycled in this part of the world raved about.
As I wanted to concentrate on off road riding as much as possible when planing my route I relied heavily on the advice of Warm Shower hosts (www.warmshowers.org) who lived in New Zealand. For this leg, a special mention must go to my ‘route planners’ – Sue Murray and Jenny Morton-Clark – whose advice was so crucial in the planning of my route.
The interactive map below outlines the route that I took as I set out cycling from Queenstown to Auckland.
The blue route line is often not the actual route that I cycled, more a representation. For the actual GPS tracks that I rode each day please scroll down and click on the Actual GPS links at the bottom of this page.
Please click on the map symbols for more detail about each leg, and zoom in for a closer view of the route that I cycled through South East Asia. (the initial map load time may be slow depending on your internet connection)
Zoom in on the map for a closer view of my route
If you have already read about my route through South East Asia you will know that the plan was for my wife to fly in to Bali in Indonesia to join me for a weeks holiday just before I flew to New Zealand. She brought with her all of my cold weather camping gear, and so when I arrived in New Zealand it marked the start of me living in a tent as my main means of accommodation.
In Asia, many ‘eco resorts’ were staring to offer the option of tents as an accommodation choice, such as Suoi Mo Park near Ho Chi Minh City, and they come ready supplied with mattress, bedding and fans. With the addition of fans they may be bearable but given the temperature, humidity and the general low cost of a room I did not regularly camp during the Asia leg of my cycle. The only times that I tended to camp on my cycle through Asia was when I found a stunning beach which was totally devoid of any trace of human life.
So how did I choose my route? Prior to researching cycling in New Zealand I had already heard about the National Cycle Trail Network that had been created, and was constantly being expanded, throughout the country. The following is taken from the trail website:
Imagine a riding adventure through dense New Zealand bush, with only the call of native birds loud above the hum of your bike. This Summer will see most of New Zealand’s Great Rides open, providing exciting journeys on 2,500km of trails.
These cycle trails are breathing new life into old tracks, offering leisurely travel and so much more than just biking. It all started with an idea in February 2009 to build a network of cycle trails that would provide a healthy and enjoyable way for Kiwis and International visitors to see the country, and generate economic, social and environmental benefits for our communities.
In New Zealand many towns have curtailed ‘Freedom Camping’ (except in the ‘back country’) and you are now forced to camp at private campsites or at D.O.C sites.
However, there is a law in New Zealand which allows people access to river banks (it is normally only one side of the river so you do need to check which side) and so for the majority of nights I would camp next to rivers and never had anybody object to me camping there.
The other plan that I had before arriving was to cycle mainly off road but after speaking with Sue and Jenny, who lived in New Zealand, this idea turned out to be not quite correct, and so my next plan was to try and cycle all of the off road cycle trails that had been constructed, and then ‘hop’ between them using sealed roads.
On the South Island when I planned my route there were 13 completed cycle tracks which formed the Cycle Trail Network, and I think that my final route managed to successfully include at least part of everyone of the trails.
Please click on the pictures below for more information about the different trails:
This meant that although I was not able to cycle the whole of my route off road, for over half of my time on the North and South Island I was able to ride and camp completely ‘off grid’.
My time stop for this leg was mid December 2016 when my wife flew into Auckland to join me in New Zealand for Christmas, and so once I had completed my route on the South Island I caught a ferry to Wellington and cycled to Auckland to meet her.
The cycle route I took on the North Island was the most direct route as I was short for time, but where I could I still followed river valleys.
The section with my wife was not by bike, and hence once I arrived in Auckland to meet her I stopped recording my route.
A couple of weeks of 5 star wining and dining recharged the batteries nicely after 7 weeks of predominantly camping on the sides of mountains.
After New Zealand, it really was a straight choice between two continents – East to South America or West to Africa. Back in the 1990’s, I hitch hiked extensively through Western Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin mainly) for a year or so, and so I have first hand knowledge of how difficult, and expensive, it can be to try and set any kind of schedule or even to obtain visas for onward travel between countries. When trying to leave Morocco and head into Algeria overland I ended up stranded in the Atlas Mountains for 3 weeks waiting for my visa to be processed.
At the time it was not a problem as the Atlas Mountains were beautiful and the people among some of the most generous in the world. Hitching on a donkey and cart is slow but when time is not an issue it is a perfect way to observe life around you. This time around it is a different situation, as I only had a set amount of time, and so in the end the choice was to head to South America.
If you have any questions about my cycle through New Zealand I would love to hear from you – please click here to email me direct!
Thanks for taking the time to read about my route through New Zealand and the final mention must go to the innumerable people who helped me out along the way. I would just like to say a huge heartfelt thank you as without you my journey and memories would not have been the same.
Click on the links below to see my actual GPS route tracks through North and South New Zealand:
To see all of my GPS tracks through New Zealand – CLICK HERE