B-road/back-road day touring recommendations in New Zealand?

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gregmacc
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B-road/back-road day touring recommendations in New Zealand?

Postby gregmacc » Thu Oct 06, 2016 10:13 pm

Hi all ... My wife and I (Australians) are heading over with our roadies to do the Lake Taupo Classic in late November. We will travel to the South Island after the event with our bikes and a hire car for about 2 weeks. We have booked a Milford Sound cruise and 3 days accommodation in the area. The remaining time on the island has yet to be planned. We are after some recommendations for a couple of other places to base ourselves for 2 or 3 days that would offer some good half/full day touring potential. Our preference is for quiet back roads ... some dirt and gravel would be fine. A chopper ride out to a glacier is something we are interested in doing so maybe somewhere in the Franz Josef Glacier area? A friend of ours has recommended the ride from Queenstown to Arrowtown (presumably not the main highway) and up into the Crown Range so maybe somewhere in that area? Wanaka even? - The rail trails are appealing also but we have yet to research them in terms of places to be based. - Irrespective of where we might base ourselves our cycling adventures will need to be complete circuits or "out and back" affairs as we will not be set up to carry camping gear or other touring luggage ... maybe next time.
Any ideas or recommendations would be appreciated.
Cheers

scirocco
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Re: B-road/back-road day touring recommendations in New Zealand?

Postby scirocco » Thu Oct 06, 2016 11:49 pm

NZ is a fantastic country in many ways and can be good to ride, but it suffers from not having that many roads between the larger towns. Those that do exist tend to be narrow, surprisingly busy and twisty with poor sightlines for drivers and not a lot of fun to ride at all.
If you plan going from any A to any B make sure you can find a secondary route that the traffic will not be using.

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RonK
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Re: B-road/back-road day touring recommendations in New Zealand?

Postby RonK » Fri Oct 07, 2016 12:11 am

I have toured most of the South Island over three visits and I'm currently preparing for another visit.

The South Island is fairly sparsely populated compared to the North Island and there are not a lot of roads, so it's difficult to avoid highways entirely. That said, I've never been much bothered by traffic.

I have also toured on gravel roads and can say I wouldn't recommend you attempt it on road bikes. Not that the roads are rough, but it would take a lot of concentration to stay upright on skinny tyres and wouldn't be too much fun.

This is a typical gravel road, part of what is now the Around the Mountains Trail. Not easy to ride with skinny tyres, even worse if freshly graded.
Image

My choice would be to set up base in Queenstown. There are many ride options including over to Arrowtown as you mentioned. You could do this as a loop ride.

For a longer loop I'd do Queenstown - Cromwell - Wanaka - Arrowtown - Queenstown. It's a long one but hey - if you can ride Taupo you can do this, right? And the ride up through Cardrona and across the Crown Range, then the descent to Arrowtown is not to be missed.

Queenstown from the top of the Crown Range.
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Another stunning ride is the return trip from Queenstown along the shores of Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy.

Finally - you could hire a couple of MTB's, take the steamship TSS Earnslaw across the lake Image and tackle the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail.

or the Otago Rail Trail, or maybe just stay local on the Queenstown Trail network.

And if you are keen on a helicopter ride, why not try Helibiking.

If you are driving down from Taupo, from the ferry port at Picton come down the west coast of the South Island. That will take through some magnificent scenery and you will pass through the glacier towns of Franz Josef and Fox Glacier.

You find more pics and information in my tour journals.
North of South
Gone Fishin'
Chasing the Long White Cloud
Last edited by RonK on Fri Oct 07, 2016 4:54 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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BenGr
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Re: B-road/back-road day touring recommendations in New Zealand?

Postby BenGr » Fri Oct 07, 2016 4:48 am

Hanmer Springs to Lewis Pass could be worth it if you're in the area.

Wanaka to Haast pass as well.

From memory both those roads were quiet, despite being highways. You do have to be careful, no more than on Australian mountain roads though.

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gregmacc
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Re: B-road/back-road day touring recommendations in New Zealand?

Postby gregmacc » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:16 am

Scirocco: Thanks for the heads-up re the scarcity of secondary routes.

BenGr: We fly back to Australia from Christchurch so perhaps a day or 2 around the Lewis Pass area would be worth doing before we leave.

RonK: You might be surprised at where we have been on our road bikes ;-) ... We can run 28mm Panasonic Gravel Kings with clearance ... they are a great tyre and open up a lot of unsealed road opportunities. But yes, a little concentration helps. I will do some further research into your recommendations and your blog when time permits. Thanks for going to the trouble.
BTW, I can't see the photos?

LG
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Re: B-road/back-road day touring recommendations in New Zealand?

Postby LG » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:33 am

If you don't mind steep (or even bloody steep) hills and will be around Chch before flying out, check out the Port Hills and Banks Peninsula. There is a rail trail to access one section of it. Very scenic area.
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RonK
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Re: B-road/back-road day touring recommendations in New Zealand?

Postby RonK » Fri Oct 07, 2016 11:16 am

gregmacc wrote:RonK: You might be surprised at where we have been on our road bikes ;-) ... We can run 28mm Panasonic Gravel Kings with clearance ... they are a great tyre and open up a lot of unsealed road opportunities. But yes, a little concentration helps. I will do some further research into your recommendations and your blog when time permits. Thanks for going to the trouble.
BTW, I can't see the photos?

Well - I'm just speaking from my own experience. I rode them on 32mm gravel tyres and much concentration is required to ride exactly in the wheel tracks to avoid the drifts of heavy gravel. Otherwise the front wheel can easily wash out and down you go.

You'll see what I mean when you can see the pics.

Entirely up to you, but I want to do more back roads so next visit I'll be using 2.1" tyres.

I'll have a look at the pics - think I probably forgot to share them.
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gregmacc
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Re: B-road/back-road day touring recommendations in New Zealand?

Postby gregmacc » Fri Oct 07, 2016 4:00 pm

OK ... The photos are good to go now ... Yep, that gravel in the first photo looks pretty challenging ... A few km of that would be fine but if that is typical of the entire "Around the Mountains Trail" we would give it a miss. We do plan to return to NZ sometime in the future with our all-road pannier tourers for an extended trip. We'll just have to make do with getting a feel for the place this time around. Thanks again for your efforts RonK.

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RonK
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Re: B-road/back-road day touring recommendations in New Zealand?

Postby RonK » Fri Oct 07, 2016 6:28 pm

gregmacc wrote:...if that is typical of the entire "Around the Mountains Trail" we would give it a miss.

Of course there is quite a bit of variation, but it's typical of pretty much all the South Island back roads I've ridden. They are made with river gravel, of which there is a limitless supply.

If you are planning to return to NZ then it may be worth you while to check out the Kennett Brothers books.

Another nice place to set up a base for a few days would be Motueka. From there you can ride the Great Taste Trail or cross Takaka Hill into Golden Bay, take a cruise/hike/kayak in The Abel Tasman National Park

Oh, and be sure to pass through Havelock and stop at the Mussel Pot for a meal or snack.

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