Traveller Advice: How to Tackle an NZ Cycle Trail

Celebrating the end of a great days riding! | Lachlan Gardiner
Celebrating the end of a great days riding! | Lachlan Gardiner

We'll fill you in on all you need to know before embarking on a cycle trail trip, but sometimes it's better to hear it from the horses mouth!

We asked our travellers what their advice for future travellers would be when taking on a New Zealand Cycle Trail. From planning and training, to simply enjoying every moment and pressing the GO button, read on to hear some pearls of wisdom.



Pre-Trip Planning

Our guides are always there to let you know where to go |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

What sort of scenery do I want to see? How far do I want to ride? How difficult is the trail? Can my whole family join?

The more thought you put into pre-trip planning, the better your experience will be on the trail. A fully-supported tour will get you ahead of the game with all the hard bits taken care of for you, however it does pay to do some of your own research. 

Traveller Advice:

  • The whole trip was awesome. Every detail was meticulously planned and all needs of the diverse group were catered for which made the trip so enjoyable and smooth. I would suggest briefing the company on your needs and letting them come up with a plan to suit your requirements as they really got it right for us. - Barb P, Alps to Ocean Classic.

  • Allow a full day in Christchurch prior to starting the trip, so you start rested. – Patricia D, West Coast Wilderness Trail.

  • Fantastic trip with efficient and suitable pre trip information, great guides, amazing scenery and some tough cycling which only added to the experience. We had a very good group that gelled from day one and we enjoyed a lot of laughs along the way. - Sue P, Hastings, West Coast Wilderness Trail.

When you book a trip with Adventure South NZ, you'll receive a comprehensive pre-departure information kit, a list of suggested pre and post trip accommodation, a full gear list and training suggestions. Feel free to ask our team any questions at all.



Fitness and Training

Cycling from Lauder to Ranfurly in the Poolburn Gorge |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

It's one of the most suggested pieces of advice from our travellers, so it's worth listening to. Get fit!

Of course you don't need to be an athlete, or bike 100 kms a week. Our support vehicle is always near by if you need a rest, or want to avoid those pesky hills too, but the more bike fit you are the more enjoyable your trip will be.

Traveller Advice:

  • Get fit! Follow the wise advice in the company pamphlets! Go for it, you will have a superb experience. – Dianne R, E-Bike Alps to Ocean.

  • Do some cycling on gravel before the trip. You don’t need to be amazingly fit, but some level of bike fitness will make the trip more enjoyable. – Luke M, Alps to Ocean Classic.

  • Take the advice to work on your fitness before the trip. There are some hills. My wife had an e-bike which made it a whole lot easier. Usually I have to wait for her. Roles reversed with the e-bike. – Colin P, Alps to Ocean Classic.

  • Do it! And don’t be afraid to book an e-bike if you need it because the route is NOT all downhill. A few people struggled at times. – Owen S, Alps to Ocean Classic.

We have information on trail surfaces and trip grading on each of our trip pages, or give us a call if you want to know more about the training we'd recommend.


The Trail Itself

Milltown Valley switchbacks | West Coast Wilderness Trail |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

Whichever trail you choose to ride, ensure you make the most of it while you're out there. It's not every day you get to explore some of the most spectacular scenery bike bike!

Traveller Advice:
  • Take your time to look around – Lynette B, E-Bike Alps to Ocean.

  • Go for it, you will see some unique parts of the country. The scenery is stunning. The track itself is very good quality which makes for super enjoyable riding and the sense of achievement at the end is fantastic. I would do it all again tomorrow. – Elaina C, Alps to Ocean Classic.

  • Expect lots of fun – William N, Otago Rail Trail Classic.

  • Be aware that part of the cycling is on gravel tracks, and that paved sections were on road – Clare, Nelson Bike Hike and Sail.


What Gear Should You Bring?

We'll move your luggage so you don't have to carry it! |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

We'd love to be able to say New Zealand's weather is predictable each season, but the reality is it can be pretty changeable. Not to worry - there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.

Traveller Advice:
  • Take two pairs of sports shoes, good bike gloves & your camera. Enjoy the experience & don't rush the cycling, take in the views and history. – Carol S, Otago Rail Trail Classic.

  • West Coast weather is wet at the best of times. Be prepared for that wet day or two and you will thoroughly enjoy the journey – Jan S, West Coast Wilderness Trail.

  • Just book it. Its a great adventure! I made sure I got a bit fit for this so it wasn't too much like hard work and it paid off. I probably over packed but if it had been a wet week, not sunny and 20 degrees I may have found otherwise. - Robert P, Alps to Ocean Classic.


Adventure South NZ provides a full gear list and our luggage trailers mean you can pack a generous amount.


For Those Questioning if they Should Book or Not...

Adventure South NZ Guides |  <i>Lisa Jones</i>

These ones speak for themselves really.

Traveller Advice:

However you choose to ride the trails, we hope some of this advice is helpful. If you have any advice you'd like to share with others, please email it to [email protected].


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