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Best Bike Trails (and Luxury Stays) in New Zealand

Best Bike Trails (and Luxury Stays) in New Zealand

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From easy coastal rides to epic mountain adventures, New Zealand is THE destination to cycle. With more and more holiday goers opting to see this double island paradise on two wheels instead of four, there has never been a better time to join New Zealand’s cycle revolution. Holiday with a difference. Discover our favourite bike trails and luxury stays below.

North Island

Great Lake Trail, Taupō

Forests, wetlands, waterfalls, beaches and panoramic views… the Great Lake Trail has it all. Skirting the edge of New Zealand’s largest lake, this ride is sure to take your love of nature and cycling to a whole new level of appreciation. Be sure to stop at Echo Rock, visit the secluded beaches for a swim and visit to lookouts to capture the beauty of the volcanic peaks. You can ride all sections of the Great Lake mountain bike trails in one epic day or slow it down for a multi-day mountain biking adventure.

Where to stay: Kinloch Manor & Villas (about a 30-minute drive to the Great Lake Trail start point).

Cloudy rolling in on an aerial view of Taupo Lake, New Zealand

Te Ara Ahi, Rotorua

If a biking/hot spring combo is up your alley, then New Zealand’s Rotorua region is the place to be. Dubbed ‘Thermal by Bike’, Te Ara Ahi is a thermal wonderland of steaming vents, bubbling mud pools and spectacular geysers. The 51km cycle trail weaves through some of Rotorua’s most impressive thermal hot spots. Te Ara Ahi passes four unique geothermal areas. This cycling adventure isn’t all biking and bathing, this pathway offers insight into the rich Māori history, exceptional lake and mountain views, and plenty of cafe stops along the way. Mountain biking enthusiasts can also detour into Rotorua’s world-famous Redwoods Mountain Bike Park.

Where to stay: Peppers On The Point (in Rotorua) or Treetops Lodge & Estate (among the trees).

For the perfect place to relax after a long bike ride, head to Rotorua Geyser and Mud Pools

Rimutaka Cycle Trail, Wairarapa

Connecting the wild beauty of Wellington and Wairarapa, the Rimutaka Cycle Trail will take you around the Rimutaka Ranges and Pacific Ocean coast. There are multiple access points to the trail and a variety of terrain, which means there is something for all cycling levels. Take a relaxing ride or go on an epic adventure. The scenery is nothing short of spectacular with its forested ranges, pretty villages and ocean views. Along the way, you can get to know the history of the region, stop for a coffee and a bite and visit the local galleries. Or if you’re up for a detour, head into Wairarapa wine country.

Where to stay: Wharekauhau Country Estate (on the edge of Rimutaka Forest Park).

Watch the sunrise at Wairarapa‘s Castlepoint Lighthouse in New Zealand

The Timber Trail, Taupō

The Timber Trail is 85km long. The bike trail will take you across ancestral Māori lands and deep into the ancient Pureora Forest Park. If you’re a bird lover, pack your binoculars. There are several beautiful species of native birds in the area, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in New Zealand. The trail offers expansive views from the eight large suspension bridges. There is an impressive 141m-long crossing of the Maramataha Stream set 55m above the stream bed, making it the longest suspension bridge open for cycling in New Zealand.

As the trail is not a loop track, organise a driver or shuttle to drop you off and pick you up from the start and finish points of the trail. The Timber Trail can be ridden in either direction, but most prefer to travel north to south, starting in Pureora and finishing in Ongarue.

Where to stay: Night Sky Cottage (about a one hour drive to the main trail).

Ride across the eight Timber Trail suspension bridges for a view unlike any other
Image courtesy of Department of Conservation

Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua

With 5600-hectares of towering redwood trees and lush native bush, Whakarewarewa Forest is not only one of the most exciting cycling destinations in New Zealand but also one of the most picturesque. Whakarewarewa Forest, also known as The Redwoods, is the epi centre of mountain biking in Rotorua. The forest is home to more than 160 km of cycling trails, which have been expertly constructed to ensure enjoyment all year round. Whakarewarewa Forest isn’t just for the pros. There are paths to suit every cycling ability from beginner to expert.

Where to stay: Regal Palms Resort (less than a 15-minute drive to Whakarewarewa Forest).

Experience the majesty of the Whakarewarewa (Redwood) Forest

South Island

The Old Ghost Road, West Coast

The Old Ghost Road trail is the perfect cycling challenge for experienced riders. As New Zealand’s longest single-track, you’ll traverse through an old gold miners’ route between the ghost town of Lyell in the Buller Gorge and Seddonville on the West Coast. Although the trail can be ridden in either direction, most start at Lyell Historic Reserve and travel north. Experience the rugged and remote landscapes, valleys, mountain tops and river gorges… and keep an eye out for ghosts! Okay, it’s unlikely you will see any ghosts but you will see some of the most spectacular views in New Zealand.

Where to stay: Archer House Luxury Bed & Breakfast Retreat (about a 40-minute drive to Old Ghost Road northern trailhead).

The epic scenery, rolling hills and beautiful Buller River in New Zealand

Great Taste Cycling Tour, Nelson

With a name like ‘Great Taste Cycling Tour‘, you know you’re in for a treat with this cycle tour. Start (and end) your cycle tour in the scenic, seaside town of Nelson, exploring New Zealand’s finest food and wine along the way. This tour is an exclusive fully guided small group cycling tour of the Great Taste Trail run by Tour de Vines. You’ll complete a full loop of the 159kms trail over 5 nights and 6 days. Enjoy majestic mountain and ocean vistas, a full day visiting the stunning Abel Tasman National Park, exceptional wine and food and even better company.

Where to stay: Accommodation throughout the tour pre-organised. See link for details.

Image courtesy of Tour De Vines

Queen Charlotte Track, Marlborough

The Queen Charlotte Track stretches between the Queen Charlotte and Keneperu Sounds. Experience stunning coastal views, native bush, historic bays, skyline ridges and unsurpassed views of the Marlborough Sounds while biking (or walking) the track. The Queen Charlotte Track is the longest piece of continuous single track in the country. It’s graded as intermediate (grade 3) to advanced (grade 4) mountain biking, with sections of expert (grade 5). Some riders might find sections of the track easier to walk. But whether you walk or bike, you’re sure to be amazed by the remarkable surroundings.

Where to stay: Bay of Many Coves (the only five-star luxury resort and spa in the Marlborough Sounds).

Look out over the turquoise waters as you cycle the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand
Image courtesy of Queen Charlotte Track

St. James Cycle Trail, Canterbury

The St. James Cycle Trail is a remote mountain biking experience through an historic high-country station. The area, once one of New Zealand’s largest cattle and sheep farms, is now the St. James Conservation Area. Cycle through grassland valleys, mountain beech forest and take in the out-of-this-world alpine vistas. This trail is best suited to experienced mountain bikers but less experienced riders can get a taste of the trail on the 15km ‘Homestead Run’ loop. Finish your ride with a trip the the relaxing spa town of Hanmer Springs.

Where to stay: Village Lake Luxury Apartments or Braemar Lodge & Spa (both in Hanmer Springs).

Explore the mountains and dreamy landscape on the St. James Cycle Trail and in Hanmer Springs

Welcome Rock Trails, Southland

The Welcome Rock Trails is just 45-minutes from Queenstown. Originally the trail started off as one of New Zealand’s longest gold-mining water races. It has since been modified to a single-track circuit for bikers and hikers to satisfy their adventure kicks. The O’Brien family have own the land for four generations and happily welcome bikers to explore the surrounding beauty. They hand-hew the mountain biking track in much the same fashion as the nineteenth century track builders, ensuring bikers will be able to enjoy the 27-kilometre trail safely. The ride can be done in one day or as an overnight glamping adventure.

Where to stay: Eichardt’s Private Hotel (located in Queenstown about 45-minutes from Welcome Rock).

Get lost in nature while biking or hiking the Welcome Rock Trails in New Zealand
Image courtesy of Welcome Rock Trails NZ

Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, South Island

For epic and unforgettable vistas, take to New Zealand’s longest cycle trail. The Alps 2 Ocean (A2O) is divided into eight sections. The trail can take between 4–6 days to complete. Which means, if you plan to do the whole trail – DON’T skip leg day. The trail starts at Aoraki/Mt Cook, offering stunning mountain scenery. Follow a trail of braided rivers, glacier-carve valleys and tussock-covered highlands. Stop in at local vineyards for wine tastings (remember to drink and ride responsibly), go penguin spotting, and soak your troubles away in alfresco hot tubs while star gazing.

Where to stay: As the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail takes between 4-6 days to complete, it’s likely you’ll stay in multiple locations along the trail. Here are a two of our favourites: Lakestone Lodge and Pen-y-bryn Lodge. Remember, you can have you bags sent forward to your next location by organising with your accommodation or a porter service.

Experience the pure natural perfection of Lake Pukaki as you ride the Alps2Ocean trail
Image courtesy of Alps2Ocean

For more personalised information tips and advice, or to book this incredible holiday contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager here.

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