10 reasons to go on a Great Ride
Between New Zealand’s beautiful places, amazing sights and friendly people, there are literally millions of reasons to head out on a Great Ride. Let us convince you with ten of the best.
1 Explore incredible natural worlds
The Great Rides venture deep into many of New Zealand’s most memorable landscapes – from mountains to sea, forest to farmland, untouched wetlands to the smoking volcanic plateau. You’ll see ancient trees, alpine rock gardens, pristine lakes and glittering beaches. You’ll thread through remote river valleys surrounded by soaring, snow-capped peaks. And you’ll encounter charming birdlife, lazy seals, sparkly glowworms and leggy insects like weta and cave spiders. Get ready to roll and keep your camera handy.
2 Discover New Zealand’s history
Known in Māori as Nga Haerenga (The Journeys), many of the Great Rides follow routes forged by early travellers – Māori hunters and gatherers, European explorers and surveyors, miners, railway builders and other pioneers. They traverse greenstone trails, bridleways, tramways, railways and high country tracks, reaching captivating places such as mountain huts, historic homesteads, old gold towns and handsomely carved marae. Along the way, their stories are brought to life through evocative information panels.
3 There’s a ride for everyone
Most of the trails are easy to intermediate, meaning there’s a ride for almost all ages and abilities. In general, multi-day trails are best suited to fitter, more experienced riders, but almost all of the trails can be broken up into shorter trips – from easy rides that the whole family can enjoy, to all-day adventures for those with more stamina. Mountain biking fans will find of plenty of challenging singletrack to suit them, too.
4 Enjoy time together
The Great Rides are deservedly popular with family, social and sporting groups looking for bonding, team-building and camaraderie. Bike hire, shuttle and tour companies cater well to large groups, as do accommodation providers such as lodges and holiday parks.
5 Get off track & try something new
They say variety is the spice of life, and our Great Rides serve up a veritable smorgasbord! Many trails pass by or near must-see attractions and activities: why not go star-gazing in Tekapo, kayaking in Abel Tasman, jet boating on the Whanganui River or see the incredible geothermal parks around Rotorua? You could even go bungy jumping or skydiving in Queenstown. To quote a famous cyclist, it’s not all about the bike!
6 Eat & drink your way around
The beauty of burning all those calories, of course, is guilt-free enjoyment of delicious food and drink. Scoff juicy, seasonal fruit from a roadside stall, or savour a scoop of freshly churned gelato. Sample beer from countless craft breweries, or go wine-tasting around the country’s top terroir. Indulge in heavenly home-baking in countryside cafes, or head to urban eateries to dine on refined cuisine featuring prime local ingredients. If you’re looking for a fantastic food tour, you’ll find one here.
7 Take it easy
Enjoy a hassle-free holiday by letting the locals sort your logistics. New Zealand’s ever-growing cycle trail network is well supported by folks eager to help you get the most out of your adventure – bike shops, hire depots, shuttles, bike-friendly accommodation and much more. Tour companies also offer everything from independent bike tours to fully guided multi-day trips including all meals, accommodation and luggage transfers.
8 Experience all seasons
Most trails can be ridden all year round, with each season bringing new aspects of nature and colours to the fore. While summer is the most popular time to ride, spring and autumn are excellent alternatives for their cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. Many trails are also wonderful in winter, especially those back-dropped by snowy mountains brought into sharp focus through crystal-clear air.
9 Soak up the sights at the perfect pace
A bit of puffing and pedaling won’t stop you from relaxing and enjoying the ride. Cycling is a rewarding way to spend your days, allowing you to see the sights while making the most of great scenery, good company and much more along the way. As they say, getting there is half the fun. In the case of the Great Rides, it’s all about the journeys – that’s why we call them Nga Haerenga.
10 Great Rides feel great
Call us biased, but we reckon few activities make you feel as happy and free as riding a bicycle. With the sun on your face, the breeze at your back, and blood pumping around your body, you’ll feel refreshed, energised and restored to your former glory! And there’s the satisfaction of knowing that – by exploring by bike – you’re leaving a light footprint, supporting local communities and getting to know the real New Zealand.
Kia ora! Enjoy the ride!
Photo credits: Mead Norton Photography (1); Jason Blair (2); Destination Queenstown (3); Rebecca Ryan (4); Te Puia (5); Ruth Lawton Photography (6); Visit Ruapehu (7); bennettandslater.co.nz (8); Chocolate Dog Studio (9); thecoromandel.com (10).