Of all the decisions that I have made in my life, I think deciding to get fit and healthy after years of self-indulgence was probably my best one. My life used to involve eating far too much; drinking most days and my idea of exercise was walking to the pub once a month.
Thankfully life is different now. I take part in many fitness activities such as swimming and cycling. I live in New Zealand which fortunately for me has a huge range of places which are ideal for cyclists.
I wanted to list my top spots here for people to include in their cycling tour. We have some amazing off road mountain bike tracks, but as I’m more of a road person, the locations I’ll list here are all on road (with a few gravel roads).
If you want to include volcanos in your cycling tour then you really do have a lot of choices, but my personal top pick is the volcanoes in Tongariro National Park.
The park is located south of the huge Lake Taupo on the North Island.
If you’re doing a tour over a week or two then you could start in Auckland, ride southeast over a number of days to Rotorua (make sure you try their volcanic hot springs there) then south to Taupo and finally reach the Tongariro National Park.
The views are simply jaw dropping and if you also like to trek then you can try one of the many long walks in the national park. Be careful though as I found the wind was extremely strong on top of the volcanos. Only try these long treks with the proper clothing and walking boots.
It was difficult for me to name this section as it isn’t really just Tekapo but indeed the countryside around it. There are lots of roads you can ride, most of them with fantastic mountain and lake views.
As well as the lovely rides around the large lake you can also head into the hills and even try your hand up a small mountain (Mt John) which has good roads all the way to the top. You’ll find a café there but I found the prices to be rather expensive (not too surprising though in that location).
While you’re at the top, I highly recommend you check out the Mount John University Observatory (they offer nighttime tours as well).
On a clear day you should be able to see for a great distance and be rewarded with some of the best views in New Zealand.
Clyde to Middlemarch
Commonly known as the Otago Central Rail Trail, this really is a popular ride and it’s less challenging than the Crown Range. It is mostly over gravel roads running alongside the old railway line (which has been ripped up now), through tunnels and over brides.
It would be shameful for me not include New Zealand’s tallest mountain; so I will.
You have two options for this: You can stay in a place which offers views of this famous mountain as part of your tour. A great example is Fox Glazier which has a number of hotels and lodges with a clear view of the mountain.
The other option is to ride to the mountain itself along State Highway 80.
Either way your eyes should be prepared for a treat.
Jack Harris is a traveler and writer. He currently writes for Pedaltours a cycle touring company based in New Zealand. They offer a range of packages where you ride in various locations around New Zealand (and other countries), staying in very interesting and historic accommodation.