For a great New Zealand bike adventure, try the North Island’s Hauraki Rail Trail.
No need to break a sweat on this threeday North Island cycle, which starts just south of Auckland and stretches to the Coromandel Coast, home to what may be New Zealand’s prettiest beaches. The Hauraki Rail Trail is famously flat, allowing bike riders plenty of time to enjoy the ever-changing scenery.
“You pass through tidal areas that are great for birdwatching, old gold-mining towns and rolling farmland on your way to the coast,” says Brett Leyden of tour company Adventure South. “You can even catch sea views from some of our accommodation, like the Coastal Motor Lodge, which has lovely chalet-style villas set in beautiful gardens.” And a range of eateries is dotted along the way, such as Café Melbourne in Thames (715 Pollen Street; + 64 7 868 3159), where you can fuel up on excellent ricotta pancakes.
The most memorable viewing comes on day two, as you follow the Ohinemuri River into the Karangahake Gorge, a place where mountains are mirrored in the still river waters and every bend of the path brings a new perspective. “The trail ends that day in the gold ining town of Waihi but we keep going through to the coast so we can finish with a swim,” says Leyden.
The final day of the tour takes you to Te Aroha, a charming town known for its hot springs. You can also visit the rural town of Matamata – located in the shadow of the Kaimai Range – where you’ll find the Hobbiton™ Movie Set, used to portray the Shire of Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings films.Stop off at the Green Dragon Inn for a drink.
Also try: The Alps 2 Ocean
“The Alps 2 Ocean is a real journey,” says Adventure South’s Brett Leyden, referring to one of the South Island’s most famous trails. “You start in the mountains, with amazing views of snow-capped peaks and high-country lakes, and follow the watercourses all the way down. It gives you a good taste of New Zealand’s typical landscapes.” The six-day route is rated introductory to moderate but Leyden says that with a shuttle available, “you don’t have to tackle anything you’re not ready for – you can just jump in the van”.