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New Zealand

millemanmilleman Posts: 181
edited May 2010 in Tour & expedition
Really fancy a trip down the south Island of New Zealand.

Has anyone done this that can offer any advice on tour companies, time to go, precautions etc?.

Looking to go late this year/early next year.

thanks

Posts

  • lloyd_bowerlloyd_bower Posts: 664
    Tour Companies? can't advise, but you could search on the web there a re a few. Personally I wouldn't bother, do it independently easy enough to do.

    Time? probably try and avoid xmas and new year which is the busiest period when most Kiwis take their hols. Outside that time, shouldn't have a great deal of difficulty getting accomm, backpackers places work out quite cheap.

    Precautions? Cycle helmet is compulsory in NZ and generally enforced. Driving standards can be pretty bad, roads statistically less safe than Europe and difficult to avoid the main roads. However don't let put you off, plenty of great scenery.

    Also fly via the Eastern route, travelling anywhere via the US is a pain.
  • WooliferkinsWooliferkins Posts: 2,060
    I did this with the ctc about 15 years ago it was fabulous. We went Jan/Feb time, four weeks unsupported with one rest day. We stayed at B&Bs and hostels. Advice industrial bug repellent on the west coast for sand flies, dont miss Lake Tekapoe or the Cardrona Hotel
    Neil
    Help I'm Being Oppressed
  • Buckled_RimsBuckled_Rims Posts: 1,648
    Remember NZ has strict controls on entry of bikes, clothes and shoes....and food.

    ie. Shoes have to be spotlessly clean and disinfected, same with MTB clothes. I presume you'll be hiring a bike there so that's OK, else make sure your bike/tyres is disinfected.
    CAAD9
    Kona Jake the Snake
    Merlin Malt 4
  • avoid the magpie breeding season (seriously!) they are extreemly terriorial and common in NZ and its not pleasant being dived bombed constantly.... riders on some aussie forums recommend stick on eyes / deelieboppers (sp) for the back of your helmet.

    Sunblock too.

    Driving standards are poor, but its more ignorance than the agression you get in the uk. there is so little traffic in rural areas you wont really notice it - there a loads of signs marked "share the road" and i'm sure C+ claimed it was one of the safest places in the world to cycle....

    Buy all your kit here and take it over - it costs an arm and a leg over there.

    You wont regret it - the scenery in the south island is out of this world...
  • ralexralex Posts: 85
    avoid the magpie breeding season (seriously!) they are extreemly terriorial and common in NZ and its not pleasant being dived bombed constantly.... riders on some aussie forums recommend stick on eyes / deelieboppers (sp) for the back of your helmet.
    ..

    This is nonsense.
    There is no problem in NZ from Magpies or any other wildlife, apart from Sandflies which can be a nuisance although nowhere near as bad a s Scottish Midgies.
    Having cycled extensively throughout NZ and having lived there for 4 years ten years ago, I never once had any hassle from Magpies or even heard any mention of them being a problem.
  • awallaceawallace Posts: 191
    I have been in the late dec / jan and march / april periods and both were glorious weather.

    Picton is stunning although really an entry point to the South Island. Abel Tasman National Park (google images - wow!) is like somewhere in the Indian Ocean! Franz Josef glacier is like you could be in the Alps, and Christchurch is like being back home but a lot cleaner and tidier. All this in one Island!

    West Coast is wetter but you sometimes dont pass any one for ages. Truly amazing country and if my situation was different i would move there in a flash.

    PS i dont work for the NZ toursit board despite my enthusiastic post although i am proud of my 1/4 NZ heritage!!
  • ralex wrote:
    avoid the magpie breeding season (seriously!) they are extreemly terriorial and common in NZ and its not pleasant being dived bombed constantly.... riders on some aussie forums recommend stick on eyes / deelieboppers (sp) for the back of your helmet.
    ..

    This is nonsense.
    There is no problem in NZ from Magpies or any other wildlife, apart from Sandflies which can be a nuisance although nowhere near as bad a s Scottish Midgies.
    Having cycled extensively throughout NZ and having lived there for 4 years ten years ago, I never once had any hassle from Magpies or even heard any mention of them being a problem.

    there is no need to be rude. i lived there too and just because you didn't experience it, doesn't mean it isn't a problem. the op is at liberty to take or leave my advice, I really don't care, I was only offering my experience and trying to be helpful.

    http://www.swimriderun.com.au/t-cycling_magpie.aspx

    http://www.transport.qld.gov.au/Home/Ge ... s/Animals/

    Aussie sites but the same applies in NZ (Canterbury Plains IME)
  • ralexralex Posts: 85
    Sorry wasn't meant to be rude, just saying that magpies are of no concern. Based on about 10,000 miles cycle touring in NZ over a ten year period.
  • CrackFoxCrackFox Posts: 287
    Advice industrial bug repellent on the west coast for sand flies

    +1. A colleague recommended Repel (http://www.apexltd.co.nz/) after we returned from a rafting trip down south with dozens of bites. We naively opted to take non-DEET based alternative products. Don't make that mistake. The sandflies are a real pain and they seem to have a preference for British blood.
  • lloyd_bowerlloyd_bower Posts: 664
    ralex wrote:
    avoid the magpie breeding season (seriously!) they are extreemly terriorial and common in NZ and its not pleasant being dived bombed constantly.... riders on some aussie forums recommend stick on eyes / deelieboppers (sp) for the back of your helmet.
    ..

    This is nonsense.
    There is no problem in NZ from Magpies or any other wildlife, apart from Sandflies which can be a nuisance although nowhere near as bad a s Scottish Midgies.
    Having cycled extensively throughout NZ and having lived there for 4 years ten years ago, I never once had any hassle from Magpies or even heard any mention of them being a problem.

    there is no need to be rude. i lived there too and just because you didn't experience it, doesn't mean it isn't a problem. the op is at liberty to take or leave my advice, I really don't care, I was only offering my experience and trying to be helpful.

    http://www.swimriderun.com.au/t-cycling_magpie.aspx

    http://www.transport.qld.gov.au/Home/Ge ... s/Animals/

    Aussie sites but the same applies in NZ (Canterbury Plains IME)

    Fully agree, no need for the nonsense reply. Magpie attacks whilst not regular are certainly not unknown in NZ.
    I've read a couple a threads on local forum's too about Magpie attacks, and in the 2 years I've been here I've attacked four separate times by magpies grabbing at my helmet, it's quite concerning especially when you're descending fast and they come from nowhere.

    They may be attracted by certain colour helmets , I don't know but never once when cycling in the UK was I attacked by birds. I wouldn't poo poo someone who reported it though.

    Regarding sandflies, they shouldn't be a problem cycling as you're moving too fast for them. Backpacking though they can be every bit as bad and worse as the Scottish midge.
  • dynastarg9dynastarg9 Posts: 103
    Don't go in the summer as it's bloody hot on the roads and you'll suffer. Also try to keep off the main roads as the trucks are much bigger than they are in the UK. One of those going past you at 100kph will give you something to think about.
    Depending on the time of year, try to plan for the wind as well. It gets very windy on the west coast as the prevailing wind is a sou-wester. A plan might be to head south down the east and north up the west (if you get my drift).
    I'm a kiwi and I can vouch for headwinds on the west coast.

    While we're talking about vicious animals in NZ - watch out for the drop bears!

    Enjoy though.
    Lapierre Zesty 514 - 2010
  • dynastarg9dynastarg9 Posts: 103
    Oh, and by the way, magpies are territorial and aggressive. If you don't want to be attacked then stay away from their nests.
    This is usually pretty easy as they nest in macrocarpa trees and only in the spring.

    Imagine that, all of the people on here thinking that Australasian magpies seek out humans to attack and maim.. maybe in a Peter Jackson movie!
    Lapierre Zesty 514 - 2010
  • ralexralex Posts: 85
    dynastarg9 wrote:
    Don't go in the summer as it's bloody hot on the roads and you'll suffer. Also try to keep off the main roads as the trucks are much bigger than they are in the UK. One of those going past you at 100kph will give you something to think about.
    Depending on the time of year, try to plan for the wind as well. It gets very windy on the west coast as the prevailing wind is a sou-wester. A plan might be to head south down the east and north up the west (if you get my drift).
    I'm a kiwi and I can vouch for headwinds on the west coast.

    While we're talking about vicious animals in NZ - watch out for the drop bears!

    Enjoy though.

    Summer can be hot (30 degrees C is common, hotter sometimes in places, but generally mid to high twenties C) but as long as you are ok with hot weather its great.

    Keep off the busy main roads, mostly SH1 and a few others. Trucks can seem bigger than here often because they have a trailer, but off the main trunk routes they are not that frequent and are no big problem.

    It can sometimes be a windy country, but I wouldn't say the west coast (South Island) was particularly windy or any windier than anywhere else. I lived in Franz Josef and Greymouth for two years and have cycled the west coast road lots in both directions and don't recall the wind being an issue.
  • tatanabtatanab Posts: 1,283
    I went in February 2006 which is at the end of their summer tourist season. Not intersted in North Island so stuck to South Island.

    Sand flies are a real nuisance along the west coast. Take repellant.
    Windy - too right it was, especially up through the centre of the island.
    Heat- not hot, only maybe 25C in February, but because of the hole in the ozone layer just there you can burn very easily. They say that you can always tell a tourist because they are the only ones not wearing hats.
    Downside - helmets are compulsory although many locals take them off for the mountain climbs.
    The climbs are long and shallow, but they all seem to kick up with a vengeance in the last couple of kilometres.
    Beer is fizzy rubbish. Speights seems the normal mass brand. A small brewer in Wanaka makes Brewski which is closest to english beer, but still a bit gassy.
    Customs with a bike was no problem. They are only intersted in things that get muddy like MTBs and tents. Nevertheless it is good manners and a precaution to clean everything just in case.

    I did not have time to "just go", as I usually do, so used http://www.pedaltours.co.nz/ run by an expat British clubman. Downright excellent, or maybe I was exceptionally lucky with the staff on that ride. All the other riders were American and Canadian which seems to be the norm for tour companies. Pedaltours also do pretty reasonable rental bikes (and tandems). I was the only one to have my own machine, everybody else was renting.
  • tatanab wrote:
    Beer is fizzy rubbish. Speights seems the normal mass brand. A small brewer in Wanaka makes Brewski which is closest to english beer, but still a bit gassy..
    I agree the mass market beers are pretty aweful, Speights being a good example, but there are some gems too, Monteiths do a great range, their Black and Summer Ales are favourites of mine. Steinlager is the closest to a continental lager that I know of and its jolly nice.
  • lloyd_bowerlloyd_bower Posts: 664
    Abit here in the local press about roads, big trucks and cycling in NZ
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/na ... e-tourists
  • Abit here in the local press about roads, big trucks and cycling in NZ
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/na ... e-tourists
    yikes.....
  • bobloboblo Posts: 360
    Not seen it yet so... a lot of the roads are unpaved (i.e. unsealed chippings) so watch for that if you're on a 'normal' road bike or tourer. It can be a bit rough on narrow rubber...
  • suffolk ridersuffolk rider Posts: 103
    i was in South Island in February, and would caution that even then (i.e. their summer) you may witness heavy downpours, so do pack (light) waterproofs. With luck, the sun will come out again soon and dry you out.
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