New Zealand Bike tour 2023

Greetings fellow travel enthusiasts and pedal-powered wanderers!
Join me on an extraordinary 28-day cycling odyssey through New Zealand done in October 2023 with 3 co-riders – Bhavin Anandjiwala, Mihir Parmar and Sheela Bharadwaj. I invite you to hop on the saddle as we embark on a thrilling adventure through the heart of Aotearoa.

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Over the next four weeks, We rode across scenic trails, traversed majestic mountains, and immersed ourselves in the vibrant culture of New Zealand. Every day’s ride was different and made this an unforgettable cycling expedition in October 2023. So, gear up for an epic ride, as we pedalled our way through the captivating beauty of New Zealand’s landscapes and create memories that will last a lifetime!”

Day 1 – Bike assembly and City Tour
After over 27 hours of flight travel, We reached Christchurch only in the wee early hours of Oct 1, 2023. But we managed to assemble our bikes by 12 PM and ride into the city to test and fine-tune the bikes and do a Christchurch City tour. We spent a good 5-6 hours, touring the city and returned in the evening to start our long New Zealand Bike tour from next day.

Day 2 – Christchurch to Ashburton
Only in New Zealand can you find countless sheep and almost no humans for hours.
We started our New Zealand tour with a ride from Christchurch to Ashburton of approx. 94 kms. We started in 5 degree cold morning drizzle at Christchurch. We had to wear double jackets and winter gear to remain warm and keep riding. Initially, we rode on dedicated bike paths and then through quieter village roads.

Soon the rain stopped, and We had to ride on gravel for almost 3 hours nonstop and even walk across a couple of streams. Through the day, we rode past countless fields with sheep and cattle grazing all through the day. But we hardly saw humans in all these fields.

A lovely day on the bike today.

Day 3 – Ashburton to Geraldine
A lovely day today with sunshine and blue skies. We ride from Ashburton to Geraldine- only 56 kms. Again, we rode past endless dairy farms with countless sheep and cows. But no humans working or walking on the roads. We reached our destination by lunchtime and had Lunch at Subway and a great time exploring the small town of Geraldine with an Indian dinner.

Day 4 – Geraldine to Lake Tekapo
Today we rode 108 kms from Geraldine to Lake Tekapo in our custom New Zealand tour jerseys with the Indian flag. An immensely beautiful route. However, we got a lot of roads being repaired and laid with gravel. Very tough climbs. Gravel makes it difficult for tires to get traction and kept skidding. Also made the ride speed like a crawl.

We took about 11 hours and reached our destination only after 7 pm at sunset. About 1300 meters of climbing was done today. In New Zealand, We realised that almost all shops close by 5 PM and convenience stores also by 7-8 PM. We were staying in a lovely house with a fully equipped kitchen here. We rushed to buy groceries, eggs, bread etc as that was going to be our dinner for the day. I did some cooking for my hungry co-riders as well.

Day 5 – Lake Tekapo to Mt. Cook
We started our day with a ride to the gorgeous Lake Tekapo. Superb view of the snow

peaks surrounding the lake and extraordinary skies and clouds. Then a short stop at the Church of the Good Shepherd before we took the Alps to the ocean trail towards Mt Cook.

Then we rode on the beautiful Lake Tekapo Canal bike trail for about 15 kms. A lovely ride this was. But then we faced one of the most bizarre experiences ever. After riding along the trail adjoining the Tekapo canal, we faced such heavy winds of over 55 kmph that even a fully grown rider with a fully loaded bike would get dragged sideways and riding the bike was almost impossible. Somehow after walking through these strong windstorms with our loaded bikes, we managed to reach a junction to the main highway.

In all this wind gusto, I was walking last amongst our group of 4 riders. Suddenly I heard a big thud on the back of my helmet. It shook me. Looking up, I saw a bird flying above me menacingly. At that moment, I got a Notion that it was probably seeing me as food. I tried to scare it with my hands and threw a stone. It went away. But the bird came back 2 more times. I was so fortunate to be wearing a helmet and sunglasses. My shouting to the other 3 riders ahead of me was useless. In this wind storm, they could hear nothing.

Later I read online that this bird is a migratory bird called a magpie and in the breeding season from Aug to December, it attacks animals and humans th

at it sees as danger to its chicks. The next day, my helmet cracked from behind. I survived because of my helmet.

After about 22 kms, Then we decided that we would need help and called the emergency 111 number. A police van arrived in some time and got a van with trailer to take us to Mt Cook. What an experience this turned out to be.


Day 6 – Mt. Cook Exploration Day.
On every tour, We plan a rest day after 4-6 days of continuous riding to recoup the body, bike maintenance and clothes laundry etc.
Though still very cold, Today was a beautiful and sunny day in Mt. Cook. We did the popular hooker valley trek of about 10+ kms. An immensely popular and spectacular trek amidst stunning snow-capped peaks and lakes. This was a beautiful day spent walking through this valley. With tired legs, we returned in the afternoon. And this was supposed to be our “Rest day”.

Day 7 – Mt. Cook to Twizel
This day promised to be a spectacularly beautiful ride with the Mt Cook range of snow peaks around us and it was an enchanting ride.

We started riding at 7 am in -3 degrees cold. Unfortunately, we did not manage to get helicopter bookings to take us to the Alps to the ocean trail start. So we rode a bit on the A2O trail and then shifted to the main Mt Cook highway. The road had sparse traffic because it was a Sunday probably.

A visual spectacle today. With Mt Cook behind us and Lake Pukaki next to us, We clicked pictures all through the day and reached Twizel by 4 pm. Twizel is a quaint town of just about 1500 people. We spent the evening walking around town and later chilling outside our rooms, followed by dinner at a local Indo-Nepalese restaurant. The ride was so beautiful that we were a bit sad that the ride ended eventually.

Day 8 – Twizel to Omarama

Twizel is a lovely small town. We woke up to 2 deg cold morning and started late after eating breakfast in the room as we had a smaller 50 kms ride to Omarama today. My job was to make breakfast for the riders. I think I did that well.

On tours, servicing bike, laundry etc are an important part. So I worked on my bike in the morning chill with coffee. Bliss.

We are now on the Alps to the ocean trail. We had a lot of distance on trails, fields, and thru farm roads. It was funny how hordes of cows would crowd together as we rode through each farm. They were delighted to see humans probably as finding people on roads here is rare.

The Alps to ocean trail ran right till Omarama, a town with a population of less than 300. Finding vegetarian food is such small towns will be difficult. So we had to buy supplies from a convenience store for dinner and make our own dinner once again.

Day 9 – Omarama to Kurow

Today was probably one of the toughest trails I would have done ever. Initially, we enjoyed the flat A2O trail for the first few kms. Then we entered the A2O trail around Lake Benmore. This was pure gravel and steep climbs with equally steep and dangerous descents. The path would be 3-5 feet wide and one wrong action could send a rider down the edge. Progress was slow as we had to be very watchful as we had loaded bikes with pannier bags.

At one point, We came down a descent with 18 % gradient. Then took the road to Kurow. A total distance of over 60 kms. Happy that it ended. Again we had attacks from Magpies to all the riders. This can be nasty or even dangerous as the magpies would come swooping down and strike the rider on the helmet at full speed. The New Zealand tour was turning out to be a thriller in every way.

Day 10 – Kurow to Oamaru
Today we rode the last segment of the Alps 2 ocean trail from Kurow to Oamaru. We rode through lovely green mountains and fields after passing through Duntroon.

Our total distance was 76 kms.. Breathtaking beauty and pristine mountains made the ride so enchanting. Some long climbs and lot of downhills as we were descending to sea level.

The city of Oamaru is so lovely and we ended our Alps 2 ocean trail at the ocean where there is a A2O finisher podium for riders to celebrate the end of the A2O trail. We were elated to complete the first leg of our tour and took a lot of photos at the finisher podium. On the next morning, We had time to explore the lovely Victorian city on our bikes and pass through all the monuments and historical buildings in the main square.

Surely we had a super experience riding the A2O trail over the past few days. Now we’re looking forward to our next trail which is the Otago Central Rail Trail.

Day 11 – Oamaru to Naseby
We had a break day with a Shuttle transfer to Naseby. So later in the afternoon, we reached Naseby, a town of only 126 residents. This small town also had historic buildings dating back to 1863. We spent the rest of the day, riding and walking around Naseby with its century-old post office, stores, Hotel and other historic buildings, so well preserved.

Day 12 – Naseby to Clyde
We were very excited about today’s ride as we were to ride on the historical Otago Central Rail Trail. Almost all of our 103 kms ride today was on the trail.

So the entire experience was one filled with history, enchanting and very enjoyable. We met many riders also riding the trail today. The Otago central rail trail is a 152 kms trail over rail lines built in the early 1900s or earlier.

After about 2 hours of riding in strong winds, We had a planner farm tour with breakfast at Wedderburn. It was so lovely feeding and holding a 1-day old lamb and other animals as well. The hosts Kate and her family were very nice and fed us a lovely breakfast.

Then we started on the rail trail. What an outstanding experience this was. We rode on the trail’s bridges, gorges, and tunnels and were surrounded by green fields all through. It also helped that most of the trail had a gradient downwards.

A most memorable and unique ride for us today.

Day 13 – Clyde to Queenstown
We had a rainy, dark and cold morning on Clyde with rain predicted throughout the day. So we decided to take a shuttle transfer to Queenstown and not risk getting caught in rains with freezing cold weather on the Dunstan trail.

After a 2-hour drive, We were in Queenstown and had a great time exploring Queenstown near the lake through the rest of the day.


Day 14
We have 2 free days to explore Queenstown, recoup our energies and bike maintenance.

On day 1 today, We did a 4-hour bike ride through Queenstown all through the edge of the lake Pukaki. Surrounded by snow peaks and covered under clouds. While the morning had rains and a temp of 1 degree chill. We had a relaxed Indian lunch and roaming around the lovely lake.

An amazing day spent in Queenstown.

Day 15
We took an all-day bus tour to the Iconic Milford Sound cruise. This was a great experience. But tiring as well.

Day 16 – Queenstown to Wanaka
After a 2 day Queenstown break, we started the post-interval phase with a ride to Wanaka via the beautiful Queenstown trail to Arrowtown- a Chinese settlement from the 1850s.

Just 10 kms in to trail, my chain link broke. Luckily we were still in town outskirts. So managed to walk a few kms to a bike store and get a new chain fixed. But we lost a lot of time and started at 12 pm

We rode about 40 kms totally thru the majestic Queenstown trail. Then from Arrowtown, We took a bus to Wanaka at 5 pm as we still had 6-hour climb to do and would have to ride in the dark to reach Wanaka.

Parts of this trail had very tough climbs including a gravel climb of 21%. We could only walk up with our loaded bikes on that climb. The Chinese village tour was a wonderful experience and the Arrowtown was very beautiful and well maintained.

Day 17 – Wanaka to Makarora
We started our ride at Wanaka with a ride to the lone tree at the beautiful Wanaka Lake. After spending some time and a lot of photos, we started riding to our next destination of Makaroroa.

Then we had an awesome 20 kms trail ride before we touched the west coast highway and the road to Makarora. We rode alongside the lakes Hawea and Wanaka for almost the entire distance. Stunning beauty all through the day.

Lot of climbs and intense headwinds made riding so tough with our loaded and heavy bikes.

Makarora is an extremely small community. No stores or restaurants at all. While checking in at our hotel, I had another bike problem. My bike standing outside, had a tire burst with a loud bang. The tube and tire were slit badly. Now this was a show-stopper and we were stuck badly.

As I could not dare to ride with the slit tire for the next 7 days. There are no bike shops on our path till the end of the tour at Greymouth. But my good luck that this happened at the end of the ride. If this had happened on the way, then we would have been in a lot of trouble.

So, we had to cancel our next day’s ride to Haast and I will have to hitchhike a car ride tomorrow back to Wanaka, buy a tire and also arrange a shuttle to take us ahead to our next destination to make up for the lost day. Also, we have to rejig our stays for the rest of the tour.

Day 18 – Makarora to Wanaka and back to fix bike issue
There are no buses, taxis, trains etc in Makarora. The only way to go was to hitchhike a ride with a car going that side. A local resident was so helpful. He told me that if we can’t get a ride then he will drive me to Wanaka and back. Wow. About 150 kms round trip for him, just to help strangers stuck in his town.

So at 9 am, stood on the side of the road with my bike and soon a couple going towards Wanaka stopped and offered to take me to the bike store. After a lovely conversation about cricket and India, they dropped me right outside the Bike It Now store in Wanaka.

At the bike store, I had a wow human experience. This store only had Maxxis tires which seemed a bit too thick for my wheel. So immediately the salesperson guided me to another bike store and told me to go there. I saw that this store was a 30 min walk away. So again, this angel salesman told me to take their store bike for free, buy the tire and come back. Wow. He was helping me to go to a competitive store. So just pure humanity. No identity proof or deposit asked!!

After buying the tire at the other store, I had to arrange a shuttle to take us to the next destination Franz Josef as we had hotel bookings made. So I went to the same hotel where we had stayed in Wanaka. On hearing our predicament, the owner lady and her husband spent 45 min online and making frantic calls to car companies to book a vehicle for us. Again, pure humanity. (But the cost quoted by Taxi co was a staggering 900 nzd- about 45k INR to transport us by a taxi )

Then I went to the first bike store to return my bike. Told them to help to get transport. He guided me to a bike tour company. This guy on the phone heard our predicament and told us he would help. and soon I called and fixed with him for 600 nzd. 30k INR. Costly but no choice as we had to move ahead.

Then I again had to hitchhike from Wanaka to Makarora. So stood on the highway with thumbs out. A senior gentleman stopped for me and dropped me to town end. Told me to wait at the next intersection for the next ride. Soon 2 ladies going for a hike, stopped and dropped me back, swapping stories about fitness, cycling and India.

I had a wow day with this bike breakdown. Learnt about selfless helpful people. My co-rider Bhavin says this is Ram Rajya in actual reality here. In fact all through this tour, we saw this helping nature of the New Zealanders at various places. Amazing people, these New Zealanders. Their helping nature is many levels above anything I have seen in my life till date. A truly magnificent experience even in the face of bike problems.

Day 19 – Makarora to Fox Glacier
We took a van shuttle to take us to Fox Glacier as we had missed 2 days of riding due to my tire burst.

In the afternoon, We had a great ride and walk to Matheson Lake in the evening. At my special request, the hotel Fox Glacier Lodge even refunded us the cost of 1 room as we had to leave early to make up for lost time on our tour due to bike issues. The helping nature of the NZ locals has been a delightful experience and a revelation to us of humanity and empathy.


Day 20 – Fox Glacier to Franz Josef
We had a short ride of 26 kms to Franz Josef. But no ride is as easy as it seems. The first 15 kms had over 500 mtrs of gruelling climbs and we managed to reach Franz Josef in time for lunch.

Day 21 – Franz Josef to Hari Hari
We had a 63 kms lovely ride from the glacier town of Franz Josef to Hari Hari, a small town of just 260 people approx. we are now riding on the west coast of the South Island.

No trails. A winding state highway with blue skies, few snow peaks and lakes on the way. Perfect for an easy day of riding. We reached our destination by 1 pm and had a quick lunch of just chips and juice in one of the only 2 restaurants in Hari Hari.

Day 22 – Hari Hari to Hokitika
Today we rode from the ultra-small town of Hari Hari to Hokitika. A coastal town on the east coast of New Zealand. Lovely clouds and blue skies all thru. We had surprisingly hot weather after lunch at Ross. It is rather difficult to find vegetarian food or any food on the West Coast here. Riders need to carry enough food supplies as an emergency option.

Day 23 – Hokitika to Milltown
What an incredible ride today on the West Coast Wilderness trail today. We started from Hokitika in drizzling rains and soon we were imagining that we were riding in wonderland.

Riding through trails cut across thick woods, wooden bridges, lakes and rivers, the West Coast wilderness trail was an amazing experience. We had lunch from our emergency food supplies in our bags at a lovely lake. We rode slowly to spend as much time as we could on the trail to Milltown, our stay for the night.

I must say that the trail is a great work by the New Zealand government and local bodies. We were fortunate to meet the Wilderness Trail Trust president Mr. John Wood on the ride and spent some time learning from him about the trail.

Day 24 – Milltown to Kumara
Starting from Cowboys’ paradise, we started again in a slight drizzle. Today we had to cover only 35 kms to Kumara and ride all through the wilderness trail route. It was again an awesome experience today, riding through thick woods, rivers, wooden bridges, gorges and more.

This has been a dream 2 days on the wilderness trail. Tomorrow is our last ride on the NZ tour where we ride on this trail to Greymouth.

Day 25 – Kumara to Greymouth and Christchurch

After 25 days of cycling around New Zealand, we were to ride the last 30 kms to Greymouth on the wilderness trail and end this most enchanting bike expedition.

But we woke up to a rainy, extremely windy, dark, and gloomy morning and could not take the chance of riding on the wilderness trail and getting stuckas we had to catch a train to Christchurch later in the afternoon.

Very disappointed, but we had to take to take a van drive to Greymouth station. At the station, we found that the train to Christchurch had been cancelled due to severe weather. Again, we had to take a private van transfer as we had a flight back the next day.


To summarise, The New Zealand tour has been enchanting, amazing, spectacular, difficult, challenging and very memorable. The most beautiful parts of our expedition being the rides of course with each day bringing unique experiences. Then the stays in small towns and most importantly the people. Lastly the NZ trails – such a pleasure to ride on them.

We found the people of New Zealand extremely helpful and often going out of their way to help us. Car and bus drivers would pass us riders only after moving out by a few feet or often drive slowly behind us if needed. We saw this hundreds of times on our tour.

So this ends a most dreamlike, memorable and incredibly beautiful NZ bike expedition.


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