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The best cycling trails in New Zealand for spring and autumn

By Tourism New Zealand

Wine and cycle tours

Nelson (Photo: Dean-McKenzie)
Nelson (Photo: Dean-McKenzie)

Touring the New Zealand countryside at a leisurely pace and admiring the tranquilly lush scenery surrounding it is a feeling one cannot replicate. Pedalling through bountiful vineyards is also a great way to explore New Zealand’s lush landscape and guzzle some great vino. That’s the great thing about wine tours by bike, it feels like a wholesome experience, but there are wines to be tasted as well! It really is a ‘wine-wine’ situation.

New Zealand is a fantastic destination for any cycling enthusiast and wine lover, offering an amazing array of eclectic choices from the South Island to the North. The country’s wine is known for its exquisite taste globally for you to sample as you cycle tour the vineyards and their wineries.

Ride and wine through these stunning vineyards across New Zealand with these amazing trails that include a taste of New Zealand’s most famous wines.

Hawke’s Bay Trails

The Hawke's Bay Trails stretch over the Heretaunga Plains and weave between the twin cities of Napier and Hastings. Ride through wine-growing areas over 1-4 days and 187 km, whether you're a beginner or intermediate cyclist. Takaro Trails offers guided cycle tours.

Level: Easiest - Intermediate

Duration: 1-4 days

Distance: 200km

Getting there: To get to Hawke’s Bay you can either fly in from Auckland or Wellington or drive down from Taupōwhich should take you about 2 hours.

Wine Trail Magic Marlborough

Another great cycling tour where you can ride and wine is through the Marlborough wine region, centring around Blenheim, via e-bike. This five-day, self-guided tour is low on kilometres and made all the more pleasant by the assistance of an electric bike as your faithful steed. With light legs, you can truly make the most of enjoying the breathtaking scenery, the legendary wine, and excellent five-star accommodations.


Queenstown E-bike Wine Tour

Mountain bike trails

Mt Burke, Wanaka  (Photo: Jay French)
Mt Burke, Wanaka (Photo: Jay French)

New Zealand is the perfect place for mountain biking, with world-class trails ranging from easy to epic. If you’re into speed and adventure, you will find plenty of flow and fun on many of New Zealand’s Great Rides, as well as mountain bike parks and trails spread throughout town and country.

Queen Charlotte Track

Queen Charlotte Track Marlborough (Photo: Richard Briggs)
Queen Charlotte Track Marlborough (Photo: Richard Briggs)

One of New Zealand’s classic mountain bike rides, this adventure-packed cycle trail traces its way around the bays, hills and ridges of the magnificent Marlborough Sounds.

It offers cyclists (and walkers) a chance to experience the full breadth of Marlborough Sounds, one of the region’s most scenic waterside areas. The whole trail can be completed in over 2-3 days, starting at the historic Ship Cove in the outer sounds. The trail then traces around bay after bay, linked by saddles and ridges offering spectacular views. Overall, this track is best suited to reasonably fit, experienced mountain bikers, but it is possible to tailor private trips for riders of lesser ability.

Level: Intermediate-Advanced

Duration: 1 - 3 days

Distance: 70km

Getting there: You can get to the cycling trail via a 5-hour drive from Christchurch or a ferry ride from Picton or from Wellington.

St James Cycling Trail

Trail (Photo: Bevan Triebels)
St James Cycling Trail (Photo: Bevan Triebels)

A more offbeat and remote mountain biking experience through a historic high-country station is the St James Cycling trail. Once one of New Zealand’s largest cattle and sheep farms, it is now a designated conservation area. The cycling trail is an unforgettable journey enriched with stunning alpine vistas, mountain beech forests, and vast grassland valleys dotted with rustic farm buildings. The St James trail is most suited to fit experienced mountain bikers, the most eager of whom can complete the trail in one long (6–9 hour) day. A two-day trip, stopping overnight in campsites or one of three huts, will allow greater appreciation of the scenery.

Less experienced riders or those with insufficient time to complete the whole trail can get a great taste of it on the 15km Homestead Run loop.

Level: Easy - Intermediate

Duration: 1 - 2 days

Distance: 64km

Getting there: You can get to the St James cycling trail either via a 3 hr 30 mins drive from Christchurch or a 1-hour drive from Hanmer Springs


Rotorua is one of the best places to be for cycling enthusiasts, especially during Spring and Summer. During Spring, the country's best year-round mountain biking trail network in Whakarewarewa Forest is host to an amazing bike festival. Every year, the region hosts the exciting four-day Rotorua Bike Festival .

The Redwoods trail

Redwoods Trail (Photo: Graeme Murray)
Redwoods Trail (Photo: Graeme Murray)

The 5600-hectare Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua is a mountain biker’s dream as well. The Redwoods is located just south of the central city and comprise lush native bush, stands of towering Californian Redwoods, and other exotic trees. Threaded through it is more than 160 km of expertly constructed single-track and forestry roads traversing volcanic, free-draining soil that ensures awesome riding all year round.

Level: Easy - Extreme

Duration: 1 - 7 days

Distance: 160+km

Getting there: You can get to the trail either via a 5 mins drive from Rotorua or a 1-hour drive from Taupō

Multi-day cycling trips

Rich in breathtaking scenery and must-see attractions, Nga Haerenga (‘The Journeys’) is an unforgettable way to explore New Zealand. Mostly off-road and traversing a remarkable range of landscapes, the Great Rides offer adventures for almost every age and ability over a couple of days or a few weeks.

Alps 2 Ocean Trail

Lake Pukaki, Canterbury (Photo: Miles Holden)
Lake Pukaki, Canterbury (Photo: Miles Holden)

One of New Zealand’s most iconic and picturesque cycle trails of South Island, the glorious Alps to Ocean (A2O) trail winds through the vivid landscape from Mount Cook's towering peak through valleys and past turquoise lakes out to the Pacific at the east coast town of Oamaru.

It covers 312km over six days, and is an easy to intermediate trail. Natural High, Active Adventures, PureTrails and Adventure South offer guided cycle tours.

Level: Easy - Intermediate

Duration: 1 - 6 days

Distance: 306km

Getting there: You can get to the trail either via a 3 hr 30 mins drive from Queenstown or a 4-hour drive from Christchurch

The Timber Trail

Timber trail (Photo: Sven Martin)
Timber trail (Photo: Sven Martin)

Located in the heart of the North Island, Pureora Forest Park is a mix of virgin, regenerating and exotic forest. The 87 kilometer trail will leave you enchanted with its awe-inspiring beauty. The Timber Trail follows the path of old logging roads and tramlines, linked and smoothed using modern trail-building techniques. It runs between the tiny settlements of Pureora and Ongarue, with similarly small Piropiro around the halfway mark. Limited road access and remoteness make a two-day, one-way ride the most rewarding bicycle ride.

Level: Easy - Intermediate

Duration: 2 days

Distance: 87km

Getting there: You can get to the trail either via 2-hour drive from Ohakune or a 1-hour drive either from Taupō or Hamilton.

The Great Lake Trail

Viewpoint at Great Lake Trail (Photo: Derek Morrison)
Viewpoint at Great Lake Trail (Photo: Derek Morrison)

Skirting the shore of New Zealand’s largest lake, the Great Lake Trail offers a breathtaking view on wheels with a lush forest and wetlands, waterfalls, beaches and panoramic views from a series of lookouts.The whole ride can be spread over two days, or broken into shorter sections.

Level: Intermediate

Duration: 1-2 days

Distance: 71km

Getting there: You can get to the Great Lake trail from Aucland via a 3 hour 30 minutes drive or a 20 minute drive from Taupō.

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