New Zealand – An essential travel destination for riders

When my riding partner first floated the idea of heading to New Zealand for two and a half weeks, an insurmountable number of objections sprang to mind; I had no money, at the time I didn’t have a bike, I had no free time to obtain either and, undoubtedly most importantly, I could barely adequately prepare myself for a single day at the beach, let alone for two weeks, two and half thousand kilometers away. But I wasn’t going to let little things like that stop me, and when I saw photos of our destination, I knew I’d sell a kidney if I had to.

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Personally, I’ve never understood why people travel to Europe or the Americas to ride. It’s more expensive, you need more time off, and you run the risk of hitting a bear as you’re hurtling down a trail. You can get to New Zealand in less time than it takes to go on your average ride, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, there’s more riding than you can poke a stick at, and arguably most importantly, you can still get a good meat pie!

New Zealand is the ultimate riding destination; if you open up the Trailforks app, you’ll find that no matter where you are in the country, you’re never more than 15 minutes from a trailhead. More importantly, in a country with a fifth of the population of Australia, there are more lift-accessed bike parks. NZ has five, with more on the way. The whole country is bike obsessed, so there’s an abundance of car hire companies, hotels and other facilities that are more than happy to accommodate the needs of riders.

This trip was my first experience forcing a bike into a box, and when your bike is an XL, alloy 29er, getting the bike inside and under the weight limit is no walk in the park. After hours of swearing, weighing, realising you’re three kilograms over, reweighing and being pushed far beyond the point of caring whether or not my bike gets there in a functional condition, we were finally ready. Take it from someone who spent seven hours packing: buy a bike bag. They’re worth every cent. There are a few types around, but the Scicon bike bags get the tick of approval in these reviews by Pushys’ sponsored athletes, Alex Unicomb and Michelle Cooper.

First stop was the brand new Christchurch adventure park, which opened two weeks before we go there, and the trails were abuzz with excitement. This excitement was contagious, and as we got caught up in it we actually forgot to take any photos of the place. It was amazing. The trails were pristine, with everything from sketchy switchbacks to big jump lines, there was something for everyone.

Unfortunately, due to bushfires, the park has had to temporarily close down. They have plans to reopen in the summer, so follow them on all the socials and make plans to get over there when it does.

From Christchurch we made the pilgrimage to what is undoubtedly the most beautiful town in New Zealand, Hanmer Springs.

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Just an hour and a half north of the South Islands’ capital, Hanmer springs is a tiny town of just 840 permanent residents. However, with thermal pools, world class trails and ski resorts, I do envy those who live in this small section of paradise. It’s an unmissable destination for anyone heading to the South Island. With an extensive trail mass around Conical Hill, and the start of many multi-day rides in the St James Conservation Area, including the incredible St. James Cycle Trail, you could easily spend two weeks here and not exhaust all the riding options.

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From Hanmer Springs to the sleepy town of Lyell, the start of the incredible Old Ghost Road. To hear more about this incredible journey, check out our detailed article on our beautiful Old Ghost Road ride. If you’re into great riding and jaw-dropping views of picturesque forest scenery, it’s a must-do for anyone, mountain biker or otherwise.

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After a rainy, muddy hypothermic final day, we piled into our rental car and made the day long haul to Otago, the home of Queenstown, Wanaka and the Crown Range.

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Maybe living in Australia has disenchanted me from our natural beauty, but the best we have to offer seems to pale in comparison to even the mundane of New Zealand.

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When we arrived in Queenstown we wasted no time in making our way to the world famous Rude Rock.

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Sweeping berms, beautiful views and soft landings for when the wind inevitably blows you off the track, what more could you ask for?

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With views like this, how could anyone resist an opportunity for a pose with the bike.

When people talk about riding Queenstown, they are generally referring to Skyline Mountain Biking Park, and this dominance is well earned. Skyline has world class trails with world class views and world class athletes. In my three days there I met both Elliot Jackson and Bernard Kerr, but don’t let it distract from everything else there is to do in the area. If you’re looking for a trail less ridden, make sure you head to Sticky Forest in Wanaka. The pine needle laced trails with constant views of the glorious Lake Wanaka make it an unmissable trail system.

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Skyline is an incredible place to ride, and worth a visit, but in my opinion it’s not quite the best riding to be had in the Queenstown area.

New Zealand is a land of unparalleled beauty, and it’s an essential destination for anyone looking to travel with their bike. When I was there I continuously considered moving there, but decided maybe it’s better as an escape from the monotony of riding in South East Queensland.

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Aoraki is imposing even from a distance.

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For more tips on taking a riding trip with your bike, check out our essential tips for planning a cycling holiday, and Pushys’ sponsored athlete, Janine Jungfels, shares her tips on how to travel with a bike.

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