West Coast (South Island)
One of New Zealand’s premier cycling routes is from Wanaka to Greymouth (454 km total) along the western coastline of the South Island. A highlight is alpine Haast Pass through Mt. Aspiring National Park before the road drops down to the rugged West Coast. From there, it’s north through Glacier Country (Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier) along the coast to Hokitika and Greymouth. For those looking to extend the ride, Arthur’s Pass is a challenging but highly regarded mountain route across the Island to Christchurch.
Marlborough (South Island)
New Zealand’s wine country has rolling hills, beautiful coastal scenery, and is the sunniest region in the country. For wine tours by bike, Blenheim is an ideal base with 40 vineyards in close proximity. For longer rides, the port town of Picton to Kaikoura (via Blenheim; 156 km) in the Canterbury region is one of the South Island’s best. And the Queen Charlotte Track, although technically a mountain biking trail, is a terrific way to explore the Marlborough Sounds.
Coromandel Peninsula (North Island)
Some of the best cycling on the North Island is found on the offbeat Coromandel Peninsula east of Auckland. Surrounded by the waters of the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty, the peninsula has relatively few people, warm sandy beaches for swimming and camping, and good roads. It may not be New Zealand’s most well known cycling destination but the Coromandel is a favorite among the local cycling community.
New Zealand Cycle Trails
Similar to the “Great Walks,” New Zealand is in the process of enshrining nineteen “Great Rides” under the $50 million-plus New Zealand Cycle Trail project. The trails themselves are somewhere in between cycling and mountain biking—the vehicle of choice usually is a mountain bike or hybrid but the trails themselves have a touring feel. As of late 2012, six of the trails are complete and ten more have sections open.