Tour Aotearoa – North Island (One Picture Per Day)

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Part 1Tour Aotearoa – North Island ← You are here

Part 2Tour Aotearoa – South Island

Part 3Alps 2 Ocean – Bonus Section

Day 1

Daily Distance – 25.4 km / 15.8 mi
I heard that New Zealand has more sheep than people. Way more. However, I didn’t expect to see so many within an hour of cycling while riding through the capital city, Auckland. I stayed in a private room in a hostel downtown to rest up and recover from jet lag before starting the real riding the next day.

Day 2

Daily Distance – 79 km / 49.1 mi
This picture is near the summit of Mt. Eden which has a nice view downtown Auckland. This day was incredibly windy with on and off rain all day. It poured rain for 5 minutes, then 10 minutes later was blue sky. This process repeated itself 6 times throughout the day. I cycled out of the city and into the first mountain bike path in the Hunua Ranges Regional Park and camped in the mountains.

Day 3

Daily Distance – 77.4 km / 48.1 mi
After a step 12% climb on loose gravel to get out of the Hunua Ranges, I was rewarded with some nice views. I continued along mostly gravel bike paths into the town of Paeroa. While eating dinner outside of a supermarket, a woman whose husband has cycled this route before offered me a bed and warm shower for the night, an offer I couldn’t refuse! Thank you so much to Natalie and Evan for the amazing hospitality!

Day 4

Daily Distance – 94.4 km / 58.7 mi
A relatively easy day despite the higher distance. Much of this day was on flat, paved roads through the farmlands. The sights were beautiful with the livestock and mountains in the distance. Too many times I thought it looked fake. This country is beautiful!

Day 5

Daily Distance – 59 km / 36.7 mi
A relatively short and easy day, but continuing the route from here would’ve meant climbing 50 km up steep 4×4 tracks to reach the next campsite. Resting up for the challenging next day was the right call. I met a couple other cyclists at camp and we shared stories of our adventures before crashing for the night. One was going the same direction as me, and we ended up meeting again along the trails in the next days.

Day 6

Daily Distance – 84.3 km / 52.4 mi
This was one of the most challenging days of riding I’ve ever done. It started with the step climb into the mountains along a pretty rough 4×4 track, then continued onto the Timber Trail, an 80 km mountain bike path through Pureora Forest Park. The route was really cool and fun, but I cycled about 11 hours before reaching camp! Along the way there are many of these large swing bridges to ride across that offer views of the mountains and the rivers far below.

Day 7

Daily Distance – 67.5 km / 41.9 mi
I finished the second half of the Timber Trail, going over more massive bridges than the previous day. I could’ve used another impressive mountain view or bridge for the picture of the day, but since I already did in previous days I picked this one. A farmer was herding his cattle with the aid of two sheep dogs, and I got to ride through the stampede. Definitely a new experience for me!

Day 8

Daily Distance – 88.3 km / 54.9 mi
The previous night I stayed in a hotel for the first time because I wanted to get a good rest for an early start on this day. The weather forecast called for rain to start around 5pm, and the upcoming mountain bike track through Whanganui National Park is notoriously difficult to pass after rain due to “peanut butter mud”. If I could put in a good morning and early afternoon distance I could beat the rain and avoid the worst of the muck. I reached the track around 2pm, well before the rain. However, as it turns out even after hot, dry days for a week straight there’s still goo everywhere. I could ride a short distance, then got off and pushed the bike through the mud. This went on for 4 hours until I reached camp a mere 24 km / 15 mi through the track! Overall an extremely tough day, but I managed to reach my goal campsite.

Day 9

Daily Distance – 54.9 km / 34.1 mi
From my campsite to this “Bridge to Nowhere” was only about 12km / 7 mi but took 2.5 hours. Between pushing the bike through mud and struggling to cross extremely narrow bridges that my handlebars couldn’t fit across, it probably would’ve been faster to walk it. After passing the bridge I arrived at Mangapurua Landing,where I loaded my bike up onto a jet boat that carried me 32 km / 20 mi down the Whanganui River back to the real roads. After being without cell service or seeing another person for almost 2 days, it felt like I was being rescued and evacuated from the jungle. Overall it was an incredible experience despite the struggles along the way!

Day 10

Daily Distance – 97.9 km / 60.8 mi
Riding along the Whanganui river you can see all kinds of fantastic views like this. It was a nice break to ride paved roads for the first time in a while, and the sights weren’t bad either. After a brief stop in the city Whanganui I cycled up to Hunterville where I camped in the coldest weather of the trip so far at 39 °F / 4°C. My sleeping bag is definitely not rated for those temps, but by sleeping in extra layers and a down jacket I was comfortable. It’s really interesting how quickly the temperature drops at night here and how quickly it heats up in the mornings!

Day 11

Daily Distance -114.5 km / 71.1 mi
From Hunterville I had the option of riding either 50 km or 115 km to the next campsite, so I decided to go for the first century ride of the trip. This route looked like it was going off into nowhere on the map, but I’m so glad I followed it. This ended up being some of the most beautiful scenery so far, with views of the snow covered Mt Ruapehu in the background and vast farms of grazing livestock in the foreground. There was a lot of elevation gain on this route, too, so I was totally beat at the end of it all.

Day 12

Daily Distance – 21.3 km / 13.2 mi
I took my first rest day of the trip in Palmerston North, the 8th largest city in New Zealand. I had some shopping I needed to do, and by the time I finished I was able to check into a little AirBnb for the day. If I cycled I probably wouldn’t have made it too far because I was eating nonstop all day to make up for a caloric deficit from the previous day. I had a nice and restful day so that I could tackle some good rides coming up.

Day 13

Daily Distance – 73.9 km / 45.9 mi
Back on the road but not quite back to full power, I took it relatively easy slow but still put in a respectable distance. After climbing up over the Pahiatua Track, I found myself on the east side of the north island. I’m not sure if it’s just unlucky or not, but over here is incredibly windy! I rode through some beautiful farmlands, but the headwinds slowed me down a lot. I arrived to camp early and got some of the best tent sleep I’ve had in a while.

I would be remiss to not include a kiwi in my picture of the day at some point, so why not the big kiwi statue in Eketahuna?

Day 14

Daily Distance – 94.9 km / 59 mi
My legs were feeling good again, perfect timing because I have to cover some good distances for the next 2 days to reach Wellington by Saturday morning. I have a ferry booked to the South Island so I have to get there on time! This day’s ride was very similar to the previous day. Lots of headwinds and similar scenery. Pictured here is my view of the Tararua Mountains, some of the highest that I’ve seen so far. However, these mountains pale in comparison to what awaits on the South Island.

Day 15

Daily Distance – 98.7 km / 61.3 mi
The plan for the day was to put on big mileage to Wellington, grab a room at a hostel near the ferry, and take the early morning ferry the next day. Doing so meant going over the Remutaka Rail Trail through an epic head wind. At the top I met a group of locals from Wellington out for a day ride, some of which have ridden the route I’m on in the past. They gave me some pointers and I rode with them 25 km down the mountain where the group went their own ways. One rider was on the way to Wellington and we finished the last of the ride together.

Part 1Tour Aotearoa – North Island ← You are here

Part 2Tour Aotearoa – South Island

Part 3Alps 2 Ocean – Bonus Section