First of all, if you are going to New Zealand it's handy
to know that outdoor kit is - more often than not - more expensive
than in Scotchland. However, there are bargains to be had.
For biking stuff look out for:
the fab, Internet only GroundEffect
for cycling clobber, books and trail news and views..
The best thing you can do to sort out your kiwi cycling is
to get a hold of a copy of the Kennet Brothers' Bible (available
from GroundEffect here). This was a valuable aid in pointing
out where we could head off road in various parts of the country.
It was also very helpful given New Zealand's more restrictive
(than Scotland anyway) access laws.
Of the different types of moutain biking (purpose built trails
/ big "wilderness" rides) New Zealand offers more excitement
doing the latter. While there are areas in New Zealand where
the purpose built trails are coming into their own, there
are none (as yet) as extensive as the 7 Stanes routes in Scotland.
This is changing though as local clubs are sourcing investment
to build up trails. There is no national organisation behind
the development of the trails and so signage and ease of access
varies considerably across the country. Highlights for trail
Whakarewarewa forest in Rotorua;
The forest outside Wanaka (a huge smile factor - and the
"" has to be one of the best swoopy I had ridden
thus far); and
just outside Napier.
Away from pre-built trails, there are loads of great routes
to cycle. Given the diversity of landscapes across the country
(sub-tropical to alpine) there is a huge range in trail types
to sample. Multi-day walks are very characteristic of New
Zealand hiking culture and this is also reflected in some
of the bigger bike rides. There are a number of multi-day
epics which can be organised through station land (a station
is essentially a farm, albeit one on a much larger scale than
in Scotchland). In no order of preference whatsoever, some
of the trails we enjoyed the most are:
The double fenceline on the Banks Peninsula (for a quick
"wilderness" fix close to Christchurch);
The Queen Charlotte track outside Nelson (absolutely stunning
scenery and excellent biking if you get the trail free of
Napoleon Hill in Westland (cycling down a stream bed in
a temperate rain forest - fantastic!