The Best On-road / Off-road Cycling Trails around Australia and New Zealand
With so much open space, one can see why travellers from around the world come to Australia and New Zealand to pedal the open roads and trails that cross the country; in some places, you can cycle all day and have nothing in your way except the warm sun. Looking for the best on-road and off-road cycling trails across these two countries? Here are some recommendations for getting you started – be sure to consider both your physical fitness and the quality of your equipment before setting out on the road.
The Best Cycling Trails in New Zealand
Apart from the areas around Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand is fairly well suited for bike travel, and drivers rather accommodating. You also have the opportunity for lots of off-road cycling. Here are some trails that you’ll love:
East Cape Trail: This is one of the quieter road routes in the country which stretches out for 120km. It’s believed that the first people in the globe to see the sunrise are the residents of East Cape, so come and spend the night!
St James Cycle Trail: This circular route is about an hour north of Christchurch, putting it in a rather random location, but it’s worth the trip – especially if you are a mountain biker, as the train is gravel and slightly bumpy underneath.
- The Queenstown Trail: Ride from Queenstown to Arrowtown, and back, along lakes and mountains, with portions of on-road terrain. If you’re staying in Queenstown and want to get some exercise for the day, this route is perfect.
The Best Cycling Trails in Australia
If you wanted to bike across Australia from east to west, you’d be racking up over 4,000km on those two wheels – distances outside of the cities are long and far apart, so one must plan carefully.
Munda Biddi Trail: For an “only in Australia experience,” check out this 900km trail in Western Australia. It’s one of the longest official trails in the country and also one of the best marketed.
Canberra Art and Architecture Trail: For an easy, family-friendly 23km experience, check out this trail which shows off the capital city highlights.
- Simpson’s Path Bicycle Path: A wonderful 17km off-road trail that explores a wonderful stretch of land outside of Alice Springs.
Hitting the... Rails?
A global phenomenon that’s alive and well in Australia and New Zealand are “rail trails.” These are disused railway trails that have been reworked to accommodate bikes and pedestrians. Some of these trails go on for many, many kilometres, and they’re lovely in the fact that you can cruise along without much in your way, often getting a unique perspective of the landscape. A few trails to consider:
Otago Central Rail Trail (NZ): This trail takes you from Christchruch to Dunedin and is the country’s premier biking trail. Total distance is 151km.
Bellarine Rail Trail (AUS): See a bit of the scenic Victoria countryside on this 84km trail that takes you past scenic vistas and lots of vintage railroad depots transformed into trailside pit stops.
Rimutaka Rail Trail (NZ): More of a relaxed trail, the 18km route is easy-going and perfect if you are biking with the whole family, with plenty of pull outs for picnic stops or even fishing.
Murray to the Mountains (AUS): Another one of Victoria’s epic rail trails, taking you along various trails that add up to 279km of spectacular open cycling road.
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