Tour Aotearoa, Full Length NZ Cycle Tour

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February 6, 2025
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Why Book With Us?

  • Small cycle groups
  • Hand-picked Cycle Tours & Activities
  • Family Run Business

The ‘Tour Aotearoa' is a 3000 km cycling route exploring the full length of Aotearoa, New Zealand

North to South, from Cape Reinga to Bluff, following as many of New Zealand's off road cycle trails and quiet back roads as possible.

Arguably the most well-known bike packing route in NZ, originally created by the Kennet brothers, if you’re looking for an adventure this one should be top of your bucket list. (It will leave you with a tall tale or two to recount to riding buddies back home.) We have created a fully supported version of the Tour Aotearoa so that you can ride the full length of New Zealand knowing that we have got your back!

You will be immersed in the diverse and beautiful scenery that makes up the ‘land of the long white cloud’. From wild coastlines to giant stands of ancient Kauri forest. Cycle through volcanic North Island landscapes and in the shadow of the mighty Southern Alps. Connect with locals and get the full ‘kiwi’ experience. You’ll be donning a swandri and jandals in no time…

Our incredible network of cycle trails and rural gravel roads keep you ‘off road’ most of the way. Navigating point to point each day gives you a true bikepacking feel, but with the luxury of knowing lunch will be set up for you, snacks are never far away, and a comfy bed has been arranged for you each night. Relax and take the days at your own pace!

This is a fully supported cycle tour, one crew will ride with the group whilst the other goes ahead to set up snack, water and lunch breaks. The support vehicle will have all your luggage* and supplies for each day and is also available if you would like to take a break from the saddle.

*Please note if coming from overseas and bringing your own bike, we are not able to carry empty bike bags or boxes. You can either courier them from Auckland to Invercargill or package your bike to travel in a cardboard box that you can recycle on your arrival.  

Tour Highlights - Tour Aotearoa Cycle Tour

Departure & Return Location

Meeting Point: Pukenui (or optional transfer from Auckland)
Ride Start: Cape Reinga
Ride Finish: Bluff
Tour Finish: Invercargill

Price Includes

  • 40 Nights accommodation
  • Meals as per tour itinerary
  • Two Escape Adventures tour leaders
  • Support vehicle & bike trailer
  • 3x Boat transfer

Optional Extras

  • Bike Hire: If required hire fee is NZD $950 (Pedal Bike)
  • E Bike Hire: If required hire fee is NZD $2,400 (bookings essential)
  • Transfer from Auckland to Pukenui $375pp (includes bike transport, one extra nights accommodation & one extra breakfast) Limited availability, booking essential.
  • Bike Collection (to transfer your bike Auckland to Pukenui) $50 per bike

Price Excludes

  • Airfares, visas, or airport taxes
  • Optional activities and excursions
  • Some meals as per the detailed itinerary
  • Personal equipment
  • Getting to and from meeting points Kaitaia/Invercargill

Solo Travellers - Single Supplement

  • NO Single Supplement! If you’re traveling alone, we’ll pair you to twin-share with another biker. (same gender)
  • If you do not wish to share that is fine too, a single supplement of $3500NZD will apply. NOTE Single rooms will be provided where available however in some places you will be required to share a bathroom.

Itinerary - Tour Aotearoa – Full Length NZ Supported Cycle Tour

DAY 1: Meet at our starting Motel in Pukenui

Arrive in Pukenui by mid-afternoon. Exploring this tiny settlement won’t take long before you meet with your tour leaders & fellow bikers at 5pm for your pre-departure meeting and first meal together.

Accommodation: Motel

DAY 2: The journey begins! Cape Reinga & 90-mile beach

Our start time is dictated by the tides. A 1-hour vehicle transfer gets us to Cape Reinga and the start of your epic journey. 90 Mile Beach leaves strong memories in the minds of all Tour Aotearoa riders – a crazy way to start… but there you have it. I hope we get a north-easterly!

Cycling Distance: 85km

Accommodation: Motel 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

DAY 3: Cycling to Hokianga Harbour

Day two on the bike and it’s time to start preparing our hill legs for the journey ahead… The day promises stunning NZ bush and views of the Hokianga Harbour on a 10 min ferry to Rawene.

Cycling Distance: 111km

Accommodation: Holiday Park Cabins

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 4: Pedal between Giant Kauri

The Kauri Coast cycleway fully immerses us into the far north – riding through the Waipoua sub tropical forest dominated by giant kauri. This is the epitome of the far north with quiet roads, quiet towns, wild beaches and some great swimming opportunities.

Cycling Distance: 110km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 5: Kaipara inland harbour by bike

We head south down the remote and quiet Pouto Peninsula through farmland and the mouth of the Kaipara inland harbour. We cross the harbour by boat (3 hrs tide dependent) and pedal into Parakai.

Cycling Distance: 69km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 6: Cycle trails galore - Auckland City

We’re not in the far north any more! But suddenly in the centre of NZ’s largest, busiest and traffic craziest city. Thanks to Auckland Transport for the convenient cycle routes for getting us there alive!

Cycling Distance: 84km

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 

DAY 7: Cycle the firth of Thames

Negotiating the city traffic + tricky navigation out of Auckland city is not everyone’s cup of tea… and the support vehicle is available for those who opt out. Once clear of the city we ride around the firth of Thames finishing on a short stretch of the Hauraki Rail Trail.

Cycling Distance: 117km 

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 

DAY 8: Spin along the Hauraki rail trail

We get our “groove on” riding the smooth surface and gentle gradient of the Hauraki Rail Trail. We ride the historic railway across the Hauraki Plains then divert west all the way to Cambridge.

Cycling Distance: 126km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

DAY 9: Rest day in Cambridge

Your first rest day, get some ‘bikepacking admin’ done or visit Hobbiton movie set conveniently located just down the road!

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 10: Off road and on to the Waikato River Trail

Running alongside New Zealand’s longest river, is the amazing Waikato River Trail. Our riders tell stories about the Waikato River Trail. The trail passes a series of hydro lakes, through volcanic landscapes, forest and farmland. Our escape riders always tell stories about the Waikato River Trail…once you’ve ridden it you’ll have your own stories to tell! 

Cycling Distance: 89km

Accommodation: Rustic lodge 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: Magical and historic, Pureora Forest awaits

We make a B-Line for the lovely Pureora Forest Park and the topographical centre of the North Island. And then the fun begins! The Timber Trail is famous for stunning stands of virgin forest bush saved from logging in the 1970s. Remote cycle trail and cool bridges bring us to the Timber Trail Lodge. 

Cycling Distance: 85km

Accommodation: Lodge 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: Ticking off the Timber Trail

We ride the second half of the Timber Trail following historic milling tracks down to Ongarue, then quiet back roads get us to Taumarunui for the night.

Cycling Distance: 69km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 13: Volcanic views central North Island

We ride lesser-travelled farming roads for a little while before hitting the tar seal and boosting towards Raetihi. Fingers crossed for clear skies and views of Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand’s largest active volcano and home to the North Islands only glaciers.

Cycling Distance: 82km

Accommodation: Lodge 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 14: Cycling the Bridge to No Where Trail

Optional: Ride the Bridge to Nowhere trail + jet boat then vehicle transfer to Raetihi.

OR: Spend the day exploring cycle trails in the area

Cycling Distance: 69km

Accommodation: Lodge 

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

DAY 15: Whanganui River Trail

The Whanganui River Valley has a climate of its own. Take your time rolling up and down (it’s got to be more down than up right?) through this lush river valley down to Whanganui. 

Cycling Distance: 98km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 16: Rest day in Whanganui

Explore the art walks and galleries around Whanganui, or maybe it is time your bike got some love with a local mechanic.

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 17: Up and away to Hunterville

With a bit of a quirky start to the day we warm up heading east out of town on nice flat quiet farming road. It wouldn’t be NZ without a couple of hearty hills to get your heart happy before hunkering down at the Hunterville Hotel.

Cycling Distance: 61km

Accommodation: Traditional Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 18: Rural roads to the Ruahine Range

Some smooth seal starts the day, but don’t get too comfy! Soon we’re back onto a mix of gravel and farm roads. Taking us from Hunterville towards the Ruahine Range.

Cycling Distance: 80km 

Accommodation: Lodge 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 19: Crank over the Paihiatua Track

Traverse below the Ruahines as you head South, then your legs spin like windmills as we crank over the Paihitua track. What a wonderful thing a wind-powered bike would be! 

Cycling Distance: 90km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

DAY 20: Pedal Paihiatua to Greytown

If we get a northerly, you’ll have a famous Martinborough vino in your hand soon after lunch. If we ride into a southerly breeze, you’ll just have to wait until dinner time!

Cycling Distance: 116km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 21: Remutaka Cycle Trail

After a warmup on flat farm roads, we meander up the Remutaka Cycle Trail through disused rail tunnels and take in other cool history. Then it’s down, down, down and along the Hutt River cycle trail all the way into Wellington (Petone) before our final dinner together which marks the end of your North Island adventure!

Cycling Distance: 87km 

Accommodation: Holiday Park Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 22: Wellington, Ferry Transfer Day

Farewell to those completing the North Island!

Ferry transfer and rest day for those continuing to Bluff

For Those beginning their journey in Picton, WELCOME!

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 23: Scenic Queen Charlotte Drive to Havelock

We get our wheels turning on the stunning Queen Charlotte drive. Or you can head off road for a more adventurous ride on The Link Pathway cycle trail (similar km’s but more singletrack trail and some steeper climbs/descents). A shorter riding day offers us time to explore the coastal settlements along the way.

Cycling Distance: 45km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 

 

 

DAY 24: Mighty Maungatapu challenge to Nelson

You’ll ride on sealed roads today through small rural settlements and over the scenic Whangamoa reserve between Havelock and Nelson. Don’t worry, there’s a good cafe and at least one ice cream shop on the way! 

Cycling Distance: 75km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 25: Great Taste Trail to St Arnaud

We meander out of Nelson on the sealed/gravel Great Taste Trail. Navigating a historic railway tunnel is a pretty great way to avoid a steep hill, so don’t forget your head torch! Then we’re on country roads all the way to St Arnaud.

Cycling Distance: 99km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 26: Ride via Lake Rotoroa to Murchison

We stretch our legs today clocking up some kilometres on quiet country roads.  We pass through Lake Rotoroa, some gorgeous native bush and lots of fords.

Cycling Distance: 75km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 27: Native bush and back roads to Reefton

Good rural farming country meets native bush on lovely quiet little used roads. We pop over Maruia Saddle at 500m, then it’s a lovely up and over piece of road – rich in bush and birdlife to Reefton.

Cycling Distance: 123km

Accommodation: Historic House 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 28: Historic roads to the West Coast

It’s gently descending all the way to Greymouth. Stopping off at the eccentric and historic settlement of Blackball and paying our respects to the minors lost in the Pike River mine disaster.

Cycling Distance: 82km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 29: Rest Day In Greymouth

A well-earned rest day, explore the nearby historical mining settlements, enjoy the Pounamu pathway exhibition or hire a car/ ride your bike up to the beautiful  Punakaiki rocks.

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast

 

DAY 30: West Coast Wilderness Trail

We don our plaid and join the West Coast Wilderness Trail and gently climb on purpose-built trails through magical forest. What goes up must come down, this afternoon we enjoy a stunning ride from Cowboy Paradise down to Hokitika via the Lake Kaniere trails

Cycling Distance: 101km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

DAY 31: Coastal Cycle Trail

We absorb the West Coast pace of life on the most recent part of the West Coast Wilderness trail. Coastal cycle trail, secondary roads and finally highway, we enjoy a smorgasbord of farmland, stunning bush and lakes.

Cycling Distance: 82km

Accommodation: Retro Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

DAY 32: Riding Into Glacier Country

Get your hill legs out… we’re riding into glacier country. We set out early to allow time for optional glacial viewing activities for those who wish.

Cycling Distance: 86km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 33: Pedal the Wild West Coast

We continue riding south on sealed roads through towering Rimu rainforest. You’ll enjoy glimpses of rugged and wild coastline including Bruce Bay and the famous Knights Point lookout.

Cycling Distance: 119km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

DAY 34: In the shadow of the Southern Alps

Click into your low gears or crank up your battery we’re going over… Up we go – up and over the Southern Alps. Take it slowly – because there is some great scenery to see!

Cycling Distance: 79km

Accommodation: Cabins

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

DAY 35: Wānaka awaits - lake views get us there

We ride from Lake Wānaka to Lake Hāwea and back to Lake Wānaka.  It sounds like a circle… but it’s not.  It’s quite hilly and can be windy but if we’re in luck the resident nor’wester will blow us to Wānaka with the last part on a fun riverside cycle trail.

Cycling Distance: 75km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 36: Rest Day in Wānaka

Rest Day in Wānaka. Central Otago scenery, local activities, abundant shopping and dining options or a relaxing walk by the lake.

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast

DAY 37: Bike The Crown Range Road

There’s no doubt you need your wits about you today, the Crown Range Road is the highest main road in NZ at 1076m and you’re going to ride over it! We finish the day on the cycle trail into Queenstown. (You can of course opt out of this ride if you prefer).

Cycling Distance: 87km

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 38: Round The Mountains cycle trail

We begin the day with a 45 min boat trip across Lake Wakatipu. Today is BIG, big scenery, big day, big climb, big down and hopefully a big southland feed!

Cycling Distance: 103km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 39: Pedal The Southland Plains

We make a beeline for Invercargill today. Quiet roads through rolling farmland with an occasional view of the Southern Ocean make a great landscape to reflect on your journey!

Cycling Distance: 101km

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

 

DAY 40: Grand finale into Bluff!

The last hurrah, the crowning glory, the culmination of 34 days of pedaling! Today you roll to the iconic signpost at Stirling Point, Bluff marking the end of your incredible adventure by bike.

Cycling Distance: 31km

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

DAY 41: Farewell

Our final breakfast together. Stay on and explore the region or travel on to Stewart Island. Crew can help arrange bike boxes and transfers to the airport.

Meals: Breakfast

Photos from the Tour Aotearoa - Full Length NZ Cycle Tour

Map - Tour Aotearoa - Full Length NZ Cycle Tour

Cycle Tour Aotearoa - Full Length New Zealand Cycle Tour Frequently Asked Questions

Escape Adventures fully supported bike tours have been running for decades, if you have any questions "just ask us"

The biking lowdown

  • A total distance of 3000km spread over 34 days of biking.
  • This is a ‘Pedal bike-centric’ cycle tour. Riding distances and overnight stops have been designed around the needs of pedal biking. E-Bikers are welcome to join.
  • Daily riding distances have been planned to be achievable, (but not without challenge) and to allow plenty of time to explore the local towns along the way.
  • We encourage an early start so that you have time to recharge at the end of the day.
  • 31-139km riding per day on wonderfully remote and scenic riding route. Approximately 58% sealed roads / 18% quiet gravel roads / 22% cycle trails and a 90km beach section.
  • There are some big climbs, big downs, undulating coastal terrain and of course there is also some flat terrain.
  • Cycle trails have variable terrain and generally slow riding speed.
  • Dirt/gravel road biking experience will add to the enjoyment of your tour.
  • Our ‘Sag Wagon’ support is available (most of the time) should you need a break from the saddle.

What does “Fully Supported Cycle Tour" mean?

YOU – RIDE . NAVIGATE . ENJOY . EAT . SLEEP .

WE PROVIDE:

  • Daily ride information.
  • Digital navigation and cue notes.
  • Mechanical and first aid support.
  • Carry your luggage *please note we are unable to carry empty bike bags or boxes  
  • Ride sweep.
  • Sag Wagon.
  • Breakfasts, lunches, water and riding snacks (and some dinners).
  • All the logistics.
  • And all Accommodation

Whether you choose to ride the full length of New Zealand or just one Island at a time – we’ll sort the nitty gritty. Before your tour begins, we will organise all the logistics and book all accommodation.

We will give you daily digital route maps, that you can follow on your phone or GPS, and route cue notes so that you can ride at your own pace, stop when you like to smell the roses and grab a coffee when the opportunity presents, while always knowing that we are there if you need us.

On tour, your awesome Escape Adventures support crew will have your breakfast ready for an early start and provide snacks for you to carry with you. They will provide daily ride information and ride sweep with first aid and mechanical support. Our support vehicle will carry your luggage, and on most days set up a ‘floating picnic lunch’ on route so that you can dine’n’dash and top up on water and snacks. The support vehicle is also there if you need first aid or mechanical support, or if you need a break from the saddle.

How fit do I need to be for this cycle tour?

This cycle tour includes rides of 31-126 km per day. Please do read about the daily riding distances taking note of the riding terrain in the itinerary and prepare accordingly. The more prepared you are the more you will enjoy your adventure! You should be comfortable riding 3-5 times a week with regular rides of 30-80km in length. Preparing for your cycle tour should involve gravel, dirt and off-road riding, with some hills.

Preparing for your cycle tour should involve:

  • Riding on gravel, unpaved terrain with some hills.
  • Ride 3-4 times a week with rides of 40-80km in length.   

Support: Our trusty support vehicle carries all your luggage, has lunch, snacks and water at hand, and is there if you need a break from the saddle.

What type of bikes do we ride?

The ideal bike for the tour is a hardtail mountain bike or a touring bike with off road tyres. A gravel bike is also an option – but only if you are familiar with riding one on unpaved surfaces! You will need to be able to carry up to 1.5-2L water, a jacket and snacks in a backpack, front roll or frame bag.

Escape Adventures have a small fleet of bikes and E-bikes available for hire available for hire in S M L & XL. (Bookings Essential).

Trek X-Caliber hardtail mountain bike $950
E-Bikes (Brand and Model tbc) – $2400 (Available from November 2023)

When you hire one of our bikes – they are maintained by us and kept in excellent running condition.  Contact us if you plan on hiring a bike.

What kind of meals do you provide?

Included in your tour: All breakfasts and riding snacks, most lunches and three evening meals. (Six lunches are not included).
Six lunches and most of the evening meals (as per the tour itinerary) are in places where there are dining and wining options available – therefore at your own cost and choosing. (This gives you more control over the cost of your tour AND spreads the love supporting local businesses!).  We are most definitely able to cater for vegetarians and special diets. If this includes you, it is essential to advise us of this before your tour begins, so that the support vehicle can be stocked with the necessary supplies.

Typical Meals Include:

  • Breakfasts – Fresh fruit, muesli, toast and spreads, hot drinks.
  • Lunches – Picnic style lunches, fresh salads, cold meats, cheese & bread.
  • Snacks – Fresh fruit, salty snacks, home baking.
  • Evening Meals – At your own cost / Prepared by your local accommodation on occasions.

What kind of accommodation can I expect

Accommodation is included for all 40 nights of the cycle tour.

Our job is to explore and find the most fitting accommodation to work in with the riding route. Sometimes there is lots of choice, sometimes very little. We will be staying in a combination of motels, hotels, lodges, holiday houses and holiday park cabins. When possible these will have ensuite bathrooms, however in some cases – in holiday houses and holiday park cabins it will be necessary to share bathrooms.

Accommodation is on a share twin basis. If you’re traveling alone, we’ll pair you to twin-share with another biker. If you do not wish to share a single supplement is available. *Single room options may be limited in some locations and an ensuite bathroom is not always available. 

What is the maximum size of the cycle group

This trip has 6-12 guests, plus two experienced Escape Adventures guides.

4 Reviews
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Tony McPherson

Solo Traveller

Tour Aotearoa with Escape Adventures certianly exceeded expectations, very well organised and supported by our tour leaders Theresa and Tim.
Commencing the trip not long after cyclone Gabrelle had passed through Aotearoa, we were amazed how quickly roads and tracks had been reistated, but the scope for full restoration of damage will be a massive project.

What a great way to experience many parts of NZ you would not see other than on these trails and backroads.

The growth in camaraderie for those on the tour continues with both Kiwi and Overseas bikers.

I highly recommend Escape Adventures from a mature biker who has booked another tour with Escape Adventures in 2024

Tony McPherson

September 3, 2023

Jeanette Waters

Solo Traveller

Escape Adventures have exceeded my expectations across the board. I just need to ride, enjoy scrummy breakfast and lunch spreads and know the accommodation was sorted. Enthusiastic leaders, manageable but challenging days followed by cruisey. I’m 75, on an e-bike and now 1500kms cycled. Just come and do it!! No regrets!!

November 25, 2022

Raewyn & Bruce Davidson

Couple Traveller

First and foremost the trip was awesome thank you. The crew were fantastic and we enjoyed every single one of them!! They all worked extremely hard to provide a fantastic experience and did manage to do this so credit to them all! You have an absolutely awesome team and they obviously are very happy to be working with you. This is one of the best things Bruce and I have ever done as a couple in NZ…..and at our ripe old age we have done quite a bit!! So thank you for the opportunity to do this and especially with e-bikes as we could never have even considered doing something like this in NZ with ordinary bikes.

May 11, 2022

Annie Hudson

Solo Traveller

Riding the entire Tour Aotearoa was fast looming on my bucket list and when I saw that Escape Adventures were putting this trip together, I was on for it! Having had 3 most amazing overseas adventures with Escape Adventures I knew that they would provide the most fantastic experience. All I had to do was get to the start, get on my bike and pedal while Escape took care transporting our stuff, organizing food and accommodation. Escape’s support crew were brilliant, so willing to help and support everyone, prepared and provided outstanding meals and snacks in abundance. All in all a absolutely fantastic way of riding some of our fabulous trails, seeing remote and beautiful New Zealand with like minded Kiwis and to achieve a personal goal at the same time. I just loved it! Riding the length of our country – Aotearoa.

February 22, 2021