Dunedin Tunnel Beach Walking Track

Despite its rather harsh winters, Dunedin’s has some of the best beaches and coastal scenery in New Zealand. A prime example of this can be found at the Dunedin Tunnel Beach walking track and Sandfly Bay. Of course, it is probably not a good idea to do either of these walks when there is a southerly wind blowing.  After all, beaches can be terribly exposed to the elements.  But on a warm and sunny day, these are magnificent scenic walks. Before setting off for Tunnel Beach, you might enjoy a quiet stroll along beautiful St Clair Beach. Even on cooler days, St Clair beach has a wild beauty.

Dunedin Tunnel Beach Walking Track – handy hints

 

Tunnel Beach walking track access

Dunedin Tunnel Beach Walking Track – what to wear

Now if you are going to do this walk, you will need your sturdiest walking shoes.  Make sure your shoes have a good tread because the Dunedin Tunnel Beach walking track has a lot of loose stones.   Although the track is quite wide, it is rather steep – a good level of fitness is required. In peak season, you will find many visitors here, just like yourself.  But there is plenty of room to park your vehicle at the carpark provided.

Tunnel Beach Walking Track with Michael

Dunedin Tunnel Beach Walking Track – views & safety

The views along the track are mesmerising – so much so, that at first, you won’t notice the track getting steeper. But believe me, it does.  I quickly fell behind and Michael became a tiny figure in the distance. Right at the end of the walk, you will come across a magnificent giant piece of rock that you can walk out onto. The views will most certainly overload your senses. So a word of caution – there are no barrier fences here.  You will need to be very careful when getting your loved ones to step back for a photo.

 

Tunnel Beach Peninsula

See what I mean!

Tunnel Beach Peninsula closeup

Places Nearby of interest – Dunedin’s St Clair Beach

St. Clair has long been a popular leisure destination for local. The promenade is lined up with attractions such as cafes, bars and naturally the beach! Facing the Pacific Ocean its a fun place to be, especially in the peak summer season when you want to cool off!

 

Dunedin St Clair Beach

 

Dunedin Tunnel Beach Walking Track – Dunedin Salt Water Pools

You will find plenty of locals out quite early in the morning, enjoying their city’s famous landmark. A good thing to know, is that nearby you can have a swim in the salt water pools. It is a good facility and it has a cafe attached.  If you look hard, you can see it right at the end here. These pools are accessible to the public and pretty much open 7 days a week.

 

Dunedin Beach Salt Water Pools

 

Sandfly Bay on the Otago Peninsula

If you are heading out to the surrounds of Dunedin, I have yet another ‘gem’ for you to discover.  And please don’t let the name put you off! Sandfly Bay. Most of the time, there are no sand flies to be seen. Better yet, you won’t find so many people milling around. Believe me, the towering sand dunes are awesome. The actual beach beyond is absolutely beautiful with such beautful deep blue sea colours.

Dunedin Tunnel Beach Walking Track and Sandfly Bay Dunedin

 

Sandfly Bay – location – how to get there

To get to Sandfly Bay, drive your car along the top of the peninsula on Highcliff Road. Take a turn down Seal Point Road and then continue to the carpark at the end. Don’t forget to lock your car, before starting the track walk. First, the trail will lead you over farmland. Then you will quickly descend onto a sandy track. It is this track that will take you through those lovely sand dunes. There is a viewing platform where you can stop to savour the views on your way down.

 

Dunedin Tunnel Beach Walking Track and Sandfly Bay

 

Sandfly Bay Wildlife

As stated previously, you definitely won’t find many sandflies. What you will most probably come across, will be New Zealand fur seals and New Zealand sea lions. These guys are often found resting on the beach. But do keep your distance – they will be faster than you think – and can be dangerous if their escape route is blocked. These guys rule and those bull males are quite a confronting sight as they emerge from the surf.  But once they have burrowed into the sand, they will settle in for a well earned sleep.

 

Dunedin Tunnel Beach Walking Track and Sandfly Bay wildlife

 

No doubt about it, once you are down on the beach, you’ll want to kick of your shoes and feel the sand between your toes.  Take a stroll right to the end, and luxuriate in the most tranquil of spaces.

 

Summary

There are few places in New Zealand that have both beautiful beaches and a dramatic cliff coastline. Dunedin has both! The Dunedin Tunnel Beach walking track is accessed from St Clair and has the most fantastic sculptured limestone cliffs. And Sandfly Bay is surrounded by golden sand dunes, cliffs and frothing surf. In fact, everywhere you go, you are bound to come across some of New Zealand’s most magnificent wildlife.

 

Dunedin Tunnel Beach Walking Track - coastal track

 

If you are short on time, the Dunedin Tunnel Beach and Sandfly Bay walking tracks are perfect.  If you go at a steady pace, it will take you about one hour. The views are just sublime and walks are great for your fitness. If you base yourself in Dunedin for a few days, you will quickly discover that this city has many charms. However, you will find that the surrounds are absolutely awesome. The beaches and the wildlife here are a magnet for nature lovers and hikers.

Happy Travelling in and around Dunedin!

Holiday Apartment Accommodation New Zealand

When travelling for longer periods or with an extended, selecting the right accommodation is crucial. A lost of travellers prefer the independence of self-contained Holiday Apartments – this means that they can prepare their own meals and eat when they feel like it. This blog will go into detail  about what holiday apartment accommodation New Zealand has to offer. So what facilities are included and where are the best locations? Also you will find out how to research and how to book. If you like, delve deeper and read more on other types of accommodation options in New Zealand. So let’s being:

Holiday Apartment Accommodation New Zealand Options

First of all, as a traveller you will get a wide variety of accommodation in New Zealand.  Many of us like to stay in different types of properties.  This means upmarket B & B’s, luxury boutique lodges, vineyard cottages, hotels and of course apartments. The good think thing about apartments & cottages, is that they are self-contained – allowing you being full independence. With these apartments, you will get spectacular views – all within a central location. Of course, like anything, there is a downside to apartment accommodation. If you choose a large apartment complex, the noise level maybe an issue. As we all know, some of these properties have walls that are ‘paper thin’. Remember, in New Zealand, we often build with wooden frames! Waking up to the most spectacular harbour views is a luxury for many travellers. This apartment had views galore and was a good distance from the main road.

Choosing Apartment Accommodation in New Zealand - self-contained

Cottage Accommodation in New Zealand

The cool part with country style cottages is that they are often private and totally secluded. A great example is The Old School House at Kina Beach (see photo below). You will be surrounded by vine grapes in a tranquil environment. Kitchen facilities are pretty much standard in cottages and include the basics – a micro wave oven, eating utensils and a pot or two.  With cottages, you most probably will not be near shops or restaurants – not within walking distance anyway. Honeymooners just want to whip up a simple meal or platter and enjoy the intimacy. Read more on how to plan the perfect honeymoon.

 

Classic Apartment style in major cities

If you are staying in major cities such as Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, your cottage options will be limited. City apartments are usually ‘investment properties’, which are either run by major hotel chains or privately owned through online platforms such as AirBB or Booking.com. Most probably, you will not meet the actual hosts. Instead, you will be given a ‘electronic key code’ to self-check-in. With hotel apartments, you may get a reception area to check-in. In a city such as Auckland, what could be nicer than having an inner-city apartment overlooking the harbour. This is a very central location and that means you can walk everywhere to see local sights, restaurants and the nearby ferry terminal.

Luxury Retreats with stunning views and locations

Another level up, are luxury retreats. These retreats are generally larger with 4-5 bedrooms, a full kitchen and multiple bathrooms. The outdoor living areas are gorgeous! In fact these luxury apartments almost always have stunning sea views or valley views. They are a great option for extended families over a longer period of time. Of course, their prices are higher, but when you gather a group of 6-8 persons, it becomes very much value for money. Stand-alone luxury retreats provide very attractive stay-in options – you simply can’t go wrong if you have a separate gourmet kitchen. What could be nicer than having access to sophisticated equipment such as a coffee and bread-making machine.  You’ll also get a great choice of top quality pots, pans china and cutlery. And let’s not forget how convenient it is to have a wall-mounted oven with a full gas hob.

New Zealand Accommodation – what does “self-contained” really mean?

Well, for most of us, “self-contained” means being about to sleep in to whatever hour you want. It also means not having to come down to breakfast with ‘bed hair’ or having to converse with other travellers while you are having breakfast. A quiet breakfast with just the one you love is a very gentle way of starting a new and exciting day of travel!

What locations are the best and how to select?

The answer to this question depends on your interests and the amount of time you have available I generally recommend that you stay longer in each location to appreciate the region you are visiting. New Zealand is such a diverse country with many changing landscapes – therefore, mix and matching your accommodation is such a great idea. So if you are staying say 1-2 nights in central Auckland, a hotel or apartment will probably work best for you. If you are on a honeymoon and crave privacy, a vineyard cottage for three nights will be perfect! So, before booking any accommodation, first, select your locations carefully. See handy travel hints for New Zealand.

How to decide and book apartment or cottage accommodation

Now, after carefully choosing your locations, let’s talk about selecting the right accommodation. We all know websites can be misleading. The photos are are lovely and the site seems perfect. But no one is going to tell you about the heavy truck traffic going pass your bedroom window or the paper-thin walls! There are many online reservation platforms around, such as AirBB, Booking.com and so on. Obviously all the reviews and recommendations you are reading online will provide some sort of indication, but will these review really guarantee that ‘5-star’ experience you are looking for? I strongly suggest that you get in touch with a respected local accommodation service or even the hosts directly. By talking to a real person, you will get a pretty idea of what you are dealing with. It is such a good idea to simply pick up the phone and have a chat to someone. In the age of Whatsapp and Skype, it will cost you nothing to do this simple piece of research! Click & book is easy, but you will not always get what you bargain on. Read more on why to use a local agent.

Summary on Holiday Apartment accommodation New Zealand

1. Consider what locations you want to stay in and and why? 2. How much time to you want to stay at each place? and 3. What is the best accommodation type for this location and length of stay? The rest on your accommodation research will really flow from these simple 3 key points. View on how to plan your perfect holiday.

When selecting apartment style accommodation in cities, be aware that not everyone show consideration to their neighbour. The last thing you want is having to deal with constant door slamming. And no one wants to cope with having to listen to late-night drunken conversations on the balcony next door. If you are sensitive to noise, then you might want to consider staying in a standalone cottage, retreat or villa.

Spice up your stay and experience a variety of accommodation options while travelling New Zealand. Make sure you have some contact with ‘locals’ and experience life through their eyes. So, you might finish up a night of two in an inner city apartment, then two or three nights at a vineyard cottage and then a few nights at some local B&Bs or boutique lodge. There are some really ‘cool places’ to stay in New Zealand – sample PurePods – so make the most of it while in NZ!

Happy travelling throughout New Zealand!

Getting around New Zealand

When planning a vacation to NZ, consider what form of transport you should  you use for getting around New Zealand. As this is a key decision for holiday-makers, let’s have a good look at all the options – the pros and cons.

Best ways of getting around New Zealand

Self-drive with rental car or motorhome

New Zealand is a ‘self-drive paradise’! Roads are fairly empty and most of them are highly scenic. The distances between key locations are often 4-5 hours drive. Keep in mind that the maximum speed you can go is 100 km/h (around 67 miles/h). Therefore, you can cover about 250-30o kms (170-200 miles) per day without getting overly tired. The beauty with self-driving is that you can ‘stop and go’. And because there are so many stunning nature walks and mind-blowing lookout points, you will probably want to take your time.

There is a distinct difference between travelling with a rental car and motorhome (or camper).  Although they are both self-drive experiences, a rental rental car will enable you to travel a little faster.  Plus you will have a great variety of accommodation options. By staying in B&B’s, cottages or lodges. you will have far more contact with the locals. If you choose to travel with a motorhome, then 90% of time you will be in motorhome parks – full of overseas visitors just like yourself. Read more on motorhome vs rental car.

The cost difference between a rental car and a motorhome can be unexpectedly large. In the summer season (November until March) a motorhome will cost you more than a rental car. In the winter season, a motorhome will be a better price option! Therefore, given that most travellers are coming to NZ in the summer, there is no cost advantage for choosing a motorhome. Select the right season for you.

Pros: for self-drive with a car or motorhome: able to ‘stop and go’, have transport flexibility, able to stay local outside towns.

Cons for self-drive with a car or motorhome: for some folks driving on the left side of the road can be a challenge for the first few hours. But most will adapt in a matter of 1-2 hours.

Getting around New Zealand - car rental

Getting around New Zealand with a coach

Coach travel in New Zealand is another popular way to get around New Zealand. Most likely, you will start your journey from an Intercity depot in major town. You may even start from a pickup point in the countryside. And better still, there are occasions when you can even get collected from your hotel. After check-in, your journey will be incredibly relaxing. In New Zealand, most travellers can enjoy very modern buses with large windows to enjoy the scenery passing by. The coach driver will also be your ‘guide’ – so you will get an interesting commentary on the area you are travelling through. There are bathroom and refreshments stops on the way.

The key downside with coach travel, in New Zealand is that you are not able to stop at their leisure. The other key issue is that travel routes are often only serviced once or twice a day. That means, your travel itinerary has to be built around the coach scheduled departure and arrival times. Generally travelling between locations will take a little longer too – with up to 50 people on-board, some of them are a little slower with getting back on-board.

Pro for coach travelling: ease of travelling once in the coach, commentary. no need to drive.

Con for coach travelling: unable to ‘stop and go’, need to stay inside townships, limited departure times.

Using a coach getting around New Zealand

Using trains and ferry services in New Zealand

Because New Zealand only has a population of around million souls, its train and ferry infrastructure is limited. There are only three major trains: The Northerner, The Coastal Pacific and the TranzAlpine. Those train journeys are mainly used by tourists to New Zealand. They are a popular way of seeing the scenery and nostalgic way of getting around.

The key ferry services are between Auckland City and Waiheke Island, between Wellington and Picton and between Bluff and Stewart Island.

The interesting part for holidaymakers to New Zealand is that they can combine train and ferry service with their self-drive route. Say, you travelling between the West Coast of the South Island and Christchurch, it’s quite common the drop-off the rental car in Greymouth and board the TranzAlpine train to Christchurch. The same is for the ferry between Wellington and Picton. You even don’t have to take the car onto the ferry – most rental car firms (the major brands such as Avis, Budget, Hertz, Thrifty) will have a depot on both sides. With smaller rental car operators (GO Rentals or Apex) you will have to take the car onto the ferry.

Pro for trains & ferry travelling: often can be combined with a self-drive option – get a rest from driving – enjoy the scenery.

Cons for trains & ferry travelling: limited routes and departure times – can be extremely busy during peak holiday season.

Using key railway links in New Zealand can work for travellers

Hiring a driver-guide in New Zealand

Hiring a driver-guide is really the ultimate way to travel New Zealand. As a traveller, you will learn so much more – there is nothing quite equal to having a ‘local’ guide as your driver. Having greater flexibility is the key here – especially if you want to add something along the way at short notice.  Believe me, not having to drive yourself, is such an advantage. You can rely on your driver getting the timing right and preparing ahead. You will be in safe hands – the legal regulations in New Zealand are quite strict. Your driver must  have a passenger service licence, a transport licence and the vehicle needs to have a legal certification.

private driver guide with road guru

Of course, such a personalised form of travel will come at a price. Cost-wise you need to expect to pay NZ$900-1500 per day for a driver guide. The driver will generally be available from 8am until 6pm. Included in this, is the transport, all the required insurances, fuel, taxes, the drivers accommodations and meals. Sometime a minimum hire period is required. The price will be reflective on the overall circumstances and quoted accordingly. Remember, having a driver-guide is not just about the transport. It is more like having a concierge on wheels – someone who takes care of all the necessaries of being on the road.

Another variation of this option is by using a driver-guide for only a portion of your travel in New Zealand. For example, you could have a driver guide from Queenstown to Greymouth for 2-3 days, then take the train to Christchurch. From Christchurch, take a domestic flight to Rotorua and use a coach between Rotorua, Waitomo and Auckland. With some smart planning, this alternative option would work extremely well doe you.

Pros for hiring a driver-guide: flexibility and independence travelling, no driving needed, learning much more about the travel destination. See those very special hidden places off the beaten track.

Cons for hiring a driver-guide: it’s an investment not every traveller wants to commit to.

Get local taxi and shuttle transport

If you arrive in New Zealand after a long international flight, whatever you do, don’t immediately start driving your rental car or motorhome. You will be tired and perhaps a little disorientated.  For starters, try using a taxi or shuttle service. If you travelling as a couple of more, a taxi is the more convenient and efficient way of getting to your first accommodation. Just think of that refreshing shower after your long-haul flight! Shuttle services in New Zealand are mainly 10-seater vans. This option works well for the the budget-minded traveller. When arriving at railway stations (such as Christchurch) it is a good idea to pre-book your shuttle or taxi service. Some smaller places in New Zealand will not have a taxi or shuttle services – if you don’t have a rental car, you will need to plan carefully. Getting to remoter accommodations can be a challenge – although some hosts are willing to pick-up and drop-off. However, this service is not common and may incur a surcharge!

Pros for local taxis & shuttles: great for local airport or railway station transfers.

Cons for local taxis & shuttles: not available throughout New Zealand.

Road travel on New Zealand highly scenic roads

Domestic Regional flights in New Zealand – Save time!

For ‘Kiwis’, domestic flights are the most common way getting around New Zealand. This especially applies for longer distance travelling. If you are travelling between, the North & South Island, it really is the way to go folks! Remember, New Zealand roads are not ‘European style’ Autobahns. Taking domestic flights between regions is such an attractive option if you are on a limited time budget. Check-in procedures at airports are so easy. Drop your last rental car off at the airport, take your flight and pick-up another rental car at the next airport. Simple!

New Zealand’s main airline in Air NZ. Their domestic network is well established with multiple departure times daily. If you are travelling by rail and ferry, you can easily combine domestic flights. An option like this will balance out your travel itinerary quite nicely – thus ensuring you get most out of their time in New Zealand.

Pros for domestic flights: saves lots of driving time, especially between the main islands.

Cons for domestic flights: there are not a great variety of times to choose from.

Summary of getting around New Zealand

So getting around New Zealand is pretty darn easy.  You will have far more options than other countries you may have visited.  And the good thing is you can mix and match by combing, say, a couple of domestic flights, with car rental.  For even more variety, you could take a train ride from one region to another. So even if self-driving doesn’t really appeal to you, there are plenty of efficient ways of getting from one place to another.  Remember, pre-planning is an important aspect for some ways of getting around New Zealand.

Here are some further helpful travel blog to point you in the right direction when planning a holiday to New Zealand:

Happy travelling New Zealand however you select to do it!

Clothing for travel through New Zealand

New Zealand weather – What to expect!

Clothing for travel through New Zealand should be chosen with all 4 seasons in mind.  The clothing you bring, must be able to cope with unpredictable weather patterns. New Zealand weather is famous for it’s sudden changes – within a matter of hours or less. But the good news is, that there are no extreme weather conditions. And that means you can actually travel throughout New Zealand all year around.

Before I begin talking about clothing for travelling New Zealand, let’s look at the local weather patterns in more detail.

New Zealand is surrounded by water – lots of water…

Yes, by looking at this map you can see that New Zealand sits between Antarctic and the Equator – and it is surrounded by vast oceans. The distance to both oceans is approx. 5000 kms (3000 miles). So of course, a steady continental climate does not apply here. The upside,is that unsettled weather doesn’t usually stay for too long. In fact, you can have rain in the morning and a warm sunny afternoon. You might even get 4 seasons in one day!

Abel Tasman kayaking at nice weather conditions

Weather in different locations in New Zealand

Where you are located in New Zealand, will play a big part in what you wear. The far north of the North Island has subtropical weather during summer – while the inland alpine areas of the South Island, can be as cold as -10°C (14°F). The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. Check out the New Zealand Tourism site with a changeable, regional climate map (as below) and select the different locations throughout New Zealand.

New Zealand travel seasons

The seasons in New Zealand are basically the reverse of the Northern Hemisphere season. They are in fact quite similar in respect of temperatures, weather patterns and clothing you need. The northern parts of New Zealand are similar to that of northern Africa and the southern parts, more like northern France. It is the oceans around New Zealand that cause a  different climate to that of Europe. There are some key differences, which I can to explain in more details.

Spring: September – November

The spring season can be an excellent time to visit New Zealand. Sure, the temperatures can often be a little cooler – especially in the southern parts of the South Island. But you will discover that the land is lush with greenery. Also there is often far less wind in the September and October months. However, keep in mind that the days are still a little shorter in September to October. By November, the daylight hours are getting far longer. Temperatures will range from 4.5 – 18 degrees celsius (40 – 65F).

Clothing for travel through New Zealand

Summer: December – February

By now, the weather patterns have changed a little. In the ‘old days’ November was regarded as the start of the summer season. But now, the start of summer has shifted to December – this really when the summer warmth kicks in. It is at the start of December that both domestic travellers (e.g. long school holidays between mid Dec and end of January) and internationals come to NZ’s shores. So that means just one thing – early reservations are essential! Temperatures range from 21 – 32 degrees celsius (70 – 90F).

Autumn/ Fall: March – May

The autumn season is regarded as the best time to go hiking and tramping in New Zealand. This is when the weather is very stable. You will get less wind, less rain and far less fellow travellers around! Temperatures are still pleasant, though they are getting chillier in the morning and evenings – especially from mid-April onwards. Personally I love this time of the year. This is the time when I can wholeheartedly recommend that you visit New Zealand. Temperatures range from 7 – 21 degrees celsius (45 – 70F).

Queenstown aerial view from Skyline gondola
Winter: June – August

These months are recognised as the ‘off season’ for New Zealand – that’s unless you want to go skiing. Ski fields are generally opened from the end of June until mid September. These times can change slightly from year to year. Especially in the southern parts of the South Island, the days are getting much shorter. Temperatures range from 1.5 – 15.5 degrees celsius (35 – 60F).

General advice on New Zealand weather condition

It’s always good idea is ask your accommodation hosts about the local weather.  However, the Metservice.com five-day forecast is pretty helpful, especially if you have outdoor activities planned. By now, it will be clear to you that New Zealand has many micro climates for it’s regions. Therefore having chat to the locals for updates, is often the best call.

Dress for New Zealand - what clothing to pack for travelling

What clothing should I pack for New Zealand?

If you are traveling around New Zealand, you are bound to bump into most types of weather. The safest policy is to be equipped for all weather, no matter what the season. Wear layers of clothing to strip off and replace as necessary. Wet weather gear, a wind proof jacket, woollen sweater and strong footwear should be high on your list. In keeping with New Zealand’s relaxed lifestyle, dress is informal for most occasions. A smart standard will be required for fine dining restaurants, shows and casinos.

Shorts, good walking shoes and a warm jacket are always good

Your Clothing Check-list New Zealand

  • Take a good rain jacket – this will be extremely beneficial in windy weather.
  • A quality fleece beneath and a polypro or merino shirt is always a good choice. The good old ‘Swandri’ has always been popular with Kiwi men.
  • In New Zealand most trampers wear mainly shorts.
  • If long trousers are preferred, for your tramp, then go for fast drying hiking trousers. Jeans are no good ! They will get wet and you will get cold!
  • For hiking/tramping, do pack strong comfortable footwear.
  • Don’t forget about sun hat and sun glasses. If you are anywhere near glaciers and snow, these are a ‘must have’.
  • If you need additional outdoor clothing while in NZ, just pop into a Kathmandu or MacPac shop. They’re the local outdoor clothing specialists.

Read about packing for New Zealand.

When is formal dress expected?

When selecting clothing for travel through New Zealand keep in mind that dress standards in NZ are pretty casual and informal. We do make exceptions for weddings or an ‘occasion’.  By viewing this video below, you will get a sense of what most outdoors and nature-focused travellers will wear.

Some more helpful travel information for New Zealand:

Happy Travelling through New Zealand at any time of the year!

Exploring Tasman Nelson Bike Trail

If you cycle around a beautiful area like the Nelson/Tasman Region, you can be sure of a complete experience. There is nothing like feeling the landscape under your feet and listening to the sounds of rural life as you breath the purest air. The beauty of cycling, is that you can stop as much as you like to fully appreciate the scenery.  And apart from being  environmentally friendly, you will have far a  far more likelihood of interaction with the locals. Therefore, it makes sense that if you are exploring the Tasman Nelson Bike Trail, you should choose a boutique operator – one with a deep knowledge of all things ‘cycling’ and the area they are showcasing.  Luckily we know of one such operator in the Nelson/Tasman region whose name you are sure to remember.  Wheelie Fantastic Cycle Tours offers a very personalised cycling experience. Read on to find out why:

Exploring Tasman Nelson Bike Trail - cycling Old Coach Road

Exploring Tasman Nelson Bike Trail is not just about getting on a bike and starting to pedal.  It is about getting the inside local advice and having an operator who takes the time to structure your cycle tour according to your interests. A boutique company like Wheelie Fantastic Cycle Tours will sit down with you beforehand to chat about how to structure your tour route. They will take into account your fitness level and what you’d really like to see.  This type of service is especially beneficial if you want to tour independently. Some folks prefer the go on their own, while others enjoy having a local guide on hand as a backup. So let’s talk about what sort of cycle options you can expect.

Exploring Tasman Nelson Bike Trail

Pam with Nicky from Wheelie Fantastic Cycle Tours

Self-guided cycling option – exploring Tasman Nelson Bike Trail

So how do you catch up with your cycle guide for their all-important briefing? Well, you will either be collected from your Tasman accommodation – or you can get yourselves along to their cycle base. Make sure to bring comfortable cycle trousers, sun glasses, water bottle, sweater and a rain jacket (just in case!). All the other cycle equipment such as the bike, helmet, maps and cycle packs are provided. Next on the list will be getting the right sized cycle frame for your height.  You will find, that very often the people who operate bespoke cycling tours are competitive cycling athletes themselves. So it stands to reason that they understand the importance of ensuring your comfort on their bikes. And when it comes to ‘local’ insider information, these guys can really shine. For example, say, you are interested in local wines and arts, they will know of some very special boutique wineries where the winemaker is on-site. So if you let them know, they will phone ahead to make an appointment with the wine-maker  who will meet you at the winery for a chat.

Cycling Nelson Tasman Mahana Winery

Back-up service while on the road

For some of us, we can be a little out of our comfort zone in a new area.  Therefore, it so comforting to know that a company like Wheelie Fantastic have a very efficient back-up service.  That means, that if you get tired or need to get back sooner, you only have to call them.  They will respond immediately and collect you from wherever you happen to be.  So what if you don’t have your own mobile phone to make that call?  No worries. As part of their service, they will give you a loaner phone to take with you. So if you choose to cycle independently, you can be assured of a very personalized and caring service.

Guided Cycling Option – Exploring Tasman Nelson Bike Trail

With the fully guided cycling option, you will get yet another level of experience. There are many visitors to New Zealand who are genuinely interested in this country – therefore it is understandable that they are keen to learn. Getting a guide book simply does not do it – even Apple’s Siri would be out of her depth! Surely the great advantage of being on the bike is to get all your senses are engaged. For example, you might come across a farmer who is shifting a mob of sheep. Depending on the time of year, you could also see the vineyard workers preparing the next harvest. You will probably want to stop and find out how things are done. So by having your own local guide, you will have all your questions answered. And as previously stated, there is nothing quite like having a chat with a down-to-earth winemaker. Now that has to be the essence of ‘real’ travel!

Multi-Day Cycle Experiences

More travellers are enjoying multi-day cycling tours with a high level of comfort. That means all your luggage transfers are taken care of – plus all your accommodation and meals are pre-booked. Longer stays in New Zealand’s regions are becoming more popular with our international visitors. You really do discover so much more. Not only is it an environmentally friendly option, but seriously, who wants to pack-up every day! A classic example of this convenient type of cycling tour, can be found on the Central Otago Rail Trail. However, the beauty of basing yourself in the Tasman Region for 3-5 days, is that you will be able to explore from just the one base.

E-Bike Cycle options

As we know cycling is a lot of fun. But, sometime when we get a little older, it can turn out to be hard work. So for travellers who are not used to biking or not overly fit, there is no better solution than cycling on an e-bike. With an an e-bike, you can switch your bike’s battery on or off. You will get 3 or 4 levels of assist options.  That means, if you need help on the hilly parts of your tour, or you’re facing a head wind, just switch right up to ‘turbo’. You will be flying by!  Sure, many of us still prefer the ‘hard yards’ and go for the traditional cycle ‘machine’. However, the beauty of the Wheelie Fantastic service is that you get a choice. On the day we did this tour, our e-bikes were brand new and state-of-the-art.

What to see and to do on a bike

While out and about in the Tasman region, your cycle guide will be able to suggest so many attractions that you will love. Again, it will totally depend on your interests. Everything is tailored for you and no single trip is the same as the other. You’re sure to come across something that will make you smile.

Exploring Tasman Nelson Bike Trail - lips sculpture

Historical sites

Do expect the unexpected on these boutique cycle tours. You will come across old and abandoned sheds still standing after many years. These relics of yesteryear give an incredible sense of history. Take this little treasure here – an historic cottage. Believe it or not, this cottage is still a bit of a hidden secret, even with some of the locals.  I guest that’s the beauty of cycling along country roads – finding the hidden gems.

Exploring Tasman Nelson Bike Trail - historic cottage

Boutique Wineries in the Tasman region

There are some wineries in the Tasman Region that have restaurants attached to them.  On a beautiful warm summer’s day, there is no better way to relax that a lunch among the vines. So many of New Zealand’s premium wines are produced from the Tasman Region – Neudorf Winery is just one of them.  If you are after a tasting platter, just ask and your guide will tell you about all those special off-the-beaten-track places. However, if you are looking for a true gourmet experience, you can’t go pass Forsters which can be found at the Moutere Hills Vineyard.

Arts & Crafts in Nelson-Tasman

If arts and crafts are your thing, you will be spoilt for choice on the a cycling tour in the Tasman Region.  In fact, some of our artists in the Tasman Region are so awesomely talented, they regularly ship their work overseas to their customers. See more on Michael McMillan Art.

Artisan Food

No cycle tour is complete without a few tastings of the local produce.  Many artisan food products of the Tasman Region are organically grown.  Take olives and olive oil for example – we seem to excel in these products.  Once again, these places can be opened especially for your visit. Just let them know beforehand and they will do their best to make it happen.

Dessert at Forsters restaurant Moutere Hills winery

Cycle routes in the Tasman region

The beauty of the Upper Moutere and Mapua region is that you will be cycling on small country roads. And you will definitely get a sense of going back in time.  In fact, you could almost imagine a horse and cart coming around the corner at any moment. So, if you have one full day, why not consider a combination of cycling and visiting various attractions. To see some examples, have a look at these Google maps…

Upper Moutere

Mapua/ Ruby Bay Kina area

Summary Exploring Tasman Nelson Bike Trail

For travellers wanting to explore the real heartland in New Zealand, a day trip should definitely be on your itinerary. If you are a little hesitate about cycling, do think about using an e-bike. They are so easy to use. But just remember, that the secret of a really outstanding cycle experience, is getting the local support and knowledge. Aim for going with a smaller family-owned company – it will be the perfect day out.

Here are some more details on the Tasman-Nelson region you might want to check out:

Top Day trips into the Abel Tasman National Park

Upper Moutere Artisan attractions

Explore the Nelson region with day walks

Happy Travelling exploring the Tasman Nelson Bike Trail!

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