Unforgettable bike rides for Aotearoa Bike Challenge month

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Unforgettable bike rides for Aotearoa Bike Challenge month

February marks Aotearoa Bike Challenge Month. A full 28-days when the nation is encouraged to cycle anywhere, anytime and to bring everyone else along for the (literal) ride.

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Participants can sign up at lovetoride.net/nz, earn points and win prizes.

But it’s not all about winning, the real target is to ride one million combined kilometres by bike instead of by car, in an attempt to prevent over 180,000 kg of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

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Whether you’re up for the challenge or simply looking for inspiration to hop on the saddle, here’s a bucket-list selection of nationwide bike rides.

Ride and wine

Whether you are a biking fan, a pinot lover, or both, you owe yourself a journey across the alpine wonders of the Gibbston River Wine Trail.

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Twenty-four kilometres east of Queenstown lies a winding cycling trail that’s still, surprisingly, Central Otago’s best-kept secret. It’s snuggled on the sides of the Arrow and Kawarau Rivers and State Highway 6 – south of Arrowtown – and visitors get to ride over bridges, hills, and mountains, all while sipping on award-winning wines.

Unforgettable bike rides for Aotearoa Bike Challenge month

Cycling through the vines in Gibbston Valley. Photo / Tourism New Zealand

Pedalling around Wellington

Wellington has been in the news for all the wrong reasons when it comes to cycling lately, which says a lot about its urban riding and little about its recreational trails which are, quite frankly, stupendous.

Unforgettable bike rides for Aotearoa Bike Challenge month

Pencarrow Ride lookout, Wellington. Photo / Lee Slater

Cycling holidays in Nelson

Nelsonians bike to work or school more than anyone else in New Zealand. While the national average is six per cent of local commuters, Nelson nearly doubles that at 11 per cent.

This statistic was proudly relayed to me by the city council’s transport manager, Margaret Parfitt. “Nelson has a long history of being cycle-friendly”, she told me, adding that the city has picked up the nation’s annual cycle-friendly town award several times.

Unforgettable bike rides for Aotearoa Bike Challenge month

Riding past the striking Nelson Cathedral in central Nelson. Photo / Lee Slater

New Zealand's greatest cycleways

Elisabeth Easther gears up for four of New Zealand’s greatest cycleways…

I love exploring our countryside by bicycle, whether it’s a short ride or a multi-day adventure, riding a bike floats my boat. Cycling also allows a person to admire every bird, branch and bloom, while having a modest impact on the environment. With so many great rides to choose from, here’s a small handful of my favourites.

Unforgettable bike rides for Aotearoa Bike Challenge month

Cycling over Edger Bridge from Arrowtown. Photo / Thomas Bywater

Mountain biking in Rotorua

When it comes to cycling, Rotorua talks a very big game, claiming itself “undisputedly the mountain biking capital of New Zealand”.

When I ask deputy mayor, Dave Donaldson, to back up the boast, he comes back with some pretty serious creds.

“We’ve hosted Crankworx six times, the UCI Mountain Bike and Trials World Champs, and the Singlespeed MTB World Champs twice. Our mountain biking manaakitanga is globally renowned.”

Unforgettable bike rides for Aotearoa Bike Challenge month

The Te Ara Ahi cycle track takes in five of Rotorua's geothermal parks, and forests perfect for mountain biking. Photo / Destination Rotorua

The lesser-known bike ride on Auckland's North Shore

Fifteen minutes after leaving Auckland’s CBD we arrive at Birkenhead Wharf, wheel bikes off the ferry and exit the terminal. Across the water, a silver conveyor belt stretches like a slide from salmony-pink Chelsea Sugar Refinery to where ships dock to unload sugar. To the left, I can make out the Northwestern Motorway, the Waitākere Ranges looming beyond. The ferry begins its return journey, we start ours.

Unforgettable bike rides for Aotearoa Bike Challenge month

Auckland's North Shore has a lot to offer the urban cyclist. Photo / Supplied

For more travel inspiration, go to newzealand.com/nz.

Check traffic light settings and Ministry of Health advice before travel at covid19.govt.nz

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