Living the Dream in NZ: Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

Dec 2, 2017
by teeneegee  
New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world. Hiking, surfing, skydiving, bungy jumping, mountain biking, skiing — everything is geared towards getting you outside and doing something incredible. For Ben it was clear since a long time that he had, at some point, to visit this country for at least a couple of months. He even told me that on the day we met. When I started watching bike movies and Ben pointed out which parts where from New Zealand I did have to agree that it looked amazing - and so I was hooked as well with the prospect of visiting New Zealand in the near future. We are no strangers to van life so it was no discussion from the beginning as to how we would travel through New Zealand.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

In January 2016, we first talked about going on a trip for a longer period of time. New Zealand by bike will be part of a six-month trip along with Japan and Indonesia. To be able to travel for 6 months we both quit our jobs, rented out our flat and tried to save some money for the time being. On 1st of January 2017 (great day to find cheap flights..) we finally started our trip. After 3 weeks skiing in Japan, we moved on towards late summer in New Zealand.

But wait, how did you manage to get all your equipment with you?

From a logistical point of view, our trip was challenging, to say the least. We brought our skis with us to Japan, but no chance to include the bikes in the luggage. Bringing the bikes along would mean using a big chunk of our travel budget to pay for the baggage excess charges. After some research we found out that it was way cheaper to ship the bikes with postal service from Switzerland to New Zealand. To have an address to ship it to, we convinced our Airbnb hosts in Auckland to accept two big parcels from us. We not only loaded it with the bikes but pretty much all our biking gear. It took the bikes 14 days to arrive and it cost us 250CHF each.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan
vanlife rotorua

How do I buy a camper van in New Zealand?

We decided to fly to Auckland because it has the biggest market of used campervans, additionally, Rotorua is conveniently located not too far away from Auckland. A good way to buy a van in Auckland is at the weekly car fair where besides locals, a lot of backpackers show up and try to sell their vans. You get the chance to look at many different campervans and test drive them. There is even a mechanic on site if you get serious about buying one. Another great source of campervans are countless backpacker Facebook groups/markets.

We were lucky that a few days prior to our arrival there was a hightop campervan posted on a Facebook group that matched exactly our expectations, besides the mileage which was with over 400 km a bit on the high side. It seemed to be in mint condition and we decided after a test drive to go for it. After a few days to transfer the money we became the new owner of a Toyota Hiace Hightop campervan - we named him 'Chröser' which translates to sleeper. Not because we can sleep inside but because of his very tranquil acceleration.

Small remark here: If you plan on buying a van, flying into Christchurch might be a great option, too. For one thing, you have great riding just at the city borders and a lot of people we met started their journey in Auckland and flew out of Christchurch. Meaning they bought the van in Auckland and sold it then in Christchurch - often for a lot less than what they could have asked for in Auckland.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

Rotorua - Smelly but superb trail center in the Whakarewarewa forest

ben rotorua jungle
ben rotorua

We were itching to ride our bikes, so after buying our van we set out directly to Rotorua. We didn’t know much about Rotorua except that it was famous for its geothermal activity - and the smell that came with it. And that the Whakarewarewa Forest Trail center is supposed to be amazing. And well, it was!

ben burms rotorua
Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

We rode in Rotorua for 10 days and could have stayed much longer, there really are amazing trails to be found. Not only the unmarked trails were pure gold but also many of the official trails were so good you just had to ride them for at least a few times. The trails varied from knee deep dust, chutes, perfectly groomed trails as well as trails with top to bottom off camber roots. Rotorua, with its amount of amazing trails in such a great variation has won our hearts from the beginning. And that is even though the free camp options weren’t perfect and the smell did need some getting used to.

Rotorua Vanlife
Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

The decision to move on came not easy. But we arrived already late in New Zealand’s summer and were a bit afraid that winter could catch up with us on the south island. Therefore we packed our things and drove towards Wellington where we did manage to get in a few days of riding. Incredibly lucky with the weather, we discovered Wellington without a single bit of wind. We rode on Makara Peak, Mount Vic and Redrocks before we boarded the ferry to Picton on the south island.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan
Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

Marlborough county and Nelson, steepness awaits!!

Marlborough is famous for its wine and every time we tried a bottle of this region we had the delicious proof as to why. There is a lot more to this region than just wine, though. It is also home to some great mountain bike riding as well.

ferry

Whites Bay
whites bay

One region we were particularly fond of is based around the DOC campsite in Whites Bay. The campsite and trails are part of the first day of the NZ enduro. The trails offered a first taste of what we were going to experience in Nelson. Steep uphills, lots of roots, some steep downhills but heaps of fun. The whites bay DOC campsite itself is great, too. It is located on a beautiful beach where you can surf with a bit of luck. So really a great place to spend a few days and switch between riding your bike and surfing an uncrowded beach break.

Peakingridge
Vanlife Wellington

Nelson

The few bikers we met in Whites Bay did tell us the same we heard already on the north island: Go to Nelson!

We have to agree with the folks that told us that the trail grading in this region is a bit on the difficult side. A trail rated black in Nelson would likely be rated double black diamond in another region. A bit scared by that outlook, essentially because most of the trails we were told to ride were graded black diamond, we made our way to Nelson.

Nelson

Straight away after arriving we did a short afternoon ride to get a feeling for the trails in Nelson and dropped into Top Dog and Smasher. Both trails were amazing, but we had to agree, they did seem to be challenging for their assigned grades. After Rotorua Nelson was yet another spot we spent more time at and were sad to leave. But be warned, to really enjoy Nelson you must like challenging trails, don’t mind chutes and steep terrain (up and down).

Most trails are purpose-built bike trails somewhere on the many hills in the backyard of Nelson. Besides chutes with mini berms to break into, you will find roots in every kind of variation. Must rides in Nelson are Smasher, 629 and Peaking Ridge. Keyboard Warrior followed by Mr Chomper shouldn't be missed as well. I stop here, but I could basically name almost every trail I rode in Nelson - too many great trails to choose from. The only downside of Nelson might be that most of the time you will have to earn your turns by yourself and pedal up. From another point of view that's a good thing as it keeps the trails in good condition. They are not ridden as often as if there were uplift options available.

There is an option available if you prefer to shuttle and have enough cash to spare. The shuttle accessed trails from Wairoa Gorge are supposed to be as good as it gets and they are located just around the corner from Nelson!

Nelson

Found some berms in Nelson

After our road trip through the South Island and on our way back north towards Auckland, we did manage to do a pit stop in Nelson to get some more trail time on some of our favourite trails from New Zealand. Besides riding some of our favourites we did discover some berms too. We didn’t just ride on Sharlands, in the Maitai Valley or Dun Mountain but visited a zone called Codgers as well. This hill offers some less challenging trails and to our great surprise, some machine built trails with berms as well. The view you get over Nelson from the top of Codgers justifies the climb easily - but the trails down from there are not too bad either.

Nelson does not only offer picture-perfect views, difficult but perfect trails, but also amazing local beers, burger stops and cafes. The vivid, (and for the size of Nelson) huge mountain biking scene full of people who fell in love with this village and never left is alone the best proof that this village is special. After spending roughly three weeks in and around Nelson we can completely understand why and we were tempted to stay longer ourselves… Nelson is a MUST visit for everyone, but especially for mountain bikers!

Nydia Track - our mini adventure in the beautiful Nydia Bay

Before we continued towards Wanaka we booked a shuttle to Opouri Saddle where a long day on the bike would start. We were after the Nydia Track. The Nydia Track is another stop of the NZ enduro race and is famous for its techy up and downhills. Difficult in the dry, crazy in the wet.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

Nydia Track consists of three up and downhills - most of them rather challenging. Some bikers in New Zealand count the first uphill one of the best uphills in the world. It is literally just roots and you have to pick your line very carefully to manage to ride it. The downhill that follows is not less difficult and will punish you for poor line choice or not enough commitment, but it is also a very long and good descent into the Nydia Bay.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

Crossing the Nydia bay consists of easy trails and there is the 'On the track lodge' to refuel before the next climb. From there the trails get easier and the Nydia Track ends with a super fast flow trail at another bay where ideally a boat or a shuttle car will pick you up and bring you back to Havelock. The Nydia Track is a proper adventure a bit off the beaten track. Difficult but worth it, as long as you don’t go there when it is wet.

Vanlife on the westcoast

After the Nydia Track, it was time to move on towards the south. We spent the last weeks mostly riding our bikes and were therefore exhausted. We decided to do a bit of hiking and sightseeing on the west coast of the south island to get our strength back for more bike riding further south.

ben driving van
Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

tina whites bay beach
ben wanderlust

The weather forecast looked not too bad and so we drove towards Greymouth. A few days and nice sights later we went hiking at Franz Josef glacier and spent four days in this region without phone reception and discovered the unbelievable silence and beauty of the west coast.

morning coffee
glenorchy road

Unfortunately, the whole trip into the wild got a little disturbed by the sudden loss of our vans 5th gear. Luckily we were still able to continue our trip with 4 gears and the knowledge that the whole gearbox might break down suddenly. Our van was now not only very slow accelerating but also only travelling at 80km/h.

Lake Wanaka resembles a bit of Switzerland, a bit of Canada - must be New Zealand

Our expectations of Wanaka were high. Lake Wanaka tourism represents the region exceptionally well on all possible channels. After seeing pictures of the vast mountain ranges and lakes we were expecting bike adventures similar to Switzerland. Long uphills to the high mountains surrounding Wanaka and long descents thereafter.

Wanaka
Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

We soon had to realize that you can hike many of those hills but most of those hiking trails are prohibited for mountain biking. Wanaka offers plenty of outdoor activities, but the focus seems to be more on hiking, climbing and water sports in summer. A bit disappointed, we double checked on trailforks and found a small hill within Wanaka city boundaries full of green, blue and black lines. Not exactly the high mountain trail riding that we had in mind but a hill full of trails just at the border of beautiful Lake Wanaka can’t be missed.

The MTB Treasures of Wanaka New Zealand
There are some steep trails in Sticky Forest too

This small trail center is called Sticky Forest and turned out to be a small pearl of delight. What the trail builders put into this small hill in terms of quality is unbelievable.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan
The MTB Treasures of Wanaka New Zealand

I would be happy to have only one of those trails just in our backyard. After a short uphill onto the top, you can choose between jump lines, steep chutes or some flowy trails. Additionally, you get from time to time superb views over Lake Wanaka.

Unfortunately, this might be also the downfall of Sticky Forest. There are plans to build houses on that hill, quite understandable given its close proximity to the city center and the views of the lake. But the bike community of Wanaka is highly engaged in the cause to preserve this jewel and at least for the moment it looks like they might actually win this fight. We cross our fingers and hope that Sticky Forest will remain for a long time the beautiful trail center it currently is.

Helibiking in New Zealand - as widely accepted as shuttles in Finale Ligure

Back in Switzerland, it would never cross our minds to take a Heli to the top of a mountain. One of the reasons might be all the gondola options. Another the high costs that would involve such a thing. Beyond that of course, there is still the environmental impact. In New Zealand, they don’t have that many gondolas or many access roads that will get you up the mountain. A heli drop seems to be just the way to go if you need a shuttle to a remote location. Lucky for us we could sneak the last two seats of a heli shuttle up to Mt. Pisa. Our guide John from Wanaka Bike showed us a long descent from Mt. Pisa down to Wanaka. The trail ending directly in a pub. The after ride beer seems to be everywhere in the world the agreed way to finish a great day on the bike. Good stuff.

What a nice way for an uphill
Alpine Helicopters Wanaka and sunrise

The adventure on Mt. Pisa is on easy trails and can be conquered by pretty much any biker. What made this day really memorable were the views and the length of the trail. It took us 4 hours to get to the pub. There were a couple of short uphills thrown into the mix but still. A long descent. Wanaka is beautiful from everywhere you look, but being able to see the lake, countless layers of hills all the way to Mt. Cook and Mt. Aspiring in the distance was just amazing.

Trying to keep up with the girl
ridges are always great photo objects

The magic triangle: Queenstown - Alexandra - Wanaka

Views like that..

We spent quite some time riding our bikes and discovering many trail centers in and around Queenstown, Alexandra and Wanaka. The three destinations make a unique combination of very different places to ride your mountain bike.

Queenstown stands out with its world-class bike park and many, many more trails in the surrounding hills and long descends starting (after pushing the bike up) at the Ben Lomond saddle.


A combination that we are especially fond of is starting at Ben Lomond Saddle at 1300m with upper and lower link, both trails you have to concentrate very hard to not get distracted by the breathtaking views. After that, you follow Beached As towards Fernhill. Last but not least we rode down the infamous Salmon Run, a trail that gets your blood pumping. Even without the trails starting at the Ben Lomond saddle, it is worth the pedal to Salmon Run. A friend once said that this trail is so good, that it almost justified the trip to New Zealand alone!

Queenstown

The riding in Alexandra couldn’t be more different to the trails in Queenstown and Wanaka which are mostly inside the dense forest on either hard packed or loose dirt. Which is exactly what you will not find at all in Alex. Mostly open faces and rocks is what the riding resembles. Dots on rock rollers, drops or gardens help you to find your way around on a couple of small hills fully packed with trails.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan
Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

Missing some of those dots or just take a small deviation around them might get you into serious trouble. Best way to discover this area is definitely with a guide as besides the dots on the rocks the trails are not indexed.

Reminder: Gearbox still broken!

vanlife
vanlife kitchen

In Dunedin, we got to know people who know people which helped a lot in finding and mounting the gearbox quickly. Even then, it cost us 1500 NZD including work. A lot of money when you try to travel cheap. But the renewed gearbox did change our travels in a big way. Besides having again 5 gears, we finally could drive the expected speeds on highways, while even be able to speak to each other.

It seems as if it doesn’t matter where we travel to, everywhere we go we get in touch with a vivid mountain biking scene, Dunedin was no exception. We went shuttling with the locals for 2.5NZD per ride on another hill full of trails - Signal Hill. Besides Signal Hill, Dunedin has trails spread all around the city.

tina dunedin rocks

Ben roots
tina dunedin woods

Dunedin pleased us in many ways. It was a city but still quite small, there were many riding zones close to the city and with Alexandra, Queenstown and Wanaka there were tons of riding options only a few hours away. The surfing looked great, just slightly too cold for our 3mm wetsuits. Additionally, the city did offer many great coffee shops as well as pubs and wasn’t shy of hip vintage stores and trendy restaurants. Last but not least there were a few remarkable official free camp spots right next to the ocean. We can safely say that Dunedin is a bit off the beaten track, but well worth the deviation!

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan
tina beach dunedin

southern lights

Time runs fast..

While riding in Dunedin we kind of felt as if we run out of time. The NZ trail bucket list was still long. At the same time we had to start planning on where and when to sell the van - and also plan in some time to do so.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan
campspot lakeside

Soon we found out that we needed to renew the Warrant of Fitness to sell the van. To get a new WOF the van needs to be in a good state - mainly concerning its security features but also rust.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

mount cook
Seals

Since we had to get back north towards Auckland anyway, we agreed on driving from Dunedin to Christchurch and get the WOF there. Of course, a short deviation towards Mt. Cook National Park was a must and so we arrived a few days later Christchurch. In contrary to our fears, 'Chröser' passed his WOF on his first attempt.

Nuggetpoint

Christchurch and Craigieburn - old downhill tracks and loamy goodness

With the WOF out of our mind, we could start focussing on mountain biking again. And there were heaps of trails on our NZ bucket list in this region. I guess I have to stop mentioning it since it seems to be everywhere the same in New Zealand - big riding scene, trails all around the city and many people volunteering to dig on the trails. There would have been even more to ride. Unfortunately, the Christchurch Bike Park burned down when we arrived in NZ - just 3 months after opening.

scree field craigieburn
ben craigieburn

As everywhere, locals were happy to show us their home trails next to the burnt down bike park. Some very steep, classic DH runs and a long trail over lava stone back to the city.

craigieburn tina
tina dunedin woods

We spent the next few days riding in Craigieburn, a mountain range close to Christchurch, famous for its scree runs above the tree lines and beautiful, fun and long descents in the bush. A few bucket list trails to cross off - Edge track, Cheeseman DH and Cuckoo Creek track.

Craigieburn

With enough days on the bike to need a rest and the weather forecast looking very cold and rainy, it looked like a sign to leave Christchurch for some warmer spheres up north. On the way and after a very cold night with frost in the morning, we stopped at Hanmer Springs for its famous hot baths. Which was a small but worthy detour.

Everything has an end

Unfortunately, our journey was slowly but surely coming to an end. Our way northwards leads us back to Nelson, where we took the night ferry in Picton and arrive in Wellington early in the morning at six o' clock. The weather is bad and so we continue our journey further north on the same day and arrive two days later in Auckland.

sheeps
sunrise christchurch

ben milfordsound

Meanwhile, our bikes are on their way back to Switzerland by airmail. If all goes well, six to ten days later, they will be back home again. We cleaned out our van and presented it the following Sunday at the big car fair in Auckland. It's the end of the main travel season and many backpacker cars are no longer on the pitch. We notice, that this is a very bad moment to sell the van - Interest in used cars is not very high.

However, shortly before the end of the event, an interested buyer showed up. Everything fit and we stood, faster than we thought, without our campervan. No problem for us, New Zealand was beautiful, but without bikes and without a van, a longer stay makes no sense for us. We were able to change our flights and leave cold and rainy New Zealand two weeks earlier than actually planned towards Bali.

Living the Dream in NZ Travelling with Bikes and a Campervan

Four months New Zealand - perfect for us, perfect for you, too?

Four months of camping in a camper van travelling through New Zealand is a long time, but time flew by so quickly. When we sold our van it felt as if we just bought it. We planned on staying longer than many we met on the road because well, we didn't know when we will come back. As amazing as New Zealand has been, both of us have never been to Canada, neither of us has ever biked in the states nor in South America. There are so many countries on our bucket list that need to be crossed off before we go back to what we know already.

After all, for us it was not just about riding our bikes, it was also about getting to know a - to us - new country and its people AND ride our bikes. And exactly that opportunity to get to know people and their home through a shared passion was what made that trip so good. If you really just want to ride your bike at many of the prime spots in New Zealand, you could do that in 4 to 6 weeks, though. And leave out all the hiking, sightseeing and other non-bike related stuff. If that was the case, we would focus on the regions of Nelson, Queenstown (including Alexandra) and Christchurch (including Craigieburn). If you can get a cheap flight to Rotorua, don't miss that trail center as well.

Thanks to everyone we met along the way, if you ever are in Switzerland, hit us up, we will for sure take that chance to show you our home trails!


MENTIONS: @teeneegee




107 Comments

  • + 42
 nice write up
  • + 7
 thanks!
  • + 1
 @teeneegee: Great photos too - what is your camera setup/lenses?
  • + 1
 @mikeyb76: yes @teeneegee i would like to know this too, incredible photos
  • + 2
 @fmbt @mikeyb76 Thanks a lot! We use a Sony A7II with a couple of lenses (50mm F1.8, 16-35mm F4, 70-200mm F4 and a 28-70mm standard zoom). During the trip we realized that the results get way better when you shoot in RAW, which we didn't do before, just because of the huge amount of data.

check some more pictures here:
@ArminWurmser

Or on our website: www.outsideisfree.ch
  • + 4
 Home sweet home ~ Great write up, sometimes you don't really realize how good your back yard is until someone else views it...
Now time to grab my bike and ride yeeewwwweeee !! Bro !
  • + 2
 @teeneegee: Sweet! Thanks for the info!!!
  • + 16
 Vans and bikes. Thats a good life.
  • + 2
 agreed :-)
  • + 12
 Wow! Amazing trip and great write up! Would you mind sharing your budget for the trip or maybe recommend a budget for others thinking of something similar?
  • + 1
 Yes, this please
  • + 7
 @Globu
@clockarockin

We spent around 2300USD per person and month. But this includes everything, even the ongoing costs at home (health insurance which is 300USD a month in Switzerland for example).
  • + 2
 @teeneegee: Wow that's surprisingly reasonable! Great job guys! Adding to bucket list!
  • + 1
 @Auzyman: well we didn't spend much on tourist attractions and really sleeped most of the time on freecamp spots. As long as the bike doesn't break you can live a cheap life :-)
  • + 7
 Great shot of Nugget Point as well!! Probably the most photographed lighthouse in NZ (or at least the South Island) and only about 25 mins from my house!!!
Some of the best big wave surfing in NZ is in the Catlins but you def need at least a 5mm wetsuit (and even then it can get pretty damn cold). Among others McGazza used to come here to surf fairly regularly.
  • + 1
 Well it is an amazing looking spot for sure! So many waves in NZ and so few surfers.. we should plan a trip with surfing in focus :-)
  • + 2
 I used to surf Porridge for a few years... and all round the Catlins too.."From Balclutha" so....I'm a Southerner lost now...Living in the UK but fond memories of home.
Nice story and a dream now for the expat to return home

Thanks
  • + 8
 Sat reading this at Shanghai airport on my way to NZ to do the very same thing
  • + 1
 Gove me a shout if you're in Wellington! I'll show you some trails and wheeze my way up them behind you Smile
  • + 4
 Did something a bit like this but not near on this scale. The new zealand government has really clamped down on campers, so you can't just park wherever and do whatever you want. Things are costly and its fairly remote and sparsely populated, so good outdoor skills are a must. the weather can be all over the place so pack accordingly. that said it is so good for biking and such a great place, far better if you have a partner or a few buddies. i loved rotorua and taupo , and wanaka.
  • + 1
 Unfortunately a small group of campers started throwing their rubbish everywhere on the side of the road and pooing wherever they pleased
  • - 1
 @applepie: pooing everywhere they pleased ! That’s got the 50to01 hoodlums written all over it ! Smile
  • + 4
 @applepie: Locals are well sick of the selfish crap-and-run brigade. Can't behave like this in Europe, why do they expect to in NZ? They spend bugger all money here and expect everything for free... F*&@ them.
  • + 9
 Save Sticky Forest!
  • + 4
 Hoi Ben Thanks a lot dir your tips and hints. We are actually in NZ right now. Trails are sick. But I gotta say that nydia was eventually too nargly for us, at least the first part. And Sticky Forest doubles are something never seen in Europe. Makes We should Export them to Finale! Riding salmon run tomorrow!
  • + 1
 Hei Alex! Good to hear that you followed some of our tips! Nydia is gnarly but the experience is amazing, right?
Ooooh Salmon Run, I am sure you will love that one! Better go slow on the first run, though. Has some surprises ready for you :-)
  • + 8
 I hate these people....livin my dream while I wallow in the rat race.
  • + 3
 Been there, done that. Nothing to see in NZ, don't go.
  • + 4
 You could spend four months in BC Canada and may be see one tenth of what this province has to offer. This is an exelent write up of getting to know the locals and have them share thiere trails . Nelson sounds sweet and its true if there is no shuttling then steep trails last much longer. Great pics too. Thanks for sharing your adventure.
  • + 1
 Thanks!

We are planning a trip to BC - will not be in 2018 though. For sure a region where we will need to spend a loooot of time ;-)
  • + 1
 BC is about 4 times larger than Nz
  • + 2
 @teeneegee: heyhey, you guys shoulda come with Tina and me to B.C!!!!! Camper and Bikes. ???? Da müsste ihr zwo (beide Tinas) no sprechen! Wär lässig & und sauguater Artikel!!!
  • + 1
 @raffa: We need to meet this winter! Either you guys visit us for a weekend or vice-versa and then we can talk.

Camper and Bikes always work :-)
  • + 1
 @ArminWurmser: yes, for sure! Skis, Bikes or Coffee/Beer???? Mir fahren über Silvester nach Ligurien. Vielleicht fahr ma da eh bei euch vorbei... Muss I Mal checken!
  • + 1
 @applepie: Twice as many trails and km's of rideable track in BC than NZ but NZ looks jam packed with trails and beautiful coastline.. Not to say BC doesn't have that (i live here..) , but it's definitely going to be more spread out.
  • + 2
 Great write-up and photos after such a fantastic trip! Happy to have met you in Auckland for that dinner before you left. Wish I’d gotten to ride more than Rotorua now based on your write-up! See you in B.C. when you get here... Kalan Wink
  • + 1
 Kalan! SO nice to meet you in Auckland and thanks! We will meet again, for sure!
  • + 2
 great write up. I´ve been to NZ three times but never brought a bike and I guess I need to change that the fourth time. Thanks for sharing your story. There are a lot of info´s in it that help to get organized and plan everything ahead of the trip.
  • + 2
 Great write up! It was very timely as I was researching a return trip to NZ and looking at doing some van life living to explore a bit more and ride more trails. It was a treat to see where you rode. It brought back some great memories of some epic riding my wife and I did a couple of years ago on our honeymoon. And yes Nelson was the best stop of the trip. Heli biking in NZ is just something you do, not sure what it is but there are plenty of bush pilots ready to take you where you want to go and it is reasonably priced. Get yourself to the states and you can look me up in Southern CA plenty of variety of trails here to show you.
  • + 1
 Thanks! We will keep that in mind, at some point we will be doing a road trip in BC and the states for sure!
  • + 2
 Was this last summer? 16/17? Great timing, we can't have been far off having the wettest autumn, winter and spring in a long, long time.
Look into the freedom camping thing before you come if you're keen. It's got a bit of a bad rap of late. Personally I'd like to see places spend money on facilities (toilets, showers etc) and encourage the campers rather than trying to ban them from everywhere.
  • + 2
 Yes, we arrived end of January 17, but tried to get out of harms way wherever rain was in the forecast. Got quite lucky actually :-)

Yeah, its not everywhere perfect with camping, but there are still some amazing freecamp spots easy to find with the campermate app. But it sucks to see how some freecampers just leave trash and shit behind.. I can totally understand that some locals are a bit grumpy towards all the freecampers.
  • + 2
 @teeneegee and @ArminWurmser thank you guys HUGE for posting this. My wife and I are on our honeymoon in NZ south island and have basically used this as our field guide. With only three weeks, we really wanted to make sure we hit the nuggets and this helped a ton. Let us know if you make it to BC in your travels!
  • + 1
 Hi Houston!
I am glad you found our information helpful and got inspired by our journey :-) We will be for sure at some point in the future riding our bikes in BC (fingers crossed for 2019) - so we will gladly contact you when we are in the region!
Cheers
Armin
  • + 2
 Aw man, I don’t usually comment on stuff, but this brings back so many memories. A couple of years ago I went to NZ for 6 months, roadtripping around with my bike in the back of a car I bought in Auckland.

Incredible biking everywhere, especially loved Nelson, Port Hills, Alexandra/Clyde, Wellington, Rainbow Mountain in Taupo, Rude Rock and Skippers Canyon. Wish I got to ride the full length of Old Ghost Road though

Climbing Mt Taranaki for my 30th was pretty bloody cool!

Awesome photos btw
  • + 2
 Great write up. I used to live in Wanaka and love the trails in Sticky Forest, hopefully these trails can be saved. The riding in Alex is great too, really reminded me of southern Spain. It seems just about every town in NZ has a good riding scene, I was amazed how much it has come on when I visited a couple of years ago, compared to 15 years ago when I lived there. Funny to hear Nelson described as a village though.
  • + 1
 I loved reading about you adventure and it has given me and my boyfriend some more ideas for when we have a 2 month visit in January next year! So very excited!

We are also taking our bikes with us, but we are flying with them on the plane.
Can I just ask how you kept your bikes safe when you were on the road? Did you lock them to your van and if so what kind of lock did you use?
Also did you have any mechanical issues with you bikes, and if so did you find that there we plenty of bike shops/mechanics available to buy parts, get help at?
And finally, how did you keep you bikes and kit clean? Was it a case of just wash them at bike parks and washing clothes in your van?

Many thanks and happy shredding!! Gail
  • + 1
 @GailBeeston hi Gail, glad you liked our story! Bike theft is an issue we weren't aware of at the beginning of our trip. This was until some of our friends bikes got stolen at the Rotorua EWS.

When we parked / slept in cities we often took the bikes into our van and just locked the wheels outside onto the bikerack. However, I think most important was to not stay at big bike events, as this probably attracts bike thieves. We bought a 50$ lock at a bikeshop.

We had to replace the bearings of @teeneegee's former yeti and had to replace the full drivetrain of both bikes. Everywhere in the cities are decent bike shops and quite a good stock, mostly you will find also Torpedo7 shops in the bigger cities, they usually stock most items you might need.

We rode always with Monsroyale (merino clothing from New Zealand) shirts, so they might have looked dirty but at least never smelled bad. We bought a brush set at the first bike shop we went to and usually just brushed the bikes and did some greasing. not much more.

Ah, best piece of advice: download the app "campermate" and download all the maps at home with a decent wifi. The app contains all (free) camp spots, showers and public laundries (for the gear) and more :-)

enjoy!
Armin
  • + 4
 Rad to see this write up finally posted! Fun riding with you when you and Ben were here.
  • + 1
 LLoyd? yes mate, was amazing! thanks for showing us around!!
  • + 3
 Great story. Funny tho been living and riding in nelson for 20+ yrs and would love to do a trip like that around BC and the states just to see new the ails
  • + 2
 Great article Armin & Tina! This is going to be of great help when I will be preparing my MTB pelgrimage trip to NZ! All I wanna do right now is book a flight & pack my stuff... Smile
  • + 2
 yeah mate! you and your nomad will love it for sure!! if there are any more questions, you know where to ask ;-)
  • + 3
 Great write up. I'm bloody lucky to get to live in nelson and right by some of those awesome trails.
  • + 1
 for all i know, Greece and New Zealand are perhaps the two most beautiful countries in the world [for different reasons]. We are getting envious over here guys!
Now i need to get back to my uneventful office job
  • + 0
 So glad I left all my savings in my NZ bank account after my year living in Auckland. Didn't get to travel as much as I'd like to, working full time and all.... but now I have tons of savings to go back and do a trip like this! I'd definitely add a few places to the list on here, but you did a great job covering a lot of the goodies.
  • + 2
 Thanks!

I wish we had a bank account waiting for us! :-)
  • + 1
 @teeneegee, cool write-up! Do you think renting/buying a self-contained campervan in NZ gives so much more flexibility that justifies the increased costs? (as compared to not self-contained)
  • + 1
 Thanks! Well, we wanted something a bit "bigger" and ended up with this high top van which was self-contained. So we never really thought about this, but there are a lot of freecamp spots where this certificate is mandatory and from what we've heard the rangers do check regularly. And it is actually quite easy to get your van certified. Maybe buy one without this and get it certified, increases the value of the van somewhat.
  • + 2
 @teeneegee: many thanks Smile If I go there it would be for a month or two, so was rather looking into renting (or buying if it's very quick and easy), and there is a substantial difference between self-contained and not. From what you say it makes more sense to go for a self-contained.. Thanks and good luck with future travelsSmile
  • + 3
 Great write up and a beautiful set of pictures- you guys did a great job of telling the story and sharing your experience!
  • + 2
 @teeneegee that was really well done. Someone get you a Tourism New Zealand sponsorship!
  • + 2
 Thanks a lot Lee! Means a lot coming from you, I read a lot from you here. And our mutual friend Ronny told me like 100 times that we need to meet at some point :-)

A NZ Sponsorship would be amazing, could easily spend another few summers there without getting bored ;-)
  • + 2
 @teeneegee: before you come to BC get hold of me and I'll see what can be arranged about getting tourism support. You'll probably find yourself entertained! Ronny and his brother and all his friends are awesome.

We're planning a return to Graubuenden sometime in the next few years on invite of Swiss and Graubuenden tourism so it will be fun
  • + 2
 Incredible and inspirational , looks amazing New z has been on my bucket list for a long time.
  • + 2
 Great adventure! I was in NZ at the same time. Its a shame our paths didn't cross. Nelson was my favourite too!
  • + 1
 Well you got my fav. animal as username - I am very sure we would have gone along very well :-)
  • + 2
 Incredible looking trip. Especially starting it with 3 weeks skiing in Japan! Amazing.
  • + 2
 It was a bit difficult with all the gear. Thanks to friends that just visited Niseko we were finally able to get our Skis back (shipping was way to expensive). However, we would do everything again exactly how we did :-)
  • + 2
 Did you crash your helmet? Looks like you went from orange switchblade to white (with chinbar) at some point.
  • + 2
 Well spotted :-) @teeneegee had an issue with the mounting mechanism of the chinbar. Giro was very accommodating and replaced the helmet within a day. The orange one was not available at the store that did the replacement so she went with the white one.
  • + 2
 @ArminWurmser: ah good stuff. Glad it was nothing to put a damper on an epic trip. Japow, riding NZ, then Bali sounds like the trifecta trip of a lifetime. The photos definitely indicate as much.
  • + 2
 Amazing article, great write up and jaw dropping photos! Congratulations, and good luck on your trip!
  • + 3
 Great write up! It was awesome riding with you guys in Nelson Smile
  • + 2
 Thanks for showing us some of the best trails we rode in NZ! :-) Was great meeting you mate!
  • + 1
 We get spoiled with the biking in BC but this looks unreal. This is a dream trip.
  • + 1
 I LOVE NZ, I LOVE NZ, I LOVE NZ, I LOVE NZ! Did I mention how much I LOVE NZ? See again soon NZ, real soon...
  • + 1
 You are my hero. Beautiful trip. That is just awesome. Thanks for sharing the great pictures and words.
  • + 2
 Wow! I need to do this.

The camper van bullbar/clothes rack is must.
  • + 2
 We didn't think of that when we bought it, but it turned out to be a very handy thing, that bullbar :-)
  • + 0
 Great photos and write up, and thanks for sharing. Adventure capital of the world is already taken though, that title belongs to Canada.
  • + 1
 thanks! lets agree on the southern hemisphere then :-)
  • + 2
 New Zealand has always been the adventure capital of the world, its way smaller but has way more to do. I live in BC I would never argue with that.
  • + 1
 New Zealand is most definitely the adventure capital of the world, with Queenstown as its crown jewel.
  • + 2
 If your ever decide to come to Utah, hit me up. Excellent write up! b.
  • + 1
 Thanks for the invitation, we will for sure travel to Utah at some point - on another roadtrip yet to come :-)
  • + 1
 So sick. Living the dream indeed.
  • + 1
 Spectacular trip.. Trying to figure out how I can make this happen Smile
  • + 1
 Soooo good!
Super photo und bilder Armin & Tina
  • + 1
 Thanks a lot Paolo!!
  • + 1
 Awesome! Thanks for sharing
  • + 1
 Thanks for sharing. Great overview and beautiful pics.
  • + 1
 This would be my ultimate dream trip. wow. just wow.
  • + 2
 Same here! I'd love to do this, but either in the USA or in Canada! Althought I'd love to go to NZ to ride some of the trails there!
  • + 1
 @drpepperrider2: J'ai pas les moyens présentement, mais j'adorerais!
  • + 1
 Jeah! Soo gail! Super Artikel Tina!
  • + 1
 :-D Daaaaanke!
  • + 1
 Excellent writing! seems like you had the time of your life Smile
  • + 1
 Wow, thanks for sharing! Great pics and write up!
  • + 1
 Thanks for sharing. Great write up and cool pics Smile
  • + 1
 been there, done that. best time of my life!
  • + 1
 Great post. Well done. Jealous of your trip.
  • + 0
 You had me until the man bun.
  • + 1
 MY LIFE SUCKS.
  • + 1
 This is real life!
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