New Zealand is a beautiful, mostly undiscovered country. Most people go to Australia for a vacation but forget about New Zealand. Well, New Zealand is the place where The Lord of the Rings was shot and there are tours arranged to the movie set locations.
Another thing you can do is go on a biking or cycling trip in New Zealand. Here are five amazing cycling trails in New Zealand.
SEE TE ARA AHI
Brilliant sightseeing tour on a two wheeler, Te Ara Ahi is a 50-kilometre trail winding between the geothermal fields that bubble and boil around the pungent Rotorua.
Beginning in town, the ride incorporates four of the area's major geothermal fields: Whakarewarewa, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waikite Valley Thermal Pools.
The cycling is quite gentle (if rather sulphuric), but it's only part of the experience on this pedalling glimpse into the Earth's power. Check out the steaming, orange-rimmed Champagne Pool at Wai-O-Tapu; watch the geysers blow at Whakarewarewa; and stop for a soak in the thermally heated waters of Kerosene Creek.
Shuttle buses run from the trail's end back to Rotorua, or you might prefer to cycle back.
More information at nzcycletrail.com/te-ara-ahi
ALPS to OCEAN
This 312-kilometre ride is a very alluring prospect. Beginning near the foot of New Zealand's highest mountain and heading to the coast at beautiful Oamaru, Alps 2 Ocean descends almost 800 metres across its journey. But there's far more to this rural ride than blessed descents.
From Mount Cook Village it follows a chain of glacial lakes and hydro canals across the foot of the Southern Alps before turning towards the coast. Along the way there are Lord of the Rings film locations, Maori rock-art sites and the surreal karst landscape at Elephant Rocks. Factor around six days of pedalling.
More info at alps2ocean.com
HAURAKI RAIL TRAIL
As flat as a New Zealand vowel, and yet cutting through one of the country's most spectacular gorges, this 60-kilometre ride offers a couple of easy days in the saddle. This trail begins in the town of Thames, 90 minutes' drive out of Auckland, and heads south along the Hauraki Plain.
At Paeroa, home to the uniquely Kiwi Lemon and Paeroa soft drink, the trail swerves into the Karangahake Gorge through New Zealand's longest cycling tunnel.
The gorge walls close around the trail and there are gold-mining relics, walking tracks and a waterfall to entice you to slow the pace. For variety, you can finish the ride on a heritage train between Waikino and Waihi.
OTAGO CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL
The trail that spawned New Zealand's cycling revolution is a 150-kilometre ride that horseshoes gently through the once gold-rich valleys between Clyde and Middlemarch. The trail journeys past character-rich towns and pubs, and brings the disused railway to life as you pedal across former rail bridges and through darkened tunnels.
The gradient never exceeds 2 per cent, making this a great introductory ride, especially if ridden over three or four days.
At the Clyde end, the trail skirts the vineyards of the Central Otago wine region. Sam Neill's Two Paddocks winery is just a few kilometres off the route and there's the chance near Ranfurly to detour for a game at the southern hemisphere's only indoor curling rink.
Website is otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz.
The Great Taste Trail
This 175-kilometre ride is a taste of many things: wine, cafes, coast, mountains, an island, a national park. Looping out from Nelson, a town billed as the sunniest place in New Zealand, the Great Taste Trail heads out across boardwalks along the edge of the birdlife-rich Waimea Estuary and onto Rabbit Island.
Returning to the mainland by boat, the trail ventures to the edge of Tasman National Park before cutting back inland to Nelson. There are vineyards around Motueka and Wakefield and good views of the spectacular Western Ranges ... without the effort of having to climb into them.