Friday, August 14, 2015

What is the best place for bicycle touring?

While rolling along Ocean Blvd towards York last week, I was trying to answer one question - what would be the best place for bicycle touring in the world? I guess there is no definite answer to it. It seems to me that everyone would have his/her own best place for bicycle travel depending on many factors, which make such place attractive for us.
For some people it's simply sheer distance they cover. This kind of tourists could e.g. take their bikes across Canada, coast to coast, riding at least 100mi a day. Others will like to explore some unknown and (maybe) unfriendly places. They may want to traverse the rainforest in Congo and neither the language barrier nor the environment would drive them off.
I think there is one universal denominator to all bicycle tours that we would described as best: changing scenery. On a bicycle tour you would want the scenery to change every day, even every hour. While some people find joy in just riding, I don't think I would want to look at pine trees on both sides of the road for 5 days straight, which may be the case in some places in Canada or Finland.
This made me realize that I knew the answer to my question 10 years ago. In 2005 me and my friend visited New Zealand and spent 2 weeks driving around both main islands. Since then, I've been thinking this is the ideal place for a longer bike tour (Ideal, if it wasn't for their mandatory helmet law such as the one in Australia. But unlike Australia, at least not every animal in NZ is trying to kill you).
You would start in Auckland, where you could climb a top of One Tree Hill to see the city from above. Or, the lazy way, take an elevator to the top of Sky Tower. You could stop by at the marina and walk through the center and try to spot some art deco buildings.
Mt Ngauruhoe

Rt 1 next to Tongariro NP

From there, you could visit Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park. Hiking through the park is fun and will make you feel a bit like Frodo walking towards Mordor, especially with Mt. Ngauruhoe (the LOTR's Mountain of Doom) towering above the landscape.
 Coast of Coromandel Peninsula

Or you could ride in the opposite direction, north, and visit Ninety Mile Beach and the most tropical part of the country. No matter what you do, you should stop by in Rotorua and visit its thermal valley and hot springs as well as Coromandel Peninsula where 1000-years old Kauri trees still can be found.
On the way to Wellington

Finally, you would go the see Mt. Taranaki - the lone volcano just at the edge of Tasman Sea. Now that you have seen a lot and your jaw completely dropped, pick it up. Because, trust me, you haven't seen anything yet. Next, we are going to Wellington to board a ferry to Picton on the South Island.
Across the Cook Strait

In my opinion South Island is much more fun. You can visit seals or chat with penguins, climb Southern Alps or ride Otago Rail Trail. Or just ride south to Catlins, where you will find yourself closer to the South Pole than the Equator.
 Going through Otago...

 ... and Catlins.

That's the end. Further south is the Stewart Island and then Antarctica.

Don't forget about the famous Milford Sound and fiords. Or Queenstown - the birthplace of bungee jumping (if you are into this kind of thing). Glaciers on the west coast should not be missed either.
Milford Sound

On the road to Queenstown

The reason I think New Zealand would work for me for an ideal bicycle tour location is that it has nearly every landscape and climate zone you could possibly imagine packed into this relatively small country. There is a rainforest, volcanoes, glaciers, cliffs, sandy beaches, rolling hills, waterfalls, little coves and hot springs. Plus, my memory from driving there is that you could stop literally every 10 min. to take pictures and there won't be a single day you would be bored because all you see is a wall of trees or just sand on the desert.
The only problem is that it's pretty far from here. But I will be back there. Someday.

No comments:

Post a Comment