Riding in New Zealand: Routes, Advice, People and Places

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  • Since it is pissing it down today and I can't ride, here's a little update:
    I've been living in Dunedin for three months now, and have a reasonably good marketing/advertising job in the cycle industry.
    Drivers are mild-mannered but simultaneously quite clueless about how to share the road. The government's official line is 'keep out of the way'. Dunedin's two cycle lanes run along the highway shared with enormous double-trailer logging trucks; separated tracks are being proposed, but this is cold comfort when it took several (completely predictable and avoidable) deaths for the council to even consider any real infrastructure.
    Main roads and highways are quiet, down here at least, but drivers pass closely and on blind bends/rises. Minor roads (gravel roads that don't really go anywhere unless you piece together a circuitous route) are absolutely silent - like, one car every few hours, and the driver will chat with you.

    The meat is cheap, toiletries are expensive, and everything else is about the same. There are only three types of cheese and they all taste like Babybel. If you're willing to splash out, you can find "mozzarella" and "parmesan" but they are indistinguishable both from Babybel and from each other. Imported Roquefort costs $115 per kilo.

    Rent is ludicrously cheap - £100 per week for a large one-bed house (that is, one large double bedroom, one large lounge, one bathroom (with bath!), a kitchen and larder, a smallish garden, and a single garage). Almost nowhere has double-glazing or any serious form of insulation. Some of the houses don't have heating. I didn't really know what this meant until I looked around a few places, but there's nothing ambiguous about it; the houses just don't have any heating. To reiterate - no heating. No radiators, no fireplaces, no electric fireplaces, no heat pumps. You must supply your own heat.

    Petrol is marginally cheaper (but the towns are much more spread out) and insurance is so cheap as to basically be a non-issue (£60 a year for 3pft for a normal family car). Used cars for sale are invariably mid-90s Toyotas with about a million miles, and unfortunately they aren't cheap; £2000+ for a family-sized car in good condition. Renting a car is a fair bit cheaper than Europe. When on the open road, drivers will tailgate you mercilessly regardless of how fast you are going, will take any opportunity to overtake, and then continue driving slower than you had been going in the first place. This is amusing when third in an impromptu convoy, as the first two cars repeatedly overtake each other until one manages to get away.

    I go mountain biking every morning before work. There are national Enduro/DH and international XC trails within ten and twenty minutes' ride respectively, which is unheard of in the UK. Trails are managed by local clubs and are free to use at any time. Enduro and DH are very popular here - I have a hardtail but I really need a full-sus to get the best out of the terrain.

  • I loved Duenedin when I was there in September. Driving along the peninsula took my breath away so stunning. Your a lucky bugger! Miss it so much !

  • haha solid writeup. Its all true, especially the cheese. I miss the cheese.

  • There are only three types of cheese and they all taste like Babybel.

    So much this. Aweful, simply awful.

    I need to do a similar write up of my adventures last winter (summer) in NZ though I imagine PinkGottiMobs has that down somewhere.

  • Aw, nice to hear from Dunedin, where my big sis lives with her Kiwi husband and their two daughters. All cyclists, I'm glad to report. Would have loved a chance to ride when I was out there a few years ago, and can't wait for a chance to return. Muttonbird arses in jars in the farmers' market at the station. Albatrosses out at the end of the peninsula. Watching the container port at Port Chalmers from the road above. The sound of tuis and bellbirds in the garden.

  • Going to NZ in Feb/Mar. Very excited and investigating the option of having a week cycle touring there - hiring a bike not bringing my own!

  • Brought back a few memories of Dunedin reading these.. was there about 5 years ago.. but before my cycling days. Would love to cycle about there as its a lovely place.. plenty of hills if i remember correctly. Have a mate that lives there.. must go back soon :)

  • Anyone ridden on Otago Central Rail Trail? I'm really looking forward to ride it. Moving to Dunedin in October.

    Also, any recommendations for what is the best bike shop in town?

  • I think my friend rode it a a few years back. Will ask and see if they know anyone in Dunedin

    Sam and the crew at Goat Cycles in Christchurch were a good bunch. He lent me his 1x1 so I could go ride around in Wellington and let me use their shop drill and jigsaw to fix up the van before we sold it.

  • Sounds good, thanks. Are you in Wellington?

  • I wish! Spent a year over there, mostly driving around. Now back in Manchester.

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Riding in New Zealand: Routes, Advice, People and Places

Posted by Avatar for benjam @benjam

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