Aotearoa. The Land of the Long White Cloud. NZ.
Whatever you choose to call New Zealand, it's one of many things: it's arguably one of the diverse countries in the world, the home of all things adrenaline inducing, a producer of world-class wine and unbeatable lamb and a country filled with welcoming and laid back Kiwis. New Zealand is also a mountain biking mecca.
From road rides, to hair-rising single track downhills to cross-country trails, to touring routes on both the North and South Islands, New Zealand offers it all up to the keen cyclist. You should do many things on a trip to New Zealand: hike the Routeburn Track, bungy jump the Nevis in Queenstown, go wine tasting in Marlborough ... and the list goes on - yet make sure you hire yourself a bike and check out some of the world's best cycle trails. Biking is on the rise in New Zealand with the government having committed millions of dollars in funding to multi-day cycle trails popping up around the country. Given this, rentals and tours are pretty easy to find wherever you happen to be backpacking in New Zealand.
Here are 5 Spots Not to Miss for Biking in New Zealand:
Chances are you'll smell Rotorua before you see it. If the ubiquitous scent of sulfur doesn't completely put you off, you'll be hard pressed to find a better mountain biking destination in New Zealand (or, for that mater, the world). Rotorua is home the the Whakarewarewa Forest - this sprawling mass of towering California Redwoods is complimented by some of the best single track mountain biking trails in New Zealand. You can ride for literally hours and not ride the same trail. Absolute bliss.
3) Hanmer Springs
Not surprisingly, Queenstown - the adventure capital of the world - is home to some of New Zealand's great bike trails. The Skippers Canyon single track is arguably one of New Zealand's best single track - 7 kms of pure, downhill bliss from Skippers Saddle leaves you in the picturesque canyon. Pedal back out or check out one of the operators in the resort who do transport. After something a bit less full on? Check out the ride around Moke Lake and Lake Dispute - you'll feel miles away from anywhere on this well graded and remote trail.
5) Central Otago
The Otago Central Rail Trail stretches some 150 kms through the Otago countryside and takes in some of the South Island's most stunning scenery. Ride the Rail Trail over a leisurely three or four nights - or if you're especially keen, give the Rail Trail Classic a go - a one day race of the entire trail. New Zealand might possibly be one of the world's greatest mountain biking destinations - so be sure you experience one or all of these destinations on your trip here. Check out NZByBike.com for details on mountain biking in New Zealand - find hundreds of tracks mapped, photographed a described, bike tour companies, places a hire a bike and cycle friendly places to stay.
Matt Kyhnn came to New Zealand on a 12 month working holiday visa and almost three years later still calls beautiful Queenstown home. Follow him on Instagram for more NZ advice and inspiration.