New Zealand: 3,400km of Photos and LogisticsĀ 

New Zealand is beautiful; white sandy beaches, tall majestic mountains, and crystal clear rivers around nearly every bend, so, without further ado, here it is in photos!

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
  
As you can see, New Zealand is a very beautiful country with a lot of offer for those who enjoy the outdoors. There are over 900 backcountry huts which many hikers, climbers, and hunters enjoy (and a few which bikers can get to as well), and the rivers, besides being stunning, are known for world class fly fishing. It would be a fun place to live for a year (or lifetime) in order to explore the hidden corners of the diverse islands, especially since the locals were some of the most friendly human beings we have ever gotten to know. That being said, if we were to come back we wouldn’t do so by bike, nor would we come back in the peak Jan-Feb summer season, but rather we would come with packrafts and backpacks in the off season in order to explore further into the backcountry.

New Zealand is a very popular tourist destination, much more popular than I had ever realized, and in Janauary through March the country (particularly the South Island) is absolutely heaving with tourists which for cyclists means the roads, which don’t have shoulders, are much busier. Though other cyclists we met who had cycled premonitory in Western Europe said it was what they were use to, we found it really busy compared to any other country we have been to. We also found that New Zealand seems to be a great place for credit card touring or shorter (1-3 day)  bikepacking excursions on trails that the New Zealand government has set up, yet cycling through the country as a way to get to know the country as a whole wasn’t something we will do again.

It was the first place we have cycled that had restrictions surrounding wild camping (due to the sheer number of tourists throughout the country trying to camp) which was hard for us in a few ways. First off, it made the trip very expensive as sites throughout New Zealand cost 15-22NZD/person in areas without DOC sites (which cost 8-13NZD/person). Secondly, we realized that self-sufficiency – pumping our own water, carrying food for days at a time, finding a campsite wherever we happen to end up – is one of the most important aspects of cycle touring for us and by having to camp in actual sites we found that the “adventure” part of cycle touring sort of disappeared. Plus, we found it crazy to camp with dozens or hundreds of others in camp sites though often that was our only option.

 This campsite had rows and rows of campers – over 300 people were staying there every night! Though in other countries we feel that cycling has gotten us away from tourists as it takes us through the in between, here in New Zealand the in between no longer exists as everyone has campers which take them there as well. 
Along this trip we also realized that learning about other cultures is a part of cycle touring that we hadn’t given enough credit, and with New Zealand being so similar to our own home, we realized that we were missing that during this trip. Though we picked New Zealand because we wanted an “easy” country for our honeymoon, I think we have both realized that “easy” maybe isn’t our thing. In the future I’ll happily take street food that may make me sick, charades and mispronounced words every time we want to buy something, and little lines on maps which may or may not lead where we think they will.

While New Zealand is a wonderful country and we have many fond memories from this trip, on the whole we don’t feel that cycling through it was the best way for us to explore it. Just like back home in Oregon we would rather have seen it through various mountaineering, backpacking, and packrafting microadventures and saved cycle touring for less developed, less touristic places. hope you can use the information on this post to make your own judgement about whether you would like to visit, when you want to do so, and whether it will be by bike or not!

Kevin and I have now moved to La Grande and restarted work and look forward to focusing on Oregon based microadventures which we plan to share in the near future!

 

Favorite Cycling Routes: South Yungas (Bolivia)

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This green and very hilly route will take you up and over two 4,700m passes as well as over smaller ones in the almost jungle-like vegetation for a total of 10,000m of elevation gain. The people are friendly and welcoming, and the villages are picturesque as they sit atop hills for as far as the eye can see all over the various valleys. We found this route to be difficult due to the heat and humidity, though it was a nice change from the high altitude cold nights.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: Double Salars (Bolivian Altiplano)

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Though I visited the Salar de Uyuni by jeep on a trip years ago, cycling across was a whole different incredible expedience. The first eighty kilometers were busy with tourists, but after that, we had the other half and the whole other Salar completely to ourselves. It’s really easy cycling across the salars as its flat and hard-packed, though the forty kilometers of sand in between was much slower going. This is definitely a must do route for anyone cycling Bolivia as its just so unique to spend days cycling across pure white salt.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: Extended Lagunas Route (Bolivian Altiplano)

Contemplating the ride.

Contemplating the ride.

This tough but extremely rewarding route took us through the first hundred kilometers of the typical lagunas route (past Laguna verde) before taking us away from the main jeep route and onto a much less used beautiful jeep track which led us up and over multiple 4,700m+ high passes. This was my favorite route in Bolivia (and one of my favorites in all of the world), and I would highly suggest it to anyone up for a bit of a challenge!

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Favorite Cycling Routes: The Carretera Austral (Chilean Patagonia)

Cycling into Torres del Paines, Patagonia.

Cycling into Torres del Paines, Patagonia.

The Carretera Austral is said to be the most popular cycling route in the world, and I can certainly see why! This Patagonian treasure is full of colorful clean rivers, beautiful snowy peaks, and easy wild camping opportunities around every bend. The cycling is easy, the route seems to have more cyclists than cars along it, and the fishing is wonderful for those of you with poles; overall it’s a wonderful Patagonian experience for those who love nature.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: Eastern Turkey

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Turkey is a hospitable country with easy camping and great food, and though we found some of the country monotonous and boring, we absolutely loved the whole eastern section (after dropping in from Georgia). Snowy mountains, small quaint villages, and tea breaks whenever you please; what’s there not to love about cycling through eastern Turkey.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: The Country of Georgia

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Georgia seems to appear on nearly every world tourers favorites list, and we are no different. It’s one of our favorites too. And how could it not be? Where else are you invited to a crazy picnic nearly every night just because you were passing by? Georgia has some of the friendliest, most hospitable people on this planet, plus, their beautiful country has many small roads without much traffic, beautiful mountains, and easy wild camping opportunities next to a new river every night.

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Favorite Trekking Routes: Zanskar Valley (Northern Indian Himalayas)

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Zanskar is one of the most isolated regions in the world, and for most of the year, this high altitude valley is covered in snow. The only way out in the winter is a ten day frozen trek on ice, though in the summer once the snow has melted, it is a fascinating place to visit. I loved the tiny patches of green which marked a village, and the beautiful monasteries throughout the valley. The climate and topography in this region make for some of the harshest living conditions in the world, and these Tibetan Buddhists who have been living here for thousands of years still live for the most part as they have for centuries.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: Ladakh (Northern Indian Himalayas)

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We can’t post a series about our favorite routes without mentioning the famous Leh to Manali route, as well as the Kargil to Leh route in the Indian Himalayas. The region of Ladakh is a high altitude disputed territory which boarders Pakistan and China and is full of monasteries and Tibetan monks, desolate dry mountains, and a few beautiful rivers. Ladakh is a wonderful place to cycle for those of you who enjoy isolation, endless high altitude passes, and easy camping.

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Favorite Cycling Routes: Spiti Valley (Northern Indian Himalayas)

Making ghee (butter) with a grandma, India 2013.

Making ghee (butter) with a grandma, Spiti Valley India 2013.

Spiti valley was easily my favorite route in all of the Himalayas; I loved the feeling of immense solitude that came from going hours without seeing anything or anyone, and I had two wonderful homestays with various women which showed me a small window into what life above 4,000m looks like. The road through Spiti valley is notoriously rocky, but it’s worth every ounce of energy dispensed to be isolated in these high beautiful mountains.

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