Six places to add to your electric ‘Bike-It’ list
E-bikes are now outselling pushbikes by two to one, according to e-bike enthusiast and instructor Megan Page (aka Electric Meg).
While four or five years ago they were the domain of the mostly mature or less abled, they’re now completely mainstream, she says. With commuters and students realising the merits of e-bikes too, their use has become much more widespread. Electric Meg adds that step-through bikes (ones that don’t have a bar you have to lift your leg up and over) have become much better styled and less utilitarian with “funkier” modern oversized curved or boxed style frames.
Now that we’re all free from lockdown again and keen to at least start planning travel adventures, what better way to reacquaint ourselves with our country’s beautiful landscapes than by e-bike.
So with some help from Electric Meg and Electric Bazza (Barry Page) of Electricbikesnz.com, we’ve put together a list of e-bike friendly trails for the novice.
Electric Meg has some advice before you get started too:
- Fit: Make sure the bike fits you properly. Don’t just go for his and her models in the same brand.
- Wait for your ‘Goldilocks’ moment: Try lots of e-bikes before you buy and wait for your ‘Goldilocks’ moment – eventually one will feel ‘golden’ and that’s the one for you.
- Upskill: Build up your basic skills levels, especially safe braking and get used to the bike’s powering before you head out on your big “magic” trip. Get a feel for the bike on the streets in your neighbourhood first, that way you can adjust to how the bike feels, the powering, and how it corners. If you can definitely have a pre ride on a gravel surface.
- Gears: Always set your manual gears for the terrain first and then set the power levels after that. Practice with this around your neighbourhood too.
- Dress appropriately: Dress for the weather.
There is a myriad of stunning trails available up and down the country – featuring all sorts of lengths, landscapes, and skill levels. Here are a handful of less technical ones to whet your appetite. Often you can just do smaller portions of longer trails while you’re starting out. Whatever you do, do your research first, know your limits and enjoy!
Ngauruwahia-Hamilton River trail (Hamilton)
Time: 2 hours each way.
Level: Easy (grade 1)
The real bonus with this track, is that you get to finish (or start) at the stunning Hamilton Gardens – so remember to allow some extra time for having a good look around this gem once you’re done. Otherwise you’ll be cruising along the river, including going over the Perry Bridge, one of the longest walk/cycle bridges in the country. The track – which is the newest section of the Te Awa walk and cycleway (which runs along the Waikato River, from Ngaruawahia to Karapiro), starts at Ngaruawahia Domain.
Distance: As little or as much as you like
Level: Easy to intermediate (grade 2 to 4, but choose the easier rides)
While the four day, 130km long Queenstown Trail is listed as grade 2 to 4, there are some easy shorter rides that are part of it. Stick to rides between Queenstown and Arrowtown if you want to keep it really easy – which also means you can spend more time in stunning Arrowtown. This gravel track boasts lakes, mountains, rivers, and historic buildings, as well as good food and wine. Say no more. Another option nearby is the 21km, 1-day Roxburgh Gorge Trail which is a 5-6 hour ride, with a 13km jet-boat leg! (This is graded easy to intermediate).
These trails aren’t more technical but are multi-day.
Twin Coast Cycle Trail (Northland)
Time: 2 days (or break it into day trips)
Level: Easy – intermediate (grade 1-3, but mostly grade 1-2)
If you fancy doing a coast to coast but aren’t up for the hard-core South Island multi-sport event, then the Twin Coast Cycle Trail may be for you. With this trail you’ll get the chilled beachy vibe and plenty of heritage as you explore from the Bay of Islands to Hokianga Harbour. You’ll ride on a wetland boardwalk, country roads and suspension bridges as well as a smooth rail trail and cycle paths. And thanks to the sub-tropical climate, you can go any time of year!
Time: 1-5 days
Level: Easy (grade 1)
Ah, the trail that started it all! This well-known trail follows the old railway line between Clyde and Middlemarch, taking you through stunning landscapes, past historic buildings and across and through some great railway bridges and tunnels. Check out historic architecture, abandoned gold diggings and rustic farmyards. It’ll feel like you’re in another world.
If you’ve done this one, check out the Clutha Gold Trail, which is proving very popular now too.
Timber Trail (Central North Island)
Distance: 85km (including a total climb of 420m)
Time: 2 days
Level: Easy to intermediate (grade 2-3)
If it’s bush, birds and bridges you like, then this is the trail for you. This purpose-built track travels through virgin, regenerating native forest as well as exotic plantation forest, and lists the dawn chorus of our native birds and the starry night sky as some of its drawcards.
You’ll cross 35 bridges, including the Maramataha suspension bridge, as well as experience the Ongarue Spiral first-hand. If you like a bit of history, then the stories of local iwi and early settlers as well as the relics left by the timber loggers of the past will exercise your brain, while your legs are also working.
Great Lake Trail (K2K and W2K sections) (Taupō)
Distance: 83km (total trail)
Time: 1-3 days
Level: Intermediate (grade 3)
It’s not every day you get to ride around the crater of a volcano, but you can with this trail. You’re also experiencing New Zealand’s largest lake, lush forest and wetlands, waterfalls, beaches, a volcanic gorge and heady views over the lake and the volcanos of Tongariro National Park. Worth it for the little bit of extra grunt required for this grade 3 trail. The good news is the trail is divided into four sections, all of which can be reached from Kinloch, near Taupō. So, you can tailor rides to the time you’ve got available or go all out and do all four back-to-back over several days. Perhaps try the K2K and W2K sections to begin with – both are 2.5-3.5-hour, grade 3 rides.
If you’re wanting a more challenging ride in the South Island, consider Around the Mountains in Queenstown. Electric Meg says it’s not technically difficult and is on well graded paths, (although it is grade 2-3), but the weather can be challenging as it can change quickly and be very windy. So be prepared. As a whole, this is a long ride, at 186km over three to five days.
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