Review of The New Zealand Cycle Trails, Nga Haerenga: A Guide To New Zealand’s 22 Great Rides – Jonathan Kennett

Posted: November 16, 2017 in nonfiction, Review

Nga Haerenga – the New Zealand Cycle Trails – began as a vision to inspire people to experience New Zealand’s great outdoors by bike.

This book is stuffed full of useful information on the different trails – how to get there, what you will see, level of difficulty, things to take, places to eat and places to stay. There is fascinating background information on each area – its history and the local flora and fauna – as well as on the ride itself. This new edition covers several new sections of the trails, and provides updates on any on-going construction work.

There is also a highly practical section full of advice on choosing the right bike, gear to take, cell phone coverage in the different areas, weather and the best times of year for each trail, environmental care and useful websites.

Written by New Zealand’s top cycling writer, the book is aimed at family groups and first-time cyclists as well as more experienced groups. It’s accompanied by colour photos, elevation profiles and maps of each trail.

This new fully revised edition also provides an introduction to Tour Aotearoa which goes from Cape Reinga to Bluff. It’s a 3000-km length of New Zealand ride, taking in many of the Great Rides, and connecting them together with the safest and most enjoyable roads and tracks available. The route is fully open to the public. It can be done in one highly adventurous hit, or divided up into shorter lengths and completed over a period of time.

Don’t put your bike on the bike rack without this book!

Random House New Zealand

Supplied by Penguin Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Maree

The New Zealand Cycle Trail, Nga Haerenga, now includes over 2500 kilometres (over 1500 miles) of cycle paths and trails. This guide has 22 custom-built Great Rides and the Tour Aotearoa cycle route from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

I suggest you keep this book in a waterproof bag as you ride. Not only does the text explain clearly where to go (you would have to work REALLY hard to get lost) but each route has suggestions for food, accommodation, shortcuts and detours. What is most fascinating just by itself, never mind as a cycle trail handbook, are the “Trail tales“ that relate the history and natural and cultural stories of your route. They explain the heritage of what you are seeing as well as the rare flora and fauna along the way.

Using this book you can plan your whole trip and most importantly, it tells a cyclist what they need to know to plan safely. Not just start and end points but riding distance, time (averages) and grading, as trails vary from flat and smooth to rough and steep in the middle of nowhere. Included are 3D maps and elevation profiles.

The guide advises on fitness level required, skill level and how likely you are to meet other riders, their speed and how much room you will have to manoeuvre. The surface is discussed, you may be fine riding on concrete but how are you on volcanic ash? Also included are advice about the best type of bike for the trail and where to hire some.

Food and accommodation advice is given. Some places have lent their names to be listed along with phone numbers and websites where applicable. You should still book ahead in most cases and be mindful of closing times for food outlets but if you call or email, you should manage. This is the 2017 edition but always call ahead.  Where appropriate the guide lists cell phone coverage.

Occasionally you will come across the “Off Yer Bike” section under Shortcuts and Detours, which mentions walking trails or walks around the more picturesque towns.

A useful thing to have is the ‘How to get there’ sections where the Guide recommends weekend escapes and gives transport options and ideas on how to reach the start points of the routes.


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