Bikepacking for beginners in New Zealand

Bikepacking for beginners in New Zealand

Guest blog by Ritchie Bath - Pushbikes/Giant Bikes NZ Ambassador

With the rise in popularity around cycle touring, bikepacking, gravel riding or all of the above, I thought I would put together a few words from a recent trip that I’d highly recommend for anyone looking to give it a go.

We are spoilt in New Zealand with the NZ Cycle Trail, 23 ‘Great Rides’ and over 2500km of perfectly maintained trails for us all to enjoy.

If you can get yourself to Lake Tekapo, I have created a loose plan you could follow to enjoy a great overnight ride through a stunning part of the county, on the A2O Trail. (Alps2Ocean)

Starting in the heart of Tekapo Village, there is an alternative route on the Trail that heads straight out of town and into gravel heaven. You will explore 15 odd kms of riding beside the canal systems (huge source of power into the network in NZ), shortly followed by the salmon farms. 

Lake Pukaki foreshore is next, not sure I could ever put this into words, stunning blue water and a glimpse of NZ’s highest peak, Aoraki Mt Cook are all part of the ride on a nice day. You will follow the Pukaki foreshore track right through to the Pukaki Salmon Shop and Visitor Centre. Proved a great emergency coffee stop for me! 

Bike Packing NZ

This is 10kms from your final destination - Twizel. The next 10kms will give you a real feel for the Mackenzie Country. Large areas of vast flat land surrounded by breathtaking mountains, all with the sweetness of knowing a coffee and lunch are almost in sight, my favourite part of the ride. 

Bike Packing NZ

Twizel is a small town, great shopping, great cafes and all you need for supplies. We opted to stay the night at the Mackenzie Country Hotel, well worth it for a comfy bed and less gear to carry but obviously camping and backpacker accommodation is also available.

Stay the night here, enjoy the history of a stunning town before making your way back to Tekapo, and possibly even straight to the Tekapo Springs Hot Pools or lunch at the most scenic cafe in the world - Mt John Observatory. 

Bike Packing NZ

Ride time: 2 - 4 hours each way

Surface: gravel and seal - no technical riding


  • Bike Suggestion: Anything with off-road tyres, it really doesn’t matter - just enjoy it.
  • Perfect for E-bikes as it is 54km each way
  • Cyclocross/gravel for those setting records
  • Full suspension mountain bike for comfort.

Elevation: almost perfectly flat

Suggested Gear:

  • Good tools and knowledge of how to use them (you can book a Pushbikes course)
  • Check your tyres before leaving
  • Extra layers (It can get cold quick)
  • Good amount of fluid - not many spots to fill up on the trail
  • Camera - trust me it’s worth it

Don’t forget to pop into the Twizel i-site and collect your A20 wristband, this gives $10 back to maintain the trails and support this incredible network.

Here you have a fantastic but manageable 2 day overnight ride just a few hours away from Christchurch, trust me - it’ll start the fire burning for many of you to spend more time exploring our beautiful country on 2 wheels! 

Some helpful links are


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