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  • Cycle Touring - Bike or E-Bike?
    Most cycle tours offer the choice of regular bike hire or e-bike hire, depending on your personal preference. If you are not sure which option is best for you, here are some reasons to choose an eBike. In general, the choice between bike and e-bike is a very individual one, depending on many different factors, and not necessarily physical ones! Yes, maybe you do have knee, hip, or heart problems, in which case an e-bike is an obvious choice and is opening up fantastic new opportunities for you! However, there is also a whole range of other reasons why an e-bike could be the way to go. If you are a passionate photographer, and one of the main things you want to get out of your trip is to walk away with a whole series of amazing new shots for your collection, an e-bike will afford you time to stop for longer periods. It will give you plenty of time to look for the perfect angle, and still be able to keep up and catch up to the rest of the group without problem. Maybe you haven’t had as much time as you would have liked to prepare for your trip, or maybe you have a group of friends that are mad keen cyclists? An e-bike will level the playing field. You might not actually use the e-function of your e-bike all the time, but it is there as an option should you need it and it will mean you won’t be too tired to socialise in the evenings. E-bikes do handle differently. They are heavier by design, might not feel as agile, or a bit more intimidating to manoeuvre on technical terrain, which some people do not like. Also, you might want the satisfaction and sense of achievement that comes from completing a ride under your own steam and putting in the effort for the reward if need be. Cycling is an excellent way to boost your fitness. Try before you buy. If you are thinking of buying yourself an e-bike at home, to get to work without a sweat, do your shopping without using petrol, for longer weekend jaunts, if you live on a hill, or simply to do your bit for the environment - an e-bike hire on one of our tours could be the perfect trial to see what they are all about and how to handle them. If you choose a regular bike or e-bike, we are happy to answer all your questions and guarantee you will enjoy your trip!
  • What clothing do I need for a cycle tour?
    Before you rush out to buy anything, let’s start with what is already in your wardrobe: Tops Since you are interested in the outdoors and activity, you probably already have some exercise tops or T-shirts that are comfortable, quick drying and easy to wash. Perfect! We don’t recommend 100% cotton tops, but any other ‘activewear’, that helps control sweat and can dry overnight after a quick wash is perfect. There is no need to bring one shirt for each day, nor buy specialised Lycra bike clothing, skin tight tops, or expensive merino. You will see us wearing something comfortable and functional and whatever you might use for other types of activity i.e. gym exercise, hiking or gardening. Pants and Bottoms Bottoms and Pants. This literally sums up the two options when it comes to protecting yourself from the potential pain in the * that can occur when biking for longer periods. We do recommend opting for one of these if you haven’t been riding long distances lately: Option 1 - Bike shorts with padded inserts. These are popular and work well. However, some people struggle with the look and what some feel is akin to wearing a ‘nappy’, especially if stopping at cafes or shops is part of your biking experience, and you are not keen on walking around with extra padding. Option 2 - An extra comfortable saddle or gel saddle. If you already have a super comfortable saddle that you want to use on your tour, please feel free to bring it along and we can mount it on your touring bike for you. Also effective are gel saddles, which are saddle shaped sleeves that can be pulled over any existing seat and turn it into a luxury ride - without the need for any padded clothing. In this case any quick drying, general exercise pants or shorts will do the trick. No need for lycra or specialised bike clothing. Functional and comfortable wins again. Hands Not strictly essential, but we wouldn’t want to ride without biking gloves. We love the padding they provide on your palms, so your hands don’t ache after a long day holding - or gripping - your handlebars and when riding uneven terrain. Also, if it’s hot, your hands don’t get too sticky or too slippery on the grips and if your forehead is sweating, you can use your gloves to wipe that off too. Of course they are great to protect your hands should you ever come off your bike, but we aren’t planning on doing that :) Shoes Do you have good fitting, solid sneakers or running shoes? Perfect. Any shoe with a good stable sole, good fit, and breathable upper will do. If your shoe is too soft, you won’t get enough grip and all that hard work paddling will be lost in the energy transfer. And if it doesn’t fit tight, you might get blisters. In any case, make sure you don’t wear sandals or any shoes with open toes. Ouch! Some people prefer the clip-in system of shoes and paddles. If you have this and prefer it, feel free to bring along the paddles and shoes, so we can mount them on your bike, but don’t feel like you need to get it specially for the trip. They are not for everyone and do take some getting used to! Wind and Rain A lightweight rain jacket is useful for both wind, rain and to keep the chill off on a fast downhill. Head Last but not least – your helmet. High quality helmets are included with the bike hire in all our tours. If you prefer to bring your own helmet, you can of course, but not many people are aware that helmets have use by dates and that materials can weaken over time or even develop hairline cracks, whether they are in regular use or not. So, make sure to check your helmet - or have it checked - ensure it’s comfortable, fits well, offers enough ventilation, and maybe even a sun visor. This is the one item we would definitely recommend for you to invest a little bit of money in! In summary: Most of what you need to enjoy your next bike tour is probably already in your wardrobe or garage. There is no need for lycra or other expensive or specialised items. Enjoy using our high quality bikes or e-bikes (your choice) and helmets all of which is already included in the price.
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  • Itinerary
    ​ Day 1: Christchurch – Punakaiki Pancake Rocks After meeting you in Christchurch in the late morning we take our time on our journey to the fabulous West Coast at the magical Castle Hill / Kura Tāwhiti Conservation Reserve. Here we can wander through majestic limestone rock formations before we enter Arthur’s Pass National Park and its breath-taking scenery. We stretch our legs again on a short nature walk and might meet some local cheeky Kea (mountain parrots) amidst panoramic mountain views. We also have time for a café lunch at Arthur’s Pass (not included). Once we arrive on “The Coast” we enjoy one of the most scenic stretches of the coastal road on our way to the small settlement of Punakaiki. We make sure we don’t miss the famous Pancake Rocks and impressive blowholes. These are tide dependant but as we stay for two nights, we will definitely be able to see them. Driving time: ~ 4 hours / 285 km Accommodation: Punakaiki Meals: D ​ Day 2: West Coast Walks Today is dedicated to delving into the amazing nature on The Coast. What better way than to go exploring on two of our absolute favourite walks in this region. The Pororari River Track is the start/end point of the Paparoa Great Walk. The easy walk (~ 3.5h) follows a spectacular limestone gorge along a river with huge rocks set amongst deep pools. All this is set amongst beautiful coastal rainforest showcasing subtle changes from subtropical to temperate. The other walk is the short but impressive Truman Track. Although only about 600 m long, many describe it as the most delightful and interesting short walk on the West Coast. After walking through unspoilt subtropical forest, we emerge on a spectacular coastline with cliffs and caverns. There is a blowhole and a waterfall that plummets straight onto a beautiful rock-strewn beach. Amazing diversity in a 30-minute return trip! Hiking time: ~ 4 hours Accommodation: Punakaiki Meals: B, L, D, S ​ Day 3: Punakaiki – Seals & Limestone Arches - Karamea We make our way up 'The Coast' as far as you can get on four wheels. We are heading to the tiny settlement of Karamea which sits at the end of an almost 100km long dead-end road, at the entrance to Kahurangi National Park. Well worth checking out on the way is a seal colony and lighthouse at Cape Foulwind near Westport, which can be reached on an easy walkway with fabulous panoramic coastal views (~ 1.5h). Near Karamea we will go on a short walk (~ 1h) through beech and podocarp forest to an interesting limestone arch with plenty of access to get to the river if you want to. The Oparara Arches are natural limestone tunnels formed by the Oparara River, some of them large enough for a multi-storey house. Then we settle into our Karamea accommodation for the next two nights in this remote slice of paradise. Driving time: ~ 2.5 hours / ~ 150 km Hiking time: ~ 2.5 hours Accommodation: Karamea Meals: B, L, D, S ​ Day 4: Heaphy Track Day Walk The Heaphy Track in Kahurangi NP is one of New Zealand’s ten Great Walks and we will experience one of the best sections today. We walk to Scotts Beach following the Kohaihai River up the valley to a long swing bridge. The track then climbs steadily through beautiful bush studded with Nikau palms, Karaka and Rata trees. From the main track we branch off into a short loop walk to the South Island’s largest stand of Nikau palms. When we reach the saddle of the hill, we will see a short track to a lookout with views out to Scotts Beach below. From here it’s an easy track down to the sand and a little further to a sheltered picnic area with toilets and a drinking water fountain – a perfect lunch spot! This day hike to the beautiful remote West Coast beach and back offers an introduction to the luxuriant coastal forest and thunderous surf of the spectacular Heaphy coastline. Tonight we enjoy dinner in the restaurant of our accommodation (included). Hiking time: ~ 4-5 hours Accommodation: Karamea Meals: B, L, D, S Day 5: Karamea – Takaka Today will be a long driving day as we are making our way to the Tasman Sea side of the Top of the South. We will basically circumnavigate Kahurangi National Park. Firstly, we have to drive back down to Westport, then onwards through Buller Gorge where we can take in spectacular views of emerald-green foothills surrounding the pristine Buller River. We will take a break about half-way for a café lunch in Murchison (not included). After reaching the Tasman Sea at Motueka we drive over the highest point at Takaka Hill and then descend down to the lovely small township of Takaka, which will be the base for our next two days / three nights. Driving time: ~ 6 hours / 375 km Accommodation: Takaka Meals: B, D Day 6: Cobb Valley Day Walk We delve back into Kahurangi National Park and enjoy a day in peaceful Cobb Valley. A windy road takes us deep into the remote ancient valley. We start our hike at Trilobite hut at the road end and make our way up the valley on a gentle track through grassy meadows and pockets of beech forest. A great hike to look for flowers and enjoy the abundant native bird life far away from civilisation. We will walk alongside the Cobb River as far as we like, with plenty of opportunities for photo stops, picnicking and swimming. Hiking time: ~ 4-5 hours Accommodation: Takaka Meals: B, L, D, S Day 7: Farewell Spit & Wharariki Beach We dedicate our day to the fascinating North-Western Tip of the South Island. From Takaka it will only take us about one hour to drive to Farewell Spit, New Zealand’s longest sand spit. It currently comprises 25 km of stable land with a further 5 km of sand spit, all of which is a protected wetland and an important sanctuary for migrating birds. The Spit provides a variety of habitats for birds and more than ninety species of birds have been recorded here. We will go on a loop track (~ 2h) to get a feeling for this special place. Then we hop back into our vehicle for a short drive to the end of Wharariki Road. A 20-minute walk over farm paddocks and through a section of coastal forest takes us to the most spectacular coastline in the region, with caverns, islands, sand dunes and a stunning long stretch of beach. We will take our time for this truly amazing landscape. Hiking time: ~ 2-4 hours Accommodation: Takaka Meals: B, L, D, S ​ Day 8: Takaka – Waikoropupu Springs - Nelson - Picton There is no shortage of beautiful regions at the Top of the South – let’s head to the stunning Marlborough Sounds! But before we leave the Golden Bay region, we’ll visit the mesmerizing Waikoropupu Springs. New Zealand’s largest freshwater springs produce a remarkable 14,000 litres per second and the crystal-clear water is absolutely astounding. From here, we take the coastal route and enjoy the vistas. In Nelson we take a break to stretch our legs and explore what this town, famous for its year-round sunshine and large creative community of working artists, has to offer. From Nelson it’s less than two hours to Picton, our base for the next two nights. The last stretch is along a windy but very scenic coastal route that offers fabulous views over the Sounds – tomorrow's outing is starting its allure! December Tour: Due to accommodation being unavailable in Picton we stay the last two nights in Havelock. Driving time: ~ 3.5 hours / 240 km ~ 3 hours / 180 km Accommodation: Picton / Havelock Meals: B, L, D, S ​ Day 9: Boat Tour Marlborough Sounds incl Motuara Island Today we will enjoy one of the absolute highlights of this tour. We’ll immerse ourselves in the beauty of the Marlborough Sounds and experience true Manakitanga (Maori hospitality)! Skipper Pete shares stories about the land, the sea and his lovingly restored ship with us - a nearly 90-year-old Kauri-planked classic launch called Tutanekai, which we will have all to ourselves today. His wife Takutai guides us on bush walks through native forests and island bird sanctuaries, home to some of New Zealand's most endangered birds, while sharing local traditions and her knowledge of Maori bush lore and Rongoa (Maori medicines). Not to forget her amazing homemade bread & soup for lunch! We have the chance to encounter dolphins, little Blue Penguins, seals and a whole raft of sea birds in their natural habitat. We could get lucky and even spot some rare Hector Dolphins, the smallest dolphins in the world, only found in NZ. A day filled with wonderful experiences, feel pampered, relax and unwind! To celebrate our adventures, we go to a local restaurant (included) to reminisce, as this is sadly already our last evening together. Driving time: ~ 1 hour / 35 km Accommodation: Picton / Havelock Meals: B, L, D, S ​ Day 10: Picton / Havelock – Christchurch Time flies! We need to make our way back to Christchurch. Driving down the coast, we can enjoy more lovely coastal views and stop several times to stretch our legs. Kaikoura is a definite stop, where you can wander through the township and have lunch (not included). We will arrive back in Christchurch around mid-afternoon, with plenty of time for you to make your way home. Driving time: ~ 4.5 hours / 335 km ~ 5 hours / 350 km Meals: B B-Breakfast L-Lunch D-Dinner S-Snack ​ Grading for this tour: Grade 2 (Easy) to Grade 3 (Moderate) All tracks on this tour are mainly well-formed; some sections may be rough or muddy, with some steep sections. The walks and hikes range from easy to moderate. You will encounter altitude differences of up to 300m and average walking times of about 2-5 hours. Prepare for this unforgettable tour by making sure you have an adequate level of fitness to fully enjoy the exciting experiences that await you. ​If you would like more info please see our blog articles about our hiking grading system. ​
  • Details
    Start Christchurch approximately 11 am. Pick up options with tour confirmation. ​ Finish Christchurch approximately 3 pm. ​ Included Transport in minibus from/to Christchurch 9 nights in holiday houses, motels, cottages (twin room/shared bathroom) 9x breakfast, 7x picnic lunch, 9x dinner, snacks Welcome drink first night Visit Castle Hill / Kura Tāwhiti Conservation Reserve Arthur's Pass walk Visit Punakaiki Pancake Rocks Pororari River walk Truman Track walk Cape Foulwind walk to seal colony & lighthouse Oparara Arches walk Heaphy Track day walk Cobb Valley day walk Farewell Spit walk Wharariki Beach walk Visit Waikoropupu Springs All day private Maori Eco Boat Tour Marlborough Sounds Professional female guide/driver All access and concession fees ​ Not Included Any travel costs from your home to/from Christchurch Travel insurance Personal expenses Recommended Sturdy hiking boots (uneven terrain) Hiking poles (save energy and help balance) ​ Optional Single Room Upgrades Single room/shared bathroom all 9 nights if available $on request Only limited single rooms available, early reservation recommended. Hire Equipment Hiking poles ($10 for entire tour) Diet Adjustments Gluten-free ($5 per day) Dairy-free ($7 per day) Gluten-free & Dairy-free ($12 per day) Other diet requirements (vegetarian, allergies, etc) will be catered for free of charge. You will be sent a Diet Requirement Form before tour departure. Preparing for your trip ​Once you’ve booked, we will send you Trip Notes including a detailed Gear List and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead. ​ If you are looking for more information and inspiration for your tour, you may want to check out some of these interesting posts in our Sidetracks Women Blog: 'Our Hiking Track Grading System explained' 'What you DO and DON'T need for your next hiking tour' 'Get fit for your first hiking tour' 'Useful Tramping Equipment - Hiking Poles' 'Why Domestic Travel Insurance is a good idea' Please don't hesitate to contact us. ​ ​
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