The Maori New Zealand Cycling Tour – from Auckland to Queenstown
Our New Zealand Bike Tour Overview
The Māori Cycling Tor od NZ crosses the length of this spectacular southern land, meandering the country, finding the highlights across both the North and the South Island — from the thermal wonderland of Rotorua, rich with Māori heritage, to the volcano country surrounding Tongariro National Park. From the wild west coast with its pristine nature to the stunning Southern Alps, our first epic adventure foray into the southern hemisphere ticks all the boxes. Keep reading to learn more about this spectacular cycling tour of NZ, but you may also like to consider Ride and Seek’s equally epic Strzelecki Bike Tour of Australia (from Sydney to Hobart).
A Little Background About this NZ Bike Tour
Having split from the super continent of Gondwana some 65 million years ago, New Zealand offers a distinctive bio-diversity that is comparable with the Galapagos Islands. A veritable geothermal wonderland, the country boasts an array of varying landscapes – which in part explains why it provided the backdrop for much of the Lord the Rings film series. With a population of just 5 million and a comparable land mass to that of the United Kingdom, this tour takes riders on the road less travelled and marks an extension of the RS program into the Southern Hemisphere. In keeping with the historical context, the Maori culture provides an intriguing backdrop for our travels. The uniqueness of the flora and fauna of NZ, remarkable landscapes, and a rich culture make this new tour a wonderful tenth edition to the RS Epic tour roster — take a look at the rest on our Epic Cycling Tours page.
Riders on this unforgettable bike tour of New Zealand will be treated to incredible landscapes including thermal wonderlands, volcanoes, wild unspoiled coastlines, and the stunning alps of the Southern Island, which will have you regularly grabbing for your camera. Finish each day at hand-picked hotels and lodges with ample opportunity to sample New Zealand’s world-class wine, fresh seafood, and seasonal vegetables. Keep a close eye on our New Zealand Bike Tours for more NZ cycling tours in the future and please reach out if you have any questions. Otherwise, please click the tabs along the top of the page to find out more about this once-in-a-lifetime cycling trip through New Zealand.
The North Island
The South Island
Māori New Zealand Bike Tour Highlights
>Cycling along the rolling coastline of Queen Charlotte Sound.
>Exploring the geothermal wonderland around Rotorua with its geysers, fantastically coloured steaming pools and bubbling mud pools.
>Cycling through the land of volcanoes made famous through the Lord of the Rings films.
>Our ferry ride from the North Island across the Cook Strait to the South Island through Marlborough Sounds framed by lush forested hills.
>Maori Culture, with its fascinating oral history rich in song and dance and seen throughout the country by the distinct wood carvings adorning the local Marae ( meeting grounds) and places of cultural importance.
>The west coast and the Southern Alps, with their snow-covered peaks, glacier-filled valleys spectacular array of waterfalls and rugged pristine coastline.
>New world gastronomy with the incredible choice of local produce makes dining a real highlight throughout the tour.
>Cycling up Mt Mount Ruapehu, a still active volcano and in winter the biggest ski field the southern hemisphere.
>Rest day at Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki a premier nature lodge offering an experience like no other. Walk from your room into a natural paradise of ancient rainforest, kayak pristine lakes and hike rugged beaches.
>New Zealand Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc rate with some of the best in the world, but it also has a growing reputation for chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling, merlot and methode traditionelle wines that are all worth tasting!
>Riding through pristine nature in numerous World Heritage National parks
>New Zealand wildlife is like no other, literally! 80% of its species aren’t found anywhere else in the world. A couple you may have heard of is the Kiwi bird and the Kea, the world’s only alpine parrot.
Māori New Zealand Tour Dates 2024
|Stage||Start Date||End Date||Days||Distance||Cost (Euros)|
|Stage 1 – Auckland to Wellington||3rd Feb||14th Feb||12 (11 nights)||1025 km / 636 miles||€ 5,150|
|Stage 2 – Wellington to Queenstown||14th Feb||26th Feb||13 (12 nights)||1028 km / 638 miles||€ 5,535|
|Epic Māori – Auckland to Queenstown||3rd Feb||26th Feb||24 (23 nights)||2052 km / 1275miles||€ 9,780|
Māori New Zealand Bike Tour Food and Wine
New Zealand is world renowned for their seafood, coffee culture, dairy and lamb as well their Marlborough Sounds South Island Sauvignon Blanc. The good news is that New Zealand isn’t defined by what they export so what’s locally available if even better!
The green lipped mussels that can be seen along the coast while riding in the South Island are amazing as the salmon on offer. Another highlight is the morning snack break as the coffee culture has spread far beyond the metropolitan areas and it can now be hard to find a bad coffee even in the remote corners of the country. It’s fair to say that Kiwis (the colloquial name for New Zealanders) have shrugged off the colonial influence of tea and become a nation obsessed with coffee with more roasters per capita than anywhere in the world.
New Zealand’s history has been closely tied to sheep and although the number has fallen in the last 30 years there are still 7 sheep here for every person so you can expect to see lamb on the menu.
New Zealand, with its warmer summers and volcanic soils in the north and cooler mountain valleys in the south, provides a wide range of climates that produce a delicious variety of excellent wines.
There are vineyards from our first day in Auckland (above) to some of the world’s most southerly vineyards at the end of our ride around Wanaka in the heart of the Southern Alps.
New Zealand is a young country so you won’t find any castles or centuries old monasteries converted into hotels – instead, we have modern hotels, many of them set amongst beautiful forest more ancient than anything you could find in Europe.
M Social – (Auckland) – Functionally chic, this contemporary hotel features rooms designed for all travellers. The only hotel that truly overlooks the vibrant Princes Wharf that’s home to a stunning array of dining, entertainment and shopping experiences.
All you need to do to experience it is step out the front door.
Chateau Tongariro Hotel (Tongariro National Park) – This historical Hotel impresses with its grand architecture and interiors and facilities, which include a 9-hole golf course and a cinema. Located within a dual World Heritage National Park providing a stunning natural playground with diverse landscapes to explore on the rest day.
Distinction Fox Glacier, Te Weheka Boutique Hotel (Fox Glacier) – Situated beneath the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s West coast within walking distance from the impressive Fox Glacier, Te Weheka Boutique Hotel offers modern, spacious rooms with balconies overlooking the lush native forest.
Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki (Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area) – Discover wilderness in comfort and style at New Zealand’s premier nature lodge offering an experience like no other. Walk from your room into a natural paradise of ancient rainforest, kayak pristine lakes and hike rugged beaches.
QT Queenstown – Incomparable views over the crystal clear Lake Wakatipu and breathtaking peaks of the Southern Alps set the scene at QT Queenstown. Sitting pretty in nature’s playground, this lush lakeside resort emulates nostalgic alpine and après-ski ambience – perfect for our final night on tour.
Māori New Zealand Reading
For a country that has been isolated for 80 million years and discovered by people only in the last 700 years, there is surprisingly much to read about this fantastic country on the edge of the world. The below selection of books (and movies) will have something of interest for everyone, from the history of New Zealand to Māori mythology and tradition to Booker Prize-winning fiction for those that want to experience what life was like at different points throughout this short, but fast-paced history.
The Penguin History of New Zealand (Micheal King) – New Zealand was the last country in the world to be discovered and settled by humankind. It was also the first to introduce full democracy. Between those events, and in the century that followed the franchise, the movements and conflicts of human history have been played out more intensively and more rapidly in New Zealand than anywhere else on Earth.
The Whale Rider (Witi Ihimaera) – Now also a beautiful movie – A mystical story of Maori culture. The birth of a daughter – Kahu – breaks the lineage of a Maori tribe. Rejected by her grandfather, Kahu develops the ability to communicate with whales, echoing those of the ancient Whale Rider after whom she was named.
Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All: A New Zealand Story (Christina Thompson) – Thompson’s book is part personal memoir and part New Zealand history. She tells the story of her romance with her husband, Steven, who is Maori, and the struggles she faced with cultural clashes and mistrust between Westerners and the indigenous group. She also examines the history of the country itself and how its development led to many of these issues.
OK, so JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of The Rings (1954-55) aren’t about New Zealand at all. But that didn’t stop the five films of the series from being filmed there, inspiring many more people to discover the country’s stunning countryside for themselves. If you don’t want to read the books you might like to get yourself into the mood for your ride by watching the films and enjoying the wide empty landscapes.
Pounamu Pounamu (Witi Ihimaera) – When Pounamu Pounamu was published in 1972, it was a landmark occasion for New Zealand literature in many ways. It was the first work of fiction published by a Maori writer, it was the first collection of short stories that looked at contemporary Maori life and it launched the career of one of New Zealand’s best-known authors.
The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton) – The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery
The Bone People – Keri Hulme has created what is at once a mystery, a love story, and an ambitious exploration of the zone where Maori and European New Zealand meet, clash, and sometimes merge. Winner of both a Booker Prize and Pegasus Prize for Literature, The Bone People is a work of unfettered wordplay and mesmerizing emotional complexity.
Māori New Zealand Bike Tour History
The Māori New Zealand Cycling Tour follows the journey of a fascinating and inspiring people as they travelled across the ocean 700 years ago to arrive on the North Island near the start of our tour. The Māori, as they came to be known, with only what they brought with them adapted well to a land that had never seen humans. Isolated from other landforms for 80 million years it had moved further east away from Australia and grew through volcanic activity in the North Island and mountain ranges in the South Island. A process that continues today.
This strange land was the last to be discovered of all the habitable land masses in the world and was different in that apart from bats, that had managed to fly there it was completely devoid of mammals. New Zealand was and still is a land of birds and reptiles!
As the newly formed settlements grew the Māori travelled south down through the land of volcanoes, geysers and colourful bubbling hot pools.
This geologically active part of New Zealand became an important part of the mythology of Māori culture. While the culture may be young, it is rich, diverse and has built on its Pacific island origins to become unique in its own right.
Using their impressive boat building skills the Māori continued south crossing the Cook Strait to reach the South Island where they settled the coastlines and mountain valleys right to its most southern point. The Māori population in the South Island remained much lower than in the North Island as the winters are difficult and the terrain tough. This is as true today as it was 150 years ago, with three-quarters of the New Zealand population residing in the North Island. It’s for this reason the South Island is thankfully still a part of the world that showcases how the earth once was with its largely untouched nature.
We hope you can come and explore it on the best form of transport of all, your bike!
The Maori Epic showcases the best of New Zealand from the road. In both Islands, we were treated daily to the amazing landscapes: thermal and volcanic regions in the north, glaciers rivers and lakes in the south. Add to this the extraordinary route planning, support, opportunities to explore the areas in which we stayed, to experience the value placed on conservation, to understand the history and culture of the diverse peoples who have settled there, and of course to enjoy the locally produced food and wine with a group of wonderful people who are proud to be part of the growing R&S family.
I greatly enjoyed my first trip with Ride and Seek. Everything worked seamlessly. The destination was all I hoped it would be. People who chose cycling as a “holiday” are likely to have enough in common to bond well and so it proved. The guides Ben and Rich were excellent. Friendly, supportive, available and knowledgeable.
It is fair to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the trip even though I parachuted in halfway. The course was excellent. The guides were also first-class leaving nothing to be desired.
The routes chosen for the country’s natural beauty were excellent. The locations for the rest days were ideal. Ben and Ritchie were knowledgeable, professional, accommodating, I really could go on and on. It was constantly obvious how in-depth they had prepared each day.
A fun ride through New Zealand. We stayed at great hotels, stopped at unique cafés and ate good food. The sites ranged from big cities to small towns through rolling pastures and over volcanic mountains. We learned about Maori history and saw the extent to which Maori culture has been incorporated into everyday life.
You’ve got a winner trip here in NZ. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride – Ben and Richie were excellent. Ben is the best, as you know. He has become like an old friend. Richie added lots of local history, culture and elaboration about plants and animals. Plus he is an ace bike mechanic.
Tour at a Glance
Stage 1 – Auckland to Wellington 2024
Dates: 3rd - 14th Feb 2024aa
Stage 1 – Auckland to Wellington 2024Length: 12 days / 11 nights
Stage 2 – Wellington to Queenstown 2024
Dates: 14th -26th Feb 2024aa
Stage 2 – Wellington to Queenstown 2024Length: 13 days / 12 nights
Māori Epic – Auckland to Queenstown 2024
Dates: 3rd - 26th Feb 2024aa
Māori Epic – Auckland to Queenstown 2024Length: 24 days / 23 nights