We have cycled many trails…this tour has it all! In early October 2023 Tony and I were fortunate to be able to sneak a week’s holiday in Northland taking the 5 night Cook to Kupe cycle adventure with Northland Experiences. Having previously enjoyed both guided and self-guided cycle trails in NZ and overseas, we felt a certain shortcoming in not being able to confidently promote Northland’s very own cycle adventure.
Northland Experience’s Cook to Kupe fully supported 5-day cycle tour was full of surprises, even to the locals, who thought they had seen a fair bit of Northland already. The trip is a mix of easy to moderate cycling, combined with visits to some of Northland’s most iconic and interesting attractions. The visits to well-known sites like Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Manea – Footprints of Kupe Cultural Centre, Footprints of Waipoua Forest and Tane Mahuta and the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway were enhanced by incredibly knowledgeable guides, while other less known attractions such as the Waiwere Boulders, Ranui on Hokianga, Rawene Puzzle Shop and Waiotemarama Falls provided stunning and unexpected local treasures.
Most days included around 20 to 40km of cycling, almost entirely off road. With the naturally quiet roads in Northland, the occasional on-road section didn’t faze even a nervous road cyclist such as me. In true Northland style some of the on-road was along unsealed roads. Given that all the riders in our group had selected e-bikes, the riding was easily achievable. A couple of decent hills were thrown into the mix to brighten up our day, with the van option also available for those in need of a rest. Most of the ride is across the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail which has been well maintained and is in excellent condition despite the recent bad weather.
Predictably for springtime, the weather was variable, but with a flexible itinerary we were able to work around the intermittent showers and structure each day to avoid riding in the rain.
Accommodation and dining were superbly selected to provide a fabulous selection of authentic Northland experiences. From a beautiful historic hill side villa overlooking the Hokianga Harbour to the Duke of Marlborough Hotel in Russell, each night was very comfortable, with authentic and welcoming hosts. Meals ranged from the much-appreciated packed lunch to pub meals, and gourmet restaurants. Again, a well-chosen selection with great service and quality designed to give both locals and visitors to our regions an authentic taste of Northland.
Our guide, Shane, clearly well-known and well respected across Northland, provided an incredible backdrop to the journey with anecdotes and information. His knowledge of Northland stretched across history, both Māori and Pakeha, geology and geography, flora, and fauna. Shane’s commentary was a highlight and proved to us that we didn’t know nearly enough about our own region. As an aside, nothing was too much trouble for Shane in attending to the bikes at the end of the day, making sure they were ready for the next day, and transporting them from place to place when required. As any e-bike rider can attest to, they are heavy units to lift on and off a trailer.
In mentioning the trailer – theirs was one of the most innovative adaptions we have seen on our travels. The charging stations were inbuilt to the trailer, so the trailer could be plugged in at night and the bikes left on the trailer and plugged into an outlet in situ. While we were on our own bikes, the ones provided by Northland Experiences were, importantly, well maintained and of good quality.
Overall, a memorable and enjoyable week. The highlights were the riding, the incredible and knowledgeable guides, new and old treasures of Northland and the feeling of being on holiday the entire 5 days.