Autumn – a fine time to ride

Published 2023-03-16

Autumn is an awesome season for Great Rides adventure, thanks to settled weather, stunning seasonal colours, and quieter times in popular holiday spots. Add in other biking benefits such as fresh air, exercise and fun times with friends and family, and you’ll be set up to roll through winter months filled to the brim with health and happiness.

Here are some Ngā Haerenga Great Rides of New Zealand holiday suggestions for the season.

Twin Coast trail for all tastes

Salty, sunny, sub-tropical and stunningly beautiful, Te Tai Tokerau/Northland is awesome for autumn biking when the days are still warm and visitor hot spots are cooling down. Out on the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail, the countryside between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga Harbour is bursting with beautiful colours.

Multi-generational fun on the Twin Coast (Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail)

There’s something for everyone around this trail. Besides bike rides of any length, there are boat cruises, fun water sports and fish & chips by the seaside, plus lashings of landmark heritage attractions including Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Māngungu Mission. Don’t miss the refurbished Te Waiariki Ngawha Springs hot pools, and look out for freshly harvested produce from around the region. The 'Country Food' kiosk at Snows Farm riverside picnic spot, between Okaihau and Horeke, is a great place to pick up supplies and enjoy a picnic.

Snows Farm, Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail

The perfect picnic pit-stop at Snows Farm (Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail).

Check in with these official trail partners for bike hire, shuttles and tours: Top TrailNorthland ExperiencesMullarkey Bike & Shuttle and Twin Coast Adventures. And at the western side of the Twin Coast, why not take your Great Ride to next level with a cruise on the historic Ranui launch – this is soooo much more than a bike ferry service!

The Ranui ferrying riders and bikes on the serene waters of Hokianga Harbour (Lee Slater).

Ohakune's (carrot) rocket launch

Celebrating a vital vegetable in anyone’s mealtime medley, Ohakune is upping the ante by launching the world’s tallest carrot rocket in April. While it won’t be going anywhere fast, this playground attraction will make a welcome addition to the brussel sprout, beetroot, parsnip in the Carrotland adventure playground on the edge of town.

Besides being New Zealand’s carrot capital, Ohakune is also a major hub for the Mountains to Sea Ngā Ara Tūhono Great Ride. The spectacular Old Coach Road section starts right from town, but there’s also riding for young ones and beginners on the Mangawhero River Trail and kids’ pump track.

Ohakune's Carrot Rocket (credit Visit Ruapehu).

3...2...1...lift off! Ohakune's carrot rocket being readied for launch (Visit Ruapehu).

At the other end of the Mountains to Sea is Whanganui city, a terrific place for a family biking holiday. The must-do half-day ride is up-river to Upokongaro to the very cool new bridge and back. The cafe at Upok, Behind the Door on 4, with its cool garden is great for the kids, while just up the road, adults can get their fix at the Papaiti Gin distillery and tasting room  (open 10am–3pm on weekends and by appointment). Keep an eye out for their Mountains-to-Sea-themed gin – as well as being delicious, it has feel-good factor too with some of the profits going to the trail. Cheers! 

Upokongaro bridge across the Whanganui River (credit Lee Slater)

The impressive Upokongaro bridge across the Whanganui River (Lee Slater).

Another great city ride goes down the Whanganui River to the North Mole river mouth and groovy Castlecliff where The Citadel cafe is a must-visit. The city’s shops and galleries are also a fine distraction if the weather doesn’t play ball. The Discover Whanganui website will help you join the dots.

Ride, rest and reflect on the Timber Trail

There’s so much more to this Great Ride than great riding all year round. Lovers of history will enjoy the many riveting stories from the past retold in a series of curious relics and storyboards along the way. The old bush-milling settlement of Piropiro – at the trail's halfway point – is also a great place to rest and reflect on Pureora Forest's past.

Mill No. 3 – known as the ‘top mill’ – at Piropiro circa 1936 (image courtesy

Mill No. 3 – known as the ‘top mill’ – at Piropiro circa 1936 (image courtesy

Autumn’s not too late to wring the final fling out of the camping season. Glamp it up in style at Camp Epic, or get back to basics at the DOC camp next door. For a proper roof over your head and authentic hospitality, make a beeline for characterful Blackfern Lodge, or the modern Timber Trail Lodge, which offers package deals including ensuite rooms and meals.

Camp Epic, Piropiro, Timber Trail

Stylish, comfortable camping in beautiful surrounds (Epic Cycle Adventures).

While a two-day through ride remains the classic experience, you can also base yourself at Piropiro and do day rides in both directions. This will not only save on costs and logistics, it’ll also give you flexibility to explore the trail in your own way.

Blackfern Lodge Timber Trail (credit Bare Kiwi).

Blackfern Lodge – great accommodation with character and night skies to blow your mind! (Bare Kiwi).

Plan your Timber Trail adventures here.

The wild – yet mild! – West Coast

Mild temperatures and crystal-clear air make autumn a brilliant time to soak up the sights and scenery of the West Coast – from snow-capped alps, secluded lakes and bird-filled rainforest, to the wild Tasman Sea rolling ashore on driftwood-strewn beaches. See it all at the perfect pace on the West Coast Wilderness Trail.

West Coast Wilderness Trail (credit West Coast Wilderness Trail)

All ages West Coast adventures ( Coast Wilderness Trail).

You can ride the full trail over several days staying overnight along the way, or stay in one place to enjoy various day-rides. Along the way are plenty of neat attractions, many of which are great for rainy days, including Shantytown Heritage Park near Greymouth, or  Westland Industrial Heritage Park in Hokitika.

Greymouth, Hokitika and Kumara are all charming and convenient bases for biking adventures. So is the historic gold town of Ross, where Ross Beach Top 10 Holiday Park rolls out a warm welcome to cyclists. As well as campsites and stylish, comfy ‘pod’ accommodation, this bushy park also sports outdoor baths, a spa, braziers, pizza oven and on-site takeaways – all of which will help you to wind down at the end of your Great Ride.

Ross Beach Top 10 accommodation

The simple yet stylish studio apartment pods at Ross Beach Top 10's are ideal for cyclists.

Alps 2 Ocean autumn anniversary

Happy birthday to the A2O – now ten years old and never better!

What a terrific first decade it has been for this iconic Great Ride. A combination of big-sky riding and must-see sights such as Aoraki/Mt Cook, Lake Tekapo and Oamaru heritage precinct have established it as one of our best-loved trails with ride options to suit pretty much everyone.

The spectacular Sailors Cutting to Benmore section (Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail).

Autumn and winter are fine times to ride the A20, with moderate temperatures and more capacity across tours, accommodation and trailside attractions. Recent improvements include the Sailors Cutting to Benmore Dam section, as well as a bunch of new interpretation panels that share the A2O’s history. An upcoming ‘treasure hunt’ along the trail offers a chance to win great prizes.

Stay tuned to the trail’s Facebook page and Instagram feed for details, and enter their anniversary photo comp if you've ridden New Zealand's longest Great Ride over the last decade!

Happy 10th Anniversary Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail! 

Harvest-time on the Tasman's Great Taste Trail

If you like ripe fruit, fine wine and fresh-hop beer – or just an autumn break that makes you feel like it’s still summer – head to the Nelson–Tasman region and ride the Great Taste Trail.

This big and beautiful trail network at the sunny top of the South serves up cycle rides of various lengths, generously laced with cafes, wineries, breweries and fruit stalls along with galleries, shops, and other enticing stops.

Golden Bear Brewing Company at Mapua (Neat Places).

Golden Bear Brewing Company at Mapua (Neat Places).

It’s another Great Ride that can be ridden as a multi-day trip, or sliced and diced into day rides by basing yourself on one place. And being mostly easy with plenty of beaches, parks and kids’ attractions, it’s the perfect trail for a family break where everyone can come along for the ride.

Cycling the boardwalks of Waimea Estuary (Oliver Weber/Nelson Tasman NZ).

Cycling the boardwalks of Waimea Estuary (Oliver Weber/Nelson Tasman NZ).

Check in with this Great Ride's official partners who can help with bike hire, guided tours, accommodation and excellent places to eat and drink – it is the Great Taste Trail after all! 

For more Taste Trail news and the latest from Nelson's sister ride – the Coppermine Trail – read this Great Rides updates – Autumn 2023 article

Looking for more Autumn cycling inspiration? Check out these blogs.

Biking holidays on a budget

Great Ride updates – Autumn 2023

Cyclone Gabrielle – Great Rides update

Discover all 23 Ngā Haerenga Great Rides of New Zealand here.