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North Island Guided Cycling Tour (Thermal Cycle, 5 Days)

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 5 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 14 people
Destination(s): New Zealand  
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring  
Season: October - April
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 2299 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2299 US Dollar (USD)

The Thermal Cycle tour takes you on a journey of a unique and surprising land. New Zealand’s North Island, named Te Ika-a-Maui by the Maori, is remarkably different to anywhere else. It is a land of active volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, and unique flora and fauna. Favoured by the Maori people for its bountiful natural resources, the North Island has a rich cultural history, which you’ll learn more about as you make your way round. We cover various distances on this trip, from 25 and 55 miles (40 - 80 km) per day, with the opportunity to do more or less if you prefer. The Thermal Cycle is fully vehicle-supported, so there’s plenty of freedom on the road. Our specialist cycling guides are experienced, compassionate and enthusiastic. This trip is a great add-on to our South Island trips if you want to see the best of both islands.

Who did we design this trip for?

Cyclists wanting a taste of cycle touring in New Zealand, at the same time as experiencing some of the wonderful highlights of the North Island. You’ll complete a loop of the North Island, from Auckland and back, with the opportunity to cycle around 200 miles (322 km). There is the chance each day to cycle more than the daily mileage, or jump in the support vehicle and do less, depending on your mood. This is your cycle tour and we are here to help you make it as physically demanding as you like.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive in Auckland, cycle Thames to Coromandel Town. If you’re flying in long-haul, you’ll leave the Northern Hemisphere on Sunday evening and arrive in New Zealand early Tuesday morning. It’s hard to get your head around, as you’ll lose a day to the dateline – but you’ll get it back on the way home, so just go with the flow! You’ll just need to make sure you arrive in Auckland by 9 am to clear customs and the luggage hall before we meet you at 10 am. Alternatively, we can pick you up in central Auckland at 9.30 am.

We’ll start by fitting and adjusting your bike to your liking and then we’re off! Our first ride takes us along the Coromandel Peninsula, past beaches and rolling farmland, and is a fantastic chance to stretch your legs and warm up those cycling muscles. This ride is rated as one of best day trips from Auckland and you’ll see why – it’s a great introduction to New Zealand. Notes: Cycling distance - 34 miles (55 km) - Thames to Coromandel Town (ascent 250 m, descent 250 m, 2 hills). Accommodation: Coromandel Lodgings, Coromandel. Includes: (L, D).

Day 2: Cycle Coromandel to Whitianga, hike to Cathedral Cove. From the Coromandel we’ll head straight up and out of town. While we’ll only cover a small distance today, we'll give ourselves plenty of time to go up and over a major hill. If we make good time, there are plenty of other options too. After arriving into the seaside town and our accommodation in Whitianga, we’ll drive the short distance over to Hahei and take a walk to the famously beautiful Cathedral Cove. This stunning marine reserve is only accessible on foot or by boat, and the clear waters and white sands make it an idyllic spot. Enjoy the sea air over a fantastic meal and then have a restful sleep. Notes: Cycling distance - 31 miles (50 km) - Coromandel to Whitianga (ascent 400 m, descent 400 m, 1 hill). Accommodation: Whitianga Lodgings, Whitianga. Includes: (B, L, D).

Day 3: Cycle Whitianga to Whangamata via Hot Water Beach. Today we’ll catch the ferry across the inlet, and ride the quiet roads south towards Whangamata, a popular surf spot at the base of the Coromandel Peninsula. Watching the surfers show off their moves is a great excuse for a break today! Along the way we’ll take a short detour to Hot Water Beach, a favourite spot in this area for a fun do-it-yourself spa experience. Take a spade for a short walk along the beach, dig yourself a hole, and voila – the strangest bath you’ve ever had! Once at Whangamata, we’ll jump in the bus, give our legs a break and drive the main roads south to Rotorua, another interesting kiwi town! Notes: Cycling distance - 47 miles (75 km) - Whitianga to Whangamata via Hot Water Beach (ascent 275, descent 275 m, 2 hills). Accommodation: Cedarwood Lodge, Rotorua. Includes: (B, L, D).

Day 4: Cycle Lake Rotorua, visit a Thermal area and Maori Marae. From our lodgings on the lake, we’ll head out on the “loop de lac” (a circumnavigation of Lake Rotorua) finishing back at our lodge. If you’re really keen, you can do it twice – once in each direction – it’s worth it! After lunch, we’ll head out to Hells Gate Geothermal Reserve, a unique place of extreme contrasts. You’ll see remarkable formations and colours, cascading hot water and unearthly vistas, even examples of “land coral”.

Tonight you’ll get to know a bit more about the local Maori culture and share a traditional Maori feast called a hangi. The meal is prepared by wrapping up the ingredients and burying it in the earth to cook over hot stones. This method is very healthy and akin to steaming except it imparts a wonderful smoky flavour at the same time. Vegetarians are also well catered for. We’ll stay in our lodge another night before we head back to Auckland. Notes: Cycling distance - 27 miles (43 km) - Lake Rotorua loop OR 54 miles (86 km) - double loop (no real hills!). Accommodation: Cedarwood Lodge, Rotorua. Includes: (B, L, D).

Day 5: Cycle South Auckland, depart. For our last day together, we’ll head back towards Auckland for our final ride. After lunch, we’ll jump on our bikes and follow the Firth of Thames, one of New Zealand's most important coastal stretches for shorebirds, and cycle the coastline to Kawakawa Bay. Once there, we’ll continue into Auckland, where we’ll have you at the airport in time to catch evening flights back home or down south for a South Island trip if you’re keen to see more. We’ll make sure you finish your trip refreshed and reenergized, ready to take on the world again. Notes: Cycling distance - 35 miles (56 km) - Mangatawhiri to Kawakawa Bay (ascent 150, descent 150 m, 3 hills). Includes: (B, L).

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

The trip fare is US$2299 + 15% NZ government taxes.

- Good quality road bike rental for your entire tour, with the option to upgrade to a high performance bike you prefer.
- All guiding services. We have two guides per trip. You’ll have a lead guide who drives the support vehicle and is responsible for leading the trip and maintaining the bikes. You’ll also have a co-guide that will cycle with you and is responsible for your meals and accommodation. Having two guides means we have the flexibility to make sure you always have a great time!
- Accommodation for the entire period you are with us.
- All breakfast (B), lunches (L), and dinners (D) as described in the itinerary. Alcohol is not generally included, although we do spring for a few drinks here and there!
- All cycling and activities described in the itinerary. There are many optional activities available at extra cost, particularly in Rotorua, and these are not included.