Sunday, October 2, 2016

Tour Aotearoa Update Sept 2016

Hello TA riders,

There are now 430 people on the Tour Aotearoa start list, so we have increased the number of riders to 600, spread over six start dates:

10, 12, 14, and 24, 26, 28 of February 2018.

These dates will work perfectly for the tides on Ninety Mile Beach

Entering is a two-stage process.

Stage 1 (now): Express your interest to enter and get on the list. If you have done that already, then please check your full name is on the list here:

Stage 2 (Feb 2017): There is no entry fee, as this is a non-commercial event. To confirm your entry you will be asked to make a $100 donation to charity, and offset the carbon emission from your travel to the event, and sign up with MAProgress so you will be tracked along with everyone else.

We are not ready for Stage 2 just yet, so hold your horses J. Stage 2 will begin straight after the 2017 Kiwi Brevet.

2017 Kiwi Brevet

Scott Emmens has announced that the 2017 Kiwi Brevet will start on the 4 February, and run in a counter clockwise direction. If you’ve never done a dirt brevet before, then this event is a must! It will help you gain almost all the experience you need for Tour Aotearoa.

More details will be released soon so keep an eye on:

Unofficial Tour Aotearoa 2017

We won’t be running an event in 2017, but a small group will be starting on the 19th and 20th Feb next year. If you would like to join them (and share the cost of crossing Kaipara Harbour) then please contact Canadian rider Greg Andre-Barrett at:

Tour Aotearoa Books

Thanks to everyone who sent in their best Tour Aotearoa photos. The TA book now has 250 fabulous photos, and 17,000 words spread over 200 pages and is being bound in hardback. It went to the printer yesterday and will be available, hot of the press, in four weeks. We will announce more closer to the launch date.

Tour Aotearoa route

The 3000 km route for 2018 will be finalised in October 2017. It will be very similar to the 2016 route, however, there are a dozen new trails/trail extensions planned, which will take more of the TA off road. The major extension being built at the moment is a 36-km long trail between Miranda and Kopu. This involves major bridge building projects, so the complete trail won’t be complete until March 2017.

You can check the draft route (which has been updated since Feb 2016) out here:

We will research trails as they are constructed and update the draft route regularly.

More information

You can find the start times for each wave on the Tour Aotearoa blog and the facebook page.

Also, all past updates are posted on the blog at

If you know of anyone who is crazy enough to want to ride 3000 km from Cape Reinga to Bluff, then please pass this on and ask them to email

Until then, happy planning.

Pedal on

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tour Aotearoa Update July 2016

Hello TA riders,

The dust has well and truly settled from Tour Aotearoa 2016. Or has it?

Erik ‘never give up’ Westra has announced he will set out in early December and ride the Tour Aotearoa as the 2016 Tail End Charlie. I know that quite a few of you are keen to join him for part of the journey, so keep an eye on the facebook Tour Aotearoa General Forum page to follow his progress.

Talking about progress, the Hauraki Rail Trail are extending their path all the way to to Miranda at the moment. Hopefully they’ll have it done by the time Erik rides through. It will remove a busy section of Highway 25.

There are several upgrades and trail extensions planned for the TA, but they don’t include two important sections: Arataki ‘road’ maintenance and Waiuta Track repairs. So we will encourage future riders to make their entry donation towards this trail work. More about that later.

Tour Aotearoa 2018
We have decided to organise another event. It will again be limited to 300 be limited to 600 riders, and the start times are dictated by the tides.

The starts date are: 10th, 12th and 14th of February 2018 and 24th, 26th and 28th February 2018

And if you would like to enter, just email us at and we’ll put you on the 2018 list.

2017 Kiwi Brevet
Scott Emmens has announced that the 2017 Kiwi Brevet will start on the 4 February, and run in a counter clockwise direction. That means you’ll get Port Underwood out of the way early, and then thrive on all the great riding from Picton onwards.

More details will be released soon so keep an eye on:

Unofficial Tour Aotearoa 2017
We won’t be running an event in 2017, but a few people who didn’t manage to start (or finish) the tour this year are itching to do it as soon as possible. So that they can ride with others, (and share in the Kaipara Boat cost), we recommend the following starting dates for independent 2017 riders:

6am Sunday 19th Feb, 2017
7am Monday 20th Feb, 2017
8am Tuesday 21st Feb, 2017

Tracking in 2017
Anyone who wants to be tracked can contact Shane at Maprogress anytime and get set up so that friends and family know where you are. It also means other riders can join you along the way. Shane can be contacted at:

Rule Changes
After feedback and consideration, we have decided to tweek a couple of the rules.

  1. The “No Outside Support” rule was broken so often that it’s…, well, it’s just totally broken. We are going to rebuild it and allow people to accept food and accommodation from friends and family along the way. But are sticking to the “no support vehicles” part of the rule.
  2. It turned out that a few riders didn’t get any sleep in the first 48 hours because they counted the Kaipara Harbour Boat as stopping time, and then just added on some standing around time before and after the boat to get to 6 hours total. That doesn’t count in our books, so in future we will only allow time on the Interislander ferries as “non travelling” time, because you can realistically get a good sleep on those ferries, especially if you get a cabin.

Tour Aotearoa Books
We are currently working on two Tour Aotearoa publications. The main one is a large coffee table book with 200 of the best photos we’ve been able to find. There is still space for another dozen, so if you took a ‘trophy shot’ then please email it to me for consideration. Thanks!

At the moment, 90% of the photos are from the awesome Sven Martin, the talented Richard Sidey, and the incomparable Matt Dewes, and the persistant Jonathan Kennett (that’s me).

We are also filling the book with funny and fascinating little stories from riders and locals sprinkled along the Tour Aotearoa route.

Draft cover of the Tour Aotearoa book.

Many, many thanks to everyone who has contributed so far

Concurrently, Whitirieia Publishing and the Kennett Bros are working on a small staple bound guide booklet, which has maps, elevation charts, cue sheets and a full list of cafes, pubs, campsites, hostels, and bike shops along the TA route.

Both the big coffee table book and the little guide booklet will be launched on the 1 November.

Many people and organisations helped pull the Tour together this year, and without realising it have set it up to go forward and become a defining part of NZ cycling culture. It couldn’t have happened without you:

Jeff Lyall – Website
Sean Duggan – Facebook Page
Jon Keyzer – Forum Facebook Page
Shane – Maprogress tracking page
Simon Kennett – Tour route and event advice
Paul Kennett – Tour HQ support
Erik Westra – Cue sheets and general TA advice to riders
Scott Emmens – event advice

I’d also like to thank those that I spent a lot of time riding with on the Tour, and subjecting them to becoming riding models, particularly Ginny Wood, Henry Fisher, Evan McCarney, Michel McCort, Jo Emmens, Hannah Black, Chris Tennant-Brown, Jackson Foster, Damian Cooper, Paul Browne, Michael North, Mondo Kopua, Dale Lopez, Sheila Hart, Ian and Wendy, Hamish, and Grenville.

And finally, thanks to Ground Effect for the great Kiwi made cycling kit, and Jonty of Revolution Cycles for building my brevet bike up at the very last minute.

Pedal on!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


Riders heading down Te Paki Stream near Cape Reinga. Just 1 hour into the 3000 km journey
It has been done.

Tour Aotearoa, the longest and most varied ride in New Zealand, was completed in February this year. This awe-inspiring bikepacking event took riders 3000 km from the tip of Cape Reinga all the way down to Bluff. The track included several Great Rides throughout the country, connected by the best available back-country roads.

The lead bunch of riders sweeping onto Ninety Mile Beach, Northland.
Tour Aotearoa brought together riders from all pedals of life. This year 250 people took part in this inaugural event, 190 were from New Zealand and 60 were overseas visitors. The completion rate was high with 90 percent of participants finishing within the set time of 10 to 30 days, and age proved to be no barrier with riders ranging from 21 to 73 years old.

Two riders crossing a 141 m long bridge on The Timber Trail, Pureora Forest Park.
The event was run in a brevet style, which is an increasingly popular style of bikepacking where riders are completely self-supported throughout their journey. This meant they had to carry their own gear with no outside help or support vehicles. It was just the rider, their bike and the open road.

'foot cycling' between Big River and Waiuta ghost town, West Coast.

Additionally, participants contributed to a charity of their choice, and through the hard work and sweat of these riders they raised over $230,000.

Riders at Pouto Point boarding the boat to cross Kaipara Harbour. 

The organiser, Jonathan Kennett, is now hard at work writing a guidebook for Tour Aotearoa so anyone can do the ride at any time. This will be a unique addition to the collection of books published by the Kennett Brothers.

After 3000 km, a very welcome sign heralds the end of the big bike adventure.
Jonathan Kennett will also be organising another event for 2018. Be sure to check out the Tour Aotearoa Facebook group and website to keep updated on upcoming events. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tour Aoteroa Final Update: 11 Feb 2016

Hi folks,
This is it, the final update before we meet at Cape Reinga. Here I’ll repeat the brevet rules, announce the open homes and a few important items including the final course.

Safety First
Tour Aotearoa is not a race and there is no race course. No roads are closed, there are no safety barriers, and no one you meet is expecting you to be racing.

You must obey all road rules, and ride carefully on all the trails, which may have other riders around any corner.

Rules for Tour Aotearoa 2016
1. Do it all yourself, under your own steam.
2. Carry all your own gear (i.e. no domestiques, unless you are part of a team).
3. No outside support (deliveries only to public addresses or open homes, no support from friends along the way, no support vehicles of any kind meeting you along the way to provide supplies).
4. Follow 100% of the route (side trips are fine, of course).
5. You must carry a Spot Tracker (or have at least one per team).
6. You must not complete the course in less than 10 days. (This event is not about finding the fastest rider).
7. You should finish in under 30 days (that’s 100 km per day).
8. Between 9am one day and 9am the next, you must spend at least one block of at least six hours not travelling (except time on a boat which does count as “not travelling”). The maximum time any rider may spend travelling along the course will be 18 hours (between each 9am-to-9am period).
9. When on public roads, follow the NZ Road Rules.
10. There are 30 photo control points in leiu of text-ins. Photos must be saved and sent to Maprogress or the Kennett Brothers.
11. Take only photos, Leave only tyre tracks.
12. Have fun

Photo Control Points
Attached with this email, and included with the GPX/KML files, and shown on the website are the 30 photo control points.
Stop at each point and take a photo to prove you were there and have as a photo album after your ride.

Ride briefing and tracker pick up
When and where will I pick up my tracker?
At Cape Reinga, 2 hours before each start you can pick up your spot trackers from Tony and Shane, and discuss any final issues with me (for the first wave), or one of the other experienced riders for waves two (I suggest Stu Smith) and three (I suggest Mondo Kopua).
Tony at SpotNZ still has some trackers for hire. If you have yet to get one, do it now.

Start times at the Cape

Start Time
Low tide on beach
Kaipara Boats
First Wave 118 riders
12 noonSunday
21 Feb 2016
Hard sand 1:30-5:30pm
Aim to get boats on Mon and Tuesday
Second Wave 104 riders
2pm, Tuesday
23 Feb 2016
Hard sand 3-7pm
Aim to get boats on late Wed and Thur
Third Wave 45 riders
2:30pm, Wednesday
24 Feb 2016
Hard sand 3:30-7:30pm
Aim to get boats on Thurs and Friday

Beach Riding Tips
Use a dry lube for day one, down the beach.
Shane Davidson will be waiting at Ahipara with a pump, a chain and bucket of cleaning gear for those that wish to stop and clean their bikes, or swap chains.

Kaipara Harbour Boat
The Kaipara Harbour boat takes up to 30 riders. It is only during the fishing charter on the Sat that it can only take half a dozen riders.

The captain will relay takeaway orders to a good Helensville Fish n Chip shop for riders on the evening crossings (the shop will stay open late for TA riders).

Helensville Accommodation
TA riders can stay at the Kaipara Cruising Club in Helensville (84 Mill Road, SH 16) for $5 a night. Sleeping is on the floor, and there is a kitchen, toilets and showers.

Free Coffee in Picton
John Reuhman is shouting every Tour Aotearoa rider a complimentary coffee at EcoWorld Picton Aquarium, 100 metres south of the Interislander terminal on your left.

The Tour Aotearoa route is final!
The final GPS files are now available for the TA route here:

The Tour Aotearoa course is described in full detail in the third edition of Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails, which is available from bike shops, book stores and online from us ( or Ground Effect ( I strongly recommend you get a copy as it has all the info you need to do the tour.
We will send a free pdf of the TA content to anyone tour rider who has a copy, just email:

Erik Westra has just bought out final cue sheets which are available here: in several page layouts. These are the very latest so swap them for any older ones you may have previously downloaded. Thanks Erik.

Erik’s cue sheets are based off our GPS track. If you find a difference between them – follow the GPS track.

Register at Maprogress
Just a final reminder that everyone needs to register their tracker at whether you buy/hire your tracker from them or not, so that you appear on the Tour Aotearoa website map, and your photos get logged too.

If you have any questions, please ask me or other riders on the TA facebook page. And when I’m out riding, you can contact Paul Kennett on 027 442 1055, or email paul(at)

Good luck everyone!
Jonathan Kennett

Monday, February 1, 2016

Tour Aoteroa February 2016 Update 1

Hi folks,

Now that we have less than three weeks until take off, you’ll want to read this update carefully.
There will be one final update on the 11th Feb when I will give out the final course route and an event briefing.

Q. Can I count time on a boat as part of my 6 hour rest?
A. The intent of the rule is that people are forced off the bike for 6 hours, so you can count the three hours on the Kaipara Harbour Boat and the Cook Strait Ferry as part of your 6 hour stop, so long as you also have 3 hours stop at the boat pick up, drop off location.
The boat times and costs are in the tables below.

Q. Do I have to text in at control points?
A. No. This event has photo control points. At 30 locations you must stop and take a photo to prove you were there and give you a lasting reminder of your tour.
The photos can be uploaded onto the Maprogress Tour Aotearoa webpage (when you are logged on go to
If for privacy reasons, or techno reasons, you don’t want to do that during the event, you can send the photos to me or Shane Davidson later.

Q. Where are the photo control points?
A. They are pinned on the latest GPS file (see below), and I will give you a final word document of them in the final update on the 11th Feb.

Q. What should I do if there is a difference between the GPS file and the cue sheets?
A. You should follow the GPS file, which is the same as the route shown here:

Q. What type of tyres/tent/spoke nipples should I take?
A. Ask on the Tour Aotearoa facebook page, or browse through the resources page at

Q. Is there one place I should look for all the critical information?
A. Yes, you should read and check out the 3rd edition of Classic NZ Cycle Trails.

Q. Do I really need a Spot Tracker, registered to Maprogress?
A. Yes, for four reasons.
- Safety first: if you get lost we can find you, and the Spot also acts as an emergency locator beacon.
- Second, the Spot means we (and your family and friends) know where you are and that you are following the course.
- Third, the Kaipara Harbour boat captain will be watching the Maprogress page and using it to decide if there are riders to pick up at Pouto or not.
- Fourth, we’ve been contacting the remote cafes along the route and asking them their opening hours (see below), and their response has been, “our hours depend on if there are people around or not”. So they will also be watching your dots, and may stay open longer as a result.

Q. When are the boat times and cost?

Hokianga Ferry Timetable* Cost is $2 for a 10 min trip.
Departs North Terminal (Rawene)
Arrives South Terminal (Narrows)
7:15am (weekdays only)
7:30am (weekdays only)

*Note: At peak times the Ferry may change to shuttle mode, at which times the above time table may be suspended and sailings will be more frequent

Kaipara Harbour Boat Times
Cost is $50 (take cash). The last money machine is in Dargaville.
Sailing time is approximately 3 hours. Loading bikes could take a while.
These sailings are for Tour Aotearoa riders only. There are no other sailings during this time. They will watch trackers and wait a while if there are riders just about to arrive at Pouto. Please be patient and treat this crossing as an adventure.

22nd Feb
12 noon
23rd Feb
24th Feb
No sailing unless needed.
25th Feb
26th Feb
Note: If you miss the last Kaipara Harbour boat on Friday then the captain will pick you up while doing a fishing charter on Saturday (approximately 11 am pick up, for up to five people).

Whanganui River
There are two main companies operating on the river, and they offer jet boat trips and hire Canadian Canoes (which hold bikes fine). Contact details are on the web and in Classic NZ Cycle Trails. Take cash if you want fast service.

Whanganui River Adventures, based in Pipiriki. This company also provides accommodation, camping and some food at Pipiriki.
They generally do pickups from the landing at 1:30pm and 4pm.
They offer a discount for groups of 8 or more, for $80 per person. Otherwise it is the standard price of $90.

Bridge to Nowhere Tours will do an early pick up at 9:30am and a late pick up at 6:30pm if riders book in with him. A group of 8 or more would be $75 per person. Otherwise, the standard price is $90-$100.

UPDATE 24 Feb 2016:
Bridge to Nowhere Tour and can/will do pick ups from the Mangaparua Landing down to Pipiriki at 8.00am,
10.00 am, 12.30 pm, 2.30pm, and again at 5.00pm during the day for groups of 6 or more.

Bookings must be made in advance to 0800 480 308 from National Park area or down at Blue Duck Lodge /Whakahoro before arriving at the river landing.

Cost for this option is $75 per person. For numbers lower than this cost will be $90 per person.

They also offer food and accommodation at their lodge partway down the river.

Cook Strait Ferry
There are two ferries offering a few sailing times a day, and prices between $50 and $90. All riders must take one of these ferries (no flying across the strait).

Lake Wakatipu
There are two options: the historic steamship SS Earnslaw or a water taxi.
The Earnslaw sails several times a day and can be booked at
The water taxis offer more flexible times and can be booked at

The Tour Aotearoa Route is almost final!
Updated January draft GPS files are now available for the TA route here:
These files have had minor updates. The final version will be sent out on the 11th Feb.

The Tour Aotearoa course is described in full detail in the third edition of Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails, which is available from bike shops, book stores and online from us ( or Ground Effect ( I strongly recommend you get a copy as it has all the info you need to do the tour.

Erik Westra has put some draft cue sheets up on the Tour Aotearoa facebook page – check it out. These will be updated when the final GPS file is released.

And Julie Williams has been phoning shops on the TA route to get opening hours, to add to the shops cue sheet that Kevin has written (see spreadsheet). Feel free to add to this if you would like.

Open Homes
We now have open homes (or back yards) in Auckland, Owhango, Wellington and Albert Town. Details for these will be given on the 11th Feb. Most will require you to text the owner to ‘book in’ and get the address.
If you are able to provide an open home, please let me know.

Mike the Scout
Mike Brien completed the tour in good time and provided some valuable feedback. He also had a great time and achieved the first TA ride in fine style.

Butt Care!
Jennie from Sweat Cheeks is offering a 100gm pot of Butt Butter plus free Super Balm and shipping to Tour Aotearoa riders. You’ll want to use some chamois cream every day, and this stuff is good. Go to

Register at Maprogress
Just a final reminder that everyone needs to register their tracker at whether you buy/hire your tracker from them or not, so that you appear on the Tour Aotearoa website map, and your photos get logged too.

That’s all for this update. I’ll be in touch again at the end of next week.

Pedal on!
Jonathan Kennett

P.S. If you have any questions, the next week is a good time to ask. Also, there are a few spare places available if any reserve riders would like to enter.