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.