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Thursday, October 5, 2017

September Tour Aotearoa update

Kia ora riders,

Less than five months to go now! Hopefully you’re sorting out your gear and starting to cover a few miles – even if you’re just doing some fun rides and commuting to work. Most important of all is to develop comfortable contact points for your hands, bum, and feet. 3000 kilometres really is a long way!

Reminder of the rules
The spirit of this event is laidback, self-supported, and respectful of yourself, others and the environment. It’s a low-key, but high satisfaction ride. This is reflected in the rules. If you haven’t looked at them yet, you may be surprised, so check them out here: http://www.touraotearoa.nz/p/rules_27.html

Photo Control Points
Tour Aotearoa is a ‘dirt brevet’, and brevet’s have control points. Historically, they have been places that riders stop and sign in with officials, or text a message. On Tour Aotearoa, they are places where you take a photo. There are 30 photo control points, all described here: http://www.touraotearoa.nz/p/photo-checkpoints.html

Note that the Giant Kiwi at Eketahuna has been moved 50 metres, across the road, to a safer site.

Also, Tane Mahuta, the massive Kauri in Northland is under threat of a disease called Kauri dieback. This disease can be spread by people – on your shoes or tyres. There is a boardwalk leading to Tane Mahuta, and you must not walk off this boardwalk.

Tracking and Trackers – a message from Shane at MAProgress
We at MAProgress are going to be extremely busy in February with almost 1,000 trackers out. To manage this demand we need to be organised early, and with changes to our pricing we encourage riders to register soon so everything is loaded and checked. Get in early to take advantage of the early bird pricing:

·  The tracking fee (which everyone pays) will increase from $45 to $60 on 1st December 2017. From 20th January 2018 this will increase further to $75.
·  MAProgress SPOT Gen 3 tracker hire will increase from $145 to $160 on 1st December 2017 too. This is definitely the easiest and best value option for you. You pick it up at Cape Reinga and drop it off at Invercargill, we look after the allocation, registration, batteries, updates, and everything else.

We've had a number of people confused with the hiring of trackers. You can hire your tracker from anyone – MAProgress, or SPOT NZ, or anyone else (of course, you can use your own or buy one too).

But there is also a tracking fee, which covers the cost of you actually being tracked on the website. If you are hiring a tracker from someone else (ie, SPOT NZ) then you’ll still need to pay the tracking fee to MAProgress. There is also an additional process in the MAProgress registration devices tab for you to follow:
1.       Click on "Enter details for a new device that I own/have rented"
2.       Give the device a name
3.       Select "SPOT Gen 3"
4.       Enter in the ESN  provided to you
5.       Tap the "Data source" box 5-times to enable via SPOT NZ / trackme.kiwi
6.       Select "via SPOT NZ / trackme.kiwi"
7.       Click on "Save Device"

Rider Numbers
The Tour is now full and entries are closed.
Start Date
10th February
118 riders
12th February
113 riders
14th February
115 riders
24th February
107 riders
26th February
111 riders
28th February
108 riders

Please check your entry details and let me know if there is anything missing. If you haven’t paid your donation to charity and done your carbon offset by the end of next week, then I will offer your place to someone on the reserve list.
We are a bit oversubscribed at the moment, but the numbers should drop before we all start in February.

If for any reason you have to pull out, please let me know. There are people on the reserve list who would really like to enter!

For more information…
There are also two Tour Aotearoa Facebook pages, and you can ask questions from other riders.
The TA Official guide: due to changes in the course currently under construction, we are delaying revising the 2018 edition of the guide until December. We’ll let you know as soon as we can.

The next update will be in late October, at which time the course will be very close to fixed.

Pedal on!
Jonathan Kennett 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tour Aotearoa Update – March 2017

Hi there,

By now you should have a good idea of what the Tour Aotearoa is, and if you really want to confirm your entry for the 2018 adventure. Just to summarise, it’s an amazing, self-supported, 3000 km brevet, from Cape Reinga to Bluff. A brevet is not a race. It is a ride following a set course, via 30 photo control points, which you must complete between 10 and 30 days – no more and no less. Riding conditions vary from smooth sealed roads to rough rocky tracks, and everything inbetween!

The starts:
There are six starts, with up to 100 people per start as follows
10th Feb: 100 riders – FULL
12th Feb: 100 riders – FULL
14th Feb: 100 riders – FULL
24th Feb: 100 riders – FULL
26th Feb: 100 riders – FULL
28th Feb: 100 riders – FULL

We have been revising the entry database, so please take a look and let me know if anything needs correcting: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1e2VTW2D5BcBY-zlNcgmESIR0uqX3-nhgbhYDD6E61m8/edit#gid=0

If you have not already done so, you will need to confirm your entry soon to be certain of getting a space in the Tour. There are only places available for the 28th February start. And just as a reminder of how to enter, I have pasted the relevant information at the bottom of this update.

As you know, there is no entry fee, but you do have to pay at least $100 to a charity and offset your carbon footprint. Once you’ve done that, you’re confirmed (obviously there will be no refunds if you pull out later).

The Charity
You can choose your own charity, but it must be registered – all the bonafide charitable organisations are. Pay $100, or more, to that charity in lieu of an entry fee, and send me a copy of the receipt. Simple.

Please consider donating to The Friends of Waiuta charity so that the Waiuta Track, which is the toughest part of the Tour Aotearoa course, can be upgraded by clearing some big slips, building a boardwalk across an unrideable section, and, if there is enough money, build a narrow ‘flood bridge’ so that riders won’t be held up if Big River is in flood. This donation would make your ride more enjoyable, and could save a life!

Bank Account number: 02-0844-0114139-02
Account name: Friends of Waiuta Project Account

Carbon Offsetting
Carbon offsetting is just what needs to be done to pay for your travel pollution now rather than deferring the cost to future generations, which isn't fair. I believe most northern hemisphere riders will have their heads around this concept already. Some airlines already offer offsetting as a service, but I'd like you to use Ekos or  

The carbon offsetting for your travel emissions depends on how far you are travelling to get to the start of the event and back home again.

Dr Sean Weaver from Ekos has calculated the average emission for entrants from different parts of the world and set up a page especially for the Tour Aotearoa, so that you can offset very quickly:

Or you can do your own calculations at  http://calculators.enviro-mark.com/EmissionsCalc/tourismeditor.aspx and plug in all the travel (return) that you estimate you’ll need, then click on “OFFSET” at the bottom. The calculator will offer you a few choices on how you want to offset. I chose forest restoration. They will email you a receipt, which you should forward to me as proof you’ve paid.

Four Questions for You
Along with your two receipts to confirm entry, please also answer the following four questions.

  1. Where are you from?
  2. Do you own your own Spot Tracker or will you need to hire one?
  3. Do you have a strong preference for a start date, and what would your second choice be? 
  4. Have you attached your two receipts (donation and offsetting)? The only exception is that I don’t need a receipt for a Friends of Waiuta donation, as they will let me know who has donated.

The course
Millions of dollars are spent on cycling infrastructure every year in New Zealand, so the course will change as new trails are completed, and old ones upgraded. Any changes to the route will be:
·         posted on Facebook, and
·         included in a revised edition of the Official Tour Aotearoa Guide Books, and gpx files will be revised. 

I am happy to say there will be quite a number of improvements!
In the next update I will cover off the following:
  • Transport options to the start.
  • The exact start times from Cape Reinga.
  • Where to get Spot Trackers.
  • A realistic budget for food, accommodation and transport.
Until then, for more information go to:
And ask questions on the Tour Aotearoa facebook page!

Pedal on!
Jonathan Kennett

P.S. We have just updated the Tour Aotearoa Official Guidebooks, but but we will revise them again in October this year for the 2018 Tour. Up to 10 percent of the course will change.

Monday, December 5, 2016

NZTA: Advice for cyclists travelling south from Picton

Here's a recommendation from NZTA for non-TA riders in the area:

 Click to enlarge

The main route between Picton and Christchurch on State Highway 1 is closed due to substantial slips and road damage following the 14 November earthquake. The alternate state highway route between Picton and Christchurch is via state highways 7, 65, 6 and 63 via Murchison and Lewis Pass. However, we recommend that cyclists avoid this route and follow the advice below.

Due to the combination of increased traffic volumes (in particular large trucks) and a lack of shoulder space on the alternate state highway route via Murchison, Springs Junction and Lewis Pass, we recommend that cyclists avoid using this route as much as possible and consider taking public transport between Blenheim and Springs Junction if heading to the West Coast, or to Christchurch if heading to the East Coast. Alternatively, those who are determined to cycle should consider the following route, which avoids most of the busy highways:
• From Picton, follow Queen Charlotte Drive to Havelock, then State Highway 6 to Nelson. There is a 4WD option over Maungatapu Track for mountain bikes.
• From Nelson, follow the Great Taste Trail to Wakefield, then ride over Pigeon Valley Road, Dovedale Road and Sunday Creek Road to Stanley Brook. Head south to Tapawera and then follow Tadmor Valley Road to Glenhope, and State Highway 6 to Kawatiri Junction.
• From Kawatiri there is no alternative but to follow the ‘alternate state highway route’ for 6km to the Gowan Valley Road turn-off. Take care and consider riding either early in the morning or late in the evening. Ride down Gowan Valley Road to Lake Rotoroa, then over the Braeburn Track (a gravel road), Tutaki Road and Mangles Valley Road back out to State Highway 6. Ride with care for 4.5km to Murchison.
• From Murchison, we recommend following State Highway 6 to Inangahua, but riding this section either early or late in the day when traffic volumes are considerably lower. From Inangahua, take Brown Creek Road south, followed by State Highway 69 to Reefton.

PDF original: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/assets/traffic/docs/Safe-cycling-journeys-from-Picton-Christchurch-01-12-16.pdf

Note: the TA route has been temporarily altered to avoid the worst of the traffic issue. See
Updated GPS files (30 Nov 2016).

NOTE: The highway repairs will be complete this summer, at which time the main traffic flow will resume along State Highway 1, and this alternative route will no longer be needed.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Updated GPS files

We've updated the GPS files to include a recommended bypass between Murchison and Reefton to avoid the heavy traffic now on Highway 65 (which is now effectively Highway 1 to Christchurch since the Nov 2016 earthquake). This misses some nice cycling but also avoids horrendous heavy traffic on the narrow Highway 65. As at 1 Dec 2016 it has about 5 times more traffic and there's no road shoulder. Best to avoid it as much as possible.


Good luck!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Tour Aotearoa book is now available

Tour Aotearoa
New Zealand’s 3000 km bikepacking odyssey

Tour Aotearoa is an inspirational coffee table book that showcases the 3000-kilometre bikepacking journey from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Available 1 November 2016 – pre-order now!


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Tour Aotearoa Update Sept 2016

Hello TA riders,

The 2018 Tour Aotearoa is now full. We have 600 people, who will start on six days:

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: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1e2VTW2D5BcBY-zlNcgmESIR0uqX3-nhgbhYDD6E61m8/edit#gid=0

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: greg.andrebarrett@gmail.com

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: http://www.kennett.co.nz/maps/tour-aotearoa/tracks.html

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 www.touraotearoa.nz

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 info@kennett.co.nz

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 info@kennett.co.nz 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: shane@maprogress.com

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!