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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December 2017 update

Hi folks,

Well, the revised Tour Aotearoa route is out!

You can take a look on the website for the google map and gpx files: http://www.touraotearoa.nz/p/map_22.html

You can buy the guide books for $20 from here: http://www.kennett.co.nz/shop/

But if you are overseas, then the postage is cheaper to get them from here: https://www.groundeffect.co.nz/collections/books

You’ll have noticed by now that there is a new alternate route that goes around the Kaipara Harbour. It is optional! You don’t have to take it, and most of us won’t because it’s way longer, and really hilly. Going via Poutu Point and taking the boat across Kaipara Harbour is the best option. However, the boat won’t cross Kaipara Harbour during a storm, and you might not feel like waiting – in that case you can take the alternate route around the harbour. The decision is yours.   

The TA route is looking great right now because of all the dry weather we’ve been having lately. But that could change at any time, so BE PREPARED.

Also, the Maungatapu Track was recently closed due to high fire risk. It will open again after rain. But if it doesn’t rain and the track stays closed, then you will have to ride over the Whangamoas on State Highway 6. It’s not so bad early or late in the day, but during weekday work hours the highway has a lot of trucks on it. Don’t worry just yet – the track will almost certainly be open again by mid-February.

Trail Upgrades
The Waiuta Track upgrade is more or less complete, and has made a big difference the rideability. Thanks to everyone who donated to that cause.

Now we need to turn our attention to the Kaiwhakauka Track, which is a mess after rain. So I would ask that anyone entering the Tour in future consider donating to BikeTaupo - it’s a charitable organisation that does trail building and has agreed to us donations we raise to do a final check on the Kaiwhakauka Track (and the Arataki Track) before we ride through. So support them if you can (put TA on the bank details when you make a deposit).

Name: Bike Taupo Advocacy Group Inc
Account Number: 02-0428-0107984-000

Trail Clothes from Green Monkey Velo
Another way of supporting the trail grades is to type “BIKETAUPO” into the discount code if you are buying Tour Aotearoa clothing from Green Monkey Velo. They will then donate 10% of the price to BikeTaupo for TA trail work.

New at Pipiriki Village
Whanganui River Adventures at Pipiriki are opening a Takeaways during the TA ride. River burgers & Chips & pies. That’s about the only food you can get for a looong way.

They also have 2 cabins with linen now. One dbl and the other cabin has 2 sgls. Both at $70.00 per nite. They still have a 6 bunk room at $25pp (byo sleeping bgs). And the Cottage at $125 + $30 per xtra person(Sleeps 5 – 6 in 1 dbl & 4 sgls).
Their contact details are in the guide books, or google them.

Tips for Overseas Riders
1. If you are flying into Auckland you can get the Tour Aotearoa Guides, and any last minute gear, from Mount Eden Cycles (https://mec.co.nz/ ). They are into bikepacking and know the TA ride well.
2. You can’t just free camp wherever you want in New Zealand, but there are lots of official campgrounds and camping sites to choose from, and most of them are very reasonably priced.
3. In NZ we mostly drink the tap water. But water from streams should be treated (filtered, boiled or chemically treated).
4. New Zealand is very hilly, so travel as light as possible.
5. Expect storms any time of year. You may experience extreme winds, flooding, and possibly even snow in Southland. In northland it will probably be really hot! But mostly the weather will be calm and mild.
6. If you see a bird during the day that looks like a Kiwi with a short beak, it’s actually a Weka – it will try to steal anything smaller than its own body size.

Wild Gridlock in Hokitika
The Wild Food Festival will be held in Hokitika on the West Coast on the 10th March. The whole town will be booked out and grid locked on the 9-11th March.

For some riders, the traffic levels on the West Coast will be too high over the summer holidays. You can avoid a lot of the traffic by riding the highway sections early in the morning, or late in the day, and riding the off-road West Coast Wilderness Trail during the middle of the day. Also consider wearing bright colours, or using a flashing rear light. By March the traffic volumes are a lot lower – expect for during the Wild Food Festival.

Transport from Auckland to Cape Reinga
Remember to contact Taunaha at Blahblah Marketing if you need transport from Auckland to Cape Reinga. They may have a seat available for you.
Taunaha Smith
Blah Blah Marketing & Events

If you have no luck there, then follow up on the options in the TA Guide books, or ask for advice on the TA Facebook page.

And one last point that Paul has asked me to remind you of – this is a self-supported ride. I’m sure you all realise that by now. If not, I hope you’re sitting down, because that must have come as a helluva shock!

Pedal on!
Jonathan Kennett

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 BikeTaupo - it’s a charitable organisation that does trail building and has agreed to use donations to do a final check on the Kaiwhakauka Track (and the Arataki Track) before we ride through. So support them if you can (put TA on the bank details when you make a deposit).

Name: Bike Taupo Advocacy Group Inc
Account Number: 02-0428-0107984-000

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.