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Route overview

The Tour Aotearoa route uses the best cycling infrastructure that exists in New Zealand. There are two ways to follow the route: download the GPS files and/or buy the official guides (available in paper and PDF editions). We recommend you use both, as they serve different needs and provide backup to each other.

The Tour Aotearoa route has evolved over the years to incorporate new sections of trail and bypass closed sections. The guidebook is also revised to update the ever-changing range of services available along the route. Please do not rely on out-of-date editions of the guidebook or route files!

Tour Aotearoa paper guidebooks were published in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 and late-2023. The PDF version is updated whenever a change is needed.
Incremental updates are published between paper editions, on the official guides page.

Visit this Google web map [updated 21 Feb 2024]

When to start from Cape Reinga

You need to plan your start day and time when the tide on Ninety Mile Beach is low. This allows you to ride on the firm sand near the waters edge. (During high tide riders are be forced into the higher soft sand and don't enjoy the slog. It results in a demoralising first day - avoid at all costs!)

The best source for predicting the tide in advance is: https://tides.niwa.co.nz/?latitude=-34.538&longitude=172.741

You want to pick a day where low tide is about 3 hours after you start riding from Cape Reinga.

So if you plan to start at 9 am then you'll want to find a day where low tide is around 12 noon plus or minus 1 hour.

For example: The first wave of the 2024 TA Brevet is on 18 Feb starting at 7:00 am. Low tide is at 10:41 am that day. It takes between 30 and 60 minutes to ride from Cape Reinga carpark to the start of Ninety Mile Beach. That gives riders roughly 3 hours to get halfway down Ninety Mile Beach, and 6 hours to complete the beach ride before half-tide. If there's a headwind it can take longer.

The best time of year to ride the TA is: summer (warmer, longer days), after the main holiday season (easier to get accommodation). Mid to late February is optimal. Early March works. By April the days are getting shorter and colder. Early mid-December can also work if you're doing just one Island.

Avoid 23 December to 3 January - everything is booked out and over-crowded. 

In winter the days are short and cold and accommodation in remote places will be closed. On the other hand... you'll get some impressive "Look how much I suffered!" photos.