Category Archives: Top tips

Tips to get you on your bike and exploring NZ

One of the things I have loved about blogging about our adventures is sharing cycling tales with people all around New Zealand and the world. Not only does it inspire me to explore different places but through reading about other peoples adventures I have learned a few things along the way.

One of the mad keen cyclists I have meet it Cycle Coach – Janet Stark and together we have teamed up  to ask some of the cyclists we follow for their favourite tips to get you on your bike and exploring all of the awesome cycling New Zealand has to offer.

Cycle coach

Cycle Coach Janet Stark 


Lots of my clients worry that they are not good enough to come on a group ride or are embarrassed by their cycling skills when they attend a coaching session.  It doesn’t matter how good or bad you are.  What counts is your starting point and how you can improve from there.  If you don’t get on your bike and try something new you are never going to find out if you can do it or not –  Just get on your bike and ride and seek help if need be.  Never be embarrassed from trying – be proud of your achievement instead.

Paihia MTB bikesJonny Martin from Paihia Mountain Bike Rentals and Shuttles



Make sure you always carry at least a couple of tools, a chain breaker and a pump – even just a basic multi-tool (and know how to use it).  Sounds like a broken record but you might carry it around for 1 year and never use it, but the day you need it- you will be glad you did. Oh, and always have fun!

nduro events

Belinda from Nduro Events Rotorua



When going downhill, remember heels down and elbows bent, look aggressive but safely get down the decent. Heels down should prevent you from tipping over the handle bars.

Ben from 3xploren3xplorenzz



Vision: one of the biggest things about driving any form of vehicle is vision and this does not differ to cycling. Look ahead, let your peripheral vision fill in the blanks and ride to your line. Force yourself to never look at your handlebars and look ahead.

Ride under lights: One of the biggest improvements you can make to your riding reiterating the above is to ride off-road under lights at night. This will hone your trail skills, lines, and amazingly your balance. Your mind then, naturally, has less information to distract you.

Be flexible: Strangely this can be taken both physically and metaphorically. Stretching and doing core strength exercises will help you massively on any ride and allow you to control the bike more freely and relaxed. Metaphorically be flexible with where, how and what you ride, change is good!

cranksistasJulia Founder of Cranksistas & Ambassador for FourForty MTB Park & LIV Giant



Always make sure someone knows where you’re going and make sure your cellphone is fully charged before you go. You never when you might need to call someone, or you’re out a bit later than you planned and you need the torch on your phone


Cycling in New Zealand


Cycling in New Zealand is an amazing way to see the country. It’s slower than by car, but faster than walking! It gets you to beautiful remote places with stunning nature and wildlife. But always check out the grade of the trails. For example on the website of NZ Cycle Trail. Or on the trail websites. The grades go from very easy to expert. Beware! Sometimes a trail consists of different grades.

For example the Motu Trails. You start with an easy, flat 10 km ride on the Dunes Trail (Grade 2), the next 67 km on the Motu Road Trail is Grade 3 (intermediate), and the last part on the Pakihi Track is only for advanced mountain bikers. So read the description of the trails carefully, and make sure everybody in your group is capable to ride the particular trail. It makes it so much more fun!

Tip: you don’t have to cycle the whole trail. Pick the part which matches your skills and arrange a pick up by one of the many tour operators on the New Zealand Cycle Trails.

Happy riding!

Riding flowNadia from Riding Flow Rotorua


Bring out your inner child and play on your bike.  Try rolling over curbs, roots and logs and getting either or both wheels off the ground (on purpose!).  Zooming down trails with manic grins is a status to be proud of no matter what age!


Team benter
Bennett and Slater – Travel writers and NZ Cycle Trail Instagrammers
The popularity of mountain biking and off-road cycling in New Zealand has exploded in recent years. The result of this is that, not only are there cycle trials and paths all over the country, there is an increasing amount of bike hire and bike tours in the right places too.
The best way to tap into these rides – be they urban explorations or cross-country trails taking in attractions like wineries and country cafes – is to head to the nearest i-SITE visitor centre. Most towns and cities now have decent cycling/walking maps and i-SITE staff can give you advice on the right ride for you, and tell you where to hire a bike.
The Nga Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail is a great way to explore particularly scenic parts of New Zealand, with 22 official rides, ranging from super-easy, half-day rides to advanced, multi-day bike-packing adventures. The official website NZ Cycle trails gives you info on what to expect, while individual trail websites provide more details.
Anyone wishing to really dig down into New Zealand mountain biking should pick up a copy of the Kennett Brothers’ Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides – an indispensable guide.
Other great resources include the Tourism New Zealand website and Single Tracks.

Brett Thom – ebike commuter Auckland

Commuting with an electric bike – it’s a cross between cycling and motorcycling except unlike a motorbike you’re silent, which means you are more vulnerable to not being seen. You can be on top of someone faster on an electric bike which, if it’s like mine, can do 40kph without too much effort, means you have to factor this in when riding.

Space, distance from anything that moves is much more important at 40kph compared to 25-30kph. Lane splitting is often safer on a fast-electric bike than, safer than using the bike lane when the traffic is stationary or near too it, it removes or greatly lessens the likelihood of having a car pull into or out of a driveway which happens all the time.




All the packing tips you will ever need

Do your attempts at packing look like this? Is the thought of packing enough to put you off going away? Determined not to let the thought of packing get in the away of our family going away ( a lot! ) I have put together the ultimate list of packing tips.

Buy some plastic crates to pack food – Ok so I was very slow on the uptake here. Some of my friends have been using them for years and when we got some I could see why. No more squashed food on arrival, husband likes the way they fit in the car, if the place you are staying doesn’t have enough cupboard space the crates can be stacked in the kitchen. Get different coloured ones so you can pack different things in different ones ( if we are making lunch out and about on a travel day I put the things I want into a specific colour so we can find it easily ). If you don’t want to buy crates, you could always get some empty boxes from the supermarket.

Chilly bin – buy the best quality chilly bin that you can. We spent years using the old-style chilly bin and they do an OK job but recently we invested in a ‘fishermans chilly bin’ and we reckon we have made the money back on what it cost us, with savings in food going off. The ice lasts so much longer and also less ice-melt means everything in the bottom doesn’t get soggy.

Buy sleeping bags for the kids – again I was very slow on the uptake here. Hate to think of the time we have spent making beds when we have gone away and it was only when we were going away in our camper for 3 weeks and faced making up beds every few days that I thought to get sleeping bags. Added bonus…kids don’t get cold with blankets falling off. Unless you are planning to go camping in winter they don’t have to be expensive ones.

Packing list – so this might be an obvious one but I have a list, especially useful when the kids were young and there was a lot more to remember and I had a lot less ability to think. I have a different list depending on where we are going; camping, bach, mountain biking etc.

Leave toilet bag packed – OK so I have quite a lot of sh*t in my toilet bag but there is nothing worse than being away and not having the medication you need or forgetting your sunscreen. I have almost everything I need in my toilet bag and just use things out of there when I am at home or buy two lots of things ( e.g. eye drops, deodorant ) and leave one lot packed.

Leave medication packed ( pamol, kids cough mixture, vicks, sunscreen, insect repellent etc ) – my kids don’t get sick very much but there is nothing worse than being away and having an unwell child and no access to a pharmacy.

Leave some kids activities packed – depending on where you are going the kids might not have the same things to play with at home (i.e. no internet connection ) so we leave activity books, cards, small games, white boards and markers packed in a bag ready to go. Its in the lounge if they want to play with things at home too.

Get the kids to pack for themselves – give them a list if necessary. Just tell them to pack for number of days away. Then they do most of it and you can add a few bits and pieces.

Grocery shopping – I like to do the grocery shopping the night before we go ( or maybe two nights before we go ).  Then I just pack it into crates in the garage and it’s good to go. Saves double handling unpacking half the food into the house.

Food – Have a ‘set menu’ that you cook every time you go away. e.g. If we are going to Rotorua mountain biking ( we go about once a month ) we have homemade hamburgers on the first night, shared dinner with our friends the second night etc.

Buy a single story house – we go downstairs to our garage and it sure does keep us fit when packing the car.

Pack in stages – just like with the groceries I start getting things out the day before and then as I go down the stairs during the day take a load of stuff with me.

If you have a small car consider buying a roof box – my husband loves trademe and got a good deal for a roof box and the roof racks you need to fit it. A great gain in space and makes the car more comfortable if its not crammed.

Find a husband that can fit a lot of stuff in to the car – OK so this might not be possible but I am so lucky that my husband is so good at packing the car. In fact its an art form! Lucky he is so good coz you know that saying about everything but the kitchen sink, well they were talking about me!

Time saving tip #1

Let’s talk socks, yes socks, not adventuring, not baking…socks, because while I would rather be adventuring or baking or doing anything else other than domestic duties sometimes you just have to sort socks!

My husband and I exercise quite a lot and that involves socks, and don’t even get me started on the number of socks the kids seem to have in the wash.  I won’t even consider buying kids school socks unless they have the size printed on the bottom to make matching pairs quicker.

And if I ended up in the garage putting my running shoes on with my husband’s running socks one more time I think I was going to scream, wait… I think I did scream. My solution to that problem was to sew coloured thread on the toe of the sock. OK I’ll be honest I got my Mum to sew the thread on, but even if you have to do it yourself I think it would be worth getting out the needle and thread.

Of course if you can’t bring yourself to break out the sewing kit, coloured sports socks could change your world. How did I not know these existed…it makes perfect sense…of course all sports socks don’t have to be white and now mine are pink. It’s so easy to match up the socks, and I never end up with the wrong socks as I am rushing out of the house for a walk.

And one final note on socks and all things laundry related…don’t forget the smallest resource in your family – your kids! Yes they might moan and complain but sorting socks is a great job for kids.

Now back to adventuring and baking!

How we like to camp

Our family loves camping and has many happy memories spent in campgrounds all around New Zealand. We recently started looking at upgrading our camper trailer and it got me to thinking that the camper trailer ( if you aren’t familiar with the term it’s the featured image for this post ) is probably the easiest and possibly cheapest ways to get into camping.

My husband and I both spent out childhoods camping with our families. My husband spent the summers in a borrowed canvas tent ( borrowed from the local scouts where my father-in-law was Scout leader ) with no floor and wasn’t very waterproof.  I on the other hand spent the winters ( yes the winters, we kayaked and there was more water in the river in winter ) in a camper trailer or VW combi van with the kids ( and one of those kids was me ) in a tent. My husband and I both camped in Department of Conservation campgrounds as children, where the biggest luxury is a long drop toilet.

Unfortunately I didn’t initially embrace camping as an adult as I thought I had an allergy to the grass and camping was quite annoying as my feet would end up lumpy and painful. Turns out that my feet are very sensitive to the sun and my feet issues were resolved with some spray on sunscreen so thankfully we could happily buy our first tent and embrace camping as adults.

We had many happy years in our tiny dome tent that we couldn’t stand up in, and packing everything in to the car at night as there was no room in the tent to store it. After a fabulous road trip around the Taranaki region, we decided to upgrade to a tent that we could stand up in with a vestibule. I am not really sure what a vestibule is but I do love the sound of the word. Of course with our bigger tent we had more space for things so bought a wee table and camping pantry.

No sooner had we taken the tent for its maiden journey than we discovered we were having our first child …hmm might need to add a room onto that tent. When we were a family of three we enjoyed many camping weekends away. And at this point I might lose my adventure mumma street cred when I say that two kids made me less so inclined to pack up the tent and head away camping. Not to mention we would have needed camping bunks to fit into our tent.

And so I have to hand it to my awesome bunch of friends who got us back into camping when our kids were a little older.

And time for another tent ( yes that’s our third tent )….a 3 room one this time. Very luxurious. And with all that space we bought another table and a comfier airbed.

And yes at this point we had such a big tent and so much stuff to put in the tent ( I might camp but I don’t like to lower my standards ) that we had to hire a trailer to get everything in. Packing was quite an undertaking and we found we weren’t going away camping as much we would have liked.

Enter the camper trailer…beds, bedding, table, seating, cooker, plates, gin glasses  ( enough for the whole campground if you are like me ) all packed up and ready to go. We love our camper, its so much easier to pack ( all we need to pack is clothes and food ), easy to set up, robust canvas that has never leaked in the rain, doesn’t get blown around in the wind and the canvas is so dark that the kids even sleep in when we are camping.

We recently spent 3 weeks travelling around the South Island in our camper trailer and thoroughly enjoyed it.

When I look at all the camping gear we have bought over the years I think the best place to start would have been a camper trailer.

Top tip:

If you want ease of packing and setting up look into getting a camper trailer. You can spend $30,000 on a new flash one but we got ours second hand for $2,500 which we estimate would have been about the same amount as the camping equipment we have bought over the years. The time saving on packing is priceless and because its easier to pack we go camping a lot more and even go away for one night, which we wouldn’t have done with the tent.