Touring in the North Island
The principal beauty spots in the North Island tend to focus around Northland (north of Auckland), Coromandel to the east, and East Cape. This is not to ignore pockets of real scenic beauty in Hawkes Bay, the Bay of Plenty, New Plymouth and around the thermal areas of the central North Island. In this guide I will try to address all of them.
A Few Cautionary Words...
- The North Island is more populated than the south, so expect a higher density of traffic.
- Be aware of careless heavy traffic vehicles, in particular logging trucks and tour buses.
- Keep well left and practice defensive cycling.
- Never ride two abreast.
- Do not leave valuables in your tent.
- Do not leave your tent loosely secured on your racks.
- There is often a long distance (over 80 km) between towns, stores and services.
- Northland hills tend to be short and steep. So you barely get your breath and the correct cog on the way down before you are climbing again. The south island has more mountains, but the incline is gentler.
It is difficult and unwise to cycle out of Auckland. There are few bike paths and those that exist are difficult to access without detailed local knowledge. There is also a large amount of heavy traffic that is not known for being bike-conscious or friendly. The best way out overall is to catch a train. This is the cheapest option, but be aware that local passengers trains in Auckland do not have baggage cars and you will be leaning your bike in the aisle. Taking this into account, ensure you catch a train outside of rush hours. The main departure station in Auckland is at Britomart at the bottom of the city, but there are branch lines to the west you can access at several points including Newmarket, Mt Eden, and Mt Albert.