Biking New Zealand’s Wine Country
New Zealand is known for its Great Walks, but now it has Great Cycles – a series of 23 bicycle trails across the country with several local outfitters, like Nelson’s Gentle Cycle Company offering escorted rides along the trail.
The newest, Tasman’s Great Taste Trail, has opened the final section of its coastal route, a mostly flat and off-road stretch easy enough for families and amateur cyclists.
The trail is designed to highlight the region’s wine country and cafés as it meanders past golden-sand beaches and vineyards from Nelson to Kaiteriteri in the South Island. With the opening of the coastal section, 90km of a planned 175km loop is now complete, Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust chairwoman Gillian Wratt said.
The Gentle Cycling Company focuses on “savouring the journey” of a casual country ride – “think food, wine, craft beer and lots of time to enjoy it along the way,” Gentle Cycling owner Rose Griffin said.
Cyclists follow provided maps and go at their own pace and stop to sip and sample from the five craft breweries and three tasting rooms along the coastal trail, or pick up seasonal produce – including apples, pears, nashi, feijoas, grapes, citrus, melons and kiwifruit – from roadside farm stands, Griffin said.
Tasman’s Great Taste Trail (TGTT) is part of a continuing project to encourage cycling tourism in the region and link to the government’s larger $50 million vision for the country to be completely accessible by bike. So far, it’s been an overwhelming success, Wratt said.
“The counters that we have on completed sections of the TGTT have counted over 160,000 passes for the first nine months of 2014 – for a region with a population base of less than 100,000 people,” she said.
Original article by Ashley Winchester, The New York Times, November 29, 2014.
Image source: Must Do New Zealand