Trans-Atlantic rowing legends Rob Hamill of New Zealand and America’s Katie Spotz have swapped boats for bikes to ride in this year’s Tour of New Zealand.
The Tour began last Saturday (11.4.15) with start points at each end of New Zealand’s North and South Islands and heading to Wellington for a head-to-head criterium in the grounds of Parliament to decide the winners for each category.
South Island route
Spotz has tackled the South Island route starting in Invercargill and taking competitors on an eight-day, 700km (430 mile) journey through a variety of landscapes.
The youngest person ever to row across the Atlantic, Spotz peddled through Queenstown taking in a series of incredible lakes at the feet of the Southern Alps before continuing north through Tekapo, Geraldine, Hanmer Springs, Kaikoura and Blenheim heading for Picton, at the tip of the South Island.
Highlights of the ride have included climbing the Crown range – New Zealand’s highest main road – and Lindis Pass, cruising alongside Lake Tekapo, an overnighter in the ski resort of Methven, with evening trips to wineries and sampling some of the best cuisine New Zealand has to offer along the way.
Finally the South Island route will cross the Cook Strait to the North Island where riders will join the North Island group in an epic finale at the steps of Parliament.
North Island route
Just 2000kms to the north, Hamill took on the North Island version of the race which is not without its own incredible scenery.
Fittingly, riders started their trip at northernmost point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga.
With views of the famous 90 Mile Beach, day one took competitors from the coast to the giant kauri-lined forests of the north.
As the race continued south, riders have passed through picturesque farmland as well as having the opportunity to explore North Island gems such as the glow worms of Waitomo Caves.
The North Island’s Central Plateau marked the halfway point of the race, as the cyclists passed the foot of New Zealand’s most famous volcanoes - Mounts Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe which famously helped inspire Mt Doom in the Middle-earth films.
On the final days, the riders will travel through Whanganui, Palmerston North and Masterton on their way to Wellington.
The Tour of New Zealand is a unique way for keen cyclists to see Aotearoa New Zealand on two wheels.
With most of the riding over by midday each day, the event leaves afternoons free to enjoy New Zealand's beautiful autumn scenery.
Showcasing some of the country’s best surroundings, food, wine and people this has become a must-do experience for cycling enthusiasts.