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Which Cycling Option is Best for You?

Cycling has grown into a variety of disciplines, each providing a distinct way to see the world at present on two wheels. Two popular approaches are cycle touring and bike packing.

Despite their commonalities, their distinctions cater to various sorts of riders and adventures. Here, we'll look at what distinguishes them and which is best suited to New Zealand's well-known Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, to help you prepare or your autumn adventures.

What is Cycle Touring?

Cycle touring is the most traditional method of long-distance riding. It entails moving from one location to another, usually along well-established pathways. Key features include:

  • Bike Type: Touring bikes are meant to be comfortable and stable over long distances. They frequently have relaxed geometry, strong structures, and mounting points for carriers and panniers.
  • Gear: Cyclists utilize panniers, which are huge bags connected to racks on both the front and back of their bikes. These are capable of transporting large amounts of goods, such as camping equipment, clothing, and food.
  • Route: Cycle touring often stays on designated bike routes. The towns and cities that are traversed by well-mapped routes frequently have lodging, dining options, and bike stores.
  • Comfort and Convenience: Because touring bikes are designed with comfort in mind, riders may travel great distances with ease. The convenience of cycling is increased by the presence of facilities along the route.

What is Bike packing?

Bike packing is a more current and daring approach to long-distance riding that frequently includes off-road paths and harsh terrain. Key features include:

  • Bike Type: Bike packing bikes are commonly mountain bikes, gravel cycles, or specially specialized bike packing bikes. They are designed to withstand rugged terrain and difficult trails.
  • Gear: Bike packers employ seat packs, handlebar rolls, and frame bags in place of panniers. This maintains the balance and centre of gravity, which is essential for off-road riding.
  • Route: Many bike packing routes combine single-track, dirt roads, and trails. They provide a more isolated and natural experience than touring routes because they could be less well-travelled.
  • Adventure and Challenge: Bike packing is recommended for people who enjoy independence and are looking for adventure. It frequently entails traveling across more difficult terrain and camping in isolated locations.

Which is Best for the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail?

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, which stretches over 300 kilometres from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean, provides a variety of activities that will appeal to both cycle tourists and bike packers. Below are some considerations for each:

Cycle Touring on the Alps 2 Ocean Trail
  • Suitability: The trail is ideal for cycle riding because it primarily follows well-maintained trails. The path goes through towns and scenic areas, providing plenty of options for rest and replenishment.
  • Comfort: Because of its comfortable layout, touring bikes are perfect for the trail's varied terrain, which includes both paved and gravel routes.
  • Amenities: The trail is excellent for riders who want a little luxury at the end of the day because it offers a wide variety of lodging alternatives, from hotels to campgrounds.
Bike packing on the Alps 2 Ocean Trail
  • Suitability: Bike packing can provide an additional level of excitement for anyone seeking a more adventurous experience. There are gravel and off-road paths on the trail that are ideal for bike packing arrangements.
  • Flexibility: Because bike packing gear is lighter and more portable, navigating the trail's different terrain is made easier. It also gives you more freedom to explore isolated locations and side trails.
  • Adventure: Bike packing is ideal if you'd rather be independent. The trail's isolated stretches and breath-taking scenery make for an amazing setting for an exciting adventure.


Depending on your choices and degree of skill, there are two distinct ways to experience the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail: bike packing and cycle touring. Cycle touring could be your best option if you're looking for ease, convenience, and a well-supported journey. If you're excited about rough terrain, adventure, and self-sufficiency, bike packing might be for you.

Whichever route you decide on, the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail promises to take you through some of the most breath-taking scenery in all of New Zealand. So prepare for an amazing cycling journey by packing your stuff, buckling up, and riding off!