So you’ve booked your tickets to go mountain biking in New Zealand. You’ve bragged to your friends. You’ve bought a sick new jersey. You finally got your fork serviced. Now it’s time to pack. Uh, where to start?
No worries, we’re here to help, we’ve packed for this trip a million times.
The most important thing to know is the weight limit you’re allowed to bring on the plane. Air New Zealand allows 23kg. (50lb.) for checked baggage. Air NZ is also amazing because they won’t charge you for your oversized bike box or bag. Many other airlines do charge, so keep this in mind when you book your flights, as well as when you pack your bags. Of course, things do change, so we recommend checking with your airline first to get the latest info 🙂
Before you start
One note before we start packing. Your trip of a lifetime is not the time to eke the last mile out of your chain or the last descent out of your brake pads. You’re spending your hard earned holiday pay on riding some of the world’s best MTB trails, and destinations such as Rotorua, Wanaka and Queenstown. Get your bike serviced. Sort out the lingering issues with your ride… you don’t want to spend the first two days of your epic trip frustrated with repairs. You won’t regret it.
The bike and accessories
Let’s start with the obvious. Your bike must go, unless you are renting, in which case we can help. Whether you use a bike box or a bicycle specific travel bag, ensure that your rig is well padded. The guys lifting heavy luggage at the airport really aren’t that concerned about the condition of your shock. Your local bike shop may be able to gift you some packing material from new bike boxes. Otherwise use the packing material of your choice- just ensure you protect those stanchion tubes, your shock, and your frame.
New Zealand trails have lots of great rooty and rocky features, so thought should be given to tire choice. Consider the potential for wet conditions as New Zealand has unpredictable weather. Wider tires with chunky knobs, and potentially those with a thicker side wall are great, especially for those that like to ride hard. Examples of good New Zealand tires are a WTB Vigilante or a Maxxis Minion DHF. Tubeless is an ideal set up for New Zealand’s rough trail conditions, but bring a couple of spare tubes as well.
Every mountain biker should bring a set of his or her own tools for quick trailside fixes, especially when they have specific patterns. A patch kit/tubeless plugs and pump are a must-have. We also recommend allen keys, spare chain link, chain lube, and a shock pump if you’re likely to play with your suspension. Tracking your trails? Don’t forget your GPS.
When exploring vast mountains, nutrition and hydration are key. Pack your empty hydration pack, or at least 2 refillable water bottles. We strongly recommend wearing a pack to carry spares parts, food, and clothing. If you like compact nutrition such as gels and protein bars, you can pack your favorites or buy them here. It’s up to you.
Along the tour there will be plenty of opportunity to stop and re-stock spare parts – we partner with Torpedo7 who have great stores in Auckland, Taupo, Nelson, Wanaka and Queenstown. As well as that, be rest assured your guides toolbox is always fully stocked.
– Your bike correctly serviced
– Appropriate tires (wide, chunky knobs and potentially with a ticker side wall)
– Bring a couple spare tubes (even if you run tubeless, just in case)
– Your own tools (especially when they have specific patterns)
– A few spare parts such as chain link, brake pad, brake lever, derailleur hanger or any other bit that could be hard to find here (some brands won’t be stored in all New Zealand’s local bike shops).
Clothing – yep you need clothes 🙂
Remember when we mentioned New Zealand’s unpredictable weather? This is important to keep in mind when packing clothing. With laundry services available most days (but not every day), a maximum of three riding tops should be plenty. Jerseys that wick away sweat/rain will leave you feeling far fresher than cotton shirts. Layers are key, so at least one long sleeved jersey is essential.
A windproof and/or waterproof jacket may come in handy if you have a lightweight one that’s easy to stash away in your pack. We won’t get mixed up in the chamois or not-to-chamois debate, but bring at least enough to last between laundry days – 3 should do it, and don’t forget the shorts to go on top. Three pairs of socks (we like wool) will keep your feet warm, but we can’t promise they’ll stay clean.
Now for the clothing accessories- easily forgotten, definitely important. If you ride in gloves, pack a few pairs. You’ll appreciate a fresh set if you’ve sweated through your first pair:) Definitely bring your sunglasses, and if you like to descend in goggles- don’t forget them now. There’s plenty of ripping descents you won’t want your eyes to water up for. Chuck your mountain bike shoes in, and you’ve got your accessories sorted . . .
Except, don’t forget your protective equipment. Helmets are compulsory. Please ensure to bring a well-fitting, comfortable helmet. You’ll be spending a lot of time in it. We also strongly encourage the use of knee pads. Not only do they give you more confidence, but if you end up using them, they could ensure you end your ride with a beer instead of in the A&E (emergency room). If you’re a rider that uses elbow pads or body armor, bring it along. You’ll be glad you have them at the bike parks.
We won’t tell you how to pack your leisure clothes, but we will say that no one appreciates that guy who stands around in his spandex all night. Throw in comfortable clothes to wear for post-ride burgers and beers. Bring your swimwear too (here we call ‘em “togs”), as there’s hot pools and swimming holes along the way.
Useful Safety Tips
If you carry a first aid kit and know how to use it, bring it. We can never be too safe.
Nearly every turn in the trail reveals a beautiful scene or epic vista- bring a camera.
The sun is strong in New Zealand, its true. Bring sunscreen or buy it here, but don’t forget to apply before ripping up the trails all day
All packed? Great. Write your name, phone number, and address large and legibly on your bike box or bag tag. You don’t want the goods to get lost.
Also, travel insurance. It’s not fun to think about, but insurance really is a holiday-saver if something does happen to your gear. Get it so that your trip of a lifetime is worry free.
That’s it. The trails are waiting for you, we’ll see you soon!
PS: Checkout our tips to master NZ’s downhills (if you’re that way inclined)