Cycling is an ideal way to see large swatches. So ideal, in fact, that we've devoted an entire article to how to rent bikes, what the best tours are, and other items you need to know before you hit the road. To read that, simply click here. Below are the trails we think are the most rewarding:

Alps to Ocean
(310km, 6 days): A sweeping landscape is viewed from behind the handlebars along this trail, which runs from the Tasman Valley in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park to Oamaru’s Victorian Harbor Precinct. The mountains nudging Aoraki/Mount Cook are gigantic and jagged. The lakes are huge and about 50 shades of blue, and the trail rides on and on past rivers and plains and villages, cliffs of clay, hydro dams and ancient drawings in limestone caves. Accommodation includes former schoolhouses, country cottages, restored railway sheds, and farm lodges.

Otago Central Rail Trail (150km, 1–5 days): This visually striking ride follows an old train track bed through the glorious Central Otago countryside. It’s like being in a landscape painting, though rail bridges and a tunnel or two add a touch of drama. At the end of each day you’re rewarded with a restaurant or pub and a charming place to lay down your head (and bicycle).

Lake Dunstan Trail (55km, 1 day): One of New Zealand’s newest trails is also one of its best, running from historic Clyde to just-as-historic Cromwell. It too, is technically in Central Otago, but offers up a dramatically different landscape than the Otago Central Rail trail, as it skirts around the edges of the overwhelmingly blue Lake Dunstan.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.