Tour Aotearoa is one of the world’s great bikepacking trips: stretching 3,000 km from Cape Reinga to Bluff it follows a combination of cycle trails, tracks, paths and lanes connected by the most enjoyable country roads available.

- Tour Aotearoa, 2020.

Tour Aotearoa (Māori name for New Zealand) was created by Jonathan Kennett. Jonathan has written several guidebooks on cycle touring in New Zealand and this long-distance creation links up what he believes to be the best sections of New Zealand Cycle Trail including the Hauraki Rail Trail, The Three Rivers trail, Pioneer Heritage and Queenstown Trails amongst many other sections of Heartland Trail and back roads.

The 3000km route starts in Cape Reinga and finishes in Bluff on the southerly tip of South Island, Te Waipounamu. Like the Great Divide Trail it is an adventure ride that can be ridden by anyone at anytime. However, for those who wish to tackle this bucket-list bikepacking adventure there is the Tour Aotearoa Brevet. Completing the route during the brevet means there are photo checkpoints (30 of them) and a timeframe is introduced (10-30 days).

Participants are alloted 'waves' of 100 people setting off at low tide intervals over 12 days. spread from 17 February to 8 March. The begin their adventure on the epic Ninety Mile beach which has its own hazards; a serious mechanical could cost the rider a 4-day walk to the next settlement.

Jonathan Kennett's route covers all surfaces as shown in the chart below. And as it's not a race we expect that most participants tune their set-ups towards comfort, durability, all-terrain capability and luggage capacity. There are a few MASONs being used in this ride, all are our InSearchOf model.

And the net effect of this adventure cycling trip? Truly positive. Participation is free but riders are asked to make a 100NZ dollar donation to charity of their choice and they can choose to fundraise more money too. Furthermore, entrants are required to offset their carbon emissions both to and from the event. Tour Aotearoa even help participants to do this in conjuntion with Dr. Sean Weaver of Ekos.

Tour Aotearoa Brevet is run solely by volunteers the event is organised once every two years.

Of course, the ride is fully trackable here:

There are a few MASON riders in this adventure.

Rob Packham, our good friend from the South Coast also known as 'the dean of distance riding'. We've featured Rob's adventures many times before but this looks to be his longest to date. He's got some family in NZ and he'll be riding his InSearchOf GRXTDi2. He sets off on 3rd March.

Chris Park, who we first me when picked up his InSearchOf GRXTDi2 from us last year. We've been following his story whilst he's been training for T.A and we'll be watching his progress on the tracking and via his blog. He sets off on 7th March.

Duncan Hewer, who lives in New Zealand and will be riding on his InSearchOf GRX. He's riding as a pair and is already en route.

Andrew Gardiner, who isn't riding the Brevet event but has been riding the route and taking in some additional scenery over a 10 weeks adventure. Here's some pics he sent back to us recently. He's riding his InSearchOf Force1X.

So, that's pretty much our introduction to the bikepacking adventure that we're going to be dot-watching over the next month. Daydreaming of sunny days and dusty trails that all the T.A participants will be revelling in.

Good luck and a safe ride to everyone involed in Tour Aotearoa, from all at MASON Cycles.

Andrew Gardiner riding the Tour Aotearoa trail, 2020.