New Zealand Great Rides vs Samoa rides
We spent a wonderful 6 weeks over summer 2019 riding many of New Zealand’s bike trails. We rode them mostly because we enjoy cycling, but also to see how our Samoa trails compared. We love both Samoa and New Zealand as cycling destinations but came to realise they have some significant differences. These included:
Many of the NZ trails have spectacular scenery, mountains, Otago landscapes, native bush, historic bridges etc. Samoa has great seascapes and a wide variety of village and rural scenes. We often stopped in New Zealand to photgraph landscapes and mountainscapes. In Samoa it's usually seascapes and village scenes in the camera lens.
The overnight stops in NZ are often in small towns or historic villages. In Samoa, virtually every night is on a lovely beach beside the lagoon with good swimming and snorkelling. The Beach Fale resort is usually in a village and run by the village. So there is far more to do each day and far more reason to stop for an extra day. The cultural components offered by staying within the village also offer another dimension.
There was no standard trail condition in NZ, we rode great winding single track, quiet back roads, main highways, gravel paths, canal paths and rutted gravel roads. In Samoa nearly all the trails are on quiet, sealed roads. While these roads go around the perimeter of the islands they often undulate include steep sections and each island has about 1,000m of climb. We are building some single track, but this is not yet part of a regular multi-day trip.
Most trails in NZ are 2-4 days. Our Samoa trips are 8-10 days. This is only partly because they are longer, its mostly because there is more to do besides ride.
In NZ there was a wide variety of accommodation, much of it hotel/motel standard with ensuite options (and prices to match). In Samoa the bulk of the accommodation is in Beach Fales, which can be thought of as open sided shelters with mattresses, mosquito nets and meals included. So the per night accommodation and meal cost is much lower in Samoa and often in stunning locations, but the higher end options are currently missing (we are working on it).
We had some hot days riding in Otago and Canterbury and some wet days on the west coast. Samoa is no hotter than a norwester in Otago, but it is more humid and can feel hotter. In the cycling season - April to November we get showers to match the west coast, but they seldom last and its always warm enough to swim.
Bikes and Bike Hire
We came across people riding all sorts of bikes from heavily laden road/touring bikes to full suspension mountain bikes. The hire bikes were mostly hard tail mountain bikes of a similar specification and quality to ours. We keep our bikes a bit longer as there is no second-hand market for quality bikes. eBike fleets were moving to Shimano mid mount motors on mountain bike frames and we have purchased the same for Samoa in 2019.
Our Samoa packages are generally twice the length and inclusive of far more (meals, bike hire, transfers, support) than the New Zealand offerings. They also stay in more basic accommodation but cost about half as much on a per diem basis