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Bicycle adventures ... here are tours you can join.

Bicycle adventures . . . here are tours you can join If you're seeking a little spice, and perhaps some strain, in your Asia-Pacific travels, consider joining an adventure bicycle tour. Ranging from luxurious inn-to-inn tours along sunsplashed shores to rugged mountain-bike treks into seldom-visited regions, these tours promise unhindered views of stunning countryside, and plenty of chances to meet the locals.

Ten U.S.-based firms offer tours to Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Polynesia, and Thailand. One country missing from our list is China. Just a year ago, it was the most popular and varied Asian destination; since the recent political turmoil, most outfits have put their programs on hold.

Tours range from 8 to 21 days and cost $850 to about $2,800. Most are for adults. Along with cycling, these trips might include glacier hiking, whitewater rafting--even elephant riding.

Most tours include support vehicles (sag wagons) that carry luggage, spare parts, and weary riders. Some do require that you carry your own gear.

Being fit and in good health is essential. Depending on the tour group, the day's route, and the type of terrain, you ride 20 to 100 miles per day. Roads vary from paved back-country highways to bone-jarring, rutted mule tracks. And as you change altitude, from sea level to 6,000 feet, weather can change from sweltering heat and humidity to icy cold.

Here we outline two representative trips in New Zealand, one of the Pacific's most popular places for bike touring. A list of tour operators to Asia follows.

TWO-WHEELING IN NEW ZEALAND

Imagine the California coast, Fiji, Norway, and Switzerland all spliced into one, and you'll get a picture of the west coast of New Zealand's South Island. Four firms offer road tours here; another offers tours for mountain bicyclists only.

One typical trip begins in Wellington, a harborside city on the southern tip of North Island. After a ferry ride across Cook Strait to Blenheim on South Island, you ride through pine forests to Nelson, Lake Rotoiti, Buller George, and Westport, where the level route follows the Tasman seacoast for six days.

Passing vast green meadows crammed with white sheep, you see the jagged, glacier-glazed Southern Alps rising abruptly above a lush fringe of subtropical rain forest. Lodging and some meals are at local inn. A layover at Franz Josef Glacier allows time for a glacier hike or helicopter tour. After huffing over Haast Pass and gliding to Wanaka, the tour ends in Queenstown, a scenic lakeside resort area. Over 17 days, you'll have covered some 700 miles.

On North Island, a 17-day mountain-bike tour spends five days warming up on dirt roads and single-track paths near Lake Taupo and Tongariro and Egmont national parks before heading across the Cook Strait to South Island. After exploring the Tasman mountains, you head down the west coast to Kumara, then inland along mountain tracks in the Arthur's Pass region of the Southern Alps. Overnights are spent in mountain huts andhostels. You descend the Alps' eastern slopes to Christchurch, then ride down the east coast to Queenstown.

Cycle tours to New Zealand are run during the best of all seasons: summer (our winter). Awash in rain most of the year, the islands are usually clear and sunny through March, with daytime temperatures averaging in the 60s and 70s.

TOURS TO ASIA, THE SOUTH PACIFIC

All tour outfits at right will send detailed, free brochures. Reservations should be made well in advance, and often require a nonrefundable deposit. Many firms rent bikes for an additional cost. Prices (per person, double occupancy) include guides, meals, and accommodations, but usually not air fare. Some tours charge singles a supplemental fee.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Pacific Travel Discoveries; Asia-Pacific travels
Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Directory
Date:Feb 1, 1990
Words:612
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