Kiwis head south for cycle tours

Belying Queenstown's cosmopolitan reputation, city dwellers of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga are converging on the resort and its surrounds for cycle tours.

Husband and wife team Matt and Kate Belcher both have cycling ''in the blood'', Mr Belcher said, and were in their second season running Revolution Tours.

The majority of cyclists on the four-day tours were New Zealanders living in the main centres, Mr Belcher said, though one-day trips were popular with international tourists.

He credited the domestic tourism boom with Queenstown's appeal to New Zealanders.

''Queenstown is becoming a really popular destination for Kiwis and flights are cheaper ... There's definitely a lot more Kiwis in town.''

The relatively new company has proved to be successful, with March already filled and vacancies for February and April tours fast becoming scarcer.

Tours are conducted in the warmer months from October until April, and this season was the business' first ''full season''.

''This summer we have had a rapid growth,'' Mr Belcher said.

''We definitely have some plans under way which we are keeping under wraps.''

With more and more cycling businesses sprouting in the Queenstown Lakes area, due in part to the cycle trails, Mr Belcher said his company differed by offering rides in different areas which inevitably meant different scenery and also offered a fully guided experience.

For example, an out of sight vehicle could provide assistance to customers if necessary.

While the Belchers researched the business idea heavily before committing, it was still a relief to proclaim its success, Mr Belcher said.

''And we're loving it, too.''

Although he said they expected customers to book months in advance, what he did not anticipate was to be fully booked out months in advance.

''One lady booked 13-months out.''

Most of the groups were people who usually organised a different activity every year, Mr Belcher said, ''and we get a lot of people who have done the (Otago Central) Rail Trail and want to do something else''.

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