Over the next six months more that 14,000 people in Tauranga will take up cycling - 22 per cent higher the national average.

Figures collected by Nielsen research showed nationally 407,000 will take up cycling by the middle of the year with 14,000 of them in Tauranga.

Today marks the first day of Bike Wise Month - New Zealand's national programme of activities which promotes cycling as a fun, healthy and safe way to travel.

Avid Tauranga cyclist Phil Shoemack has been doing cycle tours across New Zealand for the past 25 years.


He was on a three-day-tour through the central North Island this weekend when the Bay of Plenty Times caught up with him over the phone.

"There's three of us doing a big cycle tour, Tour Aotearoa, at the end of February so we are just doing our last little training ride for three days in the Waikato."

Tour Aotearoa, which starts on February 21, will see about 300 cyclists bike from Cape Reinga to the Bluff in about four weeks.

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Mr Shoemack said he had been a cyclist since he was a young child.

"I did my first bike tour when I was 12 as a part of Scouts. Instead of having a camp one year our leader said 'let's do a week-long bike trip', so we did from Taupo to Taihape."

The 60-year-old said he went away every year for a week and did a cycle trip somewhere in the North Island - something he had done for 25 years.

"We have covered most of New Zealand in 25 weeks of cycle trips. New Zealand is great for it and a week is a good period, you don't get too tired. We occasionally have a rest day where we chill out a bit and stay somewhere for two nights."

Mr Shoemack loved the accessibility cycling gave him to see new and different things.

"Yesterday when we were biking into Matamata we saw something interesting and I said, 'why don't we stop here, have a look and have lunch?' So we did. If you were going in a car at 90km/h or 100km/h you would be half a kilometre down the road before you thought about it and you wouldn't bother stopping.

"It's the freedom. You are getting physical activity, you're out in the fresh air and sampling New Zealand's really neat environment," he said.

Mr Shoemack said it was great to see progress with more cycle trails through the Western Bay of Plenty.

"We have to complete the network of tracks so people use them every day. So parents feel like they can let their kids bike to school safely, people bike to work."

Waihi beach events coordinator Anna Schroder said she was hoping to see 100 people attend next weekend's Frocks on Bikes. The event aimed to get people dressed up in their best Sunday frock to ride bicycles around Waihi and along the beach.

"We were really thrilled last year, lots of men even turned up. Three guys even came over from Tauranga who had bought dresses from op shops. Cycling makes Waihi so accessible, you can get anywhere on a bike. Our event is a community based event about seeing Waihi Beach in style."

About 60 people attended the event last year, she said.