The e-bike revolution that's transforming New Zealand's small communities

There's a lot of talk about Grey Power - but when you harness that with electric power, you have the ability to transform communities off the beaten track.

Trish Dunn is retired and hadn't been out on two wheels since she was 18. She didn't dream of biking until the e-bike revolution.

"Oh [it] liberated us... really has. I've done four rides this week. I'm now up to about 80 kilometres this week, which I would never have done if I didn't have an e-bike," Dunn said.

Now she is always on the trail with her husband or with new mates she's met through biking.

"Off we go and all these people I'm meeting, it's fabulous," Dunn said.

On the day Newshub met with them, they were in Okaihau before finishing the 80km Twin Coast bike trail that snakes from the east to the west across Northland.

"When you've got an e-bike you know that we've done 20 kilometres here this morning and we'll do the 20 kilometres back, but that's easy - 40km on an e-bike is liberating," Dunn said.

E-biking has sent them around the country as they've also ticked off trails in Central Otago. Many of the trails are the result of former Prime Minister John Key's idea for a New Zealand cycleway 12 years ago.

The trails that sprouted then are now teeming with cyclists due to the explosion in e-bikes.

"We've paid for two nights' accommodation. We're going out tonight for dinner, we've had coffee here this morning - it's what you do, you go for a ride and you have coffee," Dunn said.

For businesses in former backwaters like Okaihau, Dunn and her e-biking mates are e-saviours. 

At Sapphire cafe, the owner says cyclists make up 40 percent of her custom.

"It's a huge part of our business every day, especially on the weekends. There's large groups of older people that come in, I would say even octogenarians that are out on their bikes and they all stop," Sapphire Cafe Owner Kelly Munsante said.

E-bikes are allowing people who haven't ridden a bike since school to give it a go.

"It's allowed people who haven't ridden a bike since they were at school 30 or 40 years, to get out and do the trail, it's just been amazing," Mullarkey Bike and Shuttle owner Bob Cooper said

Mullarkey Bike and Shuttle hire e-bikes to those who can't afford to shell out the thousands needed to buy one. The business hires e-bikes for twice the rate of a normal bike, with e-bikes making up half their business already and helping to keep five staff in a job.

"I'm biased but it's the best thing that's ever happened in cycling, I reckon. Because when it first started about five years ago it was a bit gimmicky and a bit novelty, but it's become mainstream since then," Cooper said.

Mainstream, but helping put far-flung communities within reach of deep pockets thanks to the powerful batteries on the frames of their bikes.