I'm currently cycle touring in New Zealand (North Island), and I brought my own much loved touring bike for this purpose. I did not take the bike on the plane because, together with the equipment, it was way over the baggage allowance. Taking it on the plane would have cost me more than 700 AUD (with Qantas). It turned out that I could send it for less than 200 EUR by mail (split up in 2 smaller parcels - size was the main problem, not weight).
However, New Zealand Post has much tougher size restrictions. And the max. insurance is 250 NZD per parcel, which is a joke. I have been looking around and doing some research. Most excess baggage companies would charge 700 NZD and more. I might be able to book a flight with a more generous airline, but I would still have the problem that I would go over the baggage allowance. Plus I'm planning on stopping over in Australia for 2-3 weeks, which means I would need to haul the box around and store it somewhere (I'm not going to cycle in Australia, this time).
So my question is: does anybody know of a better solution (apart from selling frame and wheelset, which I'm thinking about as well) that I might have overlooked? Any Kiwis here who took their bikes abroad? I'd be grateful for useful tips.
We use bikefridays to avoid this problem from Oz but you may want to try this lot......http://www.jetta.com.au/ratecom.htm. I think there are much better ways than trying airlines - they seem so reluctant to understand the problem whereas there are a number of firms like this who do ship unaccompanied baggage much cheaper.
I've been living in NZ for a few years now and I've occasionally travelled with a bike on AirNZ. They typically don't charge extra as long as it is under weight. They are somewhat strict about weight due to "health concerns" of the baggage gorillas. They are star alliance and have good connections/code shares to Muenchen and Zuerich. Otherwise, I've shipped a handfull of bikes from Europe to NZ in a big cargo container. It is ultra expensive it you need the whole container. If you don't, you can apparently (although I haven't done this) pay for a very small fraction of the container and have it shipped to a marine port. A suggestion to get around your AU bike storage if you do fly with the bike.... I've had good luck asking kind souls on warm showers to store stuff during tours. If you don't come up with a solution and try to sell stuff, let me know what kind of wheelset you have!
A few years after your experience, I'm in a similar situation.
What did you end up doing to take your bike back to Europe?
I sold my panniers in NZ, and shipped most of my camping and remaining cycle touring gear back home by parcel to get the weight of my baggage under the airlines' allowance. Then I took my bike on the plane. It was more effort, but it was the cheapest way outside of selling the bike (which I'm glad I didn't do).