A week of mountain biking the South Island's most iconic trails. Experience sweeping alpine landscapes, ancient podocarp rainforests, wild West Coast beaches and finish up in a beautiful apline thermal resort.
Starting in Christchurch you'll first head west to the Southern Alps to sample some of the best trails in the Craigieburn Ranges before heading to the 'wild' West Coast. After riding some of the best West Coast trails on Blue Spur we then head onto the iconic Old Ghost Road for two days. You'll spend the first night in an alpine hut at 1400m above sea level and be treated to dinner prepared by your guides. The views at sunrise will take your breath away. If that's not enough, you'll then head via the gold mining town of Reefton to the alpine thermal resort of Hanmer Springs. Your last big ride is the spectacular St James Trail - the first of New Zealand's great rides to open. The trip finishes with a relaxing soak in the hot pools and a celebratory dinner. A final ride in the Hanmer forest the next morning and a short drive back to Christchurch completes your epic mountain bike adventure.
To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the terrain, the altitude, the number of pass crossings and the length of the trip. The South Island Mountain Bike Adventure is graded moderate to challenging. You will need a very good level of fitness and some technical mountain bike skills both ascending and descending. Although the tour is fully supported there are 3 days of the tour where there is no vehicle access and you must be comfortable riding 8-10 hours per day in all weather conditions.
This morning you will be collected from your central Christchurch accommodation between 7.30 and 8.00am and taken to our depot for a tour briefing and to meet your fellow riders. The night prior to tour departure your guide will call your pre tour accommodation to advise what time you will be collected the next morning. If you are bringing your own bike, make sure you have that ready when we pick you up.
We drive west into the mountains for approximately 1.5 hours, to Flock Hill Lodge. This is where the Craigieburn Trails commence. It is also our accommodation for our first night.
The Craigieburn Trail is over 24 kilometres of sweet, off-road, scenic single-track from “Hill to Hill” (Flock Hill Lodge to Castle Hill Village), incorporating the Coal Pit Spur, Sidle 73, Dracophyllum Flat and Hogs Back tracks with a kilometre or two of forest road in the middle.
The ride will take us 3 – 4 hours. Our transport will collect us from Castle Hill Village. We’ll take the short drive back to accommodation at Flock Hill Lodge. Here we’ll enjoy some high country hospitality for the first night of our adventure.
After a hearty high country breakfast our two hour drive this morning takes us across the Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass to the start of our ride Blur Spur Crag in Hokitika. We’ll stop for a light café lunch before hitting the trails.
Blue Spur has ten trails built by local mountain bikers for national level races. They are the perfect mix of old-school roughness and new-school flow. We spend the afternoon exploring the best ones. Check out this cool video to see what treats we have in store.
We then ride back to our accommodation in Hokitika.
Once we’ve checked in, you’ve got the rest of the evening free. Hokitika has some great cafés and restaurants that love serving tasty food to weary-legged mountain bikers.
We depart Hokitika for a two hour drive to Lyell and the start of our next two days on the stunning Old Ghost Road. We’ve got some climbing to do today but the views make it worth the effort.
Beginning at the southern trail head at the Lyell Campground, you’ll cover the 18km climb to the Lyell Saddle Hut (875 metres above sea level) in 3-4 hours (765 m of ascent). Approximately 6 km of climbing through bush and 6 km of predominantly open tops travel offering dramatic views over 2.5 – 4 hours will have you arriving at the breath-taking Ghost Lake Hut site (12 km on from Lyell Saddle). Views abound en route to the west and north and the views continue at the hut site to the south and east.
Ghost Lake Hut sits at 1200 metres above sea level in a stunning setting. With almost 30 km behind you (from the Lyell Campground) and the high point of the ride in the bag, it is the perfect point to ‘call it a day’. Once you get there, we think you’ll agree.
Your guides will prepare a hearty alpine dinner as you settle in for the night.
You’ve got a big day ahead, (8.00am to 5.30pm) but believe us, it’s worth it!
Make sure you check your brakes before departing from the Ghost Lake Hut site as the trail descends almost 800 metres over the next 13 km to the Stern Valley Hut.
From the Stern Valley Hut the trail meanders on up through the interesting Earnest Valley. From here it’s on down to the confluence with the Mokihinui River South Branch and the existing Goat Creek Hut (14 km on from Stern Valley Hut). We expect to cover this distance in 2 – 3 hours.
From Goat Creek, riders will wind their way through towering podocarp forest to the Mokihinui ‘Forks’ We’ll then ride to Specimen Point Hut site 3 km downstream towards at the head of Mokihinui River Gorge.
From the Specimen Point Hut settlement, the Mokihinui Gorge shows the way to the sea. The old miners’ road is rejoined for the undulating and at times, cliff-hugging, 17 km journey out to the Seddonville end of the trail through the spectacular Mokihinui River gorge.
Congratulations, you’ve just ridden The Old Ghost Road.
Here we meet up with our transport, load up the bikes and our weary legs and take the short half hour drive to our overnight accommodation in the capital of the Buller District, Westport.
We depart Westport en route to the thermal resort town of Hanmer Springs. After two hours we’ll reach the historic gold mining town of Reefton. We’re going to stop for coffee before we go for a short but spectacular 9km loop ride called Ajax Trail. No stop in Reefton is complete without a visit to the bakery. We’ll grab some well earned lunch before we depart on the two hour drive to Hanmer Springs thermal resort.
We’re giving you the afternoon and evening off. You deserve it! Once we’ve checked into our accommodation you can choose to jump on your bike and check out the Hanmer Forest trails. You might just like to wander round this picturesque alpine village. Most of you will definitely want to go to the thermal hot pools to soak those weary legs.
Hanmer Springs has a great range of bars and restaurants for you to choose from for your free evening. Go to bed early though, because we’ve got one more big day ahead.
We set off for the start of the St James Trail. This will take us around 45 minutes. We’ll have a simple camp breakfast and coffee at the start of the trail.
The first of New Zealand’s Great Rides to open, this fantastic trail passes through the iconic St James Station.
The 64km trail offers a mix of riding grades through stunning and diverse scenery, including soaring mountain peaks, crystal clear rivers, high country lakes, alpine meadows, sub-alpine beech forest and expansive grassy river flats.
After an easy ride over the Maling Pass we ride a great descent through native beech forest to the Waiau River valley. We follow a well formed trail through the tussock grass and wildflowers of the valley. From here we’ve got some ups and tricky descents to navigate.
Make sure you keep an eye out for the St James wild horses.
From McArthurs Bridge we climb up to Peters Pass (our last up for the day). We descend down and meet our transport and take the short drive back to Hanmer Springs.
We’ll all enjoy a good soak in the hot pools before heading out for a final celebration dinner.
Our final day – following a leisurely café breakfast we’ll enjoy a final ride together. We take the 1.5 hour drive back to Christchurch. Riders can be dropped off at their accommodation or taken directly to the airport.
Those who bring their own mountain bikes will firstly go to the Adventure South depot to pack down their bikes into their bags for transport. Trip arrangements conclude with drop off at your accommodation or the airport.
Per Person, Twin Share