This superb cycling adventure from Christchurch to Queenstown offers you a chance to explore the vast and impressive Mackenzie Basin by bike to truly appreciate its huge glacial lakes and snow-capped mountains. The itinerary also allows you an opportunity to stretch the legs to admire the grandeur of Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain, when you walk beneath its flanks. The tour begins in beautiful farm country before some superb riding alongside the stunning turquoise lakes of Tekapo and Pukaki. Following the Waitaki River to the coast via the "big-sky country" in Central Otago we head inland again to finish in Queenstown, nestled beside the impressive Lake Wakatipu. This charismatic town, widely regarded as the 'Adventure Capital of New Zealand', is a great place to spend a few extra days if your schedule allows.
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 Southern Lakes Cycle is graded intermediate/moderate. You will need a reasonable level of fitness and we suggest 60 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling or jogging) three times a week for the three months leading up to your trip. The tour is fully supported and if at any stage you feel like having a rest from cycling you will be able to ride in the support vehicle.
Important: The night before your tour is to depart your guide will call your pre tour accommodation to advise what time they will collect you the following morning. (Please make sure you have given us information as to where you are staying). If you are not around when your guide calls they will leave a message at reception – it's really important that you check with reception if you have not heard from your guide directly. If for any reason you have not heard from your guide by the morning of the tour please call us in the NZ office on 0800 00 11 66 (from within NZ).
We drive across the Canterbury Plains to Temuka. We cycle along quiet rural roads past small farmlets and communities, to the quaint town of Geraldine, nestled amongst gently rolling hills. In the afternoon we explore more quiet rural roads with a photo stop at the historic St Davids Church at Raincliff before arriving at the village of Fairlie, our final destination for today.
Riding distance – up to 77km / 47 miles
Today has a relaxed start and after a hearty breakfast we drive the incredibly scenic highway to nearby Lake Tekapo, known for its turquoise blue waters. There is an optional walk (or cycle for the very fit) to the Mt. John lookout with its spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains; or take a relaxing soak in the local hot springs (own expense). The vast MacKenzie Basin with its views of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps provide an awesome backdrop as you ride. We continue onto Mt Cook and enjoy riding the quiet hydro canal roads, with the view getting more expansive as you get close to the mountains.
Riding distance – 45 kms / 27 miles
This morning we have the option to take a break from the bike and do some hiking in the lee of Mount Cook. Options include a three hour flat walk to the Hooker Glacier terminal lake or the shorter Tasman Glacier walk. New Zealand’s highest mountain dominates the region with its steep glacial slopes often providing a spectacular sideshow of avalanches. The prevailing wind should speed us along as the afternoon finds us cycling on the gradual downhill from Mt Cook towards beautiful Lake Ohau and our lodge accommodation for tonight.
Riding distance – 55 - 101 km / 34 - 62miles
Note: Today’s ride may be reversed to take advantage of the tail winds.
An optional early morning lakeside cycle takes us away from the mountains into tussock-covered hill country. Our ride for today starts with a sweeping downhill before detouring onto a quiet back road around picturesque Lake Aviemore. The lake is part of the impressive Waitaki Hydro Electric scheme and we ride across the two dams at either end of the lake. In the afternoon we continue via the unusual formations of Elephant Rocks to the old Victorian town of Oamaru. Nestled on the Pacific Coast, Oamaru has some of New Zealand's oldest and most beautifully restored buildings as well as a thriving art culture. There are options to visit the creative Steam-punk Museum, the Penguin colony (best at dusk), and enjoy some fresh seafood for dinner.
Riding distance – 62 - 89 kms / 38 - 55 miles
Early this morning we enjoy a beautiful coastal ride out of Oamaru before visiting the perfectly round Moeraki boulders which make spectacular photos if the tide is right. After some refreshments our next ride takes us into the heart of Central Otago, with the optional challenge of a climb over MaCrae's pass before a spectacular descent to the Taieri Plains. Tonight we go curling (bowls on ice) (own expense) at an indoor ice-rink, before enjoying a jacuzzi and traditional Kiwi BBQ at our lodge.
Riding distance – Oamaru Coast - 28 kms / 17 miles, Palmerston to Hyde 53km / 33 miles
This morning we cycle the scenic Ida Valley to the historic village of Ophir, via the challenging but optional climb over the Raggedy Range. From the top there are panoramic 360 degree views. The ride continues to historic Clyde, our final cycling destination and another former gold-mining village with beautiful old stone buildings. We celebrate the end of our riding at the local pub before we drive to Queenstown where we say farewell and deliver you to your local lodgings. With its spectacular scenery, great shopping and multitude of adventurous activities it is worth staying an extra day or two in this vibrant town.
Riding Distance - ranfurly to Ophir - 56 kms / 35 miles, Ophir to Clyde - 33 kms / 20 miles
ROAD BIKE (Additional Charge)
On road cycling tours our road bikes provide the ultimate cycling experience with their narrower tyres and lightweight frames for increased efficiency and speed. The drop hand bars offer multi hand positions to provide muscle relief and comfort. Our bikes are fitted with compact crank sets and wide range rear cassettes to suit people with varying levels of cycling experience and for longer cycling routes.
HYBRID BIKE (Additional Charge)
These bikes have the same narrower tyres and lightweight frames, only with flat handlebars and bar ends (so you can change hand positions) to give the performance and speed of a road bike. The geometry allows you to sit in a more natural upright riding position that provides the best control of the bike with a well-placed centre of gravity and in a posture that reduces strain on the rider's neck and back.
TANDEM BIKE (Additional Charge)
Our tandem bikes for road cycling tours are ideal for experienced cycle partners to enjoy the journey together. The riding position on our tandems is similar to being on a mountain bike but we fit road tyres to make them perfect for the sealed roads.
For bicycle specifications please contact us.
Bikes can be fitted with flat pedals, toes clips or MTB SPD pedals. A bicycle helmet will be supplied with all bike rentals.
Extremely well-organised. Bikes were exceptionally well-maintained before and throughout the trip. Accommodation was very good. The rooms at Ranfurly and Oamaru were particularly good. Ange and Ryan were excellent guides providing high levels of support and encouragement throughout the trip.
Carol and Mark D, UK, 13 Jan 2018
Fantastic trip thanks. Ange and Ryan were great. Good standard of accommodation.
Kirsty A, UK, 13 Jan 2018
Our guides, Ryan and Ange were very knowledgeable (of local food, local history, geography, weather, cloud formations, geology – just about everything). They were both excellent, safe and skilful drivers. They were flexible with the itinerary to suit individual needs and changing weather. They were always calm, good-humoured, positive and professional. It’s a trip that shows you the best of the South Island, much of it on a bicycle. It’s not just about cycling. Try to move your focus away from your Strava stats and onto the countryside.
Greg and Tom C, Australia, 13 Jan 2018
The most smooth running, well organised cycle trip I have ever done. Seamless trip, the guides went the extra 100 miles to make it enjoyable. They worked their buts off. I thought the trip seemed quite expensive at first but I felt I really got what I paid for in terms of service etc.
Jo W, Scotland, 05 Nov 2017
Can't recommend this tour more highly. Superbly organised and featuring great food and accommodation along the way. The rides really catered for all abilities and had something for everyone whilst keeping the group on the same timetable. We are keen cyclists and were given ample opportunity to ride to longer/take on more hills whilst others, who were more focused on having a relaxing holiday, had more downtime. Although we were blessed with two great tour guides in Shaun and Chris an awesome grouo, we really don't see how you could go wrong with this company. Would book again without hestitation!
Ellie S (via Trip Advisor)
A fantastic experience. Rossco is the best! This was a great father and teenage son experience, recommended for dads everywhere!
Rob McInnes, Australia, 24 Jan 2017
An absolutely amazing trip! The food, the guides, the fellow riders and the amazing scenery each day.
Jessica C, Canada, 24 Jan 2017
Great experience overall. Thank you! Having been on trips with other companies, this was one of the best. Really enjoyed the variety of the rides. Rossco did a great job determining daily routes, evaluating the level of ability of the group and keeping us moving without rushing us.
Mary and Mark P, USA, 24 Jan 2017
Per Person, Twin Share