South Island Mountain Bike Adventure

South Island Mountain Bike Adventure

Trip Highlights

  • Ride the exhilarating single tracks of the remote Old Ghost Road
  • Explore the Craigieburn Trails in New Zealand’s stunning Southern Alps
  • Discover the Blue Spur trails on New Zealand's 'wild' West Coast
  • Stay overnight in the remote Ghost Lake Hut (1400m above sea level)
  • MTB the spectacular St James Cycle Trails
  • Soak in the hot pools and enjoy New Zealand’s premier thermal resort in Hanmer Springs

Trip Summary

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.

Trip Grading

The South Island Mountain Bike Adventure is graded 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. We are not looking for skills in jumping gaps, drops or features but you do need to be comfortable riding single track which will be rocky, sandy, muddy, rooty or a combination.


This morning we will meet in central Christchurch at 8.00am, we will meet our guide and fellow riders. If you are bringing your own bike, please make sure you have it ready when we pick you up. If you are hiring a bike, there will be a chance to test and fit your hire bike. We then depart from Christchurch and drive west into the mountains crossing Porters Pass to the Craigieburn Mountains, a journey of approximately 1.5 hours. Today we enjoy a number of sweeping trails through the Craigieburn Forest whilst being rewarded by fantastic views over the surrounding mountains and valleys. Trails could include the iconic Roller Coaster, Luge, Dracophyllum Flat, Hogs Back and the rooty Cuckoo Creek; all sweet, fun flowing single track, with some forestry roads linking the trails. We ride for 3 to 4 hours and then transfer to our accommodation. Here we can enjoy a well deserved beer and some high country hospitality for the first night of our adventure.

Meals:  L,D

After a hearty high country breakfast, a 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.

Meals:  B

We depart Hokitika and head towards Lyell, another drive of around 2 hours 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 all 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.

Meals:  B,D

You’ve got a big day ahead, (around 10 hours of riding) 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.

Meals:  B,D

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.

Meals:  B

We set off early for the start of the St James Trail. The drive will take us around 45 minutes taking us over Jacks Pass and into the arid tussock high country. 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 climb 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.

Meals:  B,D

Sadly its our final day, following a leisurely café breakfast we’ll enjoy a final ride together through the Hanmer Forest. 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. We can expect to be in Christchurch around 4pm.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 4 dinners
  • 5 nights hotel/motel ensuite accommodation on a twin share basis
  • 1 night in remote backcountry hut with shared facilities
  • Experienced qualified mountain bike guide/driver
  • Private vehicle transport
  • One entry to Hanmer Springs Hot Pools
  • Water and snacks while cycling
  • Access and concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)

What's Not Included

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages, other than breakfast
  • Mountain bike hire (including helmet) - Quality full suspension bikes can be hired from NZ$500/week
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment and bring your own standard bike drink bottle or hydration system)
  • Optional activities not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)
  • Tips


It was a fantastic trip with stunning scenery and a good range of rides. Made all the better by two fantastic guides, Erin and Leigh. The Old Ghost Road was the highlight. It’s 7 days of riding with over 230kms and 7kms of climbing so make sure you have done sufficient training.

Glen C, New Zealand, 19 Mar 2019

Upcoming Travel Dates



Duration:7 Days
Starting Point:Christchurch
Finishing Point:Christchurch
Activities:Mountain biking
Grade:Challenging  Click for more information
Trip Code:MFH
Prices From:NZD$2565
Public Holiday Supplement:NZD$50 
Single Supplement:NZD$565