moderate to challenging

Traveller Rating


  • 7 day gravel riding
  • 6 nights hotel/motel
  • 4 Dinners
  • 7 Lunches
  • 6 Breakfasts

7 Days$3995NZD

Trip Code: GGR

Trip highlights

  • Challenge yourself with 7 days of breathtaking gravel grinding
  • Enjoy incredible views of the Southern Alps from the Banks Peninsula
  • Cycle through arid McKenzie Country surrounded by the highest peaks in the country
  • Admire a contrast of vivid blue lakes, sparkling rivers, snow capped mountains and golden tussock-lands
  • Ride the spectacular new Lake Dunstan Trail, plus the magnificent Roxburgh Gorge
  • Conclude the tour in iconic Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital
  • Indulge in award winning wine and local Kiwi cuisine

Explore the vast and impressive Mackenzie Basin and remote Central Otago on this remarkable gravel tour from Christchurch to Queenstown. We trace the footsteps of the early pioneers, along gold mining trails and stock routes which now form quiet back country roads.

Our journey begins with an awesome ride on the Banks Peninsula with views of the vivid blue Akaroa Harbour, the crater of an extinct volcano. We then travel through beautiful farm country to the stunning turquoise Lake Tekapo and into the "big-sky country" of Central Otago. We cross the Hakataramea and Danseys Passes and then take a remote stock route via Lake Onslow to Roxburgh passing remnants of the gold mining days.

Our final two days take us along the Clutha Gold and Roxburgh Gorge where we experience real isolation cycling alongside the Clutha River before we embark on the newly created Lake Dunstan trail, surrounded by high mountain peaks and above a stunning gorge. We finish this epic cycle tour in Queenstown.

Today we find our cycle legs with a stunning ride on Banks Peninsula, one of New Zealand's most unique landforms. There is a decent climb but well rewarded with stunning views! We start with a 1 hour drive out of Christchurch and set off riding along a flat lakeside trail to warm up the legs. There's a short walk across a pebble estuary before we start the gravel climb up the Bossu Road to a panoramic ridge. This is the crater rim of an extinct volcano with incredible views towards the Canterbury Plains, the snowy Southern Alps and into the vivid blue harbour. We eventually drop down to the tiny settlement of Wainui and enjoy a picnic lunch at the water's edge. After lunch it's just a short ride through to the small settlement of Devauchelle where we'll load up and drive back to the city centre and our hotel, arriving in the late afternoon. Cycling Distance: Little River to Wainui - approx 42km Wainui to Duvauchelle - 12km Elevation Gain: 1359m/ft4457

Meals:  L,D

After breakfast, we load up our gear and drive to the small settlement of Cave on the edge of the Canterbury Plains with a coffee stop at Pleasant Point. This area, New Zealand’s only “flat” land, is wide open country with braided rivers teeming with trout and salmon. The Canterbury Plains are also rich in sheep and dairy farming and today’s ride finds us traveling through a pastoral landscape. Today our ride takes us up the Little Opawa River Valley and over the Waratah Saddle, winding through rolling farmland. We then head towards the tussock covered hills and over the Mackenzie Saddle (785m/2575ft) which cuts through the ranges and gives us our first views of the vast arid Mackenzie Country, where rivers flow through sweeping tussock plains with a backdrop of the snowy alps. We head northwards to meet the main highway at Dog Kennel Corner, a memorial to the importance of sheep dogs, prior to formal fencing of farmland. Here we load up to drive the final 15km along the main road to Tekapo. In early summer this road is lined with lupins creating an incredible splash of colour to the arid landscape. Upon arrival in Lake Tekapo, we take in views of the amazing turquoise water and the Southern Alps from the Church of the Good Shepherd, and we can enjoy a soak in the Tekapo Hot Pools before dinner. Cycling Distance: Cave to Dog Kennel Corner - 78km Elevation Gain: 1383m/4535ft

Meals:  B,L

This morning we retrace our steps by vehicle to Dog Kennel Corner and start riding from the turn off where we see a sign pointing to Hakataramea Pass. On gravel from the start, we leave civilisation and climb towards an indigo sky, lofty views of the Southern Alps and the cloud piercer, Aoraki/Mt Cook behind us are now even more imposing above the Mackenzie Basin, whose truly vast scale is more easily appreciated as we approach the pass. The pass, marked with a fence-line, gate and signposts to destinations in both directions, proudly announces the pass is at 965m (3230ft) above sea level. A short winding descent leads to the broad Hakataramea Valley. The imposing Kirkliston Range to the west towers above the ordered, rolling farmland and we descend to Kurow, a small town where the Hakataramea and Waitaki valleys meet. We overnight at the small settlement of Duntroon. Cycling Distance: Hakataramea Road to Kurow – 76km Optional Cycle: Kurow to Duntroon - 27km Elevation Gain: 646m/2118ft

Meals:  B,L,D

Today's journey takes us over the remote alpine Dansey's Pass, a historic stock route and gold mining route linking the Waitaki District with Central Otago. The route today is not suitable for towing vehicles so we will be without the van support as the van will be relocated on alternative roads. From Duntroon we head up the graveled Dansey's Pass road and onward and upward over the fractured Kakanui Mountains. We cycle through sections of gorge where the road clings to the cliff side and finally up to the barren tussock covered pass at 935m where huge triangular faced mountains tower above. From the summit we coast for 9km descending to our accommodation at the Dansey's Pass Coach House at the former gold mining settlement of Kyeburn Diggings. The hotel's original stonework was constructed in 1862 by a mason known as “Happy Bill”. Bill’s remuneration was in beer, and he received one pint for every schist boulder shaped and laid! In the afternoon there are options to ride to the old settlement of Naseby, cycle through the Naseby forest or participate in a game of curling. We can relax with a drink in front of the large fireplace and explore the old Kyeburn cemetery and mining relics before dinner. Cycling Distance: Duntroon to Kyeburn Diggings - 48km Elevation Gain: 1100m/3600ft

Meals:  B,L,D

Today definitely qualifies as a Queen stage for the trip and takes us through some classic rugged and isolated backcountry Central Otago. Setting off from Ranfurly, we head southwards through the relatively flat Taieri Valley and then wind our way up lonely hills from Upper Paerau to Lake Onslow. Once known as 'Dismal Swamp' it was created in the 1890's by damming for a gold claim, it is now a windswept lake renowned as a good fishing spot. The ride then follows mostly well formed hard packed clay roads with nice gradients. With large open tussock landscapes littered with large rock outcrops, it is an artists dream. On reaching the high point under the summit of Mt Teviot, we gradually descend with extensive views of the Clutha River and the colourful orchards of the Teviot Valley below. We load up and transfer to either Clyde or Alexandra, known for gold mining and more recently as railway towns, and are at the convergence of numerous cycle trails. The “gold” that can be found in this region today is wine and before dinner, we have an option to try award-winning Pinot Noir at a local winery. Cycling Distance: Ranfurly to Roxburgh - 114km Elevation Gain: 1400m/4600ft

Meals:  B,L

Another potential Queen stage, we get to ride 2 stunning NZ Great Rides (Clutha Gold Trail & Roxburgh Gorge Trail) alongside the mighty Clutha River. The day begins with the drive to Lawrence, birthplace of the 1860s gold rush. After a wander around this delightful village, we’ll hop on our bikes and start with a gentle climb up to the 434m-long Big Tunnel. Then downhill to Beaumont we meet the river - be prepared to be captivated by its swirling, turquoise waters. Another 20kms on through the scenic Beaumont Gorge, we’ll reach the small farming settlement of Millers Flat. The next 30kms takes us past interesting riverside landmarks and deep into the orchard-lands of the Teviot Valley. The impressive Roxburgh hydro dam marks the end of one trail and the start of the next. With amazing vistas across the Lake Roxburgh the trail drops into a gorge and then heads away from the water passing through a small secluded valley and into sweeping hill country. At Elbow Creek, it’s a gradual descent to Shingle Creek, to meet a jet boat taking us 13km upriver to Doctor’s Point. The second half of the Roxburgh trail is equally remote and awe-inspiring with stone-walled water races and other remnants of gold mining activity. We emerge from the gorge in Alexandra where there is the option to hop in the van or ride the 12km riverside trail to Clyde, depending on where we are staying. Cycling distances : Clutha Gold: 71km Elevation Gain: 534m/1750ft Roxburgh Gorge: 21km Elevation Gain: 254m/830ft

Meals:  B,L,D

Today is the culmination of our epic adventure as we cycle the newest Great Ride; the Lake Dunstan Trail. This spectacular ride takes us through unique and fascinating landscapes so characteristic of Central Otago as it journeys along the Clutha, the Kawarau River and the shores of Lake Dunstan. The region’s rich modern, pioneering and Maori historical stories are integrated along the way, some of which are brought to life in Clyde and Cromwell Historical Precinct. We begin with a 30-minute transfer to Smith's Way on the shore of Lake Dunstan. From here, we ride along side the lake through to the Cromwell Heritage Precinct, where we can explore boutique galleries, stores and cafes. Back on our bikes, the trail loops around the Bannockburn Inlet toward Cornish Point, winding through vineyards and olive groves. The trail then enters the stunning Cromwell Gorge passing under sheer rock faces and over lake inlets on impressively engineered platforms and bridges rising above Lake Dunstan. The lake was formed by the damming of the Clutha River, New Zealand’s second-longest river, and we pass the historically controversial hydroelectric Clyde Dam before finishing at the historic Red Bridge, back at Clyde. Our concluding drive takes us through the picturesque Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown, passing the famous Kawerau Bungee Bridge. We then journey into the vine-lined Gibbston Valley, ultimately reaching Queenstown, the grand finale of our gravel adventure. Cycling Distance: Smiths Way to Cromwell - 16km; Cromwell to Clyde - 38km Elevation Gain: 570m/1870ft

Meals:  B,L


  • Tasty cafe breakfasts (x6), gourmet picnic or cafe lunches (x7), two course restaurant dinners (x4) catered to all dietary requirements
  • 6 nights hand picked hotel/motel ensuite accommodation on twin share basis
  • Experienced guides who handle all the hard bits and share epic stories (2 guides on groups of 8 or more)
  • Full vehicle support along the trail including trailer for luggage
  • Entry to the Tekapo hotpools
  • Wine tasting at boutique Central Otago vineyard
  • Tasty nutritious snacks, drinks and treats plus our famous morning and afternoon teas
  • Transport from Christchurch to Queenstown
  • Pre departure information kit to help you plan and prepare
  • Access and concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation

  • Bike hire (including helmet)
  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages, other than breakfast
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment and bring your own bike drink bottle)
  • Optional activities
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)

About Your Leader

Our guides are one of our biggest assets and we pride ourselves on their level of quality and high standards. Once the trip reaches 8 people, we provide you with two of our expert guides to maximise your enjoyment and overall experience. You’ll know you’re in safe hands as all of our guides are certified in first aid and CPR and many of them are trained bike mechanics. They come from all walks of life but our guides have a common desire to give you the best possible experience, fun and lots of fond memories to take home with you.


Bike information

Trail Surface


moderate to challenging  

To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the terrain, the altitude, the amount of climbing, the types of roads and the length of the trip. This tour is graded moderate to challenging. You will need to be a competent rider with stamina and a good level of fitness, you should be able to cycle comfortably for 6-8 hours or around 80-100km/50-60miles per day, day after day. There are some long undulating and hilly days on a mix of smooth gravel, dirt roads with some rougher corrugated and stony sections. There are some river crossings, so you can expect to get wet feet. You should be confident riding on roads with traffic, although the routes we cycle are quiet, you need to expect to see some vehicles. This tour is not for beginners. 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.

Departure dates


Holiday Season

Want to organise a private group?

Fundraising events, sporting groups, family treats; learn how you can organise a Private Group from just 6 travellers.

Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Gravel Bike HireNZD$350
  • EBike RentalNZD$600
  • Single SupplementNZD$795
*Prices listed are per person

Essential information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed South Island Gravel Explorer trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

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