Southern Lakes Cycle

Southern Lakes Cycle

Trip Highlights

  • Enjoy incredible views from the Summit Road of Banks Peninsula
  • Cycle alongside the bright turquoise hydro-canals from Lake Tekapo
  • Wonder at the majestic Aoraki/Mount Cook on a hike to a glacial lake
  • Admire the impressive dams and lakes of the Waitaki Valley
  • Explore the Victorian quarter of historic Oamaru
  • Visit Central Otago's old gold mining settlements
  • Conclude the tour in iconic Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital

Trip Summary

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 with an awesome ride on the Banks Peninsula with views of the vivid blue Lyttelton Harbour, the crater of an extinct volcano. Day 2 takes us through 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.

Trip Grading

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. The Southern Lakes Cycle is graded moderate. You will need to be a competent road rider with stamina and a good level of fitness, you should be able to cycle comfortably for 4-6 hours or around 80km/50miles per day, day after day. There are some long undulating and hilly sections. You should be confident riding on main roads alongside traffic which can be travelling at speed. 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.


This morning you will be collected from a central Christchurch location around 08:00am and taken to our depot for a bike fitting and tour briefing. Today we have the opportunity to find our cycle legs with a warm up ride along the stunning Port Hills overlooking Banks Peninsula. We will follow the Summit Road, around the crater of an extent volcano with panoramic views towards the city, the snowy Southern Alps and into the vivid blue Lyttelton harbour. We will ride out to Godley Head at the entrance of the harbour where there are relics of the WW2 defence battery and another scenic lookout before heading towards the port town of Lyttelton. Our ride takes us around the sea shore, with lots of short climbs between bays and some fast descents. Once we reach Governors Bay, those who would like a challenge can ride up to the top of Dyers Pass, climbing over 300m in 3km. Otherwise we will load up the bikes and hop in the van to drive back to the city centre and our hotel, arriving in the late afternoon. There will be time to explore the city centre before meeting for our first group dinner in the evening. Accommodation: Pavilions Hotel, 42 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch -

Meals:  L,D

After breakfast we will 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 rural town of Fairlie, where our cycling ends for today. We will then transfer to our accommodation at Lake Tekapo, a beautiful destination amongst the snow capped alps and turquoise coloured glacial lakes. There could be time to take a dip in the hot pools or visit the famous Church of the Good Shepherd before our first group dinner together. Cycling Distance: up to 77km / 47 miles

Meals:  B,L,D

Today has a relaxed start and after a hearty breakfast we can either walk or cycle to the Mt. John lookout with its spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The vast MacKenzie Basin with its views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and the Southern Alps provide an awesome backdrop as you ride. We continue onto Aoraki/Mount Cook and enjoy riding the quiet hydro canal roads, with the view getting more expansive as you get close to the mountains. Once we arrive in Mount Cook township there will be the opportunity to take a short walk to see panoramic views of the mountains, visit the Edmund Hilary Museum or interesting visitor information centre. We are then free to make our own dinner arrangements. Admire the setting sun on NZ's highest mountain peaks and take in the vast starry skies after dark. Cycling Distance: 45 kms / 27 miles

Meals:  B,L

This morning we have the option to take a break from the bike and do some hiking in the lee of Aoraki/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 Aoraki/Mount Cook towards beautiful Lake Ohau and our lodge accommodation for tonight. Cycling Distance: 55 to 101 km / 34 to 62miles Note: Today’s ride may be reversed to take advantage of the tail winds.

Meals:  B,L,D

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. Cycling Distance: 62 to 89 kms / 38 to 55 miles

Meals:  B,L

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 there's the option to go curling (own expense) at an indoor ice-rink, before enjoying a jacuzzi and traditional Kiwi BBQ at our lodge. Cycling Distance: Oamaru Coast - 28 kms / 17 miles Palmerston to Hyde - 53km / 33 miles

Meals:  B,L,D

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 drop you off in the downtown area. With its spectacular scenery, great shopping and multitude of adventurous activities it is worth staying an extra day or two in this vibrant town. Cycling Distance: Ranfurly to Ophir - 56 kms / 35 miles Ophir to Clyde - 33 kms / 20 miles

Meals:  B,L

What's Included

  • 6 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 4 dinners
  • 6 nights hotel/motel ensuite accommodation on twin share basis
  • Professional qualified driver/guide
  • 2 professional guides/drivers on trips with 8 or more people
  • Private vehicle transport
  • 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
  • Bike hire (including helmet)
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment and bring your own bike drink bottle)
  • Optional activities (eg. Tekapo hot springs, curling, penguin colony, Steampunk Museum Oamaru)
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)
  • Tips

Road bikes 2

ROAD BIKE (Additional Charge)

On road cycling tours our road bikes provide the ultimate cycling experience. The drop handle bars offer multi hand positions. Our bikes have wider 32mm tyres and disc brakes which are safer and better suited to NZ road conditions. They have a relaxed geometry and wide range rear cassette to suit people with varying levels of cycling experience and for longer cycle touring routes.


HYBRID BIKE (Additional Charge)

These bikes have the same narrower tyres and lightweight frames, only with flat handlebars 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.


I thoroughly enjoyed my cycling adventure. Ange our guide was fantastic, her local knowledge was excellent and she was always there with an encouraging word and treats during the ride. Bring your best smile, enjoy the challenges, and soak up the amazing scenery.

Cheryl C, 22 Dec 2018

What a spectacular tour! This was our first cycling tour and my wife and I didn't know what to expect from the scenery or the cycling. We were blown away by both. The logistics for the trip were well organised which added to the non-cycling & touring part of the adventure. Plenty of side adventures and activities were included in this which as Australians gave us another insight into the South Island of NZ. Dave the tour guide was a font of knowledge and his commentary and stories really added to the driving required from where the cycling stopped and when getting to dinner and accommodation started. As cyclists we took our own saddle and pedals plus hired better spec road bikes and this made the cycling component of the trip better for us. To be clear, this is not a cycling first holiday where you do your 150kms plus per day. This is cycling with some great touring in between. Highly recommended even for old people like us!

Philip P, Australia, 22 Nov 2018

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

Upcoming Travel Dates



Duration:6 Days
Starting Point:Christchurch
Grade:Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:SLC
Prices From:NZD$2395
Public Holiday Supplement:NZD$50 
Bike Rental:NZD$350 
e-Bike Rental:NZD$560 
Single Supplement:NZD$695