Mount Cook & Southern Lakes Bike & Hike

Mount Cook & Southern Lakes Bike & Hike

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the Banks Peninsula and ride around the rim of an extinct volcanic crater
  • Cycle alongside the bright turquoise canals and glacial lakes in the Mackenzie District
  • Wonder at the majestic Aoraki/Mt Cook on a hike up the Hooker Valley
  • Challenge yourself with a walk to the Mueller Hut surrounded by ice falls and glaciers
  • Admire the wondrous night sky in NZ's Dark Sky Reserve
  • Explore the Victorian quarter of historic Oamaru
  • Reward yourself on reaching the summit of the stunning Crown Range Road, the highest motorable road in NZ
  • Taste award winning wine and local Kiwi cuisine

Trip Summary

A splendid mix of cycling and hiking through NZ’s Southern Alps. The tour leaves the garden city of Christchurch and heads to the Southern Alps offering a chance to explore the vast and impressive Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park by bike and foot to truly appreciate its huge glacial lakes and snow-capped mountains. The tour travels 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 towards Central Otago to see a region carved by the gold mining era of the 1860's.

Our final day takes us into the beautiful Lakes District where we marvel at the crystal clear lakes of Lake Wanaka and Lake Wakatipu surrounded by high mountain peaks. We finish this epic tour with a final ascent up the Cardona Valley and over the Crown Range; NZ’s highest sealed road before a huge descent to Queenstown, and the end of this amazing adventure.

This tour has been designed for experienced cyclists with good levels of fitness, we welcome tandem riders and road cyclists alike.

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. This Mount Cook & Southern Lakes Bike & Hike Tour 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 hiking days involve significant climbing rather than distance, so you should be able to walk for 4-6 hours per day on steep hills and uneven terrain. 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 and on the hiking days there will be less strenuous options.

Itinerary

Once you arrive in Christchurch, please make your way to the group hotel. Shuttle buses and taxi’s are readily available from the airport. You will be free for the rest of the day to explore the city and visit the many new cafes and restaurants close by. Accommodation: Pavilions Hotel, 42 Papanui Road, Merivale, Christchurch - www.pavilionshotel.co.nz

Meals:  Nil

After breakfast our guides will meet us at 8:30am in the hotel reception. Please be wearing your cycling clothing as we will be riding on the first morning. We will be taken to the Adventure South NZ depot for a bike fit and tour briefing. Today we have the opportunity to find our cycle legs with a warm up ride in two parts. This morning we drive (approx 30 mins) to Lyttelton and cycle a few hills around the edge of Lyttelton Harbour (the base of an extinct volcanic crater) to the village of Diamond Harbour with some impressive views along the way. There is time for a coffee while we load the bikes and then drive (approx 1hr 15 mins) onto the Banks Peninsula. We pass through the settlement of Little River on the way, historically significant as the end of the railway line built in the 19th century from Christchurch. The railway line was dismantled in 1962. After lunch we head to the hills to cycle the spectacular summit road that winds along the rim of another extinct volcanic caldera. With stunning views our route takes us to the quaint seaside village of Akaroa, formerly a French colony. After a stroll through the village we return to our hotel in Christchurch. This evening we meet for our first group dinner together and discuss the exciting itinerary ahead. Cycle Distance: Lyttelton to Diamond Harbour - 27 km / 17 miles Hilltop to Akaroa - 33 km / 20 miles Total Ascent: 1170m

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast we load up our gear and drive south for approx 2 hours. Once we leave Christchurch, we drive through the Canterbury Plains, NZ's only “flat” land, which 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. At Geraldine there is time for a refreshment break before starting our first ride. We cycle along quiet rural roads past small farmlets and communities of the Opihi Valley towards Pleasant Point and to the quaint town of Fairlie, nestled amongst gently rolling hills. We then load up the bikes and transfer to Lake Tekapo. This afternoon we enjoy views of the amazing turquoise water and the Southern Alps from the Church of the Good Shepherd, and then relax in the Tekapo Hot Pools surrounded by mountains. Tekapo is known for its "Dark Sky Reserve". A clear night sky allows us to see the most amazing starscape, so be sure to admire the sky after dark. There are options to join a night sky tour at Mt John Observatory from 11pm (entry fee payable). Cycle Distance: approx 75km / 47miles Total Ascent: 300m

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we start with a hearty breakfast and then we walk to the summit of Mt John. The track climbs steadily for around 45 minutes through exotic forest and open tussock hill slopes rewarding us with 360 degree panorama of the surrounding mountains, emerald coloured lakes and Mackenzie Basin flats. After taking in the views we will meet our bus and then transfer to the World Heritage area, Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, a journey of around 1.5 hours. After lunch we will walk along the Hooker Valley, to be surrounded by glaciers, huge glacial moraine and underneath the awe inspiring summit of Aoraki/Mt Cook. We can admire icebergs floating on the Hooker Lake and there might be chance to spot a Kea, the world's only alpine parrot. We then return the same way. If time allows and for those interested, there could be the opportunity to visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Museum (entry fee payable) in the late afternoon. We will spend the next 2 nights within the Mount Cook Village itself with outstanding views of the sun setting on the peaks. Hiking Distance: Mount John - 45min - 1hour / 2km or 1.25miles / 311m ascent Hooker Valley - 3 hours / 10km or 6.2miles / 100m ascent

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we can enjoy one of a number of walks in the Mount Cook Valley depending on fitness levels and how our legs are feeling from the previous day. Our first choice will be to walk up to the Mueller Hut for spectacular views of Aoraki/Mount Cook. We will have an early breakfast and drive to the start of the track. We climb up a series of steps to the Sealy Tarns gaining 450m in the first hour. From here there are awesome views around the neighbouring valleys, the Mt Cook Range and Mt Sefton. Then the path becomes less defined, a little rocky in places, and as it gets higher and starts to leave the alpine scrub and tussock, it enters boulder fields. The final ascent to the ridge line is up a steep-ish scree slope. At around 1600m, the view opens up to an amazing vista of Mt Sefton and the Mueller Glacier far below. Mueller Hut is then about a kilometre away, at an altitude just short of 1800m. The route to the hut is marked by poles, across boulder fields, and requires some rock-hopping, but later on crosses a couple of small basins before reaching the hut. The hut is located at a unique vantage point with more 360 degree views of uninterrupted alpine beauty. It makes a wonderful location for lunch before returning the same way. For those who prefer a more relaxed walk, options are to walk as far as the Sealy Tarns or Kea Point and to relax in the amazing alpine environment. Mueller Hut - 6-8 hours / 10.5km or 6.5miles / 1045m ascent

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we find ourselves back on our bikes as we leave Mount Cook Village. Our road today heads south down the Tasman Valley to reach the turquoise shores of Lake Pukaki. As we look back we can still see the towering peaks of Aoraki/Mount Cook behind us, there are numerous look out points along the way. The road continues along the lake edge and then we follow hydro canal roads to the small town of Twizel for lunch. Here we load up the bikes for a short section to avoid the main highway and continue cycling to Lake Ohau Lodge, our accommodation for the night. This evening we can relax on the terrace overlooking the shimmering Lake Ohau with the backdrop of the Ben Ohau and Neuman Mountain Ranges. Cycling Distance: up to 90km / 56miles Total Ascent: 500m Note: Today’s ride may be reversed to take advantage of tail winds

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast overlooking Lake Ohau, we load up the vehicle and drive to Omarama. Our ride today leaves the high mountains behind, follows the shores of Lake Benmore and then climbs over the Ahuriri Pass before a sweeping downhill to Otematata. We then detour 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. We transfer to Kurow to avoid a busy and narrow highway and enjoy lunch. In the afternoon we cycle through pretty undulating rural landscapes and visit the unusual formations of Elephant Rocks. Our ride today ends in the 19th century Victorian town of Oamaru. With some of New Zealand's oldest and most beautifully restored buildings, the historic precinct houses numerous cafes, restaurants, galleries and a thriving art culture. There are options to visit the creative steampunk museum and the penguin colony (best at dusk), and enjoy some fresh seafood for dinner. Cycling Distance: Omarama to Aviemore: 50km / 31miles Duntroon to Oamaru: 45km / 28miles Total Ascent: 730m

Meals:  B,L,D

We start with a cycle out of Oamaru along the coastal road. This road provides breath-taking views of sandy beaches and the Pacific Ocean. We ride as far as Waianakarua where the coastal road traffic increases and we drive to visit the perfectly spherical Moeraki Boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach. Believed to be at least 60 million years old, each boulder weighs several tons and can be up to six feet high. We then transfer to Idaburn (approx 1.5 hours) and cycle the scenic Ida Valley to the historic village of Ophir, via the challenging climb over the Raggedy Range. With views of the Dunstan Mountains and the Raggedy Range, we continue on to historic Clyde, another former gold mining village with beautiful old stone buildings. Clyde was once a wild and rollicking “canvas” town bustling with gold miners, shop keepers and ever-present dancing girls. Dunstan House, significant as a social gathering point for the thousands of miners, was the first hotel built in Clyde. This unique hotel has been restored is our accommodation for the night. The “gold” that can be found in this region today is wine and before dinner, we will sample some award-winning Pinot Noir with a private wine tasting at a local winery. Cycling Distance: Oamaru to Waianakarua - 28km / 17.5miles Idaburn to Clyde: 65km / 40miles Total Ascent: 530m

Meals:  B,L,D

Today is the culmination of all our hard work as we make our way to Queenstown via the Crown Range Road, New Zealand’s highest road. After breakfast we transfer by bus to Wanaka, a drive of approx 1 hour and enjoy lake views before setting off on our final bike leg. We begin with a gradual climb along the Cardrona Valley with a lunch break at the iconic and historic Cardrona Hotel. The road gets steeper and more winding with a final push to the Crown Range’s summit at 1076m (3530ft) above sea level. Then it’s all downhill from there! We zig zag our way down the famous hairpin bends to Arrowtown, a delightful gold rush village nestled below the beautiful peaks that surround the sparkling Arrow River. We have time to explore the old town and then load up the bikes and head to Queenstown in the late afternoon. Queenstown is the world’s adrenaline capital and makes a fitting end point to our epic ride. Surrounded by majestic mountains and hugging the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is the perfect place to relax. Tonight we will enjoy a final dinner together to celebrate our week's cycling achievement. Cycling Distance: 55km / 35miles Total Ascent: 875m

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning after breakfast we say a sad farewell to our guides and cycling companions. We can assist with accommodation bookings for those who might like to stay in Queenstown for an additional night or two. Taxis, shuttles and buses are readily available for any guests who need to get to the airport.

Meals:  B

What's Included

  • 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners
  • 9 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
  • Entrance to Lake Tekapo hot pools
  • Wine tasting in Clyde
  • 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. night sky tour in Tekapo, Sir Edmund Hillary museum, Oamaru penguin colony and steampunk museum)
  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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ELECTRIC BIKE (Additional Charge)

Our Merida e-Bike is perfect for cyclists that may require a little assistance on their travels. Pedalling our e-Bikes is easier on knees and joints than riding a traditional bike. They provide up to 80kms of pedal assistance before requiring recharging. Very simple to operate and they provide people with varying levels of cycling experience, health and fitness levels the opportunity to enjoy our cycling holidays.

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ACCESSORIES

Bikes can be fitted with flat pedals, toes clips or MTB SPD pedals. A bicycle helmet will be supplied with all bike rentals.

Upcoming Travel Dates

 

AT A GLANCE

Duration:10 Days
Starting Point:Christchurch
Finishing Point:Queenstown
Activities:Cycling
Hiking
Grade:Moderate  Click for more information
Trip Code:MSL
Prices From:NZD$3875
Bike Rental:NZD$350 
e-Bike Rental:NZD$560 
Single Supplement:NZD$925