Everything you need to know about the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail

Cycling on the Alps 2 Ocean trail | Hana Black
Cycling on the Alps 2 Ocean trail | Hana Black

Guide to Cycling the Alps 2 Ocean in New Zealand

Embark on an exhilarating helicopter ride to kick off your journey on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, the longest continuous bike trail among New Zealand's 22 Great Rides. This epic bike trail takes you from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean, guiding you through canals, pristine glacial lakes, and impressive mountain ranges. It's an unforgettable cycling adventure that showcases New Zealand's breathtaking landscapes. 

Quick links:
Location of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail
Map of Alps 2 Ocean 
Trail Route and Distance 
Starting points on the trail 
Trail gradient and difficulty 
Best time of the year to cycle it 
Popular Itineraries


Location of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

Located in the middle of the South Island of New Zealand, the Alps 2 Ocean bike trail is cut into 9 sections starting from the base of Aoraki/Mt Cook through to the small east coast town of Oamaru. 

There is an alternative starting point, beginning at Lake Tekapo with a shorter cycling distance of 301km.

Both starting points can take between 6-7 days to complete the ride. You can browse our selection of Alps to Ocean cycle trips here

Map of Alps 2 Ocean

Detailed Route and Distances

Aorkai/ Mt Cook to Braemar Road - 35km: Starting your ride at the base of Aoraki/Mt Cook, cyclists will traverse through the Southern Alps and along Lake Pukaki before stopping at Braemar Station for the night.
Braemar Road to Twizel - 40km: This section offers beautiful views of Lake Pukaki and the surrounding mountains, leading into the town of Twizel. 
Alt Start: Lake Tekapo to Twizel - 55km: For the cyclists starting at Lake Tekapo, this alternative route takes you through Mackenzie Basin to Twizel, where you'll join the main trail.
Twizel to Lake Ohau Lodge - 38km: From Twizel, the trail takes you along the Pukaki Canal, around Lake Ohau Mountain to Lake Ohau Lodge, offering picturesque lakes and mountain views.
Lake Ohau Lodge to Omarama - 43km: Start this section with a challenging, yet rewarding climb over Tarnbrea Saddle and descent into Waitaki Valley, riding into Omarama with views of the surrounding ranges. Here is a great opportunity to stop by the Clay Cliffs in Omarama.
Omarama to Otematata - 35km: Challenge yourself riding through Sailor's Cutting to Lake Benmore.
Otematata to Kurow - 44km: Follow the shores of Lake Benmore and Aviemore, with opportunities to explore the hydro-electric dams.
Kurow to Duntoon - 27km: This section takes you through rolling farmlands and past historical sites.
Duntoon to Oamaru - 54km: Stop by the Elephant Rocks near Duntoon before descending through Waitaki Valley, leading you to the Pacific Ocean where you'll finish your A2O ride at the historic town of Oamaru.

Starting points on the A2O trail

Starting at Aoraki/Mt Cook

The complete Alps 2 Ocean trail starts at the base of Aoraki/ Mt Cook, covering a distance of over 315km. This route offers a great opportunity to explore the Aoraki/ Mt Cook National Park and visit the Tasman Glacier viewpoint. We offer these chances before settling for the night at Hermitage Lodge on the first night before embarking on our Alps 2 Ocean End to End tour


On the first day of cycling, cycle through the magnificent Southern Alps before jumping on a helicopter ride over the Tasman River, followed by a scenic bike ride along Lake Pukaki, known for its mesmerising turquoise water.


Starting at Lake Tekapo (alternative starting point)

The alternative route of the Alps 2 Ocean begins at Lake Tekapo and covers 301km to Omarau. This trail follows canals and descends at Lake Pukaki to join the End to End trail. A few highlights when cycling the Alps to Ocean Classic and other Alps to Ocean trips, include the impressive Clay Cliffs at bike trail includes the Clay Cliffs in Omarama and biking around Sailor's Cutting from Omarama to Lake Benmore.


Trail Gradient and Difficulty

The Alps to Ocean is an 'introductory to moderately' graded cycle trail. It features a variety of terrains: gravel (45%), sealed road (30%), gravel road (18%) and rougher terrain such as shingle (6%). Cyclists will encounter narrow sections and switchbacks, particularly over Tarnbrae Saddle and from Sailor's Cutting to Benmore Dam.


For an enjoyable multi-day bike riding experience, it's recommended to incorporate 90 minutes of cycle training into your regime 3-5 times a week. Read more on how to prepare for a multi-day bike ride to ensure you are fully prepared. 

Best time to Cycle the Alps 2 Ocean

You can cycle the Alps 2 Ocean all year round, just dress with the correct bike gear according to the climate you're riding in. Read more on essential winter bike gear and how to layer according to the season. Otherwise, Summer is a great time to complete the longest cycle trail. 


Popular Itineraries

>> Aoraki/ Mt Cook starting point: Alps to Ocean End to End 7-day tour
>> Lake Tekapo starting point: Alps to Ocean Classic 6-day guided cycling tour
>> Browse all Alps to Ocean guided cycle tours here.



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