Introductory to Moderate
  • 11 days cycling and walking
  • 10 nights 3-4 star hotels/motels/lodges
  • 9 Lunches
  • 10 Breakfasts

11 Days$5095NZD

Trip Code: SOG8336

Trip highlights

  • Explore the outstanding beauty of the South Island on a private family tour
  • View the incredible Giant Sperm Whales on a whale watch cruise from Kaikoura
  • Take in the rugged coastlines, pristine lakes and alpine landscapes of the West Coast
  • Enjoy scenic cycling and hiking from the alpine resort of Wanaka
  • Cycle the full Lake Dunstan Trail on this impressively engineered trail
  • Visit the Victorian precinct and see the little Blue Penguins in Oamaru
  • Admire the majesty of NZ's highest mountains and serene Lake Tekapo from Mt John

Embark on a journey through the stunning landscapes of the South Island New Zealand, where every turn reveals breathtaking vistas and unforgettable experiences.

Travelling from Christchurch, our adventure begins as we set sail on a whale watching excursion and explore the dramatic Kaikoura Peninsula. Followed by our first traverse of the Southern Alps over the mountainous Lewis Pass, the gateway to the wild allure of the West Coast, where we'll wander along the Kawatiri Trail and marvel at the natural wonders in Punakaiki.

Pedaling through the West Coast Wilderness Trail, we'll immerse ourselves in lush rainforests and tranquil lakes, following paths once carved by gold miners. In Glacier Country, we'll glide through pristine waters and hike amidst towering mountains and glaciers.

Returning over the Alps, we'll find serenity in the Lakes District at Wanaka, cycling along Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea and exploring the charming town. A leisurely day in Wanaka offers time to unwind or pursue adventure.

Continuing into Central Otago, we'll tackle the scenic Lake Dunstan trail before settling in the historic town of Clyde. The next day we ride the best section of the Otago Central Rail Trail and then go to the Victorian town of Oamaru. Our journey concludes amidst the awe-inspiring beauty of Mackenzie Country with a stunning ride on the Alps to Ocean trail and a star gazing experience from the summit of Mt John.

On arrival into Christchurch, you'll be met by your guide and driven to the Great Kiwi Beer Festival in Hagley Park. You will be free to enjoy the festivities and some great beer. Later in the day we'll set away from Christchurch and our adventure starts as we head north through the Waipara Valley wine region. We wind our way over the Hunderlee Hills giving us our first glimpse of the spectacular east coast to arrive into Kaikoura in the late evening (approx 2.5-3 hours drive). Accommodation: Kaikoura Waterfront Apartments - www.kaikourawaterfrontapartments.co.nz

Meals:  Nil

This morning we will have an early start to join a 3 hour whale watch tour at 7:15am. With an opportunity to have a up-close encounter with the world's largest toothed predator; the Giant Sperm Whale, we might also get to spot any number of Blue, Fin, Sei, Humpback, Minke, Pilot, Orca and Southern Right Whales, Common Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, as well as Elephant Seals and Leopard Seals. Back on dry land, we'll have breakfast and there is an option for us to stretch our legs on the elevated Kaikoura Peninsula coastal walk for impressive views of rugged cliff formations, tidal platforms and the Seaward Kaikoura Range. Then a scenic mountainous drive takes us over the Southern Alps via Lewis Pass to Reefton. We have time for coffee and to explore this small gold mining town, famous for having the first electrical lighting in the Southern Hemisphere. Then we continue alongside the mighty Buller (Kawatiri) River twisting its away through a bush clad gorge towards the sea. Our accommodation is in a wonderful location with ocean views and dramatic sunsets. The Star Tavern is conveniently located next door and serves hearty evening meals. Be sure to visit the impressive Hole in the Rock before dark. Optional walking Distance: Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway - 3.5km (1.5 hours) Accommodation: Omau Settlers Lodge - www.omausettlerslodge.com

Meals:  B,L

From our accommodation we'll hop on our bikes and immediately set away on the new Kawatiri Cycle Trail which follows the spectacular coastline and weaves in and out of lush rain forest and nikau groves. Currently the trail goes as far as the Virgin Flat Road, and is eventually destined for Charleston. We will have the option to ride further if it has extended by January. Back in the van, we'll drive southwards down the stunning highway to Punakaiki. The views of the Southern Alps can be remarkable on a clear day especially when Aoraki/Mount Cook is visible in the far distance. We'll visit Punakaiki’s Dolomite Point, famous for its curious Pancake Rocks and thundering blow holes. From there we’ll head to Lake Kaniere (a drive of approx 1.5 hours) nestled in the forested foothills to cycle a section of the West Coast Wilderness Trail. Following the flowing Lake Kaniere water race and logging tramways, we'll cycle to our accommodation in Hokitika, a loveable little town fronted by a dramatic beach and famous for its driftwood sculptures, incredible sunsets and pounamu. Cycling Distance: Kawatiri Trail - Cape Foulwind to Virgin Flat - 15km West Coast Wilderness - Lake Kaniere to Hokitika - 21km Walking Distance: Pancake Rocks Walk - 1.5km (30mins) Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel - www.beachfronthotel.co.nz

Meals:  B,L

Today's ride takes us to the end of the West Coast Wilderness. The cycle trail heads out of Hokitika towards Lake Mahinapua. It follows the Mahinapua Creek, and then a historic tramline through wetlands, native forest and old mill sites with lake views. There's an option to divert slightly to the West Coast Treetop Walkway, where we can view the temperate rainforest giants from elevated platforms. In Ross we will load up the bikes and drive southwards towards Glacier Country. In the afternoon we will have the option to visit Okarito. Okarito is New Zealand's largest unmodified estuarine lagoon - home to more than 70 bird species, including the beautiful kotuku or white heron and royal spoonbills. The lagoon is surrounded by lush native rainforest, and a walk to Okarito Trig offers amazing views of the towering snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps. Alternatively we can head straight to Franz Josef Glacier and a short walk through native bush leads us to the glacier viewpoint and vast Waiho river valley. We then return to Franz Josef and settle into our accommodation. Cycling Distance: West Coast Wilderness Hokitika to Ross - 33km Optional Activities: Okarito trig point 1.5 hours, Franz Josef Glacier Walk 30mins. Accommodation: Punga Grove Motel - www.pungagrove.co.nz

Meals:  B,L

Today we have a day off the bike with time to enjoy the scenic highlights along the West Coast. The first stop is Fox Glacier and if the weather is clear, we can take a walk to view the jewel-like Lake Matheson famous for its mirror reflections of Fox Glacier and the Southern Alps. Continuing our drive south, and depending on the weather we have the option to visit Jackson Bay, and then make a number of stops at beautiful viewpoints which could include Roaring Billy Falls, Thunder Falls and Fantail Falls, we'll then reach the Gates of Haast and cross from Westland over the Haast Pass into Otago. We’ll travel past coastal scrub, rain forest and native bush, alpine tussock lands, lakes and mountains - this road showcases the best of South Island scenery all in one go. On arrival into Wanaka, the beautiful lakefront town nestled in the Southern Alps, we'll make our way to our accommodation where we will spend the next 3 nights. Scenic Drive: approx 5-8 hours Accommodation: Clearbrook Motel - www.clearbrook.co.nz

Meals:  B,L

After breakfast we set off on our bikes along the side of the lake shore, to join the Outlet Trail following the crystal clear waters of the Clutha River/Mata-Au from the Lake Wanaka outlet to Albert Town. This stretch of the river is world-renowned for its trout fishing and the track offers easy riding with many spots to stop and enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way. We visit the Pembroke Patisserie for a delicious morning tea and next up is the Hawea River Track. This 10km bike trail following the Hawea River from Albert Town to Lake Hawea is an easy grade and beautifully scenic. Look out for the surfing wave on the way! After lunch we take a walk offering stunning panoramic views over Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains. After a short drive round the western edge of Lake Wanaka we start our walk by climbing gently around the side of Rocky Mountain to the grassy summit offering a superb vista into the Mount Aspiring National Park. On a fine day we should be able to see the snowy peak of Mount Aspiring/Tititea. We descend via the beautiful Diamond Lake and return to Wanaka. Cycling Distance: Wanaka to Lake Hawea - 26km Hiking Distance: Rocky Mountain - 7km, 3 hours Accommodation: Clearbrook Motel - www.clearbrook.co.nz

Meals:  B,L

Today is your guide's rest day. There is the option of a long lie-in and spending the rest of the day cruising Wanaka’s many cafes and outdoor shops. Or you can stick with the active theme of the tour and choose one of the myriad of activities offered by local operators, such as kayaking on Lake Wanaka, jet boating the Matukituki River (with Wanaka River Journeys), off-road driving, or more self guided biking and hiking … and there are plenty of hikes and easy rides that you can do yourselves, Mount Iron is a favorite walk that gives excellent views within a short distance of the town centre. Accommodation: Clearbrook Motel - www.clearbrook.co.nz

Meals:  B

After breakfast we leave Wanaka and drive to Cromwell to embark on the famous Lake Dunstan Trail. We unload the bikes at Smith’s Way and start our journey with an easy ride following the glistening shores of the lake. We pass through Cromwell’s Old Town, a small historic precinct dating back to the gold rush days of the 1800s, where galleries, coffee shops and boutiques give us a short break from the bike. The trail continues along the Kawarau arm of Lake Dunstan to the Bannockburn Bridge offering stunning views across the lake while passing by wineries and olive groves. This is the perfect stop for lunch and a wine tasting at a nearby boutique vineyard. From Cornish Point we can continue along the new Lake Dunstan Trail into the dramatic Cromwell Gorge, where the track winds around sheer rockfaces and over lake inlets on impressively engineered platforms and bridges rising above the lake to Clyde. For those riders who wish to avoid the more demanding section through the gorge, there will be an option to drive to Clyde and ride all or part of the easier river trail to Alexandra, or explore the small historic town. We stay in Clyde at the iconic Dunstan House. Cycling Distances: Smith’s Way to Cornish Point – 30km Cornish Point to Clyde via Lake Dunstan (Moderate) – 25km Clyde to Alexandra River Trail (Introductory) – 12km each way Accommodation: Dunstan House - www.dunstanhouse.co.nz

Meals:  B,L

This morning we will leave Clyde and drive inland following the course of the Otago Central Rail Trail to Lauder, visiting the historic Ophir road bridge and township on the way. At Lauder we will get on our bikes and ride the best section of the trail. Cycling through an ever changing landscape of rugged mountains, crystal clear rivers, and steep winding gorges, we cross the impressive Manuherikia bridge and Poolburn viaduct and ride through the 229m Poolburn tunnel to reach Oturehua. Here we have the choice to get back in the van, or continue on up a gentle climb to the rail trail’s highpoint, followed by a downhill roll to Wedderburn for lunch. In the afternoon as we drive towards the east coast we have the opportunity to make a small detour to visit Macraes, known for its historical gold mining village and the extensive modern day Oceana Gold Mine. The village features historic buildings made of the local schist, including the hotel and stables, and the iconic boot makers shop. Continuing on to Oamaru, our final stop is the Moeraki Boulders. A short walk along a picturesque beach takes us to the spherical rocks formed 65 million years ago. In the evening after dinner, we can head out to view the little Blue Penguins coming into shore after a day spent fishing! Cycling Distance: Otago Central Rail Trail, Lauder to Oturehua - 23km, Oturehua to Wedderburn - 12km Accommodation: Poshtel - www.poshtelnz.com

Meals:  B,L

This morning we will have time to wander through the Victorian Precinct where the historic buildings have been restored creating a fascinating opportunity to explore the past and enjoy boutique shopping in its many galleries, art shops and cafes. You might be interested in an a visit to the fascinating Steampunk Museum. On leaving Oamaru we drive up the Waitaki River Valley and follow the path of the famous Alps to Ocean cycle ride which travels 300km all the way from Aoraki/Mount Cook to the Pacific Ocean at Oamaru. We travel alongside lakes Waitaki, Aviemore and Benmore and past the large hydro dams. Depending on the weather conditions and wind direction, we will have the chance to ride a stunning section of the Alps to Ocean trail, which could be Lake Ohau to Twizel around the shores of the lake, or Lake Pukaki to Lake Tekapo along the vivid blue hydro canals. On arrival into Lake Tekapo, we can visit the famous Church of the Good Shepherd and walk around the lake front through the township. After dark (departing at 00:30am) we can join a Dark Sky Project 2 hour Summit Experience; New Zealand’s ultimate stargazing adventure. High on Mount John’s 1,029m peak, you'll be at the heart of the world’s largest International Dark Sky Reserve. Using high-powered telescopes you'll have the chance to see the Milky Way, far-off planets, star clusters, solar systems, constellations. You might even glimpse a distant galaxy. The skilled guides will open your eyes to the Southern night sky with captivating tales and facts. Optional Cycling Distance: Lake Ohau to Twizel - 38km or Lake Pukaki Visitors Centre to Lake Tekapo - 44km

Meals:  B,L

After getting back to your accommodation at 2:30am, there will be a chance to have a longer sleep and a more relaxed start to the day. Today's drive back to Christchurch offers great views as we leave the MacKenzie Basin and head over Burkes Pass to the pretty country towns of Fairlie and Geraldine. Depending on the time available there will be an option for either a daytime walk to the top of Mount John or the shorter lower Cowan's Hill for impressive views over Lake Tekapo. Our final drive takes us across the vast Canterbury Plains to arrive back into Christchurch in the afternoon. The itinerary will be flexible so that you will be delivered to the airport in time for your flight.

Meals:  B,L


  • Tasty breakfasts (x10), gourmet picnic or cafe lunches (x9) catered to all dietary requirements
  • 10 nights comfortable hotel/motel/lodge ensuite accommodation on double or twin share basis
  • Experienced professional driver/guide to handle the hard bits and share epic stories
  • Private vehicle transport and trailer for bikes and luggage
  • Hire of bikes (either standard bike or ebike) with helmet
  • Wine tasting at a Boutique Central Otago vineyard
  • Tasty nutritious snacks, drinks and treats plus our famous morning and afternoon tea's
  • Cycle trail fees and concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages, other than with breakfast
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment and bring your own drink bottle or hydration system)
  • Optional activities (Whale watching in Kaikoura $175, Tree Top Walkway $36, Matukituki River jet boat $319, activities in Wanaka on your rest day, Blue Penguin Viewing $43, Steampunk Museum Entry $15, Mt John Observatory Tour $209)
  • 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. We pride ourselves on the standard and quality of these great people who you will be spending your holiday with. All are certified in first aid and CPR and many are advanced mountain guides. They come from all walks of life but they all have a common desire to give you the best possible experience, heaps of fun and lots of fond memories to take home with you.


Bike information


Introductory to Moderate  

The tour is graded introductory to moderate. You will need a reasonable level of fitness with an average daily distance of 40km. We suggest 90 minutes of cycling three to five times a week for the three months leading up to your trip. Some of the sections are on seal or hard packed gravel and are relatively easy to ride. Other sections are on looser gravel which can be rough and uneven in places. The section of the Lake Dunstan Trail through the Cromwell Gorge is moderately technical and is optional as it is more challenging with some short hills, narrow track, tight corners and exposure in places. There is an alternate ride for less confident riders. Practise cycling up hills and on gravel on rougher terrain before your tour to enable you to really enjoy the fantastic riding and diverse scenery. With the trip being fully supported, less confident riders can choose to miss the moderate sections and the support vehicle is never far away.

Departure dates

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*
  • Kaikoura Whale WatchNZD$175
  • Wanaka River Journeys Jet Boat/WalkNZD$319
  • Mt John Summit ExperienceNZD$209
*Prices listed are per person

Essential information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed van Uden's South Island Family Adventure 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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