• 12 days guided cycling; optional self-guided rides on rest days
  • 15 nights hotel/motel
  • 11 Dinners
  • 9 Lunches
  • 13 Breakfasts

16 Days$NZD

Trip Code: SOG7370

Trip highlights

  • Cycle five spectacular Great Rides of South Island all in one trip!
  • Take in the rugged coastlines, pristine lakes and alpine landscapes of the South Island
  • Enjoy the beauty of Queenstown and the numerous activities it has to offer
  • Wonder at Lake Matheson, famous for its sunset reflections of Aoraki/Mount Cook
  • Explore the charming Victorian Precinct in Oamaru and the delightful city of Dunedin
  • Taste award wining Pinot Noir in a boutique Central Otago winery
  • Have expert local guides deliver world class service which allows you to relax and ride
  • Stay in comfortable and exclusive accommodation
  • Enjoy healthy and delicious meals at hand-picked local cafes and restaurants

This exclusive People Cycling itinerary has been created to ensure you experience and ride the very best of what the South Island has to offer along with experiencing the comfort, security and fun which makes People Cycling rides so popular.

Majestic rugged mountains, spectacular glaciers, wild coastlines, emerald blue lakes - it’s all here and within reach. New Zealand boasts an amazing variety of landscapes and equally amazing biking. Explore five of NZ's Cycle Trails on a 16 day adventure within the South Island.

We begin with the Alps to Ocean trail near Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. We cycle past the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, turquoise glacier-fed lakes and lush pastures dotted with sheep to end this trail at the small port of Oamaru on the Pacific Ocean. After a rest day in Dunedin, we then ride part of New Zealand's original 'Great Ride', the Otago Central Rail Trail, followed by the Roxburgh Gorge trail through a remote gorge and including a scenic jetboat transfer. We then take on the stunning Lake Dunstan Trail which winds through another deep Gorge and past world class Pinot Noir vineyards.

We have a second rest day in Queenstown within the beautiful Lakes District where there are endless activities to enjoy. Then it's back on the bikes on the Queenstown Trails before driving over the Crown Range to the lakeside town of Wanaka. Heading North the following day, we cross the Haast Pass where you'll be greeted by lush rainforests and surreal coastlines featuring high cliffs and crashing seas. We visit the glaciers before arriving at Ross and the start of our fifth and final cycle trail, the West Coast Wilderness. Following extensive water races, logging tramways and historic railway lines, we will emerge to the rugged coast at Greymouth.

We finish this epic journey by crossing the Southern Alps a second time at Arthurs Pass; and then descend to Christchurch to the end of this amazing adventure.

Welcome to Aotearoa New Zealand. Meeting at a central hotel in Christchurch in early afternoon our trip starts with a short introduction and an overview of the trip itinerary and protocol, whilst enjoying a welcome drink. We'll then head over to the Adventure South NZ Depot for a bike fitting and introductory ride to test the bikes and spin the legs. Tonight we enjoy our first group meal and celebrate coming together and the fantastic riding ahead. Overnight in Christchurch Accommodation: Pavilion Hotel

Meals:  D

You'll be picked up from your hotel at 8am before heading south crossing the Canterbury Plains towards Geraldine for a refreshment break, then continuing to Lake Tekapo Village for lunch. Its picturesque lake is the first of the storage lakes which feed the hydro schemes in the basin and down the Waitaki Valley. The famous Church of the Good Shepherd and nearby statue standing as a tribute to the sheepdogs that make farming the Mackenzie Basin possible are local icons. This afternoon we set away on the first of the Great Ride Cycle Trails we are to conquer this tour - the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail, initially following quiet roads alongside the turquoise blue waters of the canal system. On reaching a high terrace overlooking Lake Pukaki, with stunning views across to the Southern Alps and Aoraki/Mt Cook, we drop down to the lakeshore and follow a short trail to a lake Viewpoint. Loading up, we have a short transfer back to our accommodation in Lake Tekapo, where we are staying in 2 very comfortable properties with shared bathrooms, both exclusive to our group. Cycle Distance: Tekapo to Lake Pukaki - 38km, 193m Accommodation: Lake Tekapo Holiday Homes

Meals:  B,L,D

After a hearty breakfast at a local cafe, we return to where we finished on the trail yesterday and start our ride for the day. The trail continues around the lakefront before crossing over from Lake Pukaki and heading through the extensive tussock-lands of Pukaki flats to the small town of Twizel. We continue riding alongside the Pukaki and Ohau canals to the canal inlet into Lake Ohau, a lovely spot for our picnic lunch. After lunch we follow the foreshore of Lake Ohau around to Lake Ohau Lodge, a rustic ski-lodge where we stay tonight. The Lodge location is stunning, looking out to the Lake and surrounding mountains. Arriving mid afternoon, there is time to unwind and soak in the onsite hot tubs while overlooking the lake, or take a walk down to the Lake or even continue up the Lake by bike on a gravel road. Dinner tonight is a treat in the Lodge dining room where the views of the lake and alps will continue to impress whilst you're enjoying a tasty three course meal. Cycle Distance: Pukaki to Lake Ohau Lodge - 57km; +377m Accommodation: Lake Ohau Lodge

Meals:  B,L,D

After we've refueled with breakfast, those who would like a challenge can continue on the trail, which starts as a steady climb to the Tambrae Saddle. At 900m this is the highpoint of the whole Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail and your efforts are rewarded with stunning views across the Mackenzie Basin. The rough shingle Tarnbrae track is steep and narrow and is suited to the more confident and fitter riders. Alternatively for those who want a more relaxing morning there is the option to transfer by the support vehicle and enjoy a final, mostly downhill and flat ride on the trail from the historic wool shed at Quailburn into Omarama, our stop for the night. This afternoon, we start our journey down the Waitaki Valley, initially following a delightful trail along the shores of Lake Benmore to Sailors Cutting where we join the lakeshore to traverse around the shoreline of rocky outcrops, little beaches and even tree covered islands. There is an easier option for less confident riders who would prefer to avoid this more technical section. Loading up at Lake Benmore Dam, we return to Omarama and this evening enjoy a meal at a typical small town Kiwi pub. Cycle Distance: Morning : Lake Ohau to Omarama via Tarnbrae Saddle - 43km +510m Short Option: Quailburn to Omarama - 26km Afternoon : Omarama to Benmore Dam : 29km +288m Accommodation: Sierra Motels

Meals:  B,D

Today is the trip's Queen stage! Please don't be concerned, however, as the van will never be too far away if you're keen to have a wee rest along the way. Returning to the top of the Benmore Dam, we start today's ride on a quiet back country road alongside Lake Aviemore, watching out for wild wallabies as you ride. Crossing back over Aviemore Dam we ride to the small town of Kurow where the trail takes us along the banks of the Waitaki River, past vineyards and wetlands to reach the neighboring town of Duntroon. From Duntroon we ride over the Maerewhenua bridge, then follow the trail through several farms to the unique rock formations known as Elephant Rocks, part of the Waitaki UNESCO Geopark. Picking up the old railway line, we head through Raki's tunnel before rolling downhill to the settlement of Windsor. The historic Burnside Homestead is a fascinating place to spend the night, together with another fun evening at the local Enfield pub. Cycle distance: Benmore Dam to Burnside Homestead : 104km +729m Accommodation: Burnside Homestead

Meals:  B,L,D

Setting off from our accommodation, we keep on rolling through picturesque rural countryside passing Oamaru Stone quarry, where stone has been extracted since the nineteenth century. We’ll see its influence on local architecture once we reach the Victorian settlement of Oamaru. After riding through the town’s delightful municipal gardens, we’ll reach the Victorian Precinct and harbourside park, where the Alps to Ocean finish-line sign offers the perfect photo-op. There will be time to explore the Victorian precinct before a 2 hour drive South to the city of Dunedin. Cycle Distance: Burnside Homestead to Oamaru - 19 kms, +146m Accommodation: Dunedin Palms Motel

Meals:  B,D

Today you're free to explore, starting with breakfast when and where you please! It is a day off for the guides, so you will need to be self-sufficient! By the time the Scottish settlers arrived in Dunedin around the mid-19th century, they found an area rich in Maori history. The rough, tough and enterprising whalers added another element of diversity to this burgeoning Otago harbour. The cultural mix of Maori, whaler and Scot gave early Dunedin a character all of its own, and here you will find some of the finest examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere. Dunedin’s railway station, known as one of the world’s most beautiful train stations, is said to be the most photographed building in New Zealand. Optional activities include a self guided cycle on the Otago Peninsula, a wildlife boat cruise on the Harbour, a visit to the only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross in the world and a visit to a craft brewery so take your pick! Accommodation: Dunedin Palms Motel

Meals:  Nil

Today we embark on the second of our Great Rides - the Otago Central Rail Trail, a beautiful journey into the Central Otago heartland. After breakfast, we travel inland to the Central Otago region. As one of the historic gold mining locations of New Zealand, the region is full of Kiwi colonial history. We have chosen the best section of trail and commence riding from the art deco town of Ranfurly. Passing by tunnels and bridges that once were the secret preserve of railway workers we witness the natural beauty and look in awe at some early feats of the first settlers of this region. The ever changing landscape includes rugged mountains, crystal clear rivers, and steep winding gorges. Be sure to watch for the planets of the solar system along the way and take note of their proportional sizes and distances. We cycle through the 229m Poolburn tunnel over the impressive Manuherikia Bridge and Poolburn viaduct. Our support vehicle will meet us in Lauder to drive the short distance to our accommodation for two nights in the small town of Alexandra, perched overlooking the mighty Clutha River. Dinner is at your own arrangement tonight. Cycle Distance: Ranfurly to Lauder - 48km Accommodation: Avenue Motel, Alexandra

Meals:  B,L

Today we join Great Ride number three, the striking Roxburgh Gorge Trail. A trail in an otherworldly landscape of steep hillsides strewn with giant boulders leading down to a willow-lined river and lake. We ride the trail to Doctors' Point before loading our bikes onboard a jet boat for a scenic cruise along an un-rideable section of the gorge to Shingle Creek. We get back on the bikes to continue following the gorge to finally emerge at Lake Roxburgh village where we'll enjoy a picnic lunch before riding a short section on the Clutha Gold Trail. We'll finish riding in the small settlement of Roxburgh, where the support vehicle will meet us and return us to Alexandra. Tonight we'll head up the road to another historic gold mining settlement, Clyde, for a vineyard visit and tasting of world-class Central Otago wine, followed by a group dinner at a nearby restaurant. . Cycling distance: Alexandra to Doctor's Point : 22km +269m Shingle Creek to Roxburgh : 14k, +106m Accommodation: Avenue Motel, Alexandra

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we ride the newest Great Ride, the Lake Dunstan Trail, a spectacular ride through unique and fascinating landscapes so characteristic of Central Otago. The trail follows the shores of Lake Dunstan and then journeys through the Cromwell Gorge along the Clutha and the Kawarau Rivers. From Alexandra, it's a relatively short van transfer to the start of the ride on the shores of Lake Dunstan. From here we ride alongside the lake through to the Cromwell Heritage Precinct where we’ll have a short break to explore the boutique galleries, stores, and cafes on offer, before rejoining the trail. Looping around the Bannockburn Inlet the trail continues toward Cornish Point, passing by vineyards and olive groves, before entering the stunning Cromwell Gorge. You'll cycle around sheer rockfaces and over lake inlets on impressively engineered platforms and bridges rising above Lake Dunstan. Lake Dunstan was created from the damming of the mighty Clutha Mata-au River, New Zealand’s second longest river, and the trail passes the historically controversial hydroelectric Clyde Dam before finishing at the Red Bridge at Clyde. Here we'll load up and drive through the Kawerau Gorge and Gibbston Valley to Queenstown, the Adventure Capital of New Zealand (some say the World!) Accommodation: Blue Peaks Motel Cycle Distance: Smiths Way to Clyde - 55km/34miles

Meals:  B,L,D

Today is a day at leisure in Queenstown. No meals have been included so you can do as you please. There are optional excursions to either Doubtful Sound or Milford Sound (own expense). These tours have an early start with a bus journey to either Manapouri (to visit Doubtful Sound) or Milford Sound to join an amazing cruise into Fiordland. There is also an option to bus one way to Milford Sound and fly back to Queenstown by helicopter or small plane. We are happy to assist with bookings. Others in the group might like to enjoy a relaxing day in Queenstown, taking in the scenery, visiting galleries, cafes and restaurants, if not partaking in a bungy jump, a sky dive, jet boating or some other adrenalin activity! Accommodation: Blue Peaks Motel

Meals:  Nil

This morning we head to The Kelvin Heights Peninsula for our first ride on arguably the best of the Queenstown Trails. We start with a loop around the Queenstown Golf Course with stunning lake views and numerous sculptures. The lakeside trail then joins the Twin Rivers and Countryside Trails which take us through to Arrowtown in time for lunch. We then continue onto the Arrow River Bridges Trail which includes 2 spectacular suspension bridges and is a delightful ride through to the historic Kawerau Bridge where we can witness bungy jumpers and zipliners getting their adrenaline fix! A scenic drive over the Crown Range through the delightful Cardrona valley takes us to the lakeside town of Wanaka. Cycling distance: 43km/478m Accommodation: Wanaka Heights Motel

Meals:  B

This morning we will start our drive skirting the edges of Lake Hawea and Wanaka with Mt Aspiring National Park as the backdrop, before climbing over the Haast Pass to the west coast of the South Island, renowned for it's glaciers and wild coastlines. The road is bordered by rainforest and mountains on one side and the wild ocean on the other. This is mainly a driving day (journey time approx 6 hours), but we will enjoy stopping at a number of waterfalls and scenic points for short walks along the way. We end our day in the tiny township of Franz Josef, home to one of only 3 temperate glaciers in the world. There will be time to enjoy a short walk and relax before meeting for dinner. Accommodation: Punga Grove Hotel

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we continue north to the town of Ross, where we connect up with the last of our cycle trails - the West Coast Wilderness Trail. We follow the cycleway north to Hokitika, with a stop at the Treetop Walkway, to experience a unique adventure walking on custom built platforms among temperate rainforest giants. The trail continues through farmland to the delightful little town of Hokitika, fronted by a dramatic beach and famous for pounamu (greenstone) and other arts & crafts. You have the late afternoon free to explore the town and in the evening we are hosted by local couple, Rob and Col for a paddock to plate home cooked dining experience in their architecturally designed eco home. Cycle Distance: Ross to Hokitika - 33km/21miles Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel

Meals:  B,L,D

After breakfast, we rejoin the Wilderness Trail and head out along the riverbank to join the old Kaniere water race, which leads us to the shores of the beautiful Lake Kaniere, nestled against the Southern Alps. Next up is Milltown, home of saw-milling in earlier times. From here the trail crosses a swing bridge and then a short section of switchbacks takes us to the highpoint and more superb riding. It's then mainly downhill, as we follow water races, bush tracks and reservoir roads taking in the spectacular views as we gradually descend to the town of Kumara and our beautiful historic hotel that is our accommodation and our final celebratory meal together celebrating new friendships, adventures and riding bikes in stunning locations. Cycle Distance: Lake Kaniere to Kumara - 69km, +779m Accommodation: Theatre Royal Hotel

Meals:  B,L,D

Our final day on the Wilderness Trail sees us riding north to Greymouth on a combination of riverside and coastal pathways. The old road and rail bridge is just one highlight as we head towards the town centre. There's time for a brief wander and own lunch before the 3-4hr journey over the Southern Alps to Christchurch, a spectacular drive. On arrival in early evening we will drop you off at your chosen central Christchurch accommodation, where trip arrangements conclude. It is advised to not book any domestic or international flights that evening, allowing for possible delays in our journey.

Meals:  B


  • 13 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 11 dinners
  • 15 nights hotel/motel ensuite accommodation on twin share basis
  • 2 Professional qualified driver/guides
  • Private vehicle transport/support vehicle
  • Hire of a hybrid bike with wider tyres perfect for riding on gravel roads, forestry trails and shingle (including helmet)
  • Wine tasting at a Central Otago vineyard
  • Scenic Roxburgh Gorge jetboat transfer
  • Entrance fee to West Coast Treetop Walkway
  • Fruit and snacks while cycling
  • Daily People Cycling happy hour drinks and nibbles
  • Group arrival and departure airport transfers
  • Concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation
  • Goods & Service Tax 15%
  • Pre Departure Information Kit to help you plan and prepare

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages (other than breakfast, trailside or daily happy hour)
  • e-Bike Hire (a surcharge is payable)
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment and bring your own bike drink bottle)
  • Optional activities (e.g. wildlife boat cruise in Dunedin, activities in Queenstown)
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)

About Your Leader

Tom Ryan and Cynthia Lyons from People Cycling will be leading this tour, supported by expert local guides from Adventure South. Our guides are one of our biggest assets and we pride ourselves on their level of quality and high standards. 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



The Great Rides of Aotearoa South Island trip is graded moderate. You will need a good level of fitness and we suggest 90 minutes of cycling three times a week for the three months leading up to your trip. You will need to be able to cycle 50-60km each day and as much as 100km on the longest day. The trail surfaces vary from hard packed to loose gravel yet all are purpose built for off-road cycling and are well maintained. We recommend training on gravel trails and Greenways, and completing a multi-day ride prior to your trip to get used to being in the saddle for long periods of time. 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


Base Price

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Priceper person from


Options & Supplements*
  • Electric Bike hireNZD$750
  • Single SupplementNZD$1826
*Prices listed are per person

Essential information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed People Cycling Best of South Island NZ Great Rides 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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