3
moderate
Activities
  • 12 days guided cycling; optional self-guided rides on rest days
Accommodation
  • 15 nights hotel/motel
Meals
  • 11 Dinners
  • 12 Lunches
  • 14 Breakfasts

16 Days$NZD

Trip Code: SOG6856

Trip highlights


  • Cycle five spectacular Great Rides of South Island all in one trip!
  • Explore the charming Victorian Precinct in Oamaru
  • Taste award wining Pinot Noir in a boutique Central Otago winery
  • 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
  • Take in the rugged coastlines, pristine lakes and alpine landscapes of the South Island
  • Have expert local guides deliver world class service which allows you to relax and ride
  • Stay in comfortable and exclusive accommodation
  • Enjoy healthy and varied meals at mix of cafe, restaurant or gourmet picnics

This itinerary has been created to ensure you experience and ride the very best of what the South Island has to offer.

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 take New Zealand's original 'Great Ride' and the second of our trails, the Otago Central Rail Trail followed by the Roxburgh Gorge trail through a gorge which is so wild a short section of trail could not be created so we use a scenic jetboat transfer to link you with the next section of trail. We then take on the recently completed Lake Dunstan Trail which winds through world class Pinot Noir vineyards and a deep gorge to the charming town of Clyde.

We have a second rest day in Queenstown within the beautiful Lakes District where there are endless activities to enjoy before we get back on the bikes for an optional ride over the Crown Range to enjoy Wanaka, before continuing northwards, crossing Haast Pass where you'll be greeted by lush rainforests and surreal coastlines featuring high cliffs and crashing seas. We visit the glaciers and Lake Matheson before heading north where your cycling efforts will be rewarded on reaching 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 Hokitika.

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. The tour meets in Christchurch on day 1, March 1st 2023. There will be an airport pick-up for any scheduled group flight between 9-11.00am and a hotel pick up from the Quest Hotel at 2pm. Otherwise please make your way to our depot at 29 Iversen Terrace, Waltham in time for a 2.30pm welcome meeting. Please confirm your arrival time and therefore which of the above collection/meeting options you will be taking. After the introduction, a bike fitting session and a safety briefing we will return to the Quest Hotel, our first night's tour accommodation, before heading out to enjoy our first group dinner and celebrate coming together for the fantastic riding ahead. Accommodation: The Quest Hotel, Christchurch

Meals:  D

This morning you will be collected from the Quest Hotel at 08:00am. Departing Christchurch we head 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 New Zealand Great Rides we are to conquer this tour - the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail. Following quiet roads alongside the turquoise blue waters of the canal system we ride towards our accommodation at the iconic Braemar High Country Station. The station location on the edge of Lake Pukaki affords vast and spectacular views of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps made all the better with a celebratory glass of wine and some cheese. Cycling distance: up to 30km Please Note: accommodation tonight is mixed and may be across 2 separate lodges - some rooms have ensuites and some do not, yet both lodges have views to make it worthwhile. A hearty dinner will be prepared by your hosts and cooked by your guides. Cycle Distance: Tekapo to Lake Pukaki - 30 km/ 19mi Accommodation: Braemar Station

Meals:  B,D

After a hearty breakfast, we leave Braemar Station and start our ride for the day. The trail winds around the edge of Lake Pukaki before crossing the extensive tussock-lands of Pukaki flats to Twizel where we stop for lunch. We continue riding an enjoyable section alongside the Pukaki and Ohau canals, then around the edge of Lake Ohau and onto Lake Ohau Lodge, where we stay tonight. Today's ride is big but equally impressive and this evening there is time to unwind and soak in the onsite hot tubs while overlooking the lake. Remember there is the support vehicle to rest tired legs! Dinner tonight is a treat in the Lake Ohau Lodge dining room where the views of the lake and alps are a distraction from you enjoying a tasty three course meal. Cycle Distance: Braemar Station to Twizel - 42km/ 26mi Twizel to Lake Ohau - 38km/ 24mi Accommodation: Lake Ohau Lodge

Meals:  B,L,D

After we've refueled our bodies with breakfast, those who would like a challenge can continue on the trail, which starts as a steady climb up 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 mostly downhill and flat ride on the trail from Quailburn into Omarama, our stop for the night. We have an additional ride choice out to the unique geological formations called the Clay Cliffs. Omarama is called "Place of Light" in Maori terminology, a reference to its extraordinarily pure and clear sky. This region is also famous for gliding due to some unique air wave systems and feisty thermals. This evening enjoy an optional soak in a private hot tub of fresh mountain water (own expense) before a meal at the local pub! Cycle Distance: Lake Ohau to Omarama via Tarnbrae Saddle - 44km/ 28mi Short Option: Quailburn to Omarama - 26km/ 16mi Accommodation: Sierra Motels

Meals:  B,L,D

Today’s ride reflects a big challenge, so don't be shy at breakfast when we visit the iconic Wrinkly Ram Cafe. The trail takes us down the Waitaki Valley, known for its hydro lakes, dams, geological formations and growing reputation for cool climate wines. First, we follow the trail along the shores of Lake Benmore to Sailors' Cutting where we join a new section of trail which follows Benmore Dam and offers super views and some of the best riding of the entire trail. Crossing Benmore Dam wall the trail follows Lake Aviemore where at a scenic picnic spot the guides will have set up a picnic lunch. Crossing back over an additional dam wall (Aviemore Dam) we ride through the small town of Kurow where the trail takes us along the banks of the Waitaki River, past vineyards and a Maori rock art site to reach the small town of Duntroon and your accommodation. We’ll stay at the Duntroon Hotel, a restored historical country hotel serving hearty and tasty meals showcasing local produce. Cycle Distance: 106km Omarama to Benmore Dam - 35km/ 22mi Benmore Dam to Kurow - 44km/ 28mi Kurow to Duntroon - 27km/ 17mi Accommodation: Duntroon Hotel

Meals:  B,L,D

From Duntroon we ride south-east along the footpath and over the Maerewhenua bridge, then follow the trail through several farms to the unique rock formations known as Elephant Rocks. Picking up the old railway line, we’ll ride through Raki's tunnel before rolling downhill amidst more spectacular limestone outcrops and landscapes as we gradually descend towards Oamaru where the Alps to Ocean trail ends on the Pacific Coast. There will be time for a short wander around the Victorian precinct before a 2 hour drive South to the city of Dunedin. Cycle Distance: Duntroon to Oamaru - Up to 82 kms/51mi Accommodation: Dunedin Palms Motel

Meals:  B,L,D

Today you're free to explore, with the guides on an official rest day. 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:  B

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 meet us in Lauder and we drive the short distance to our accommodation for two nights at Dunstan House in the small town of Clyde, perched overlooking the mighty Clutha River. Dinner is at the old Post Office restaurant. Cycle Distance: Ranfurly to Lauder - 48km/ 30mi Accommodation: Dunstan House

Meals:  B,L,D

We commence the morning's ride along the River Trail linking Clyde with nearby Alexandra via a riverside trail offering impressive views. We then 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 ride along an unrideable section of the gorge to Shingle Creek. We get back on the bikes to continue tracing the gorge to finally emerge at Lake Roxburgh village where the support vehicle will return us to Clyde to celebrate with a vineyard visit and tasting of world-class Central Otago wine. Dinner is your own arrangements. Cycling distance: 30km/19mi Accommodation: Dunstan House

Meals:  B,L

Starting from Smiths Way, we commence riding the new Lake Dunstan Trail, finishing at Clyde with time to marvel at the man-made landscapes, the rich Maori and early pioneer history, and amble through the vineyards of Bannockburn. The region’s rich modern, pioneering and Maori historical stories are integrated along the way, some of which are brought to life in the Clyde and Cromwell Historical Precinct where we stop for morning coffee. After crossing the Bannockburn Bridge the trail loops back and around the Bannockburn Inlet which is a popular picnic area. As it continues toward Cornish Point it passes by vineyards and olive groves - with views back across to Cromwell and the Heritage Precinct. The final section of trail is possibly the most impressive taking you into the Cromwell Gorge. You will be amazed at the skills of trail builders with sections built out around sheer rock faces. You will cycle at the base of the stonework faces of the Cairnmuir slide, a unique feature high on the slopes above the lake. It was designed to protect the river from a major land slide, which could overwhelm the Clutha Dam, a short distance downstream. Our support vehicle meets us in Clyde where we drive to Queenstown for 2 nights accommodation. Cycle Distance: Smiths Way to Clyde - 55km/34miles * Please note we might operate today's ride in reverse - from Clyde to Smiths Way. Accommodation: Blue Peaks Hotel

Meals:  B,L,D

Today is a day at leisure in Queenstown. No meals have been included so as 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 Hotel

Meals:  Nil

Today we make our way to Wanaka, via the Crown Range Road, New Zealand’s highest road. We drive to the Crown Range’s summit at 1076m above sea level, where we can enjoy sweeping views over the Arrow Valley, the Remarkables Range and Lake Wakatipu. It is here we unload and enjoy a great downhill ride to Wanaka, visiting the famous historic Cardrona Hotel enroute. We continue cycling down the valley into the picturesque alpine village of Wanaka. Late afternoon we have the chance to enjoy some free time and dinner is left for you to enjoy the wide selection of restaurants available. Cycle Distance: Crown Range Summit to Wanaka - up to 40 km Accommodation: Edgewater Resort

Meals:  B,L

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: Scenic Resort, Franz Josef

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 small townships and farms to join the old Kaniere water race, before leading us to the shores of the beautiful Lake Kaniere, nestled against the Southern Alps. Here we take a moment to appreciate our surroundings before we load up and drive the short distance back to Hokitika, a quiet coastal town known for the crafting of Pounamu (greenstone) from the West Coast. You have the late afternoon free to explore the town and later for a walk on the beach to admire a stunning West Coast sunset (if conditions are right). Cycle Distance: Ross to Lake Kaniere - 54km/34miles Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we drive back to Lake Kaniere and continue our ride through the amazing bush trails of this cycleway. Firstly on rural roads and then the dedicated trail that takes us to morning tea at Milltown, home of saw-milling in earlier times. The trail crosses a swing bridge and then a short section of switchbacks takes us to the highpoint and more superb riding. From here it's 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 - 55km / 34miles Accommodation: Theatre Royal Hotel

Meals:  B,L,D

This morning we depart on a spectacular drive back across the Southern Alps back to Christchurch via Arthurs Pass. On arrival we çan drop you either at the airport or at a central Christchurch location, where trip arrangements conclude.

Meals:  B,L


Inclusions

  • 14 breakfasts, 13 lunches and 11 dinners
  • 15 nights hotel/motel ensuite accommodation on twin share basis
  • 2 Professional qualified driver/guides
  • Private vehicle transport/support vehicle
  • Bike hire of a mountain bike (with helmet)
  • Wine tasting at a Central Otago vineyard
  • Scenic Roxburgh Gorge jetboat transfer
  • Entrance fee to West Coast Treetop Walkway
  • Energy drinks, fruit and snacks while cycling
  • 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

Our guides are one of our biggest assets and we pride ourselves on their level of quality and high standards. You will have 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.


Accommodation


Bike information


Trail Surface


Grading

moderate  
3

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 cycling and are well maintained. We recommend training on gravel trails, 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


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

$NZD

Options & Supplements*
  • Single SupplementNZD$1595
  • e-Bike upgradeNZD$695
*Prices listed are per person

Essential information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed New Zealand Off Road - The Best of The 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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