Kia-ora! Welcome to Christchurch. This cycling adventure from the Alps to the Ocean kicks off with a pick-up at 8am. After the meeting you’ll jump in a private vehicle to head past Lake Tekapo (approximately 4 hours), and on to the southern shores of the turquoise-coloured Lake Pukaki. With the stunning peaks of the Southern Alps and the towering Mt Cook close by, it’s a truly remarkable sight. Continue to nearby Twizel for a quick bite for lunch then be fitted with your bike. After lunch drive north (approximately 1 hour) to the iconic Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park and swap your biking shs for hiking shs and enjoy a short hike in the national park along part of the Hooker Valley Track. The views of Mt Cook are nothing short of spectacular. Afterwards return to Twizel and perhaps join the locals for dinner (the locally caught trout and salmon are amazing!) before settling in for a well-earned sleep.
Enjoy breakfast at the cafe next door then take the short drive (approximately 20 mins) to the eastern shores of Lake Pukaki for your first ride, a flat and leisurely 24 kilometre cycle back down to Twizel, arriving in time for lunch. From here set off on a longer ride (approximately 38 kilometres) from Twizel to the western shore of Lake Ohau, where the clear waters of the Hopkins and Dobson Rivers flow directly off the Southern Alps. While longer in distance this is an easy ride as you make your way in the shadows of the Ben Ohau mountain range along flat sealed road beside the Pukaki canal and past Loch Cameron and the Ohau canal. Leave the tarmac and take the smooth gravel road that skirts the south shore of Lake Ohau, passing a property known as Maori swamp. Re-join the tarmac and enjoy some stunning views of the crystal-clear lake on your right and the brooding mountains on your left – truly spectacular. Cycle on to your secluded home for the night, the locally owned and spectacularly located Lake Ohau Lodge.
Today is a tougher and slightly more technical day as you leave Lake Ohau behind and enjoy an easy cycle to Freehold Creek (with stunning views back across to the Ben Ohau Mountain Range) before starting your first real climb of the trip. Test your fitness (or e-bike battery) among the native Beech forests as you cycle up (approximately 11 kilometres) to the highest point of the trail. At 900 metres above sea level the magnificent views over the Mackenzie Basin, Ben Ohau and Lake Ohau and Lake Ruataniwha make the climb worthwhile. As ds the rolling descent to the historic woolshed at Quailburn Road where you'll pause for a well-earned packed lunch. From here it is a gentle ride on a quiet backroad and a short side trail to take you all the way into the small town of Omarama. Depending on the fitness and preferences of the group, there is an option to use the support vehicle for the harder parts of the trail. There is also an option today to cycle to the nearby Omarama Clay Cliffs. This side trip will add an extra 14 kilometres, but the sight of these surreal cliffs – tall pinnacles separated by narrow ravines – makes it a worthwhile diversion.
It’s your longest day in the saddle today – around 67 kilometres in total but not overly strenuous or technical – as you make your way through lake country along 30 kilometres of dedicated trail from Omarama. Ride east down the Waitaki Valley, past the Chain Hills Viewpoint, then follow the edge of Lake Benmore to the oddly named Pumpkin Point (seriously, we’ve never seen a single pumpkin here!). This section includes a new route through the Benmore Gorge onto the top of the dramatic Benmore Dam. After lunch enjoy the quiet sealed road from Otematata alongside the southern shore of Lake Aviemore, once again cycling right up to the Hydro-dam wall before enjoying the last 16 kilometres of dedicated trail, past the haunting Wharekuri ruins, mostly downhill to Kurow. On the banks of the braided Waitaki River which separates the Canterbury and Otago provinces, Kurow (birthplace of the legendary All Black Ritchie McCaw) is an ideal place to simply put your feet up at the end of a long day’s ride, and perhaps enjoy a well-earned drink from one of the local producers in New Zealand’s newest wine region.
Leaving sleepy Kurow behind you, enjoy a relaxed ride of 28 kilometres down the valley on the mostly traffic-free smooth shingle road alongside the Waitaki River. Pass vineyards (stopping at the River-T winery), the Takiroa Maori rock art site and Duntroon Wetlands, before arriving into Duntroon itself just in time for lunch (not included) at the charming and iconic Duntroon Hotel. No need to worry about your sweaty cycling clothes here as the local proprietors are incredibly welcoming to cyclists of all kinds. After lunch it’s back onto the bikes as you deviate slightly from the official trail and take an 19-kilometre side trip into Otago to your home for the night, the historic and welcoming Tokarahi Huts. Built by one of Oamaru's finest craftsmen using salvaged materials from the original building that once stood on the site, and with a welcome from the farm owner himself, this is one of the best examples of locally owned and operated sustainable businesses in the region, and one we’re proud to be associated with.
Today is your last day on the bike as you make your way to the South Pacific Coast and the charming seaside town of Oamaru. After a good early breakfast leave Tokarari behind and rejoin the ‘official’ trail, passing through the historic Rakis Railway Tunnel and following the old railway line to Windsor and all the way through to Enfield. Take an early lunch then enjoy your final ride of the trip with a last 12 kilometres into Oamaru via the Botanical gardens – the oldest such gardens in New Zealand – and Historic Victorian precinct, with a stunning finish at Oamaru Harbour and the shores of the Pacific Ocean itself.