Your guide will pick you up from your central Christchurch accommodation early this morning and deliver you to the train station for your TranzAlpine Express departure at 8.15am. We enjoy a scenic train journey across the Southern Alps and arrive at Moana on Lake Brunner around Midday. We will eat our lunch on the train and then we can get on the bikes immediately to follow an undulating and winding course through the picturesque Arnold Valley to Stillwater. A flat ride beside the banks of the Grey River takes us out to the coastal township of Greymouth. One of the trip’s many highlights is the coastal riding as we head north along the coast to the famous Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. The coastline is wild, the rock formations are incredible and the rainforest is lush. The riding is pure quality – with enough hills to keep you honest. After visiting the Pancake Rocks we load up the bikes, hop on the bus and transfer to Hokitika and our accommodation for the night.
Hokitika is a quiet coastal town known for the crafting of Pounamu (greenstone) from the West Coast and is a wonderful place to walk along the beach at sunset.
Further south, the glacier country beckons and the road soon changes from rural countryside to one fringed with the mighty podocarp rainforests. Along the way we break for coffee at Ross, one of the early gold-mining townships and then onwards through Hari Hari and Whataroa until finally we reach the Franz Josef Glacier township for the next two nights. You can choose to cycle a shorter distance of 81km if you prefer.
Time for a day off the saddle and Franz Josef Glacier is a great place to enjoy this. With hot pools, ice climbing and lots of short walks – there are plenty of options. You could also relax and catch up with your diary or read a book. Flight-seeing is very popular here either in fixed wing planes around the mountains (up to 40 mins) or a helicopter flight to land on the snowfields high above the village (1.5 – 2hrs). There is also an option to enjoy some sea-kayaking into the rainforest at the nearby Okarito Lagoon & bird sanctuary. Additional costs for optional activities apply.
This morning’s start is flexible depending on the weather and what people would like to do. There are a number of options – if the previous day’s weather hasn’t been friendly and you were wanting to take to the skies to see the glacier or enjoy some sea-kayaking you can do your activity this morning. In the afternoon we ride through to Fox Glacier (optional). The distance to Fox Glacier is only a matter of 25 kms but that ride crosses three strenuous passes, each followed by an exciting and exhilarating downhill. The ride is worth the effort with the last downhill into Fox leading straight into one of the village cafes or bars. In the evening we take a short walk around nearby Lake Matheson with its famous sunset reflections of New Zealand’s highest mountains.
After a couple of ‘relaxing’ days we head off again on some lovely flat roads. We reach the coast at Bruce Bay before turning inland again, skirting the beautiful Lake Moeraki and then out to the Knights Point coastline. Eventually we roll into Haast township and a final night on the west coast. You can choose to cycle a shorter distance of 89km if you prefer.
Haast Pass presents another cycling highlight. For some 50 km’s the road slowly rises as the mighty Landsborough River joins the nearby Clark Valley. Countless waterfalls cascade from the mountains towering above the road as the lush rainforest changes to beechforest higher up the valley. A final serious climb takes us to the summit of the pass at 678m. From here there is a 20km ride down into the beautiful township of Makarora and a well-deserved conclusion to the day’s ride. If the descent does not provide enough excitement there is a thrilling jet-boat ride nearby taking you deep into the Mount Aspiring National Park.
There are dramatic changes in the landscape today as we enter the dry arid country on the eastern side of the ranges. Today we cycle alongside spectacular lakes as the road rolls down into the headwaters of the Otago valleys and then climbs along the shore of Lake Wanaka before taking us into the bustling resort township of the same name. The afternoon is free to enjoy some shopping or just to relax alongside the lake.
This morning we cycle out of town for 25km to the historic township of Cardrona, with a chance to stop for a coffee in the old pub with its beautiful gardens. From here the last serious climb of our tour takes us to our highest point, 1070m, at the top of the Crown Range for some spectacular views. A wicked drop down into Arrowtown follows before we break for lunch. We have time to enjoy this historic gold mining town before our final ride into Queenstown, known as the adventure capital of New Zealand. The town is situated alongside a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Relaxation and shopping here are fantastic.
After breakfast at the hotel it’s time to say goodbye to your fellow cyclists after an incredible trip.
If you’re looking for bucket list rides, epic scenery and the world’s playground, then you’ve found it in New Zealand. The country is littered with old railways converted into cycle trails taking you into the heart of the country. Crystal clear lakes reflect the towering snow capped mountains, suspension bridges snake their way through golden forests and on either side of the island, you can ride along the shore of New Zealand’s crisp blue waters