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While bucket-list adventures are mostly subjective, the Alps to Ocean Trail objectively deserves its place on the list. What else could a thrilling 200-mile cycling journey showcasing the best of the South Island be? It kicks off with a helicopter ride, setting the tone for the epic journey ahead—from the towering Mt Cook to the crushing Pacific waves. Glide through picturesque tussock-lands framed by snow-capped peaks, trace the shores of countless lakes, and follow the meandering paths of braided rivers. Journey through idyllic vineyards, wander Oamaru’s charming Victorian-era streets, and rest in magnificent lodgings. This all-inclusive adventure immerses you in New Zealand’s dreamscapes, crafting memories to cherish for years to come.

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  • World-famous trail

    Follow a 200-mile cycling trail from the Southern Alps to the Pacific, experiencing the best of NZ’s South Island

  • All-inclusive experience

    From a helicopter ride to vehicle support, accommodations and meals, this tour takes care of all the details

  • Beyond cycling

    Explore Oamaru’s Victorian-era streets, sample wines in picturesque vineyards, relish delectable meals and enjoy great company

Itinerary

Get ready for a week of cycling through New Zealand's stunning South Island, from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean. This fully-supported journey includes a thrilling helicopter ride, comfortable and scenic accommodations, delicious meals, and a dedicated support vehicle. Pedal through diverse landscapes, explore historic sites, meet awesome people from all over the world, all while savoring the natural beauty of the region. An all-inclusive experience, perfect for those seeking an unforgettable cycling adventure without the logistical hassle.

  • Begin your journey with an 8:00 am pickup in Queenstown, cycling 8.7 miles (14 km) from Arrowtown along a scenic trail above the Arrow River, crossing five picturesque bridges. After witnessing bungee jumpers at Kawarau Bridge, load your bikes and head to Aoraki/Mt Cook Village. Explore the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre or Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park visitor center. Hike the Hooker Valley Track or Tasman Glacier Track, and in the evening, gather for your first group dinner.

    Cycling: 8.7 miles (14 km)
    Walking: 6.2 miles (10 km)
    Accommodation: Aoraki Alpine Lodge, Mt Cook
    Meals: Dinner

    Glacial landscapes in UNESCO-protected Aori/Mt Cook National Park, NZ.
  • Explore the village before a 4.3-mile (7 km) bike ride to the airport, where a thrilling heli-flight takes you across the Tasman River. Cycle along Lake Pukaki, enjoying Aoraki/Mt Cook views, and reach Braemar Station for a farmstay with stunning Lake Pukaki vistas and a delicious dinner.

    Cycling: 23.6 miles (38 km)
    Accommodation: Braemar Station, Lake Pukaki
    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

    Pukaki lake reflecting the snow-capped Mt Cook, New Zealand’s South Island.
  • Leaving Braemar Station, ride around Lake Pukaki’s edge, with a visit to the visitor center providing an opportunity to delve deeper into the region’s natural wonders. The trail then leads you through expansive tussock-lands, alongside Pukaki and Ohau canals canals, and eventually to Lake Ohau Lodge, your accommodation for the night. Here, you can relax in the hot tubs and soak in the serene ambiance.

    Cycling: 49.7 miles (80 km)
    Accommodation: Lake Ohau Lodge
    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

    Cyclists in front of Lake Oahu Lodge
  • Following breakfast, the day presents two distinct options for exploration. Adventurous riders can embark on a challenging climb to the Tambrae Saddle, standing at an elevation of 2,953 ft (900 m). This highpoint along the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail offers stunning views of the expansive Mackenzie Basin. The rugged and narrow rough shingle Tarnbrae track awaits, suited for confident and physically fit cyclists. Alternatively, for a leisurely afternoon, you can choose a coach transfer option. This allows you to enjoy a mostly downhill and flat ride starting at the historic Quailburn woolshed and concluding in Omarama, our overnight destination. As evening approaches in Omarama, you can opt for a relaxing soak in a private hot tub.

    Cycling: 27.3 miles (44 km) or 16.2 miles (26 km) (shorter option)
    Accommodation: Sierra Motel
    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

    Waitaki valley in NZ’s South Island with braided rivers and vineyards, one of the areas through which the Alps to Ocean cycle trail passes.
  • On this day, you’ll follow the trail along the picturesque shores of Lake Benmore to Sailors Cutting, with breathtaking views of rocky outcrops and serene beaches. Your route then descends from above the Benmore Dam to join a quiet lakeside road. There’s an option to take an easier route if preferred. After regrouping, enjoy a delightful downhill ride to Aviemore Dam for a lakeside picnic. You’ll reach Kurow with ample time to explore, including the beautifully restored St Albans Church and local vineyards. Your night’s stay is at the luxurious Valley Views Glamping, featuring private tents with king-size beds, down duvets, lighting, cell phone chargers, en-suite toilets, and private balconies.

    Cycling: 49.7 miles (80 km) or 16.2 miles (26 km)
    Accommodation: Valley Views Glamping, Kurow
    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

    Benmore lake at the foot of the mountains, New Zealand.
  • After breakfast, you’ll embark on your last ride towards the Pacific Ocean. Your route takes you by a Maori rock art site before reaching Duntroon, where you’ll turn inland for a mixture of trail and quiet rural roads. Don’t miss a walk among the unique rock formations known locally as Elephant Rocks. You’ll also cycle through Raki’s tunnel, following a downhill ride into Windsor. Lunchtime offers a chance to enjoy the picturesque countryside. The adventure continues as you pass by the Oamaru stone quarry on your way to Friendly Bay, marking the end of the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail. Here, you’ll celebrate your cycling achievements with a group photo at the famous picture frame and a final group dinner.

    Cycling: 49.7 miles (80 km)
    Accommodation: The Mews, Oamaru
    Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

    Curious rock formations, Elephant Rocks, in New Zealand.
  • Your adventure concludes today with a journey from Oamaru to Christchurch. However, before departing, take some time to explore the charming white-stone township of Oamaru. The old Victorian Precinct is a delight, with numerous galleries, shops, and cafes to browse. You may also have the option to visit the intriguing Steampunk Museum. As you travel back to Christchurch, you’ll pass through the rich agricultural regions of the Canterbury Plains, arriving at your destination around 3 pm. Say goodbye to your guide and fellow cyclists and to New Zealand—or continue touring on your own.

    Meals: Breakfast and lunch

    A Gothic Revival church in the city of Oamaru, New Zealand.
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Meet your guide

Adventure South NZ
5.00
Adventure South NZ
Adventure South NZ is the leading provider of fully supported, guided adventures offering a wide range of over 40 high-quality trips across New Zealand and beyond. Specializing in cycling, mountain biking, and hiking, they are passionate about delivering exceptional experiences while taking care of all the logistics. Accompanied by experienced guides, travelers will explore New Zealand's natural wonders and gain insights into the local culture. At Adventure South NZ, small group travel is prioritized to minimize environmental impact and create immersive and personalized experiences. With over 30 years of experience, their expertise lies in crafting unforgettable active holidays.
5.00 (6 reviews)
Paul B (source: Google Reviews)

My recent Alps to Ocean adventure was so much more than I had expected. The communication beforehand made everything clear, the guides went above and beyond my expectations, the accommodation was fantastic and all the little things (daily briefings, morning teas, helpful assistance for those unfamiliar with an e-bike etc) made the ride so much more enjoyable. I would encourage anyone thinking about riding the Alps to Ocean, or tackling any of the other adventures that Adventure South offer, to make contact with them and to embrace the opportunity.

Jill Valmadre (source: Google Reviews)

What a wonderful trip we had. Adventure South were an amazing group to travel with, our leaders were so helpful, fun and knowledgeable. Would highly recommend them. Nothing was too much trouble, the food and accommodations were all spot on. And the ride was, well, breathtaking. Thoroughly enjoyed it, thank you. We will be back.

Sarah McVey (source: Google Reviews)

Jono and Martin were exceptional tour guides for the Alps to Ocean trip. My mom, dad, sister, and I had a fantastic experience while taking in the breathtaking New Zealand views alongside kind-hearted group members. I really enjoyed getting to converse with members of the group and our trip leaders through shared meals, and the glamping accommodation was definitely a highlight. We’ll be back for another trip (hopefully very soon)! Thank you for making our vacation so fun and memorable!

JENNIFER MONCUR (source: Google Reviews)

Alps to Ocean was a fabulous experience and exceeded my expectations. Hosts Pete and Richard could not have done more to make our trip fun, informed, seamless and well fed. Accomodation varied but was always clean, centrally located and more than adequate. Burnside Homestead on the last night was a standout! I had dietary allergies and there was no problem providing for my needs. The bikes were fabulous! I wish the Sinch bikes were available in Australia. Some of the riding was a step up from what I was expecting, but I enjoyed the challenge. I went as an older solo traveller and immediately felt part of the group. Looking forward to my trip next March 🙂

Ross & Joann Dunn (source: Google Reviews)

We recently did the Alps 2 Ocean bike ride and had the best time. Adventure South NZ had everything organised, with a great variety of accommodation, great food, bikes were in great condition and even provided perfect weather. Our guides Sue & Alex were fantastic, nothing was too difficult for them to handle. Our group of 12 were a lot of fun. Lots of laughs during the day when riding. The scenery was to die for, with each day giving us a new challenge.

Corey Yeatman (source: Google Reviews)

Rode the Alps to Ocean Classic a couple of weeks ago with 6 other people. We all had a fantastic time, saw some awesome scenery (had to remember to look up sometimes!), and was a great time to go as it was really quiet. I used an ordinary mountain bike and found it a good challenge with a moderate level of fitness. Fiona (our tour operator) was very well organised and made the whole trip enjoyable and memorable. Hope to do some further trails with Adventure South in future.

Things to know

  • What you get on this adventure:

      • An experienced cycling guide or guides with extensive local knowledge of the area
      • Accommodation in motels, lodges, a cottage and a rural camp based on double occupancy (6 nights)
      • 6 days of cycling along the Alps to Ocean cycle trail
      • 6 Breakfasts, 6 picnic or cafe lunches, 6 two-course restaurant dinners catered to all dietary requirements
      • Nutritious snacks, drinks, treats, and morning and afternoon teas
      • Heli-flight across the Tasman River with bikes to the official start point
      • Transport from Queenstown to Christchurch
      • Full vehicle support along the trail including trailer for luggage
      • Pre-departure information kit
      • Concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation
      • Rider fees paid to the A2O Trail Trust for ongoing maintenance and improvements

    Mountain bike/e-bike and helmet rentals are available for an added fee of $125 and $360, respectively.

    What’s not included:

      • Airfare and visa costs (if applicable)
      • Arrival and departure transfers
      • Bike rentals — available for an extra fee
      • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
      • All beverages, apart from breakfast and afternoon tea
      • Optional activities during the adventure (like Omarama hot tubs and Steampunk Gallery)
      • Any personal expenses
      • Travel and medical/rescue insurance
      • Guide gratuities — optional
  • To fully enjoy this guided Alps to Ocean cycling trip in New Zealand’s South Island, a reasonable level of fitness is essential. The journey is graded as moderate, with an average daily distance of approximately 37 miles (60 km), and the longest day spanning up to 50 miles (80 km).

    The terrain varies along the route, with most sections on sealed or hard-packed gravel (75% of the trails), making for relatively easy riding. However, other segments consist of looser gravel, which can be rough and uneven in places. Additionally, you’ll encounter moderate sections over the Tarnbrae Saddle and from Sailors Cutting to the Benmore Dam, featuring narrower tracks with switchbacks and occasional exposure.

    It’s important to note that this cycling trip is not intended to be a marathon event. You should ride at your own pace, and there’s no pressure to keep up with others. Your guides will assess your skill level, observe your technique and always provide advice and encouragement, while keeping everybody safe. The journey is fully supported, allowing less confident riders to opt for easier alternatives if desired. Additionally, the support vehicle will always be nearby, ready to assist with transportation if needed.

  • In preparation for this adventure, we recommend dedicating 90 minutes to cycling three to five times a week for at least three months leading up to your trip. This practice will help you build the endurance and stamina required for the journey. There are ample hills to conquer, so it’s advisable to practice cycling uphill and on rougher terrain before your tour to ensure you fully appreciate the fantastic riding and diverse scenery.

  • Here’s what you’ll need:

      • Bike and helmet — available for rent
      • Daypack large enough for all the items you might need on the move — comes with bike and helmet rental
      • Comfortable riding or athletic clothing, preferably moisture wicking or synthetic material
      • Sneakers or sport shoes
      • Breathable outside layer or jacket
      • Waterproof jacket
      • Fleece
      • Quality thermal wear
      • Casual clothes and sneakers for when you’re not cycling
      • Swimsuit
      • Sunglasses
      • Water bottle or hydration bladder
      • Biking gloves are optional but recommended
      • Toiletries (sunscreen, cosmetic products, hand sanitizer, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)

    The ideal months for travel, from November to April, bring temperatures ranging from 50°F to 86°F (10°C to 30°C) during the South Island summers, along with a comfortable humidity level of 40-50%. However, keep in mind that higher altitudes can be significantly cooler, and snowfall is possible even in summer.

    Additionally, there are occasional hot, dry, and fierce winds during the summer months. While you won’t need a full winter wardrobe, packing a good waterproof jacket and some warm clothing (including a fleece or jumper and quality thermals) will ensure you’re prepared for any unexpected changes in temperature and weather conditions during your tour.

  • You can rent a bike and helmet during the booking process and two different styles of bikes are offered for rental—a hybrid mountain bike or an e-bike. If hiring a bike, please leave a note with your height and weight so that you get the bike in size that best suits you.

    The Avanti Discovery hybrid mountain bike is perfect if you prefer a relaxed, upright riding style. Custom-built specifically for New Zealand trails, it combines the best characteristics of the mountain bike and the hybrid bike. It comes with faster rolling tyres, upgraded suspension forks, easy shifting 1x gear system, quality disk brakes, and handy bike rack. These bikes are also available in a low-rise frame, also known as a step-through frame (leave a note when booking if you prefer a low-rise frame).

    For those who might appreciate a little pedaling assistance, Sinch e-bikes can be hired. These electric bikes are easy to operate, incredibly comfortable, and gentler on the body than traditional bikes. You’ll still get a workout, but the e-bikes provide up to 62 miles (100 km) of pedal assistance before needing a recharge.

    Plus, safety is the priority, so rest assured that bike helmets will be provided with your rental, along with a handy 15L saddle bag. As an added bonus, all your equipment and luggage will be conveniently carried by the support vehicle, ensuring you have a smooth and enjoyable cycling experience.

  • Throughout this journey, accommodations offer you comfort and excellent value in prime locations. Your lodging includes quality 3* and 4* motels, pool-equipped lodges in scenic natural environments (by Lake Ohau for example), cottages, and a rural glamping site with luxurious tents and sprawling views.

    All accommodations provide all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay, while private facilities are based on twin share or double rooms. If you prefer a room to yourself, a single supplement is available for an additional fee, with a limited allocation of 2 per departure. Please keep in mind that occasional seasonal shortages may require the usage of alternative lodging of a similar high standard.

  • Group sizes and prices:

      • The maximum group size for this group tour is 14 participants.
      • If 8 or more people join the tour, 2 guides will accompany the group.
      • The minimum number of participants that need to join for this group to operate is 4.
      • The cost does not decrease as the group grows.

    Alps to Ocean Trail cycling in New Zealand can be arranged for bigger and private groups. Contact us prior to booking.

    Min. age requirements:

      • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
      • Children as young as 10 are able to go on trips with a legal guardian. That said, if you have a young rider strong enough to handle sustained climbs (either riding or walking their bike) of hundreds of feet, and rough terrain, then they may be able to participate on a case-by-case basis.

    If your group has riders under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

  • To get to Queenstown, most people fly into Queenstown Airport. You will meet your guide and fellow cyclists at a central location in the city at 8.00 am on Day 1.

    We recommend arriving a day prior to the cycling adventure as our journey kicks off right after this initial gathering. Arriving a day in advance provides you with the opportunity to relax and ensures a seamless and stress-free start to your experience.

    Please keep in mind that the adventure finishes in Christchurch in the late afternoon on the last day. We advise against booking an international flight immediately after the tour, as there’s a considerable risk of missing your flight should your group’s arrival in the city be delayed. We highly recommend arranging accommodation in Christchurch following the adventure.

  • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance. With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more.

    Travel insurance covers canceled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans.

    We also expect you to respect local regulations and take measures to protect yourselves, your guides, and the communities you’re traveling to. For more information on travel recommendations and restrictions in the South Island please refer to the U.S. Department of State’s travel information on New Zealand.

    If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

  • A $245 deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid ninety (90) calendar days prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies.

      • If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to seventy (70) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund minus the deposit, which is non-refundable.
      • For cancellations ninety (90) to one hundred nineteen (119) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking.
      • For cancellations thirty-five (35) to seventy (70) calendar days in advance, Client is entitled to a refund in the amount of fifty percent (50%) of the total amount paid when Booking.
      • After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund.
    Secure your spot for 2025 with a 10% deposit! This tour gets sold out very quickly, but with early-bird booking, you can rest assured you’ve booked your dream adventure in time.
    • Only 10% of the total amount should be paid as a deposit upon booking. This deposit is non-refundable, but can be transferred to another 57hours adventure anytime in case the dates don’t suit you. This can be done by the end of the year.
    • Another 20% needs to be paid by the end of this year.
    • The remaining balance is due 3 months (90 days) prior to departure.
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