Check out our Awatere Tussock Track 3-day walk
Cycle Tour New Zealand
Cycling is a great alternative to hiking when you want to be up close to nature. But cycling on New Zealand’s roads is not exactly a safe way to see the country. The recent establishment of more and more well-formed and safe cycle trails throughout the country now offers the opportunity to explore some of the most beautiful regions of New Zealand and experience breathtaking landscapes and spectacular views by bike. Enjoy this outdoor activity in good company in a small group and experience Kiwi hospitality on the trail. A medium level of fitness is required for this tour, as well as some cycling experience, as some of the cycle trails are unpaved tracks. Please contact us to find out more about this unique way of exploring New Zealand!
photo: Geoff Mason
Tour Itinerary Christchurch - Christchurch
Day 1: Welcome in Christchurch
Depending on your arrival time you have time to explore the city that is characterized by the rebuild. Visit the exceptional Container-City and Re:Start Mall, learn more about the devastation of the 2010/2011 earthquakes at Cathedral Square or stroll along the Avon River in the beautiful Botanical Gardens. In the afternoon all group members meet up so you can get to know your tour guide and fellow travellers, and also for a brief introduction into the tour. Afterwards, we enjoy our first dinner together. We stay the night in a central hotel.
Day 2: Lake Pukaki - Mount Cook
We leave Christchurch and travel through the Canterbury Plains and the Mackenzie Highcountry. We stop at picturesque Lake Tekapo and its famous Church of the Good Shepherd before continuing our journey to Lake Pukaki in the Mount Cook region, where we will stay the night. When skies are clear we enjoy fantastic views of Aoraki/Mt. Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain (3.753m).
Day 3: Alps2Ocean Trail
Tekapo to Twizel
A short drive takes us to Tekapo, where we start the Alps2Ocean Cycle Trail, NZ's longest bike trail, which connects the Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean. We start cycling along a quiet country road that follows the eastern shore of Lake Pukaki with outstanding vistas across the lake towards the Southern Alps. A wide range of native plants grow along the lake edge including Kowhai, Flax and Tussock, as well as some exotic species such as larch and pines. After about 23km we leave the road and follow the off-road trail along the lake. With Aoraki/Mt. Cook as a backdrop, we pass over Pukaki dam and arrive at the local visitor centre. Here you have the option to finish cycling for the day and hop on the bus, or you continue another 11km through the Pukaki Flats, an expansive area of dry grassland that is characteristic of the Mackenzie landscape. This takes us to the town of Twizel, where today’s trip ends. A great way to end the day is to go for a swim in nearby Lake Ruataniwha.
Day 4: Alps2Ocean Trail
Twizel to Lake Ohau
From Twizel we follow the Pukaki canal until we cross the canal bridge. From there an off-road trail descends down to the lake foreshore, taking us to the Ohau Weir. After the weir the trail skirts around the lake foreshore and eventually meets the road again. Following the road for another 10km we arrive at today’s destination, Lake Ohau Lodge.
Day 5: Alps2Ocean Trail
Lake Ohau to Omarama or Otematata
Starting from the Lake Ohau Lodge, the trail traverses the lower slopes of the Ruataniwha Conservation Park, with stunning views back across the basin to the Benmore Range. 6.3km of easy cycling will take us to Freehold Creek, 600m above sea level. From here the track narrows and it’s a steady climb to the high point on the trail at 900m. We will take our time for this demanding section of the trail and stop for a little rest on the way up. There is plenty of clean drinking water available from the various streams that flow down from the mountains. Once at the high point it is a rolling descent to Quailburn Road. From here, we can take side trips to a historic woolshed (2km) or to the Clay Cliffs (14km). Where the road meets the highway we will follow the off-road trail which crosses over the Ahuriri river and will take us to Omarama, where we will stay tonight.
Day 6: Alps2Ocean Trail
Otematata via Kurow to Duntroon
We follow the gravel track beside the lake that takes us through several camping areas. Then we ride up Loch Laird Road onto the massive Benmore Hydro Dam, with a steep last section up to the dam. Then we roll on easily on the Te Akatarawa Road along the margins of Lake Aviemore to the Aviemore Dam. After crossing the dam the trail follows State Highway 83 to Lake Waitaki and the Waitaki Dam, then to Kurow. This section of trail has an interesting hydro history with dams and project towns, but is only accessible on the highway. You have the option to hop into the bus rather than cycling this part if you prefer.
Day 7: Oamaru, Dunedin and Wildlife Tour Otago Peninsula
First up today we take our time to explore the lovely towns of Oamaru with its picturesque historic district, and Dunedin, the most Scottish town in New Zealand with a rich cultural and architectural heritage. Then we drive to the Otago Peninsula where we will enjoy exceptional wildlife encounters in the afternoon. We visit the only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatrosses, take a walk to a seal colony and await the yellow-eyed penguins on the beach when they return to their nests at dusk. Tonight we’ll stay in the idyllic township of Portobello on the Peninsula.
Travel time* in minibus 2:00 h / 140 km
Day 8-10: Cycling Otago Rail Trail
Middlemarch to Clyde
We leave Otago Peninsula and drive to Central Otago, where we will ride three days on New Zealand’s first cycle trail. The Otago Central Rail Trail is named after and follows the original railway line that was built between 1891 and 1907. Steeped in history, the trail offers a 150 kilometre scenic and historic journey into the Central Otago heartland. This is big sky country where we will traverse ever-changing mountainous, dry and rocky landscapes, high country sheep stations, spectacular river gorges, tunnels, viaducts and more. There are over 20 townships located on and off the trail for us to explore, with opportunities to meet the pioneer-spirited locals and to take detours and side trips to unique places such as old abandoned gold diggings left over from the gold rush and the country’s only international curling rink. The Otago Central Rail Trail is also a testament to human endeavour. The detailed workmanship of the stone bridges and tunnel facings along the trail have stood the test of time and the mountains still bear scars of the races, built back in the 1860s to bring water to the long gone gold mines. The Central Otago climate is characterised by hot summers, cold winters and low rainfall. As the seasons change, the landscape is dominated by a stunning kaleidoscope of browns, golds and reds.
Day 11: Clyde - Alexandra River and Roxburgh Gorge Cycle Trail
From Clyde we cycle along the Clyde - Alexandra River Trail along the picturesque Clutha River before we enter the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, which offers the opportunity to explore one of the most unique landscapes in New Zealand with bluffs rising almost 350 metres on either side of the river at its most dramatic point. The colours of nature along the trail are stunning and ever changing: In late spring the purple flowers of the wild thyme are covering the hills, in summer the turquoise Clutha river beautifully contrasts the grey schist rocks and in autumn the willow trees by the river put on a golden colour. A few minutes after leaving Alexandra the landscape changes, becoming more and more desert like. There are towering rocks on our right and large drops to our left. The trail opens up access to areas of historic significance, with old schist huts built into the rock by Chinese miners and remains of two small mining settlements. The middle section of this trail is currently not accessible by bike, therefore we will enjoy a 12km boat trip down the river between Doctors Point and Shingle Creek. We continue by bike to Roxburgh Dam, where the trail ends. We get picked up and taken back to our accommodation in Clyde.
Day 12: Arrowtown - active or relaxed
We continue to Arrowtown, which will be our base for two nights. The historic goldmining town located on the Arrow River has been well preserved and offers ample opportunities for walks. The impressive little museum is well worth a visit to get an insight into New Zealand’s ‘golden times’.
Day 13: Cycling in the Queenstown Wine Region - Gibbston River Ride
Our trail starts at the historic Kawarau Bridge, the home of A J Hackett’s (and the world’s) first ever bungy operation. The AJ Hackett Centre is a stunning piece of architecture and well worth a visit. Leaving the centre and bridge our journey takes us into wine country. As we ride we will be spoilt for vistas - The Kawarau River far below on our left and to our right, the Gibbston vineyards, architectural masterpieces (such as international award-winning Peregrine Winery) and iconic Central Otago landscapes. We will also pass through a rare pre-1900 fruit orchard and rock huts left over from the goldrush in the 1860s. The trail features many opportunities to stop for a coffee, meal or wine tasting, for example at Waitiri Creek Winery, Gibbston Tavern, or at one of the numerous cafés, wineries or restaurants in Gibbston. For wine enthusiasts, it doesn’t get any better than a guided tour through the Gibbston Valley Wine Caves. These unique caves have been blasted out of the solid schist of the mountains, to create an ideal natural environment to mature award-winning wines.
Day 14: Walking in Wanaka
We travel from Arrowtown via a scenic route with fantastic views to Wanaka, the gateway to Mt Aspiring National Park. Its idyllic location on the shores of Lake Wanaka and close to many snow covered peaks offers impressive vistas, which we enjoy on a walk (3-4 hours).
Day 15: Fox Glacier
From Wanaka we head west, driving through stunning and ever-changing landscapes and over Haast Pass to the West Coast. This region has the most diverse nature, which ranges from rain- and pine forest to endless beaches and Fox and Franz-Josef glaciers, which extend from high up the mountains right down to sea level. In the afternoon we walk to or take a scenic helicopter flight (optional) over Fox glacier and enjoy this spectacular scenery of majestic mountains and glaciers. We stay the night in Fox township.
Day 16: Optional Heli Flight to Glaciers, Hokitika
If the weather didn't allow a heli flight yesterday, you get another opportunity today to view the spectacular glaciers from above.
We will be based in Hokitika for the next days and drive to the beginning of each of the following days cycle trails from here. Every day you can decide whether you want to join the cycle tour or spend a day on your own – to rest, walk along the beach or enjoy one of the numerous cafés.
Day 17: West Coast Cycle Trail
Greymouth to Kumara
Today’s section of the trail is mostly flat with no hills and a maximum difference of altitude of 88m. Departing from the historic Greymouth Railway Station, we'll set off along the mighty Grey River and past a working port, before journeying out to the wild and wonderful Tasman Sea. We follow the coast south, behind sand dunes and along tidal lagoons, until we cross the Taramakau river. We'll then wind our way along the historic Kumara Bush Tram through regenerating forest and new farm land toward the historic gold mining town of Kumara.
Day 18: West Coast Cycle Trail
Kumara to Lake Kaniere
The second day’s section is more challenging than Day 1, covering an altitude difference of 310m. The trail makes for smooth, comfortable riding though, and the few short steep sections are also the most scenic. As we head for the Alps, we pass remnants of the gold rush such as 'the spillway', a stone wall that was hand-laid by Chinese settlers. We follow old logging trams and water races up the Kawaka Valley, passing man-made dams and fresh mountain-water weirs. When we reach the Waitaiki Reserve we’ll begin our descent through ancient Podocarp forest until we reach a sprawling suspension bridge through the trees. Then we cycle through beautiful native bush to Cowboy Paradise, a replica Wild West town. From here we continue downhill first and then pass a little hill to reach Lake Kaniere, which is home to towering kahikatea trees and great birdlife.
Day 19: West Coast Cycle Trail
Lake Kaniere via Hokitika to Lake Mahinapua
We start the day with one of the most scenic parts of the Trail, and enjoy a smooth and easy descent, cruising through the native bush and open paddocks of the Arahura River with awesome views of the valley. Along Hokitika River which reaches the sea at Hokitika town. You can opt to finish here at this point and head to our accommodation, or continue another couple of hours and enjoy a beautiful section through West Coast rain forest to Lake Mahinapua that offers plenty of photo opportunities. Our bus will take us back to Hokitika from there.
Day 20: Greymouth via Arthur's Pass to Christchurch
We leave the West Coast behind and embark on a scenic bus ride back to Christchurch traversing the mighty Southern Alps, where spectacular views of the chiselled alpine landscape will take your breath away. A short stop in the midst of Arthur's Pass National Park lets us enjoy the beautiful surroundings and we can stretch our legs on a short walk. Then we descend towards the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains and take in thrilling vistas over deep gorges.
Day 21: Christchurch – Departure
Sadly, it's time to say good bye. Depending on your departure time you might have some time to explore the city centre or go shopping in one of the numerous malls before leaving Christchurch.
We can assist you with the organization of your return journey or a further stay including accommodation, transport and activities within New Zealand.
On our tours we usually self-cater. Participants are included in the meal preparation and help with the dishes etc. You can find more information on this in the tab Details under 'Meals' .
Please be aware that this is the outline of the itinerary as planned. Due to adverse weather, organizational issues or other unpredictable events, the program might need to be adapted to new circumstances. We will, however, always endeavour to provide appropriate alternatives.
Christchurch-Christchurch Cycle Tour Round Trip (21 Days)
Price 21 Days NZ$ 7650 or E-Bike Tour NZ$ 8300
- Accommodation for 20 nights in a double / twin room in hotel, lodge, B&B, guest house or cabin (mid-range)
- 20 breakfasts, 14 lunches (all cycling days) and 2 dinners
- Transport in Minibus with bike / luggage trailer
- Luggage transfer on the cycle tours
- 12 cycling days on trails according to the tour itinerary (on up to 5 cycling days you can alternatively do other optional activities on your own)
- Premium tour bikes - New Zealand tour bikes are a mix of tour bike and mountain bike which are perfect for the diverse track surfaces (tarseal, gravel, sand, farm track, wooden bridges), or E-Bikes when booked on E-Bike tour
- Bike pannier for your day gear (except West Coast Trail)
- Bike helmet on all cycle days
- Boat transfer on the Clutha River as part of the Roxburgh Trail
- Guided Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour (albatrosses, penguins, sea lions, seals)
- Wine tasting in the Arrowtown region
- Glacier visit at Fox or Franz-Josef Glacier
- Department of Conservation Fees for all Activities
- Bilingual (English/German) tour guide
The programme leaves time for optional activities such as a bus tour or scenic flight from Queenstown to Milford Sound or a scenic helicopter flight over New Zealand’s glaciers.
This is a bilingual tour English/German. Our guides love sharing their enthusiasm about New Zealand and their knowledge about history, geography, nature and culture.
- Flights to and from New Zealand / Christchurch
- Transfer to / from Airport
- All Optional Activities
- Additional Meal Costs (ca. 25 NZ$ / Day for Meal Kitty)
- Travel Insurance
A half-day outing on the picturesque Otago Peninsula, the home of an abundance of magnificent world famous wildlife. The proximity to the Antarctic and its winds makes it possible that we can visit the only mainland colony of Royal Albatross in the world on the tip of the peninsula. We can watch these magnificent birds close-up, walk to a nearby seal colony and then enjoy rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins that come ashore at dusk. Good hiking boots are essential for this tour as there are some steep and rough passages.
Our tour programme allows time for optional activities as mentioned in the itinerary. To secure a spot we recommend to book early, which we are happy to do for you (just note in the comments / questions section of the booking form). If you prefer to decide once on tour, your tour guide can make the booking for you.
On this tour you will experience many fun-filled adventures, but you will also have time to enjoy those special little things along the way. We can’t and don’t intend to show you all of New Zealand in three weeks. We endeavour to take in many well-known sights and true New Zealand highlights but also lesser-known treasures off the beaten track.
You always have the option to decide whether you want to join the group activity, or prefer having some time to yourself. Please talk to your guide if you would like alternative arrangements.
We would like to point out, though, that you cannot claim for refund of included activities. If you cannot take up some of the included services for good reasons (e.g. unforeseen early departure) we will endeavour to claim for a refund of saved expenses of the service or activity providers. This obligation does not need to be performed for expenses of less than NZ$ 50, or if the refund is against any regulations.
Hotels and motels we use belong to the middle-class category. Usually all rooms have tea- and coffee making facilities, and washing machines and dryers are provided for guest use.
Please let us know if you prefer a single room in the comments box of your booking form - see the section Solo Traveler below for more details.
We choose the B&Bs so you can get in personal contact with the locals. Therefore we opt for smaller places with only a few rooms, and distribute the group to different guest families if necessary.
Our cabins belong to the three to four star category. Each cabin has one or two bedrooms with double or twin bed configurations and own bathroom facilities. All bedding and towels are provided. Most cabins have a kitchenette and many also a common room / lounge.
For participants traveling alone we usually book a shared twin room and try to find a roommate of the same gender. If we can’t find a suitable participant for sharing, we will let you know two weeks before departure and we will upgrade you to a single room free of charge.
Depending on our accommodation for the day we will prepare and cook our own food or eat out in one of the local restaurants. When we stay in a hotel/motel, breakfast is included and we will dine in a restaurant. When staying in holiday or guest houses with a kitchen, we can prepare our own breakfast and cook dinner.
On our cycling days we will have a packed lunch. The other days, we will stop for lunch on one of the many inviting cafés on our way.
Our tour quotes are land prices only and do not include international flights. Thus, the tour dates indicate the departure / arrival date from the start / end point of the tour and the days traveling in the country. This gives you the freedom to individually choose your personal arrival and departure dates and times in / from New Zealand. You can use our tours as building blocks for your holiday and we are happy to help you plan and book any transport, accommodation or activities before or after the tour.
If traveling from Europe your flight departure needs to be at least two days before the tour starts and you will arrive back in Europe at the earliest one day after the tour ends. So you will need to add at least three days to the tour for your overall travel time.