Today you will make your journey inland and south to Lake Pukaki, which sits in front of New Zealand’s highest peak Aoraki Mount Cook. Along the way you will pass through the Canterbury Plains with views to the Southern Alps along the journey. First up, stop in at the glorious Washpen Falls and enjoy the stunning track through native forest, exotic forest, wide open grassland, and past waterfalls and stunning viewpoints over the Canterbury Plains. Why not stop in the quaint little town of Geraldine and sample some of their New Zealand-famous jam? From here you head west to Lake Tekapo. Perhaps soak in the thermal pools on the lakeside (optional – extra cost) and see the famous Church of the Good Shepherd up close. Following this, you will drive to the top of Mount John to take in some of the most stunning 360 degree views New Zealand has to offer! Take the short drive towards Lake Pukaki and reach the beautiful Braemar Station, accommodation at a working sheep station which overlooks the lake, where you will spend the night.
This morning you will begin the cycling part of your South Island experience! You’ll get going on a cycling track which travels South along the Eastern shore of Lake Pukaki and will pass by the Tekapo B power station. The views of the Southern Alps on the opposite side of the lake are exquisite along here! The cycle trail then passes over the Pukaki Dam and meets up with the main highway. Following this you will follow the track along Pukaki Flats – a very classic Mackenzie Country grassland type landscape. You’ll end up in Twizel where you can enjoy a delicious meal before calling it a night.
Another day of cycling through gorgeous alpine scenery! Today you’ll venture on some sections of back country road and gravel trail to end up alongside another beautiful glacial lake – Lake Ohau. From here you go off road towards the Ohau Weir and eventually meet up with the sealed road that goes into Ohau Village and along to the rustic, cosy and secluded Ohau Lodge, where you will spend the night. Enjoy a pub style meal tonight before resting up for your final leg of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail tomorrow!
This morning the trail traverses the lower slopes of the Ohau Range, with stunning views back across the basin to the Ben Ohau Range. From here you will need to prepare for a bit of a climb – reaching 900m at the highest point, before rolling down to the historic woolshed at the top of Quailburn Road. Next you’ll take an off-road trail which leads over the Ahuriri river using the road bridge. A short off-road trail then takes you to Omarama. Perhaps soak in the waters of Hot Tubs Omarama and soothe your achy muscles! Omarama is famous for it’s amazing gliding conditions and time dependent there will also be a chance to enjoy the experience of a lifetime in a glider (with an instructor), before calling it a day!
Today you will turn off towards the East Coast, through the beautiful Waitaki Valley and past man-made hydro lakes. The views of these bright blue lakes and power stations is incredible and the surrounding hills make this valley a spectacular place for a ride! You will stay overnight in the small farming town of Otematata.
Day Five! You will cycle through camping areas and alongside hyrdo lakes. You’ll climb up to and cycle over the massive Benmore Hydro Dam, as well as the Waitaki Dam later on. Following the road along the lake for a while, you’ll turn off to an off-road trail that links to the town of Kurow. This section is rather historic, being that it was hugely developed as part of New Zealand’s hydro electric power scheme in the 1960s and still powers all of New Zealand today. Stay overnight in the sleepy town of Kurow and perhaps enjoy a well deserved wine tasting at Kurow Estate Winery!
Today you will cycle a gravel track which takes you to the Waitaki River, which you will follow down the valley. Cross Kurow Creek and ride through the Kurow Estate Winery. You’ll cross a few more rivers and eventually end up at the Takiroa Māori rock art site. No one knows who first daubed charcoal and red ochre on these walls although the artworks are thought to be from Māori inhabitants of the area several hundred years ago. The images range from abstract forms to bird and animal life and people. Follwoing this, you’ll cycle back along the Waitaki River, through the Duntroon Wetlands and on to the town of Duntroon.
The final day of the trail! We bet you can almost smell the ocean! Today you’ll cycle on an off-road trail past many farms and on to unique rock formations known as Elephant Rocks. Next you’ll bike alongside limestone escarpments and up hills up to slightly elevated areas with great views over the valley. Through a 100 metre rail tunnel you’ll go next, and along an old railway line to the lovely Oamaru Gardens. You’ll pass through historic Tyne Street and the Victorian Historic Precinct where the trail ends at Friendly Bay, on the Pacific Ocean! You’ve reached the ocean! Tonight you can watch little blue penguins come on to the shore from a hard day’s fishing, before enjoying a delightful meal near the historic precinct, before calling it a night!
This morning you will check out the beautiful historic precinct of Oamaru. Here you will feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the early 1900s, surrounded by gorgeous limestone buildings and a main street with a very Victorian feel. Pop in for a coffee at a local cafe, take a ride on the steam train or sift through secondhand stores for treasures. Following this, head North on State Highway 1 through Timaru and continue to Christchurch where you will finish your NZ adventure!