Day 1- Christchurch & The Port Hills
We meet at lunchtime at a local hotel for a “working lunch” including the trip briefing and introductions. There is time to fit your bikes at our depot before we turn some pedals on a warm-up ride in the spectacular Port Hills above the city, providing wonderful views of Lyttleton Harbor, the Pacific Ocean & Southern Alps.
Cycling: 27 miles
Lodging: Chateau on the Park
Day 2 – Christchurch to Hamner Springs
From our morning meeting in Christchurch we drive out of the city and start to cycle. The Canterbury Plains are vast and with Hamner being our objective it’s a matter of turning the pedals and watching the road slip by. By late afternoon we arrive at the thermal resort and have a chance to soak in the hot pools before dinner.
Cycling: 64 miles
Lodging: Drifters Inn
Day 3 – Hamner Springs to Reefton
The road over Lewis Pass takes us up through the beech forests of the Southern Alps steadily gaining height in the Maruia valley. From the head there is a short grind to the top of the Pass and the chance to look into Cannibal Gorge before a freewheel down to the thermal resort of Maruia Springs featuring a Japanese bathhouse and outdoor pools. Continuing onwards we climb over Rahu Saddle before a final descent into the west coast mining town of Reefton.
Cycling: 87 miles
Lodging: Punakaiki Rocks Hotel & Villas
Day 4 – Reefton to Punakaiki
The ride from Reefton takes us along the mighty Buller River and down to the junction with the State Highway 6 where we turn south to Punakaiki and one of the best coastal rides in the world. The road hugs the eroded limestone cliffs and overlooks the wild Tasman Sea. Our accommodation offers us the chance to explore the famous Pancake Rocks and the limestone wonderland of the area.
Cycling Options: 56 or 78 miles
Lodging: Lantern Court Motel
Day 5 – Punakaiki to Hokitika
Southwards again the coastal ride today is again spectacular as the road hugs the coast with its many river mouths and bush slopes. Gradually the land opens up and the rural scenery intensifies as we reach Greymouth and the Grey River. From here the road continues southwards through the rural countryside before it finally reaches the craft center of Hokitika, home of the local jade known as Pounamu, or Greenstone.
Cycling: 52 miles
Lodging: Jade Court Motor Lodge
Day 6 – Hokitika to Franz Joseph Glacier
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 Franz Joseph Glacier township for the night.
Cycling Options: 50 or 84 miles
Lodging: Punga Grove
Day 7 – Franz Joseph Glacier to Fox Glacier
This morning is a chance to relax but for those who feel the need for some upper body exercise there is an option to do some sea-kayaking into the rainforest at the nearby Okarito Lagoon & bird sanctuary. The distance to Fox Glacier is only a matter of 25 km’s 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 the village cafes or bars. In the evening we take a short tour to walk around nearby Lake Matheson with its famous sunset reflections of New Zealand’s highest mountains.
Cycling: 16 miles
Lodging: First of 2 Nights at the Rainforest Motel
Day 8 – Fox Glacier
Time for a day off the saddle and Fox Glacier is a great place to enjoy this. Relax and catch up with your diary or postcards. Your guide will take you for a walk to the base of the Glacier, but you also have the option of going with the local Alpine Guiding company for a half or full day hike onto the glacier itself. Flight-seeing is very popular here either in fixed wing planes around the mountains or a helicopter flight to land on the snowfields high above the village. For those with extra energy we offer a late afternoon drive & then walk along the isolated Gillespie’s Beach.
Cycling: Rest Your Legs
Lodging: Final Night at the Rainforest Motel
Day 9 – Fox Glacier to Haast
After the free day we head off again on the beautiful highways and flat roads. The road reaches the coast at Bruce Bay before turning inland again and skirting the beautiful Lake Moeraki and then the Knights Point coastline. Eventually we roll into Haast township and a final night on the west coast.
Cycling Options: 55 or 75 miles
Lodging: Heritage Park Lodge
Day 10 – Haast to Makarora
Haast Pass presents another of the riding highlights. For some 50 kms the road slowly rises as the mighty Landsborough River joins the nearby Clark Valley. Countless waterfalls cascade from the mountains towering above the road and the lush rainforest changes to beech forest as you get 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 Makaroa and a deserved end to the days 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.
Cycling: 51 miles
Lodging: Makarora Homestead
Day 11 – Makarora to Wanaka
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 lake shore before taking us into the bustling resort township of Lake Wanaka. The afternoon is free to enjoy the shopping & relax alongside the lake.
Cycling: 42 miles
Day 12 – Wanaka to Queenstown
This morning we head out of town on a 25km cycle to the historic township of Cardrona, passing on our way the famous “Bra Fence” – ladies you are welcome to leave your mark? From here the last serious climb of your tour takes us to our highest point, 1070m at the top of the Crown Range with its spectacular views, before a wicked drop down into Arrowtown for lunch. We have time to enjoy this historic Gold Mining town before our final ride into Queenstown.
Cycling: 48 miles
Lodging: Aspen on Queenstown
Day 13 – Queenstown – Tour Ends
Our tour ends today after breakfast and we must sadly say farewell. Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world. The town is situated alongside a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains so relaxing is also very easy to do & the shopping is fantastic. We recommend you spend some extra time here and are happy to help with accommodation bookings.
Please visit http://www.summerfeet.net/trips/great-west-coaster/ for a complete listing of what is included in the trip price.
Also see tour packages in:
Australia and Oceania New Zealand Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring
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