Day 1: Arrive, cycle to Hanmer Springs. Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Sunday, arriving in New Zealand early Tuesday morning. You’ll lose a day to the dateline – but you’ll get it back on the way home! You’ll need to arrive in Christchurch by around 10 am, where we’ll adjust your bike to your liking. You’ll then have a chance to stretch your legs and cycle the Waiau Valley near Hanmer Springs. This evening you can soak, relax and mingle in Hanmer’s fresh water mineral spas.
- Cycle Notes: 15–20 miles (25–30 km) of road riding – predominantly flat cycling to get accustomed to your bike.
- Accommodation: Hanmer Springs lodgings, Hanmer Springs (L,D)
Day 2: Cycle Lewis Pass and Matakitaki River Valley. This morning we head into the mountains, starting the day with a downhill ride through native beech forest in the Lewis Pass, one of the three main passes that straddle the Southern Alps. We’ll turn onto a remote backcountry road and follow the Matakitaki River Valley towards Maruia Saddle and down into Murchison. The Matakitaki is an upper tributary of the mighty Buller River and includes several sections of white water, which are popular with local kayakers.
- Cycle Notes: 30 miles (50 km) of downhill sealed road followed by 30 miles (50 km) of unsealed road with a gradual 1000 foot ascent along a stunning remote river valley.
- Accommodation: Murchison lodgings, Murchison (B,L,D)
Day 3: Cycle along the Buller Gorge and Punakaiki coast. From Murchison we head through the Buller River past the Inangahua Slip, a huge landslide that dammed the river after a massive earthquake in the 1960’s. As you pedal along, you have time to enjoy the thick temperate rainforest and historic gold mining sites of the area before arriving on the West Coast. The last leg of today’s biking is a stunning coastal ride to Punakaiki, where you can walk on the beach and enjoy the sun setting over the Tasman Sea after dinner.
- Cycle Notes: 30–70 miles (50–110 km) of road riding – slightly downhill, descending 400 feet to the coast alongside a river gorge – short coastal walk at Punakaiki.
- Accommodation: Beach front Chalets, Punakaiki (B,L,D)
Day 4: Coastal cycle, Punakaiki to Kakapotahi Ecological Area. Today we’ll ride south along the isolated West Coast. This area is full of dense native rainforest, huge fast-flowing rivers and spectacular views of the snow-capped Southern Alps. We’ll follow the main inland road, turning after the Mikonui River onto a smaller coastal road to the village of Kakapotahi. We’ll enjoy sweeping views of deserted West Coast beaches before heading into the Westland Tai Poutini National Park and glacier country!
- Cycle Not Es: 30–70 miles (50–110 km) of flat road riding – coastal vistas – deserted beaches – views of the Southern Alps.
- Accommodation: The Westhaven, Fox Glacier (B,L,D)
Day 5: Cycle from Fox Glacier to the Tasman Sea. The scenery today is off the charts! From our lodgings, we’ll cycle a winding road through an ancient podocarp forest to Fox Glacier. This glacier drops 7000 feet in about seven miles, from its névé in the Southern Alps almost to the sea. After visiting the glacier, we’ll cycle south past farmland, ending at the deserted mineral beaches of Bruce Bay. Tonight we stay in the West Coast village of Haast.
- Cycle Notes: 30–60 miles (50–100 km) of undulating road riding, alongside dense native rainforest, from the base of Fox Glacier to the beach of Bruce Bay – optional one hour return hike to Fox Glacier.
- Accommodation: World Heritage Heartland Hotel, Haast (B,L,D)
Day 6: Cycle Haast Pass, and Lake Wanaka Track. We’ll travel inland today, cycling from Pleasant Flat to the “Gates of Haast” and over Haast Pass. This memorable ride takes us into the Makarora Valley bordering Mt. Aspiring National Park. After we’re through the Pass, we’ll take a short drive to Hawea, where we’ll ride along a smooth trail with spectacular views of the Clutha River, the South Island’s longest river, as it flows into Lake Wanaka. If you prefer, you can explore Wanaka township or relax by the lake.
- Cycle Notes: 25–50 miles (40–80 km) of road riding – an uphill stretch gaining 1,400 feet to the Haast Pass; and cycling along a smooth, gently undulating trail to Lake Wanaka.
- Accommodation: Wanaka hotel, Wanaka (B,L,D)
Day 7: Cycle the Cardrona Valley and Crown Range to Queenstown. This morning we’ll cycle from our lodgings through the historic gold mining area of Cardrona, stopping for a cold drink at an old miners’ tavern. Then we’ll bike through tussock-clad hills, before crossing the Cardrona Saddle on the Crown Range. It’s a steep climb to the saddle, but the views from the top are worth it. Then we wind our way down towards Queenstown, where we’ll be staying for the next two nights. As with all cycling on the Weka cycling tour, you can skip the steepest part of today’s ride if you like.
- Cycle Notes: 30–60 miles (50–100 km) of road riding – gentle valley cycle that steepens towards the saddle gaining 2000 feet.
- Accommodation: Queenstown apartments, Queenstown (B,L)
Day 8: Free day in Queenstown. Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand where you’ll find all the comforts of civilization: massage therapists, restaurants, sidewalk cafés, window shopping, as well as incredible hikes, bike rides, and adrenaline pumping activities such as hang gliding, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving. Ask your guides for more information on organizing local activities, while we take the opportunity to give your bike a mid-trip tune up. There are some great mountain and road cycling options around Queenstown too if you’re keen to fit in some extra bike time! Accommodation: Queenstown apartments, Queenstown (B)
Day 9: Cycle Mt. Nicholas Road from Walter Peak to Mavora Lakes. A refreshingly early start sees us cruising across Lake Wakatipu on the steamship TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station. Here you’ll get on your freshly tuned bike and follow Mt. Nicholas farm road to the isolated Mavora Lakes. You’ll bike up through the head waters of the comVon River surrounded by the Livingston Mountains. This is a true wilderness cycling experience on a deserted back road and after your time in Queenstown, you’ll appreciate the peaceful surroundings!
- Cycle Notes: 40–60 miles (65–100 km) of deserted farm road – steamship across Lake Wakatipu to road head – winding, undulating road with a total elevation gain of 1,000 feet - remote high-country lakes.
- Accommodation: Lake Te Anau lodgings, Te Anau (B,L,D)
Day 10: Cruise Milford Sound, cycle Hollyford Valley. Today starts with a spectacular cruise on Milford Sound, rated the 8th Natural Wonder of the World by Rudyard Kipling. We’ll glide past sheer rock walls, huge waterfalls and the famous Mitre Peak, and hopefully be visited by the fur seals, penguins and dolphins that frequent the area. After lunch, we have a spectacular ride through the Hollyford Valley, a remote backcountry road lined with unspoilt beech forest and towering peaks. This is one of our favourite rides and definitely one of the most memorable rides on the trip!
- Cycle Notes: 20–40 miles (30-65 km) mostly downhill road and gravel road riding descending 1,000 feet – undulating terrain with breathtaking alpine scenery.
- Accommodation: Lake Te Anau lodgings, Te Anau (B,L,D)
Day 11: Central Otago Rail Trail, Lauder to Danseys Pass. The Central Otago Rail Trail follows an old train line built in the early 1900’s. The line was retired in 1990 and is now one of the best multi-day bike rides in New Zealand. We’ll cross 60 bridges and viaducts, winding our way along the smooth track past Raggedy Range and Rough Ridge. We have a gradual climb through the Ida Valley, before taking a backroad through Naseby to our lodgings at Danseys Pass for a hearty roast dinner (with vegetarian options available).
- Cycle Notes: 30–70 miles (50–110 km) of compact gravel trails, bridges, viaducts and road riding - slight uphill gradient all day with a 500 foot elevation gain.
- Accommodation: Danseys Pass Coach Inn, Danseys Pass (B,L,D)
Day 12: Cycle over Danseys Pass into limestone country. From Danseys Pass, we’ll ride into the limestone country of North Otago. We’ll head over the Pass, with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from the top. Then we’ll descend from remote high-country into green valleys, lined with impressive limestone cliffs and crags. We’ll have lunch in the village of Duntroon, where you can see fossils dug up from the local limestone, before continuing on through the peaceful farmland with a backdrop of mountains. It’s then a short drive to the historic Millhouse, where we’ll celebrate our two unforgettable weeks of cycling together.
- Cycle Notes: 20 - 60 miles (30 – 100 km) of gravel and road riding – steep uphill section gaining 1,000 feet followed by long downhill ride descending 2,500 feet before gently undulating road riding through limestone country.
- Accommodation: The Millhouse, Oamaru (B,L,D)
Day 13: Depart for home. This is the last day of your 13-day South Island cycling tour. See our Kauri itinerary if you want to take a few more days to see the North Island. After breakfast, we’ll set out for Christchurch, arriving by mid afternoon. Any international flight after 4 pm is ideal, and we can make domestic flights as early as 2.30 pm with advance notice. International flights from Auckland usually leave early evening, so if you’re heading to North America you’ll get home some time on Sunday, even though you left on Sunday evening. Flights back to Europe, of course, take a little longer. You’ll be refreshed and invigorated from the good rides and great times you’ll have had with us in New Zealand! (B,L)
Also see tour packages in:
Australia and Oceania New Zealand Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Multi-activity