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Short but Sweet South Island Cycle Tour (The Zone, 8 Days)

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 8 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 14 people
Destination(s): New Zealand  
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring  
Season: October - April
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: Yes
Minimum Per Person Price: 2999 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2999 US Dollar (USD)

The scenery and terrain you’ll cover is as diverse as it is beautiful. We cover various distances on this trip, from 25 and 91 miles (40 - 144 km) per day, with the opportunity to do more or less if you prefer. The Zone is fully vehicle-supported, so there’s as much flexibility on the road as you need. There’s no chance of being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat tyre (or too puffed out to continue) with us! Our specialist cycling guides are experienced, compassionate and enthusiastic. Here at M08304 , we’re all very passionate about cycling, and we’re confident that if you’re keen to see New Zealand from handlebar level, you’ll love The Zone.

Who did we design this trip for?

This trip is designed for cyclists wanting a taste of New Zealand cycle touring, at the same time as ticking off some of the most awesome highlights of NZ. You’ll cycle through the Southern Alps, covering a distance of around 397 miles (634 km). There is the chance each day to cycle more than the daily mileage, or jump in the support vehicle and do less, depending on your mood. This is your cycle tour and we are here to help you make it as physically demanding as you like.

Tour Itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive, cycle Springfield to Flockhill. If you’re flying in long-haul, you’ll leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Friday, arriving in New Zealand early Sunday 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 fit your bike and adjust it to your liking. Then it’s time to warm up your legs with a ride from Springfield into the heart of the Southern Alps and over Porters Pass.

You’ll cycle past Castle Hill Scenic Reserve, an area once quoted by the Dalai Lama as the ‘Spiritual Centre of the Universe’, and also a popular climbing spot. It’s then a beautiful ride to your accommodation for the night, which is on a working sheep station. Welcome to New Zealand! Notes: Cycling distance - 25 miles (40 km) - Springfield to Flockhill Station (ascent 878 m). Accommodation: Flockhill Station, Flockhill. Includes: (L, D).

Day 2: Cycle over Arthur’s Pass. You’re sure to wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning with fresh mountain air in your lungs and an expansive vista to greet you. We’re taking on the Southern Alps today, so it’s a big day! We’ll head over the Waimakariri River, through native beech forest and into the small township of Arthur’s Pass, where we’ll stop for lunch. Arthur’s Pass is the highest pass through the Southern Alps, taking you from the rivers and beaches of the eastern side, to the ‘great divide’ – snow covered peaks and scree covered mountain slopes – over to the west, where dense rainforests and winding rivers guide you on your way to the coast.

We’ll finally emerge at the beach at Hokitika and proudly look out over the Tasman Sea. An amazing day, and important, we think, to stress that on any day of our cycling trips, you can sit things out if you like, at any time, and comfortably cruise along with one of the guides in our comfortable and spacious vehicle. Notes: Cycling distance - 22 miles (35 km) - Flockhill to Arthur’s Pass (ascent 160 m). Then 57 miles (92 km) - Otira to Kumara Junction (ascent 100 m, descent 900 m, 1 big downhill). Accommodation: Beachfront Hotel, Hokitika. Includes: (B, L, D).

Day 3: Cycle Hokitika to Franz Josef. You’re now on the isolated West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s an area covered in dense rainforest and raging rivers, and there are spectacular views of the snow-capped Southern Alps. You’ll cycle along the inland road, with plenty of high viz gear for safety. You’ll enjoy sweeping views of deserted West Coast beaches, before heading into the Westland Tai Poutini National Park and glacier country.

Once there we’ll head up the valley to visit the spectacular river of ice - the Franz Josef Glacier. The glacier drops 7000 feet in about seven miles, from its névé in the Southern Alps, almost to the sea. Notes: Cycling distance - 75 miles (120 km) - Hokitika to Franz Josef Glacier (ascent 250 m, descent 250 m, 1 hill). Accommodation: Franz lodgings, Franz Josef. Includes: (B, L, D).

Day 4: Cycle Franz Josef to Haast. The scenery today will take your breath away! From our lodgings in the small town of Franz Josef, we’ll tackle 3 hills between Franz Josef Glacier and its twin, Fox Glacier. These hills are quite demanding so pace yourself if you want to go the distance, or go as far as you can before jumping in the bus (your guide will no doubt be happy with some company!). Once in Fox, we’ll take a break before carrying on south through farmland to finish at the deserted mineral beaches of Bruce Bay.

Tonight we stay in the West Coast village of Haast, a long way away from anywhere. If you haven’t already checked out the stars, make sure you get out after dinner to appreciate the southern night sky – it’s incredible! Notes: Cycling distance - 16 miles (25 km) - Franz to Fox Glacier (ascent 400 m, descent 300 m, 3 big hills). Then 75 miles (119 km) - Fox Glacier to Haast (ascent 200 m, descent 275 m, 1 hill). Accommodation: World Heritage Heartland Hotel, Haast. Includes: (B, L, D).

Day 5: Cycle Haast Pass to Makarora. We’ll travel inland from the coast today, cycling from our accommodation to the “Gates of Haast”, then up and over Haast Pass. This takes us back to the Southern Alps and into the beautiful Makarora Valley bordering Mount Aspiring National Park. Mount Aspiring is one of the highest peaks in New Zealand, standing at 3,027 m, and it’s a striking mountain that you’re sure to become familiar with as you make your way round the park. It’s popular with mountaineers all trying their best to reach the summit and add it to their list of achievements!

You’re likely to come across outdoor enthusiasts taking on various challenges throughout New Zealand, and it’s always good to swap stories and experiences and learn a little bit about what other people do for fun. Anyhow, once we’re over the stunning Haast Pass (another one to tick off the list!) we’ll spend the night at the cozy homestead at Makarora. Notes: Cycling distance - 47 miles (75 km) - Haast to Makarora (ascent 600 m, descent 100 m, 1 big hill). Accommodation: The Homestead, Makarora. Includes: (B, L, D).

Day 6: Cycle Makarora to Lake Wanaka. After a sumptuous home cooked breakfast (a well-deserved treat) we’ll head off following the Makarora River as it joins the clear waters of Lake Wanaka. We’ll then make our way over the mountain roads through stunning scenery to neighbouring Lake Hawea, before returning back to the shores of Lake Wanaka again. These roads make up some of the route of the Challenge Wanaka Ironman triathlon, so you’ll be following in the footsteps of some of the best riders in the country. While we can’t promise you cheering crowds and fireworks, we’ll make sure your guide is nearby with a motivating comment and a power bar to keep you going! Notes: Cycling distance - 37 miles (60 km) - Makarora to Wanaka (ascent 200 m, descent 225 m, rolling hills). Accommodation: Wanaka lodgings, Lake Wanaka. Includes:(B, L, D).

Day 7: Cycle Crown Range road, Wanaka to Queenstown. Today is as big a challenge as you want it to be! Get your winner’s attitude in place and we’ll depart from Lake Wanaka and follow the road through the historic gold-mining area of the Cardrona Valley, surrounded by ski fields as we ride. Don’t forget to stop for a picture in front of the historic pub on the way! After a tough climb, we’ll eventually reach the source of the Cardrona River and the top of the Crown Range road. Give yourself a pat on the back and then we’ll head on down – fast!

This road is a Category One class from the other direction, so going down the far side is a real hoot! Once at the base, we’ll head through the Wakatipu basin and bike into Queenstown, a stunning town nestled in the mountains at the edge of a lake, our home and your final destination. It’s a time to celebrate the good times and achievements of the last week, and swap photos and stories with your fellow cyclists. Congratulations on a job well done! Notes: Cycling distance - 40 miles (64 km) - Wanaka to Queenstown (ascent 700 m, descent 825 m, 1 big hill). Accommodation: Heartland Hotel, Queenstown. Includes: (B, L, D).

Day 8: Depart for home. This is the last day of your 8-day trip around the South Island. After breakfast, we can drop you off at Queenstown airport for late-morning flights back to Christchurch or Auckland. Or if you’d prefer to stay a couple of extra days, there’s heaps to do in Queenstown and we can help you arrange extra accommodation if you need. Either way you’ll be refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times you’ll have had with us cycle touring in New Zealand, and ready to take on the world again! Includes: (B).

Airfare is not included in the tour price.

The trip fare is US$2999 + 15% NZ government taxes. Includes just about everything, specifically:
- Great quality road bike rental for your entire tour, with option to upgrade to a high performance bike.
- All guiding services. Having two guides means we have the flexibility to make sure you always have a great time!
- Accommodation for the entire period you are with us.
- All breakfast (B), lunch (L), and dinner (D), except during free time in places like Queenstown, where we’ve found people prefer to check out the wide range of restaurants Alcohol is not generally included on the trip, although we do spring for a few drinks here and there after a good day!
- All cycling described in the itinerary, except optional extra activities, particularly in Queenstown.