It’s paradise fun, fitness and diversity as you cycle New Zealand from Christchurch to Auckland.
New Zealand offers unparalleled variety. In the south: rugged snowy alps, dense native bush and plains. After a ferry crossing through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, explore the north, with its busy cities, green pastures, mud pools,mountains and volcanoes.
During the tour you will see spectacular landscapes which constantly change. A combined bus and cycling tour gives you the opportunity to experience the highlights of both islands in a relatively short time frame. You’ll need to be moderately fit to cycle distances between 30 and 60 km daily (unless specified differently in the itinerary), but you’re welcome to ride in the support vehicle whenever you wish.
We meet at the tour hotel in the early afternoon. Later this afternoon we’ll go for a short drive up the Port Hills to the ‘Sign of the Kiwi’, a historic stone house with views across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps.
We leave Christchurch in good time and drive across the Canterbury plains to Lake Tekapo and our destination – Twizel. Today’s cycle stage takes us along a quiet road through farmland from Mayfield to Geraldine. The road follows the outskirts of the beginning of the Southern Alps. In Geraldine we hop on the bus again and follow the ‘Starlight Highway’ to Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, before arriving at our hotel in Twizel. On a clear day we can expect glorious views of New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook (Aoraki means ‘cloud piercer’).
This morning we travel to the legendary Lindis Pass. From here we ride down-hill through the Lindis Valley and along Lake Dunstan until we reach one of the ‘fruit-baskets’ of the South Island. On our way to Queenstown we pass several vineyards and come to ‘AJ-Hackett-Bungy’ at the bridge across the Kawarau River before we arrive at Queenstown – the adventure capital of New Zealand.
Queenstown is an alpine paradise for adventure. Today you are free to explore the activities on offer; your options include (but not limited to) a day trip to Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound in Fiordland, shopping, a gondola ride to the Skyline restaurant and viewpoint, a steam boat trip on TSS Earnslaw with majestic views across Lake Wakatipu, jet boating on the Shotover River, bungee jumping, white water rafting, tandem paragliding, or a visit to the Kiwi Birdlife Park to see New Zealand’s national icon. There’s never a dull moment in vibrant Queenstown.
Today we ride to the spectacularly beautiful Arrowtown, an old gold mining town with tree lined streets and fascinating shops. We then cycle further to the Kawarau Bridge (home of bungee jumping). Our bus takes us via the highest tar-sealed pass in New Zealand – the Crown Range. On a clear day we can expect fantastic views across to Lake Wakatipu and Lake Wanaka. Downhill we pass the historic Cardrona Hotel, an iconic relic from gold prospecting days. From here it is only a short ride to the beautiful lakeside town of Wanaka. Enjoy an evening walk along the lake front promenade.
Today is one of picturesque contrasts – we go west past Lakes Hawea and Wanaka where arid pastures give way to dense bush in Mt Aspiring National Park. We cycle from the Clutha River in Alberttown (shortly behind Wanaka) to a lookout at Lake Hawea and continue our journey by bus to Haast Pass (563 m). On our way we stop for a brief walk to the 30 m Thunder Creek Falls. From Haast our bus journey continues along the West Coast through dense rainforest and the Kahikatea Swamp Forest all the way north to the settlement of Fox Glacier. Weather permitting we will pay a visit to the glacier and finish the day with a short walk to the Fox Glacier face, before the bus take us to our accommodation.
This morning we travel by bus to the picturesque Lake Matheson, known as ‘Mirror Lake’, for a walk around the lake before relaxing for breakfast at the lake café – a nice prospect after the walk. If you prefer, you may take an optional helicopter flight to the glaciers (including landing). Our cycling today starts on the coast in Okarito. We ride 10km to Lake Mapourika and then follow the West Coast Highway via Mt Hercules (hilly and winding through rainforest) to Hari Hari. In the afternoon we continue our journey by bus which takes us to Hokitika – the Capital of Jade or ‘Pounamu’ as Greenstone is called in New Zealand. If there is time we pay a visit to one of the carving workshops.
In Greymouth we get on our bikes and cycle the spectacular coast road to the famous Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki (limestone formations that resemble well-stacked pancakes). Here in the heart of the Paparoa National Park we take a walk to the blowholes. They spout blasts of seawater at high tide. Back on the bus we follow the coastline to Westport and time permitting we visit a small seal colony at Cape Foulwind.
Today we leave the West Coast and drive along the Buller River through the Buller Gorge, Kahurangi National Park and Nelson Lakes National Park. When the landscape opens up we bike through the vast Wairau Valley to the wine growing district of Blenheim and Renwick. Weather permitting we may also start our biking in Havelock, the centre of Greenlip Mussels, where we ride via Queen Charlotte Drive to our hotel in Picton in the Marlborough Sounds.
Today you have the entire day at your own leisure to explore Picton and the Queen Charlotte Sound – Captain James Cook’s favourite on his discovery journeys to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Some options include:
Today we take the ferry to New Zealand’s capital Wellington in the North Island. Enjoy scenic views as you travel the Fjord-like Queen Charlotte sound, the Tory Channel and the Cook Strait. The afternoon is at leisure in Wellington – visit the famous National Museum ‘Te Papa’ or enjoy panoramic views with a steep cable car ride from bustling Lambton Quay to the Botanic Gardens.
During a short sightseeing tour of vibrant ‘Welly’ we visit Mt Victoria which offers beautiful views across the city and Harbour, the Parliament and the historic part of the city with its St-Paul’s-Cathedral. Around lunchtime, we head north to Upper Hutt. On our bikes we follow the small and winding Akatarawa Road through the foothills of the Rimutaka Mountains until we reach the coast again at Waikanae. In the afternoon the bus takes us along the West Coast to Whanganui, set on plains at the Whanganui river mouth. One of New Zealand’s oldest towns, it is known for its beautiful gardens.
Today offers another day of cycling through beautiful country-side. We begin by cycling along the Mangawhero River where volcanic peaks greet us as we approach Tongariro National Park: Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro. Alternatively we travel along the now mostly tar-sealed Whanganui River Road to Jerusalem or even Pipiriki. After a break we continue to Raehiti at the outskirts of Tongariro National Park. The Whanganui River Road is still under development and depending on road conditions the guide will choose the best cycling option on this stretch. This area is of high cultural significance for Maori people and also provides access to the surrounding Whanganui National Park. Final destination today is Whakapapa or National Park Village.
This morning we cycle from Whakapapa along little Lake Rotoaira to Turangi on the shores of Lake Taupō. Lake Taupō was formed by a huge volcanic eruption around 135 AD. We continue driving along State Highway 1 to Rotorua, famous for its active wonderland of geysers, hot springs and boiling mud pools. This evening, why not enjoy a traditional Māori concert and hāngī dinner (optional). Hāngī are earth ovens where food is steamed over heated rocks, creating succulent, smoke-tinged flavours.
Before leaving this famous geothermal area we take you on a short city tour of Rotorua. There is time to visit the several geo-thermal places in the city or at the Maori Centres Whakarewarewa and Te Puia with its mud pools and geysers. We leave Rotorua and drive towards Kamai-Mamuka Forest Park and 40 km further we reach the now famous ‘Hobbiton’ – fancy a visit (optional)? The cycle leg today starts at Hobbiton where we cycle via Matamata along the forest line to Te Aroha, nestled under Mt Te Aroha. Alternatively, we can finish our cycling leg after 30km at a waterfall. You are free to do as you choose this afternoon. Visit the natural hot pools, take a short walk to Mokena Geyser, or head to the visitor’s centre to learn more about Te Aroha’s gold mining history.
This morning is at leisure allowing you to explore the small town, then the bus takes you to the Gulf of Thames along the coast road to Kaiaua. From there, we finish the cycling for this tour with a beautiful ride on an easy coastal road to the rural town of Clevedon, east of Auckland. After arriving in Auckland, we’ll go on a sightseeing tour of New Zealand’s largest city where – amongst other things – you will view the Harbour Bridge, Mt Eden, see the huge Marina and the Skytower.
Today it’s time to bid farewell to new found friends. If you’re flying out of Auckland, we’ll arrange for the transfers back to the airport to connect with your flight.
Please note that your trip may differ from the above itinerary either to better suit the needs of the group or due to circumstances beyond our control such as the weather.
This tour is graded 3/4 Moderate.