South Island Road Cycling Experience

South Island Road Cycling Experience – 14 Day & West Coast Road Cycling Experience – 10 Day South Island Road Cycling Tour

This tour takes us from the southern most point of the South Island to the northern end via the scenic West Coast, enjoying some of the best road cycling to be had in New Zealand. Fully supported and guided by Pacific Cycle Tours’ experienced guides, we cover the entire distance from hotel door to hotel door on our bikes. As we travel north we take in the many sights and activities that make New Zealand one of the world’s most popular cycling destinations. Whilst the tour is designed for the more serious cyclist (100km+ per day), we also welcome participants who prefer 60 to 100 kms cycling per day. Choose to begin your tour in the southern most point of the South Island – Bluff or start in the ‘Adventure Capital’ of New Zealand – Queenstown on the Southern Road Cycling Experience (14 days) or ride the West Coast to the Northern most tip of the South Island – Picton on our West Coast Road Cycling Experience (10 days).

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Tour Itinerary

NOTE: West Coast Road Cycling Experience – 10 Day starts on Day 5 in Queenstown.


Please make your own way to the southern-most domestic airport of Invercargill where you will be met by your guide and transferred to your Invercargill (or Bluff) Hotel. After assembling your bikes or being fitted to your hire bike, we gather for a drink and a pre tour briefing before getting to know each other during the evening. Being in Southland you have the chance to taste those famous big and delicious Bluff oysters.
Meals: none


Our first day’s cycling begins with a 30km transfer to the port town of Bluff, which is at the southern most point of State Highway 1. Now on our bikes we have a leisurely 100kms ahead of us, firstly on the main road and then on quieter backroads through Southland’s green pastures. The terrain today is reasonably flat and provides us with a good warm up. We’ll have a late lunch on arrival in Gore, an important rural servicing town in this region dominated by agriculture.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Cycling: Bluff to Gore – 100km


After yesterday’s warm-up we ‘up the pace’ as this is one of our three longer days. We notice how dramatically the scenery changes from the green Southland pastures and rolling hills, to the incredibly dry & barren landscapes of Central Otago. As we cycle from the Blue Mountains and through the gorge to the foot of the Old Man Range we pass old gold mining areas and hydroelectric stations. The route today is mostly undulating with some steeper climbs to test the legs as we approach Alexandra, a rural town located beside the Clutha River. A final 10km ‘warm-down’ follows the river to tonight’s accommodation in the quaint historical township of Clyde.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Cycling: Gore to Clyde – 150km


With the first long day under our belts, we have an easier, flatter day’s cycling ahead. The road takes us alongside Lake Dunstan and through the narrow Kawarau Gorge to Queenstown, the Adventure Capital of New Zealand. There are no major climbs today, but instead, plenty of distractions such as boutique wineries which may tempt us to stop. Central Otago is widely known as the world’s most southerly grape growing region and in recent years has produced many award winning wines. For those seeking a rush of adrenalin, what about a bungy jump from the historic Kawarau bridge as we pass AJ Hacket’s famous first location.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Cycling: Clyde to Queenstown – 89km


Today is a rest day, having already completed 330km of our tour. There are many exciting activities on offer in Queenstown, such as a fly-cruise-fly package into the famous and scenic Milford Sound, white water rafting, jet boating, paragliding, helicopter rides and many other options. Or just relax with a massage or afternoon cruise on Lake Wakatipu aboard the steamship TSS Earnslaw. But if you would rather clock up some more kms on your bike, we can point you in the right direction.
Meals: Breakfast
Cycling: Options available

If you are joining the tour today, please make your own way to the popular lakeside resort of Queenstown, where you will be met by your guide and transferred to your Hotel. After assembling your bike, or being fitted to your hire bike, the rest of the day is free. Relax, explore the town or try some of the many exciting activities on offer in this ‘adventure capital’ of New Zealand. In the early evening we will gather for a pre tour briefing before getting to know each other during the course of the evening.
Meals: None
Cycling: Options available


After a day’s rest our legs should be ready for the most challenging climb on our tour, the Crown Range. For the first few km to the historical gold mining town of Arrowtown, the ride is fairly easy with only one real climb. Then its a hard 3km up steep hairpins until we reach a plateau for another 5km which is followed by a lung wrenching, leg burning additional 3.5km to the summit of the highest highway in New Zealand at 1080m. We’re thankful that its now its all ‘plain sailing’ as we follow the Cardrona River down the valley to our accommodation in the very popular lakeside village of Wanaka. Spend the rest of the day relaxing in this resort town and replenishing your body with local cuisine. For those wanting to stretch their legs some more, there are plenty of options for extra riding.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Cycling: Queenstown to Wanaka – 73km (extra km optional)


A longer ride is in store today as we head west across the Southern Alps. The landscapes change dramatically from the dry, arid mountains of Central Otago to the dense rainforest of the wild West Coast. There will be numerous photo opportunities as we ride alongside Lakes Hawea and Wanaka and then over the Haast Pass. From here it’s a glorious downhill as we follow the Haast River from its inception to where it meets the Tasman Sea.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Cycling: Wanaka to Haast – up to 143km


Heading north we follow the rugged coastline for the first 30kms, incurring only one small climb before turning inland. Another little hill takes us over to Lake Paringa and from there a nice flat section through the rainforest allows for some recovery until just before Fox Glacier at 120km. To round off a spectacular day we now have three steep climbs and descents for around 22km to Franz Josef. The rugged coastal scenery and dense rainforest make today’s ride one of the most scenic of the tour. We suggest the perfect finish to the day would be a visit to the ‘Glacier Hot Pools’, nestled in lush rainforest and conveniently located near the edge of the township.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Cycling: Haast to Franz Josef – 144km


A free day to rest your legs and to do as you please. Optional cycling is available or perhaps you may choose to book a half day hike on the glacier or a scenic helicopter ride. And those ‘Glacier Hot Pools’ may again be tempting!
Meals: Breakfast
Cycling: options available


It is a relatively flat to slightly undulating ride up to Hokitika today with most of the route being slightly inland. The only hills are a short climb over Mt Hercules on a very scenic, winding and twisting bush-clad road and some small undulations around Pukekura, home of the Bushman’s centre and some ‘tall tails’. Hokitika is a pleasant town, known as the Heritage and Cultural centre of the West Coast and is also home to New Zealand’s finest Pounamu (jade). Our accommodation tonight is located right on the beachfront.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Cycling: Franz Josef to Hokitika – 134km


Continuing north, it’s a reasonably easy flat ride along the coastline for around 82km to our rest stop at Punakaiki, the gateway to the 30,000ha Paparoa National Park. Punakaiki is home to the spectacular Pancake Rocks and Blowholes and are a must-see when visiting the West Coast. After refueling we are ready to ride over Perpendicular Point and Pakihi Hill before descending into the port town of Westport for a pint of their local Miner’s Beer.Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Cycling: Hokitika to Westport – 138km


After following the stunning coastal road for three days we now head inland on a gradual climb alongside the Buller River past Fern Arch, Hawks crag, Inangahua Junction and Murchison to Kawatari. We turn off onto a quieter road and cycle North East to the alpine village of St Arnaud, in the Nelson Lakes National Park beside Lake Rotoiti and the towering Mt Robert. Today will have been our longest day and while we cycled gradually uphill for the entire 158km, we’ve only climbed to 700m above sea level.
Breakfast, Lunch
Cycling: Westport to St Arnaud – 156km


Through forest and then farmland, we cycle down the long Wairau Valley to the outskirts of Blenheim, now one of the major wine growing regions of New Zealand. At Renwick a meandering back road takes us across to Havelock, a charming little port town on the edge of the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. During our final 30km around the undulating coastline to Picton, we are rewarded with some of the most beautiful scenery in the region, making it a great finish to our last cycling day.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Cycling: St Arnaud to Picton – 153km


After 1283km of great riding its time to pack up the bikes and bid you farewell. If your next destination is Wellington and the North Island, the Interislander ferry terminal is just nearby or the local domestic airport at Blenheim is within an easy transfer. For those who wish to return with us to Christchurch, our support vehicle leaves by mid morning for the 5 hour drive via Kaikoura and the East Coast.Meals: Breakfast
Cycling: none

14 Day Tour – Total distance cycled: 1283km
10 Day Tour – Total distance cycled: 941km



14 Day Tour Includes:

  • 13 overnight stays in excellent accommodation (3-4* NZ Standard)
  • Meals as specified on itinerary (breakfast and/or lunch)
  • Support vehicle and luggage transfer
  • Arrival transfer on day 1 only (from 1pm)
  • Tour guide
  • Department of Conservation fees

10 Day Tour Includes:

  • 9 overnight stays in excellent accommodation (3-4* NZ Standard)
  • Meals as specified on itinerary (breakfast and/or lunch)
  • Support vehicle and luggage transfer
  • Tour guide
  • Arrival transfer on day 1 only (between 7am and 2pm)
  • Department of Conservation fees




This tour is graded as 5/6 Intermediate.