Our 15 day Off Road Tour is full of adventure, challenge and excitement for the intermediate to experienced mountain biker. The route, sometimes on private farmland, takes you over Alpine passes, alongside beautiful lakes, through river valleys and across pastoral plains, highlighting the incredible diversity of landscapes and scenery within New Zealand’s South Island. We begin in Central Otago by riding amongst the typically dry and rocky terrain of this High Country and Lakes Region. Then it is on to Canterbury where the landscape changes to beech forests and rugged mountains before we finish our Tour by riding the spectacular Queen Charlotte Track in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Along the way you can sample New Zealand’s delicious cuisine washed down with our fine wines.
At 2 pm your guide(s) will meet you at the tour hotel in Christchurch for a preliminary briefing. After that we will tackle an easy warm up ride. Bottle Lake Forest is a 1000 ha pine plantation, and the undulating trails with many bermed corners are fun and suitable for any level rider. Tracks lead us right to the beach, and the loop can be ridden in about 1.5 hours. In the evening we’ll get to know each other over dinner at one of the many excellent local restaurants.
Meals: No meals
Today we explore a mountain biking jewel in the Port Hills of Christchurch. We drive out of town to the western side of the Port Hills. The new Christchurch Adventure Park is the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest downhill MTB park, just 20 minutes from Christchurch’s CBD. The Park opens in December 2016 with approx. 50 km of trail, and once at full capacity, it will feature a stunning 120 km of mainly downhill trails. Whilst the trails can be accessed by muscle power, you can also buy a ticket for the chairlift and grab a plush downhill hire bike (optional cost) and take some ‘puff’ out of the riding. Ride as many laps as you like before dropping down into the village for lunch. This afternoon we will either continue in the park, or take a short drive to the Sign of the Kiwi, a historic stone cottage at the top of the Port Hills. This spot is famed for its views across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps, and allows for some more muscle-powered exploration on the bike. We ride a great bit of single trail called The Flying Nun which connects into Victoria Park, a tree plantation criss-crossed with trails — most of them downhill. Our guide will select the track(s) for some fun riding!
Total Riding:various ST loops (G3) options
How about a day with views? In Aotearoa that is synonymous with ‘bring your windproof’! We leave the city by bus through an ever-changing landscape of hills, fields, and lakes to the idyllic and artistic village of Little River. We’ll start our biking excursion from here. The locals give this ride a hard ‘puff-factor, which means there is quiet a bit of uphill work involved on a mix of sealed and gravel roads. All road riding is on small winding back-country roads climbing out to the various harbours of the volcanic peninsula. In effect, we climb two small mountains: Mt Fitzgerald and Mt Sinclair. The route is called the Double Fenceline track, and follows the old boundary fence across the windswept tops of Horomaka (the Māori name for Banks Peninsula). There are fantastic views to all sides: the Southern Alps to the west, and to every other direction, ocean views framed by pasture or craggy volcanic mountain tops.
Once back in Little River, a visit to the excellent local café will be high on our agenda — first to re-fuel, then to browse and enjoy the art. It’s a popular getaway spot for Christchurch locals, and a great place to hang out.
Total Riding: Total riding: approx. 35-40 km G3, 5 hrs
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
Today we have a break from our bikes after 3 days’ continuous riding! Kick back and relax on our scenic bus trip from the Garden City to the Adventure Capital, Queenstown – a stunning journey with some of the South Island’s most beautiful scenery. We’ll follow the Inland Road along the foot of the Southern Alps. Provided the skies are clear, we will have a good view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain). However: should a group be eager to get on their bikes today, we could stop near Twizel in the heart of the Mackenzie High Country (also ‘Lord of the Rings’ country). An XC-style loop starts 5 min from Lake Pūkaki (Mt Cook Lookout). The ride climbs gently from the lower land into the foothills of the Alps with great views of the main divide range. The open loop off the road is approx. 25 km, with less than 500 m climbing, and can be done in 2 hours. (25–30 km mix of ST (G2-3), 4WD, GR approx. 2 hrs). For the next 3 nights in Queenstown we’ve an ideal spot just outside the CBD, close to the Botanic Gardens, bars, cafes, and restaurants.
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
This morning we follow the road to the scenic settlement of Glenorchy, en route to the single trail to Moke Lake. Within an hour the hustle and bustle of Queenstown is left behind as we ride through a typical Otago mountain landscape. The loop trail around the small mountain lake is not too hard, with great picnic spots around. The return back down via another small lake is still all G2-3. On the way back into town, we have various options to sample the single trails at 7 Mile Bike Park. This is a true ‘big kids’ play area. Enjoy!
Total Riding: 50km R+GR+ST+4WD. Various XC loop G2-3 and G4(5) options in MTB Park
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
We have set aside a full day for you to enjoy the vast array of activities in Queenstown, be it a plane trip to the world famous Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, or an adrenalin-fuelled adventure with some of the local experts. There is so much to choose from — talk to your guide for booking recommendations.
If you’re feeling energetic, it’s simple to explore the Queenstown Trail Network by yourself: just head out via the ‘Frankton Arm’ and around the lakeshore to Jack’s Point. It is a great 25 km warm-up on a mix of undulating gravel roads and single trails, in an absolutely stunning location. Choose to bike home via the same route, or continue exploring (Total Riding: 25 km, ST G2, 3:30 hrs — return trip would be 51 km).
A big day out awaits, including a mighty downhill from the top of the Pisa Range into the Clutha River Valley (approx. 800 m vertically). It is partly over a private sheep and cattle station and is a truly unique back country experience. The day starts with a drive up to the Snowfarm XC-skiing area. From the lodge we climb up to Mt Pisa for a stunning view before descending on rugged 4WD tracks to the pretty township of Luggate for lunch. You can choose to finish your day’s ride here, or cycle the 12 km Clutha River trail to Albert Town followed by another 12 km along the Outlet Track around the shore of Lake Wanaka into the lakeside resort town — our home for the next two nights. This evening, you can relax in the charming atmosphere of our resort. This track is not always available as it crosses private land, so we may offer alternative rides on this day in the same area. There are plenty of them.
Total Riding:40 km XC G2–3, 5:00 hrs to Albert Town (+ extra ride 24 km, 1:30 hrs)
Meals: Breakfast and lunch
A ‘fun ride’ today, with great tracks for all levels of rider!
We head back out along the shores of Lake Wanaka to the Clutha River outlet from where we start climbing up into the Sticky Forest. This much-loved network of trails makes great use of the exotic pine forest close to the township, with over 20 tracks to choose from including some technical switchbacks. After a picnic lunch we continue our fun riding around Albert Town on the eastern side of the lake, before ending up at the Albert Town Tavern or a café along the Wanaka waterfront. The 11 km ST-dream around the Deans Bank Loop at the outflow of the Clutha River from Lake Wanaka MUST be specifically mentioned in here. If you ride nothing today, then at least give this a shot. We have not yet met a MTB-rider who did not like this bit of single trail.
Total Riding:44 km ST G3(4); 2-5hrs (with individual preferences)
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
Today, the cranks will be not be spinning. This is a scenic transfer day up the West Coast, one of the least-populous and most remote parts of the country, and arguably the most beautiful.
The journey takes us alongside Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, first through arid countryside, followed by dense rainforest on the border of Mount Aspiring National Park. After a short walk through beech forest at Haast Pass we continue to the township of Fox Glacier and/or Franz Josef, depending on time. High mountains and the sea are close together. Here we could walk to the glacier face, or there may be time for an optional scenic helicopter flight over the glaciers. We have our lunch break in Fox or Franz, before continuing to the historic beachside town of Hokitika, set near the Hokitika river mouth, and founded on gold mining in the 1800s. There may be time to visit a greenstone factory, where you can buy locally-made jade carvings and jewellery at reasonable prices. The West Coast is rich in this treasured stone, and the South Island — Te Wai Pounamu — is named for it.
A day on the Coast, and the chance of an easy, very scenic ride along one of the great new bike trails that we now have throughout the country. The most scenic section of the West Coast Wilderness Trail entails a 30 km bus transfer to the tiny settlement of Kumara, followed by a 46–58 km ride over a gently built gravel bike trail and a section of gravel road back around to Lake Kaniere. This old glacial lake is nestled in the mountains of the Hokitika backcountry about 20 km out of town. From here you can cycle back to our accommodation, or take our bus back, or on to the local mountain bike park: Blue Spur. The park, on a hill just outside Hokitika, has been established Kiwi-style in a pine plantation by the local MTB club. Expect some gnarly track sections here, and in the wet you better hold onto your seat — when it rains here, it really rains! This evening you have time to wander Hokitika’s beach, just a stroll from the centre of town. There is nothing between you and the sun sinking into the Tasman Sea — given the right weather, West Coast sunsets are spectacular.
Total Riding:46–58 km CT G2(3) + GR (West Coast Wilderness Trail) or 17+km ST G3/4 (5), 2:30 hrs, (Blue Spur MTB Tracks)
After breakfast, we begin a long but very beautiful bus journey of 420 km to Picton. The rugged West Coast landscapes are just stunning, and we’ll stop to visit Punakaiki, set by rainforest on a wild section of coastline. It’s a natural wonder, known for its unique ‘pancake rocks’ — layered limestone formations, with vertical blowholes. When the tides are right, the sea surges in and sprays. We’ll have time for a walk. Heading north and inland, we’ll also stop at the alpine village of St. Arnaud, to stretch our legs there. Unfortunately there’s no time for cycling today, but we promise to make up for it tomorrow, with a stunning day in the Marlborough Sounds. Once we arrive in the port town of Picton we will stay close to the harbour in cycling distance to the marina, so we can launch easily into tomorrow’s adventure. We will use the hotel as a base to explore this beautiful area over the next day.
A long and exciting day awaits us. After breakfast we ride into the Marina, and an hour-long water taxi ride takes us out through the picturesque, tree-lined Queen Charlotte Sound to Ship Cove (or Resolution Bay). We will pick a part of the trail to ride today, according to our group’s skill levels. This single trail takes us along the amazing coastline through dense forest where we will be escorted by numerous songbirds. After a good warm-up ride and a re-fuelling stop, a challenging afternoon lies ahead. We will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Marlborough Sounds as we bike the single trail back to Portage, a small settlement by a sparkling bay. The last section of the Queen Charlotte Track is as beautiful as the first. You bike from lush green coastal forest over mountain ridges, where you again have magnificent views. There are two options available to suit different riders. The last section of the trail from Te Mahia Saddle to Anakiwa is a pleasure to ride for mountain bikers of all skills. From the trailhead in Anakiwa, after a hearty picnic lunch, we’ll pack our bikes and drive back to Picton. The evening is yours to spend in this pretty town… stroll along the waterfront or the Marina, and discover the wide range of restaurants and cafes at your leisure.
Total Riding: various STs, G3
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
After the exhilaration of the long single trail ride yesterday, the idea of settling back to enjoy a scenic bus ride may not be unwelcome! We have about 320 km of remote coastal stretches and inland bush country to cover on the road back down to the resort village of Hanmer Springs. For lunch we will stop in at the dramatically beautiful town of Kaikōura. Its name means ‘meal of crayfish’. It’s set alongside mountains by a deep-sea trench that make it a haven for marine wildlife. Whale-watching or seal/dolphin swimming, may be a possibility, depending on our arrival time in Kaikōura). A ‘shortcut’ through the mountains takes us over the Whales Back hill into the vast Wairau Plains and then on to Hanmer Springs, where we stay for 2 nights. Your body may already be looking forward to a soak in the famous hot pools of this thermal alpine resort town.
Total Riding:10-15 km ST (Hanmer Forest Tracks)
Meals:Breakfast and Lunch
The New Zealand government has recently purchased two massive farms and turned them into conservation land, opening up many recreational opportunities. To explore the 78,196 ha St James Station, we start with a 45 min drive into the mountains alongside the Clarence River. We will take on two trails: from Lake Tennyson we’ll ride the full length of the St James Trail, and from Fowlers Hut we will ride Maling Pass to Lake Guyon and Fowlers Pass Loop. Should the weather not allow us to venture into the high country today, we will ride the forest tracks in the low-lying sheltered plantations around the town. There are plenty of fun loops to test all abilities.
Total Riding: Various XC G2-4
Meals:Breakfast and Lunch
Today we say goodbye to our tour mates, and hei konei rā to New Zealand. After breakfast we start our 90 minute drive back to Christchurch, and can drop you off at the international airport on the way. Or you may choose to stay longer in this vibrant and ever-changing city, which has reinvented itself as a centre of street art, food, and shopping.
Meals:Breakfast and Lunch
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.
15 Day Tour Includes:
This tour is graded as 5/6 Active to Challenging..
Further information about our tour grades is available.HERE
Riding is predominantly on shingle roads and 4WD farm tracks with opportunities for single track riding on some days. (Queen Charlotte Track is predominantly single trail and after rain can become more technical)
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