Please make your way to New Zealand's southernmost domestic airport at Invercargill, where you’ll be met by your guide and transferred to your Invercargill (or Bluff) hotel. After assembling your bikes, or being fitted to your hire bike, you gather for a drink and pre-tour briefing before getting to know each other during the evening.
Invercargill to Bluff to Gore 100 km
You first day’s cycling begins with a 30 km drive to the port town of Bluff. Bluff is at the southernmost point of State Highway 1, New Zealand's longest road (2047 km). You have a leisurely 100 km biking ahead, first on the main road and then on quieter pastoral back roads. The terrain is reasonably flat and a good warm-up for longer rides ahead. You’ll have a late lunch in Gore, a important rural servicing town in this agriculture-dominated region.
Gore to Clyde 146 km
You ‘up the pace’ today with one of you 3 biggest cycling days. You'll see a dramatic change in scenery from Southland's green pastures to dry, barren Central Otago. As you cycle from the Blue Mountains through a gorge to the foot of the Old Man Range, you pass old gold mining areas and hydroelectric stations. The route is undulating with steeper climbs to test the legs as you approach pretty Alexandra by the Clutha River. Alexandra is New Zealand's hottest, driest, and coldest town. Lunch included.
Clyde to Queenstown 89 km
An easier, flatter day’s cycling today. You pass Lake Dunstan via the beautiful Kawarau Gorge to Queenstown, New Zealand's Adventure Capital. There are no major climbs today, but instead, plenty of distractions such as wineries that may tempt us to stop. Central Otago is the world’s most southerly grape-growing region, best known for its stunning Pinot Noir. For those wanting an adrenalin rush, how about a bungy jump from the historic Kawarau Bridge, as you pass AJ Hackett's Bungy's first ever location.
Today is a free day in action-packed Queenstown. You could try a fly-cruise-fly package into the dramatic Milford Sound, white water rafting, jet boating, paragliding, helicopter rides and many other options. You could shop in the town centre, relax with a massage, or take an afternoon cruise on Lake Wakatipu on the steamship TSS Earnslaw. However, if you'd would rather clock up some more kms on your bike, you can point you in the right direction.
Queenstown - Wanaka 73km
After a day’s rest your legs should be ready for our most challenging climb, the Crown Range. First, a fairly easy ride to the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown, with just one real climb. Then we head to the summit of New Zealand's highest highway (1080 m). It's a hard 3 km up steep hairpins, a flattish 5 km, then a lung-wrenching, leg-burning 3.5 km. Then it's ‘plain sailing’ as we follow the Cardrona River down to Wanaka, a popular lakeside resort town. Relax and enjoy local eateries and sights. There are also plenty of options for extra riding. Lunch included.
Wanaka - Haast 143km
A longer ride is in store today as you head west across the Southern Alps. The landscapes again change dramatically, from the dry, arid mountains of Central Otago to the dense rainforests of the wild West Coast. There will be numerous photo opportunities as you ride alongside Lakes Wanaka and Hawea and then over the glorious alpine Haast Pass. From here it’s a beautiful downhill as we follow the Haast River from its inception to the Tasman Sea. Lunch included
Haast - Frans Josef 144km
Heading north, you follow the rugged West Coast coastline for 30 km, with just one small climb before turning inland. Another little hill takes you to scenic Lake Paringa. A flat section through rainforest allows for some recovery until just before Fox Glacier at 120 km. To round off a spectacular day you now have three steep climbs and descents for around 22 km to Franz Josef. The rugged coastal scenery and dense rainforest make today’s ride one of the most scenic of the tour. The perfect finish could be the Glacier Hot Pools, nestled in lush rainforest near the township's edge. Lunch included.
A free day in this scenic alpine town surrounded by native rainforest. Relax, rest your legs and do as you please. Optional cycling is available, or you may choose to book a half day hike on the glacier, or go for a helicopter ride. Those Glacier Hot Pools with their natural glacier water may again be tempting
Frans Josef - Hokitika 134km
There's a flat to slightly undulating ride up beautiful West Coast roads today. Most of the route is slightly inland. The only hills are a short climb over Mt Hercules on a very scenic, winding bush-clad road. There are also 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. Here you'll find New Zealand’s finest pounamu (local jade). Lunch included
Hokitika - Westport 138km
Continuing north, it’s a reasonably easy flat ride along the coastline for around 82 km to your rest stop at Punakaiki. It's spectacular layered 'Pancake Rocks' and Blowholes at the coastline are a must-see. Punakaiki is also the gateway to the 30,000 ha Paparoa National Park. Then it's on to Perpendicular Point and Pakihi Hill with their great sea views before descending i
Westport - St Arnaud 156km
After following the stunning coastal road for 3 days, you now head inland on a gradual climb. You follow the Buller River past Fern Arch and Hawk's Crag, a tunnel blasted through rock in 1900. You'll pass the smalll towns Inangahua Junction and Murchison to Kawatiri. Then turn off onto a quiet road and cycle northeast to the alpine village of St Arnaud, in the Nelson Lakes National Park beside Lake Rotoiti and the towering Mt Robert. Today is your longest cycling day and while you cycled gradually for the entire 156 km, it's only to 700 m above sea level. Lunch included
St Arnaud to Picton 153km
Through forest and then farmland, you cycle down the long Wairau Valley to the outskirts of Blenheim, centre of one of New Zealand's major wine regions. At Renwick, a meandering back road leads to Havelock, a charming little port town on the edge of the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. On your final 30 km of the winding coastline to Picton you see some of the most beautiful scenery in the region. It's a great finish on your last cycling day! Lunch included
After 1283 km of great riding it's time to pack up the bikes and bid our farewells. If you're travelling to Wellington and the North Island, the ferry terminals are close by, and the airport at Blenheim is an easy transfer. For those who wish to return with us to Christchurch, our support vehicle leaves mid-morning for the 5-hour drive via Kaikoura and the East Coast.