The Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail EPIC is a challenging 320km cycle from the majestic snow capped peaks of the Southern Alps all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Oamaru on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.
The Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail is a challenging, yet achievable, 320km cycle trail that consists of a mix of purpose built firm gravel trails, and sealed and gravel public roads. The trail starts from the awe inspiring snow capped peaks of the Southern Alps, heads into the tawny tussocky Mackenzie Basin, down to the fertile farmland of North Otago and finally to the coast at Oamaru, a delightfully impressive Victorian city.
This tour offers a challenging but rewarding ride through some of the best scenery in the South Island.
Our Pure Trails bike tour package of the Alps 2 Ocean Trail features 57% cycling on cycle trails, 26% cycling on sealed roads, and 17% cycling on gravel roads. The riding is rated Grade 2 and there are a few longer rides and challenging climbs that can be skipped if desired.
Our support vehicle is available throughout the cycle tour. Refer to our Level of Difficulty page for more information.
We also have a Grade 1 rated itinerary of the Alps 2 Ocean Trail, our Alps to Ocean Trail EASY tour, in which we cycle 203km of the easier sections of the trail.
Alps to Ocean Trail EPIC Cycle Tour Highlights
- Cycle 310km on the Alps 2 Ocean Trail from mountains to sea
- Enjoy the spectacular scenery of the Mackenzie Basin
- Bike through film locations used in ‘The Hobbit’ & ‘Lord of the Rings’
- Admire the engineering of the Waitaki Valley hydro scheme
- Explore the small communities of Omarama, Kurow and Duntroon
- Discover the Maori Rock art and limestone rocks of North Otago
- Step back in time in Oamaru’s splendid Victorian Precinct
Day 1 Christchurch – Twizel
The Alps to Ocean Trail cycle tour gets underway as we head south across the plains towards Geraldine. After a lunch stop we continue into the Mackenzie Basin, driving past Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki and the start of our cycle trail ‘great ride’. Alternatively we can organise a bus transfer from Queenstown to Tekapo. The first 6km cycle ride section is on a sealed road providing a good opportunity to get familiar with your bike. You then enter the cycle trail on the Lake Pukaki foreshore, featuring fantastic views of Aoraki Mount Cook and the snow-capped Southern Alps, all the way to the spillway (9km). Enjoy a refreshment break at the Lake Pukaki foreshore before embarking on the final section of the day on the bike trail across the Pukaki Flats to Twizel (10km) featuring great views of the immense Mackenzie Basin and the late afternoon sun falling across the Benmore Range. Check into our comfortable accommodation for the next two evenings.
Cycle Distance: 25km
Day 2 Twizel
We drive up to the top of the eastern side of Lake Pukaki in our support vehicle. This morning’s Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail section is a highlight of the bike tour and could contend for the title of the best bike ride in the country. The 21km section travels 11km north deep into the mountains to the point adjacent to the Mt Cook Airport. The views here are quite simply superb and will take your breath away. The trail then retraces south to the carpark. Enjoy a picnic lunch with the mountains before you before completing the next two sections of the day, 34km of cycling following the shores of Lake Pukaki, passing by the location of ‘Lake Town’ in the Hobbit Trilogies, back to yesterdays starting point. At the conclusion of the bike ride we load our bikes and drive back to Twizel and our accommodation.
Cycle Distance: 55km
Day 3 Twizel – Omarama
We cycle out of Twizel this morning on a sealed rural road to the Pukaki – Ohau canal. The fields in this area became the setting for the pivotal battle of Pelennor Field in the Lord of the Rings ‘The Return of the King’. This 19km cycleway section follows the road alongside the canal to the Ohau weir. Here we enjoy morning tea with a fabulous view overlooking Lake Ohau and the Ben Ohau and Barrier Ranges. The next 14km section is on purpose built cycle trail along the edge of Lake Ohau and across to Lake Middleton. Continue 5km to Ohau Lodge where a sumptous lunch awaits. From here a challenging but spectacular 19km section of Alps 2 Ocean trail awaits, featuring a climb to the Tarnbrae highpoint and down again to the Quailburn. The final 23km ride takes you on an easy descent of the Quailburn and a short distance along the trail to Omarama and our accommodation. Enjoy an optional visit to the Omarama Hot Tubs.
Cycle Distance: 80km
Day 4 Omarama – Oamaru
Today’s bike ride takes us down the Waitaki Valley. The first 24km section takes you from Omarama to Lake Bemore via Sailors Cutting and a lovely bike trail alongside the lake. The next 30km section follows the Benmore Dam, past the power station and along the pleasant sealed road beside Lake Aviemore. From here we follow the Waitaki River down the valley to Kurow (14km). Enjoy an optional wine tasting at Kurow Valley Wines before we load up our bikes and drive to Oamaru. Settle into our comfortable hotel for the next two evenings and enjoy a meal out in the historic precinct.
Cycle Distance: 68km
Day 5 Oamaru
We head back to Kurow and commence the last day of our spectacular Alps to Ocean bike ride. Firstly the ride continues down the valley on the cycle trail to Duntroon (28km). This section features an ancient Maori rock drawing site. We then leave the valley and head inland through North Otago countryside, home to the unusual limestone ‘Elephant Rocks’ to Windsor (32km). Enjoy lunch before the next 22km section through very attractive looking ‘English’ countryside on a rail trail, into Oamaru, finishing up our NZ great ride by the sea at Friendly Bay. Enjoy a celebratory meal together.
Cycle Distance: 82km
Day 6 Oamaru – Christchurch
Have a leisurely start to the day and spend the morning exploring the absolutely splendid Victorian precinct featuring some of New Zealand’s best 19th century architecture in Oamaru’s old town. We depart for Christchurch arriving in the city by 5:30pm. Alternatively you can take a bus to Dunedin or Queenstown from Oamaru.
Cycle Distance: 0km
25 Sep 2017
16 Oct 2017
13 Nov 2017
27 Nov 2017
4 Dec 2017
11 Dec 2017
1 Jan 2018
22 Jan 2018
19 Feb 2018
26 Feb 2018
5 Mar 2018
9 Apr 2018
16 Apr 2018
30 Apr 2018
What’s included in the tour package?
- 5 nights twinshare accommodation
- 5 evening meals; 4 lunches; 5 breakfasts (indicated by B/L/D in the itinerary)
- fruit, snacks & morning teas on the trail
- the services of a tour leader who provides vehicle support & information
- cycle repair support
- all transport from/to Christchurch
- commercial guiding fees on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail
- Goods & Services Tax of 15%
Not included in the tour package:
- wine; beer; espresso coffees
- lunch on Days 1 & 6
- bike hire ($190) or e-bike hire ($450)
- single accommodation supplement ($350)
- Queenstown to Tekapo transfers Day 1 ($40 approx)
- Oamaru to Queenstown transfers Day 6 ($63 approx)
Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail – Commercial Partner
The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is truly one of New Zealand’s great rides! For over 300km and dropping 780m, visitors can experience some of the most beautiful scenery New Zealand has to offer. This trail showcases New Zealand’s geological, geographical and historical highlights from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean. PureTrails New Zealand’s Commercial Partner membership with the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is assisting this new trail to become established as one of NZ’s premier cycle trails.
Our Guiding Team
Tour Leader (since 2011)
John has a background in human resources and has worked for mining companies in NZ, Australia & Papua New Guinea in the health and safety field, as well as a stint as a commissioned officer in the NZ territorial army. Nowadays John has semi retired to a lifestyle block near Rangiora where he aims to breed highland cattle with his wife Julie. Outside of work John has always been a bit of an adventurer, sportsman and philosopher, enjoying mountain biking, tramping, swimming and playing bagpipes.
Tour Leader/Operations Support (since 2008; Director)
John grew up in the town of Wanganui, where in his school days, he helped build the famed 'Wanganui High School Tramping Club Hut' on Mount Ruapehu. John retired from a career as a Property Valuer and Agricultural consultant where he practised for many years in Western Australia and Tauranga. John has travelled, walked and cycled extensively abroad and now enjoys introducing our visitors to favourite parts of NZ. Other hobbies include cycling, bridge, gardening & horse racing (don't get him started on the latter!)
Tour Leader (since 2011)
Peter grew up in Christchurch and early in his working life spent three years in Twizel during the construction of the Upper Waitaki power scheme. A career change led to 35 years in the New Zealand Police with time spent in Central Otago and Canterbury. Peter was active in Search and Rescue for much of his Police service and completed two overseas deployments to Thailand following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami. He is a keen cyclist and an active, if not always successful, lawn bowler.
Tour Leader (since 2014)
Bob joins the team after retiring from 45 years in the NZ Police. Over the years Bob has been a competitive cyclist both in road and mountain biking, and is a former multi sporter, having completed in numerous 'Ironman', 'Coast to Coast', and other endurance events. Bob and with his partner Ginny have cycle toured extensively through Europe, USA, Australia as well as many parts of New Zealand. Bob has a keen interest in local history and looks forward to sharing his knowledge on his PureTrails tours.