The ‘Around the Mountains Cycle Trail’ features beautiful rural Southland farmland surrounded by towering peaks, coupled with magical beech forests and glacial lakes.
The 186km NZ cycle trails ride consists of a mix of purpose built firm gravel cycle trails, and gravel public roads.
Our Pure Trails mountain bike tour of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail features 55% cycling on nz cycle trails, and 45% cycling on gravel roads. Although we rate days 1, 2 & 3 as Grade 1, overall we rate the trail Grade 2 due to some moderate climbs on Day 5 that can be skipped if desired.
Vehicle support is provided throughout the cycle tour. Refer to our Level of Difficulty gradings for more information.
Around the Mountains Cycle Trail Tour Highlights
- Cycle the 186km Around the Mountains cycle trail
- Take in the spectacular scenery of Southland and the Eyre Mountains
- Visit Lake Manapouri and enjoy the stunning views across the lake
- Take a walk in the magical beech forest of Fiordland National Park
- Enjoy the comforts and soak up the relaxing atmosphere of Te Anau
- Ride amongst beech forest to the beautiful Mavora Lakes
- Bike the remote road through Mt Nicholas Station to Walter Peak
- Finish your journey with a cruise on board the historic TSS Earnslaw
Day 1 Christchurch – Arrowtown
The Around the Mountains Cycle Trail tour gets underway as we head south across the plains and through the Mackenzie Basin. The scenic drive continues as we head over the Lindis Pass to Central Otago, and through the Kawarau Gorge to our accommodation, a stone’s throw from the quaint village of Arrowtown and our accommodation. In the late afternoon enjoy a walk around the village and historic Chinese gold mining village relics. Alternatively there is the option to join the tour in Arrowtown from Queenstown rather than travelling down from Christchurch. Either way, in the evening get acquainted with your travel companions over a meal at the local tavern.
Cycle Distance: 0km
Day 2 Arrowtown – Mossburn
We travel to the southern tip of Lake Wakatipu and the small village of Kingston where the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail begins. The first part of the bike trail hugs the foot of the mountains before following the Kingston Branch railway to Fairlight Station, and then onto Garston (18km). There are some interesting shops to explore here during morning tea. The next section of cycle trail takes you along a valley following the Mataura River to the village of Athol where we stop for lunch at a cafe (13km). Legendary Southland cuisine ‘cheese rolls’ aka ‘Southland sushi’ are on the menu here which you are welcome to try. Our final stretch of cycling for the day takes you through picturesque farmland to the settlement of Five Rivers (16km), and then alongside the Oreti River to Lumsden (15km). From here we transfer to Mossburn and our accommodation for the evening.
Cycle Distance: 62km
Day 3 Mossburn – Te Anau
In our support vehicle we head towards the Eyre Mountains to the stunning Mavora Lakes, nestled between the Livingston and Thomson Mountains. Enjoy a stunning bike ride through beech forest alongside the picture perfect lakes (15kms). Take in the views over morning tea before cycling down the valley towards Centre Hill (18kms). We transfer to the trail at Centre Hill and continue cycling the Around the Mountains cycle trail to Mossburn (20km). Here we finish riding for the day and load up the vehicle to transfer a short distance to the town of Te Anau, nestled on the edge of the Fiordland National Park. In Te Anau, settle into your accommodation for the next two evenings and explore the town.
Cycle Distance: 53km
Day 4 Te Anau (Manapouri)
We take a break from the Around the Mountains Trail today and spend the day exploring the beautiful towns of Te Anau and Manapouri, on the edge of the Fiordland National Park. Take a side trip to the quaint settlement of Manapouri. The views over Lake Manapouri to the Kepler Mountains beyond will take your breath away and if conditions allow, a swim in the lake may be called for. There is the option of cycling towards Manapouri to Rainbow Reach and return (40km), part of which follows a bike trail beside the scenic Waiau River. In Te Anau there is time to take an optional walk around the side of Lake Te Anau on the Kepler Track, do an optional boat ride across the lake, or simply relax and take in the views.
Cycle Distance: 40km
Day 5 Te Anau – Queenstown
For our final morning we transfer back into the Eyre Mountains, to Mt Nicholas Station.* Mt Nicholas Station is one of the largest stations in NZ, spanning 40,000 hectares, 30,000 merino sheep and 2,200 hereford cattle. The cycle trail follows the road that dissects the station, providing lovely views of the towering mountain peaks and vast tussock plains. After 39km the road reaches the shores of Lake Wakatipu and the views of the pristine blue lake and surrounding mountain ranges open up. Soak in the views for the final 12km section to Walter Peak Station – the end of the road. From here, bid your guide and bike farewell and climb aboard the TSS Earnslaw, otherwise known as ‘The Lady of the Lake’. The TSS Earnslaw was commissioned in 1912 to service the isolated farming communities along the lake. At 48 metres long she was the biggest boat on the Lake and carried passengers, sheep, cattle, mail and supplies. Enjoy the 45 minute cruise to central Queenstown and the end of the Around the Mountains Trail cycle tour.
Cycle Distance: 51km
*Access to Mt Nicholas Station is via a remote road which is sometimes impassable when rivers are in flood. If this occurs we may not be able to access Mt Nicholas, and will instead head to Queenstown where you have the opportunity to do a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station.
Transport to Christchurch the following day is available in our bus.
6 Apr 2019
2 Nov 2019
7 Dec 2019
18 Jan 2020
8 Feb 2020
4 Apr 2020
What’s included in the tour package?
- 4 nights twinshare accommodation
- 4 evening meals; 4 lunches; 4 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 Christchurch
- TSS Earnslaw Cruise
- Goods & Services Tax of 15%
Not included in the tour package:
Our Guiding Team
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/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 2018)
John has had a long career in the NZ Police, with time spent in the Search & Rescue & Alpine Cliff Rescue teams. During this period John spent a lot of time rock climbing and caving all over the South Island, leading to an enduring love of the NZ outdoors.
Outside of work John enjoys getting out in the hills hiking and cycling as well as swimming. John played rugby and water polo and still enjoys following these sports. He looks forward to meeting lots of people and sharing his love of the outdoors with PureTrails.