The Canterbury Cycle Trail is great trip for those wanting to get off the tourist trail and cycle around Mid Canterbury’s dramatic glacial valleys and braided rivers that formed the Canterbury Plains.
We see a number of historic farms of Canterbury’s early run-holders and enjoy an exhilarating jet boat ride on the Rakaia River.
The Canterbury Cycle Trail package holiday is a collection of cycle rides totaling 180km that Pure Trails have put together that showcase the South Island’s dramatic Mid Canterbury region. The tour features 72% cycling on sealed roads and 28% cycling on gravel roads. The riding is rated Grade 1 and there are a few gentle hills that can be skipped if desired.
Our support vehicle is available throughout the cycle tour. Refer to our Level of Difficulty gradings for more information.
Canterbury Cycle Trail Tour Highlights
- Enjoy up to 180km of Grade 1 rated cycling
- Take in the amazing and majestic vistas of the Southern Alps
- Relax beside the crystal clear alpine lakes
- Cycle Canterbury’s vast braided river valleys
- Take an exhilarating jet boat ride on the Rakaia River
- Visit Erewhon Station‘s famous Clydesdale horses
- Learn the history of Canterbury’s early run holders
Day 1 Christchurch – Methven
The Canterbury Cycle Trail tour gets underway as we head west across the plains towards the Torlesse Range and through the town of Hororata. After a stop for morning tea we begin the first bike ride of the day to the Lake Coleridge Village (18km). Relax with a picnic lunch before our second ride on a river terrace with stunning views over the Rakaia River (15km). We head across the Rakaia Gorge to the small Canterbury rural service town of Methven and settle into our lodge accommodation for the next two evenings.
Cycle Distance: 33km
Day 2 Methven
Today our first bike ride begins as we leave the highway and turn again towards the Southern Alps. Cycle 13km along the river terraces high above the Rakaia. Enjoy morning tea and a bus transfer along a hilly section, to where we can ride (15km) along the flat river terrace past where the Wilberforce and Mathias Valleys meet the Rakaia, deep in the Canterbury Backcountry. Here the valleys become wide and sparse, with amazing views of the surrounding mountain ranges. At the conclusion of the ride we head to the Rakaia Gorge and enjoy an exhilarating jet boat ride on the Rakaia River before heading back to Methven.
Cycle Distance: 28km
Day 3 Methven – Mt Somers
Today we enjoy some riding around the farmland of the fertile and productive Canterbury Plains, taking in the rural vistas (44km). From here we drive to the foothills where there is the opportunity to do a short walk through native beech forest. Enjoy lunch at a local cafe before another short ride (12km) on the Plains. At the conclusion of the ride we travel a short distance to our accommodation for the next two evenings at the settlement of Mt Somers.
Cycle Distance: 56km
Day 4 Mt Somers
Today we drive up through the Ashburton Gorge to Lake Clearwater, and on towards Mt Sunday. From here you have the opportunity to do an [unguided] walk up Mt Sunday – the site
of the set for Edoras, the fortress city of the Rohan people in The Lord of the Rings. Nothing remains of the set, but the views of the surrounding countryside are stunning. We then continue further up the valley to Erewhon Station ‘home of the working horse’ to visit the Clydesdale horses. Leaving the horses, we travel to an area of the Canterbury backcountry that is dotted with many picturesque lakes, and remnants of ancient glaciers. The largest of these is Lake Heron, sitting at 700m above sea level and a key habitat for the endangered Crested Grebe. There is time to explore the area before our cycle ride, heading 18km down the valley to yet another stunning alpine lake. Our second ride follows the Hakatere River 24km back to Mt Somers.
Cycle Distance: 42km
Day 5 Mt Somers – Christchurch
Today we drive through the Rangitata River Valley and on to the historic Mesopotamia Station, nestled in the centre of the South Island’s middle earth. Take in the breathtaking scenery at the headwaters of the Rangitata, with sweeping views of the Two Thumbs Range and Southern Alps in all directions. We then enjoy a 21km cycle ride adjacent Mt Peel and through the Peel Forest Reserve. Take a short walk in the reserve to appreciate the magnificent old podocarps that once covered this landscape. Visit a lovely church, and ride on to the quaint hamlet of Arundel where our Canterbury cycle trail comes to an end. We load up and transfer back to Christchurch, arriving at approximately 5pm.
Cycle Distance: 21km
6 Nov 2022
What’s included in the Canterbury Cycle Trail tour package?
- 4 nights twinshare ensuite accommodation
- 4 evening meals; 5 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
- Rakaia Gorge jet boat ride
- all transport from/to Christchurch
- Goods & Services Tax of 15%