Frequently Asked Questions

Tour FAQs

  • Are your tours good value and what is included?

    PureTrails is committed to providing excellent value for our bike tours. From day 1 all accommodation, transport, the support vehicle, any bike repair support, local sightseeing and tour activities your local guide, (with lots of experience and stories are included in the tour price.

    All dinners and breakfasts on tour are included, and most lunches, (lunches in transit on the first and last day are not included when we let you choose your lunch from a café). PureTrails have been operating for 18 years so we know the best places to stay and have hunted out the best food! While riding we have regular stops for a plunger coffee, a cup of tea, fresh home baking and unlimited snacks and fruit. You won’t go hungry!

    Depending on the tour, included activities might be a jet boat or helicopter ride, a wine tour, a boat cruise, tree top walks or farm tours. The details specific to the tour are detailed in the ‘Itinerary and Inclusions’ tab for each tour on our website.

    On some tours there are optional activities (for an additional cost),-  these are detailed in the tour, but may include extended helicopter flights, a scenic plane flight or a train trip. When completing your H&S form you specify your interest in any optional activities for that tour and we make it happen for you.

    Things not included are Bike hire (e-bikes or standard bikes are available), and any alcohol or coffee purchased at cafes.

  • Where do the tours start and finish?

    The PureTrails bus starts all tours from and returns to Christchurch. (There are some small variations, depending on the tour, - refer to ‘Download the Full Itinerary and inclusions’ on the ‘Our Tours’ page on the website,

    We can pick you up on the way to the start of the trail, or we can arrange a shuttle to meet us at the start of the trail if you are coming from Queenstown or another location. If you want to spend a few days in Queenstown, it works well to start in Christchurch, and then catch a shuttle at the end of the tour to Queenstown instead of coming back to Christchurch.

  • How many tours are there and how often do they run?

    We currently have 8 different tours, with one (A2O Easy) being an easier variation of the same trail. For each tour, we have 2 – 9 tours per season. If a tour date does not suit you, please be in touch and we can look to put a private group tour together (6 – 14 people).

  • How many people are on the tour and where are they from?

    We have comfortable 16 seater busses and have up to 14 clients on the tour. A big part of the tours is we tend to have like-minded people, so new friendships are developed, whilst adventuring in comfort!

    We are frequently asked, “Will I be able to keep up?” “What kind of people are on the tour?” Every tour is different, yet there are some common themes. Most of our guests are working or retired professionals, from doctors to school teachers, business owners to nurses. With an average age of 63 years, guests travel on their own, with friends, and/or with spouses, and there is often a good mix of couples and solo travellers. Despite coming from various parts of the country or from across the globe, and with a variety of backgrounds, everyone has one common interest: having fun, sharing a little adventure, and experiencing a cycling holiday like no other. Like you, your travel companions will have a spirit for adventure and a willingness to meet others, and the sense of camaraderie that builds during a tour adds a special feel to the experience. Groups often bond quickly, and you will leave your tour having made new friends.

    Want some stats on who comes on our tours? - On a typical tour of 14 people; 8 are female, 6 are male;  10 people are over 60 years, 4 people are under 60 years;   8 people are from NZ, 5 are from Australia and 1 is from the USA, Canada, UK OR Europe;  6 people have travelled with PureTrails previously, 3 were referred to PureTrails by their friends and 5 are new to PureTrails.

  • What does the support vehicle and guide do?

    Our guides are mature professionals experienced at leading our trips, and they have the knowledge and experience to adjust the daily schedule and route to better match the interests of your group or other factors like the weather. Our guides go out of their way to support you, whether it’s encouraging you to challenge yourself on the trail, having your morning cuppa ready during a riding break, giving you a ride in the van if you want to take some time out or helping with your luggage.

    Before each section the guide will brief you on the trail, advising any hazards, navigational advice and make sure you and your bike are set correctly and are good to go. The guide doesn’t ride with you but goes ahead to see you at the next meeting place for a break, a cuppa or one of our special lunches. These regular catch-ups along the trail mean you don’t have to carry lots of gear, - only what is needed for the next hour or two. You can ride at your own pace, and with who you want to, in a group or take some time out on your own. Our guides are there to help so you can focus on enjoying your holiday and having new experiences. After 18 years PureTrails understand all about Personal contact and Personal service.

  • Is a support vehicle always available?

    Absolutely yes. You are welcome to ride in the van at any time – no explanation is required. Some want a lift for just a few kilometres; others have ridden in the van for the entire trip. It’s your holiday – you decide. Our vehicles are comfortable 16-seat buses. They have been fitted out with comfort in mind and offer superior viewing of the scenery as we travel the South Island.

Accommodation & Transport

  • What sort of accommodation do we stay in and where do we eat?

    Our comfortable accommodation typically includes motels and historic hotels that we have selected over the 18 years PureTrails has been operating. We use these places because they are tidy and clean, their unique charm, their hospitality and proven reliability over the years. All the accommodation is ensuite based on double or twin share rooms, (except a High Country accommodation which is shared ensuite). Single travellers are required to pay the single room supplement fee, however, if there are other singles on the trip willing to share a twin room we can arrange this for you and no single supplement fee will be payable.

    Meals are supplied as indicated on the itinerary.  Beer and wine, espresso coffee etc are not included in the tour package however there will be the opportunity for you to buy beverages along the way. Breakfasts are continental-style breakfasts supplied by our accommodation hosts, and lunches are taken either as a trail-side picnic or in cafes along the trail. For dinner, we dine in the local restaurants in the villages where we stay that have been chosen for their quality. To keep you fuelled during the day we provide home baking, high-energy healthy snacks, fruit and savoury options.

  • What would you recommend for accommodation in Christchurch?

    We provide courtesy pick up and drop offs at any of the following locations before/after your trip. Central city or city-wide pick-ups at the start or end of your tour can be problematic due to the length (14m) of the bus and cycle trailer, and we like to localise the pick-ups so we can get away on the tour! If you choose to stay elsewhere in Christchurch we will talk to you about a meeting location at one of the locations below, or a suitable location en route, prior to your tour departure.  Nominated pick-up points are;

    Airport Gateway Motel
    45 Roydvale Avenue |
    Motel complex with a range of room options and free airport transfers. It also has an on-site café/restaurant & bar for convenient dining. Close proximity to the airport.


    Airport Palms Motel
    56 Roydvale Avenue |
    Motel complex with a range of room options and free airport transfers. Breakfast available. Close proximity to the airport.


    Novotel Christchurch Airport
    30 Durey Road |
    Hotel complex with a range of room options, located at Christchurch airport. We can drop off here at the end of the tour if you are flying out that evening, (don’t book a flight before 6pm to ensure we are back on time).


    Sudima Hotel Christchurch Airport
    550 Memorial Avenue |
    Hotel complex with a range of room options and free airport transfers. Onsite restaurant. Very close proximity to the airport.


    Commodore Hotel
    449 Memorial Avenue |
    Hotel complex with a range of room options and free airport transfers. Onsite restaurant. Free bike hire and onsite car rental. Free Metro bus pass to explore Christchurch city. Close proximity to the airport.


    Quality Hotel Elms – Papanui
    456 Papanui Road|
    Hotel complex with a range of room options. On-site café/restaurant & bar for convenient dining. Close proximity to shops & restaurants. They provide a complimentary pick up shuttle service to the CBD and airport.


    Superior Airport Parking
    99 Waimakariri Road |
    Secure car parking with friendly on-site owners who can look after your vehicle while you are on your tour.


    Christchurch Airport
    We can drop off at Christchurch airport if you are flying out the evening your tour finishes, - at the Novotel Christchurch Airport Hotel. Don’t book a flight before 6pm to ensure we are back on time. We don’t recommend pick ups from an incoming flight as we start tour pick-ups at 8am and cannot risk any flight delays impacting on the tour. An exception to this might be if it is a private tour and the group are all on the same or similar flights.

  • Can we meet you at the start of the trail?

    We can pick you up on the way to the start of the trail, or we can arrange a shuttle to meet us at the start of the trail if you are coming from Queenstown or another location. If you want to spend a few days in Queenstown, it works well to start in Christchurch, and then catch a shuttle at the end of the tour to Queenstown instead of coming back to Christchurch.

The Trails

  • How hard is the biking?

    PureTrails NZ cycle tour packages are suitable for healthy people of all ages with an average level of fitness who enjoy cycling. Visit our Tour Level of Difficulties question to read about our cycling in NZ level of difficulty gradings. The majority of the bike rides are on compacted gravel surfaces and the cycling is dispersed with plenty of breaks to explore local sights encountered, take photos, talk with the locals, rest, refreshments and simply take in the scenery. Those who are not comfortable participating in all the biking are always welcome to jump in our support vehicle for a breather.

    When there are the odd tricky bits, might be a slip washout or something that has not been cleared yet, ride within your limits and you may have to walk for a bit. Our guide is usually in the know of the condition of the trail and briefs you before the section and will advise of any hazards.

  • Can you explain the tour level of difficulties?

    Absolutely. Our cycle tour packages are suitable for healthy people of all ages with an average level of fitness who enjoy cycling. We have based our tour grades on the same basis as the Kennett grading system which is widely used by New Zealand riders. The Kennett system has grades from 1 to 6, our trails are all 1 to 3. We describe them as trails, not mountain bike tracks (which are grades 3+ to 6).


    Grade 1 is the easiest grade and is on cycle trails, rail trails, or rural roads with a flat/slight incline or minor undulations, possibly with some small gentle climbs. The surface is likely to be compact fine gravel or sealed. Distances cycled range from 25-50km per day. For this grade, we recommend a low to average level of fitness, and limited cycling experience is acceptable.

    Our Grade 1 Tours are:
    Otago Rail Trail
    Alps 2 Ocean Easy
    West Coast Wilderness & Kawatiri Trail
    Canterbury Backcountry Trail


    Grade 2 is on cycle trails, rail trails, and rural roads with a flat incline or up to moderate undulations, and some climbs. Surfaces range from fine gravel to sealed, with some gravel areas coarser in places. Distances cycled range from 25-65km per day. For this grade we recommend an average level of fitness.

    Our Grade 2 Tours are:
    Alps to Ocean Trail Epic
    Lake Dunstan, the Gorges & Wanaka Trail
    Around the Mountains Trail

    *If you do minimal training before your Grade 2 cycle tour or are not ‘cycle fit’, you may find that you are not able to cycle all of the sections of the trails and may desire the use of our support vehicle.


    Grade 3 is cycle trails and gravel rural roads and can have moderate to steeper undulations and some longer climbs. Surfaces range from seal to gravel, with some gravel areas rough in places. Distances cycled range from 25-90km per day. For this grade we recommend an above average level of fitness and the ability to change gears proficiently.

    Our Grade 3 Tours are:
    Alps to Ocean Trail Epic


    Please note that on all of our tours we have a support vehicle constantly available, so at any stage on your trip you are welcome to ‘give your bike a rest’ and catch a ride with the guide. Likewise, if you are wanting a more challenging experience, our guide can put together some cycling extensions to really give you a work out!

  • What is the weather like and when is the best time to go on a tour?

    In the South Island, the weather can be variable and change quickly. When people ask when is the best time to tour, there is no easy answer as the different times of year have their own special characteristics. In the early spring, it may be a bit cooler, but you get beautiful flowering plant colours. In autumn as it cools you get the wonderful autumn fall colours. In summer you can enjoy the heat and maybe take a swim.

    Some general comments for the trials are:

    In the McKenzie Country and Central Otago (the A2O, Otago Rail Trail, Dunstan, Gorges and Wanaka, and the Around the Mountains tour), the weather is characterised by its arid and continental climate. The region experiences hot, dry summers and cold, crisp winters. With its inland location and sheltered valleys, the McKenzie and Central Otago enjoy a high number of sunshine hours throughout the year. Summers are typically warm, with temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), while winters can be harsh, with temperatures dropping below freezing. These regions' weather offers a stark contrast to the rest of New Zealand, providing a unique and captivating experience for your bike tour!

    The West Coast Wilderness and Kawatiri Trails have a more temperate climate on the Coast and don’t get the very hot nor cold weather. The West Coast is renowned to be wet, and it can rain! – But there is nothing that beats a good day on the coast and they do regularly happen.

    The best thing about PureTrails and our comfortable 16 seater busses is the flexibility to adjust the tour to take advantage of the weather and minimise the bad!. We can start a bit earlier, or later, reverse the direction, swap a section, or just chill out somewhere and do some sightseeing. Our guides are well versed in options and communicate with the group on what you want to do.

All About the Bikes

  • Can I hire a bike from PureTrails?

    Absolutely yes. Our rental bikes are modern, high quality and designed specifically for the bike trails we operate on. Our e-bikes and standard (muscle) bikes are equipped with everything you might need for your tour, they have a removable 2.5-litre front handlebar pannier and bike computer. Comfortable seats and ergo hand grips have been fitted to ensure comfort. Remember, - it is PureTrails, - Adventure in comfort!

    Dean, our bike mechanic, cleans and services every bike after coming off tour, and then it is checked again before going out. Once the trip commences, your guide will be available to make any adjustments required. Our vehicle is equipped with spare parts and a toolkit and usually a spare bike. Smaller toolkits are available for anyone wishing to take one on the trail.

  • Should I have an e-bike or standard (muscle) bike?

    E-bikes are becoming increasingly popular and accessible and are a brilliant option for those with limiting health issues, those with limited time to train for epic cycle journeys, and those who have spent years trying to keep up with a more active spouse or partner. However, if you’re an experienced cyclist or enjoy a bit of a challenge, our muscle bikes might be the right option for you! Remember, your bike tour is a holiday, not an endurance event! So if in doubt, we recommend an e-bike for that extra layer of comfort and ease.

  • I’ve never ridden an e-bike before, will I be okay?

    Although modern e-bikes are fairly easy to ride, they can take some getting used to. Our e-bike motors are designed to sense the amount of effort and then supply a power spread automatically. The user must pedal to gain assistance from the motor as there is no throttle. It is a good idea to try riding an e-bike before your tour to get a feel for the e-bike’s pedal assistance. If you don’t get the chance, let us know during the fitting session and we will make sure you are fully comfortable before heading off. Our tours are generally designed so the first riding is easing into it.

    The battery will typically last between 50 – 120km depending on the level of pedalling, terrain, rider weight, weather, speed and level of assistance selected. The assistance can be turned off, and it still pedals well but will be a little harder to ride than a standard bike due to its heavier weight. As with all activities, being better at it makes it easier, and we encourage people to practise changing gears effectively to get the best out of you and your bike.

  • What type are the hire bikes?

    Our E-bikes are Merida Espresso 400 SEEQ, Merida Espresso City 600EQ or Merida eBIG NINE 300 SE bikes. They have 3 levels of assistance, Shimano’s reliable touring E6100 or E7000 drive unit with a powerful Shimano E8010 (504 Wh) battery. The tyres have been chosen to provide optimum levels of puncture protection and traction. The 80mm or 100mm front fork suspension means rolling over bumps, curbs and potholes with ease. The small and medium sizes are a step through and the larger sizes are either step-through or low bar frame. They are all very comfortable bikes and are ideal for the trails we operate on.

    For the standard bike (muscle bike!) we use the ever-reliable Merida Crossways 100s. They are again ideal for the trails with good roll, and are light and comfortable. After 18 years PureTrails have found these bikes very suitable and reliable for our tours!

  • How do I get a bike the right size for me?

    A good fit is imperative to enjoying your cycle tour. We use the height information provided in your booking to choose the right frame size for you and our guide will do a bike fitting with you on location at the start of your trip.

  • Can I bring my own bike?

    Yes, you can! If you would like to bring your own bike or e-bike on our supported tours, please take the following into consideration:

    • The bike is well maintained, recently serviced, and in a good and safe condition.
    • Your bicycle does not weigh more than 20kg – including e-bikes (with the battery off). Bikes heavier than this strain the racks and are difficult to load, (enquire if you do have a heavy bike and we will see what we can do).
    • Your bike only has small mudguards fitting on the front tyre (due to how they are secured on the trailer). Rear mudguards are fine.
    • If your bike is an e-bike, the battery is to be removed from the bike and stored in our trailer while transiting (we recommend you use a protective bag of some sort), – we don’t store batteries inside our bus.
    • Your helmet is in a good and safe condition with no cracks and can be fastened properly.
    • The tyres (either mountain bike or hybrid tyres) have a good level of tread on them, suitable for trails/gravel. Slick tyres are not recommended.
    • Bring a basic bike repair kit including 2 x spare inner tubes.
    • Any major mechanical breakdown is your own responsibility.

    PureTrails staff will secure your bike on our cycle trailer when in transit during the tour, but we request you check that you are happy with it and are responsible for any damages that occur during transportation.

  • Can I bring my own seat and clip-in pedals?

    Yes and yes! Although we use high-quality wide gel touring seats in both men’s and women’s sizing, some people prefer their own seat or their own removable extra gel seat cover - just bring it along! For the seat, let us know and we will fit it to your bike.

    Our hire bikes have robust flat pedals with spikes for grip, but if you are used to and like riding with clip-in pedals, unscrew the pedals from your bike and we’ll install them on the rental for you, - again just let us know and we will have the hire bike ready.

  • Do I have to carry heavy saddle bags on my bike?

    No – on PureTrails cycling tours you only need to carry your jacket, phone, water bottle and a few snacks etc as we see you several times during the day, for your cuppa, our home baking and lunches. On our hire bikes, there is a 2.5-litre pannier on the front handlebars for this personal gear. Your luggage is transported in our support vehicle.

Personal & Tour Preparation

  • I am a solo traveller, will I need to pay a single supplement?

    Yes, you will need to pay a single accommodation supplement ($545 for 6-day tours and $495 for 5-day tours). If you want, we can try and match people up (same gender) to share a twin room. If you have further questions about this supplement or accommodation options, please get in touch.

  • What if I have dietary requirements?

    During the booking process, we require you to fill out an H&S form. It includes details of any dietary requirements you may have, which we can then cater for. It also includes details like your height (for bike hire), any medical conditions and emergency contacts, - information so you can be safe and enjoy the tour!

  • What do I need to bring with me?

    We will send a detailed list to you with the cycle notes and again prior to the tour. It will include:

    • Clothing to keep you warm and dry whilst riding
    • Comfortable clothes to relax in the evening
    • Personal equipment
    • Bring a small day pack to store your items in during the day, as it is not always easy to access your main luggage from the back of the bus. Some people like to ride with a backpack, but generally not needed as there is a 2.5kg panier mounted on the handlebars
    • We do encourage people to bring their own drink bottle (or you can buy a PureTrails bottle for $10) and your favourite coffee cup for morning teas with the home baking!
    • We also recommend people bring their own helmets, but if you can’t then let us know and we will have one for you and a few spares

    In summary, there is nothing more needed than you would take away for a weekend of cycling.

  • How fit do I need to be?

    PureTrails NZ cycle tour packages are suitable for healthy people of all ages with an average level of fitness who enjoy cycling. The majority of the bike rides are on gravel surfaces and the cycling is dispersed with plenty of breaks to explore local sights encountered, take photos, talk with the locals, rest, enjoy refreshments and to simply take in the scenery. Those who are not comfortable participating in all the biking are always welcome to join our support vehicle, or bring or hire an e-bike! - remember it is about enjoying the tour, don't turn it into an endurance event! Check out our Bike FAQ’s for more information on e-bikes.

    We do recommend you put in some training, so you gain the most enjoyment out of your cycling holiday. We encourage you to get out and do some biking on gravel roads if possible, starting out gently and gradually building up to 2-3 longer bike rides (20km+) per week during the month prior to your tour. For Grade 2 tours you should be comfortable to cycle 40km in a day. The secret is to start slowly and increase your exercise gradually. The fitter you are the more enjoyable your bike tour will be.

  • What happens if I am getting a bit puffed and start to get left behind?

    Not a problem, everyone rides at their own pace. And if you feel like a bit of a breather for a few km, we will load your bike on the trailer and you can just jump in the bus for a breather, for as few or many km as you like. Our guide is there to assist you, and will make sure you don’t miss the best parts!

  • Can I bring a suitcase?

    There is space in the bus for a small-medium suitcase/luggage. We request people don’t have more than 18kg. If you have more luggage, especially for international travellers, it works well to arrange with your Hotel to store it whilst away on tour.

  • If I have a disability, can I come on the tour?

    Please get in touch with us about any health, disability or impairment concerns you might have that could affect your experience on the tour(s). We will do our best to accommodate. Some reasonable form of mobility is required, eg to get in and out of the bus, take short walks to restaurants etc. Any plug-in health equipment required at night is fine.

  • I am in my late 70’s (or 80’s), can I still join the tour?

    Absolutely, age is no barrier!! If you have any health, disability, or impairment concerns, please get in touch.

Booking & Payment

  • How do I book?

    Booking is easy, just fill out the contact form to register your interest and get your booking underway. We will get back to you with a quote and more information about the trip, and then for you to pay a deposit to confirm.

Still have some questions?

Get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer them.