The Alps 2 Ocean Trail self guided cycle package offers an astounding array of scenery over its 310km span. From Aoraki Mt Cook and the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps to the surreal turquoise blue glacial lakes, to the vast open tussocky plains of the Mackenzie Basin, to the fertile river terraces of the Waitaki Valley, to the limestone rock pocked green farmland of North Otago, culminating in the delightful Victorian Precinct of Oamaru beside the Pacific Ocean.
The trail is situated on the eastern side of the Main Divide, so in nature is low in rainfall though very exposed to the elements, particularly wind, with temperatures varying from 5 – 35 degrees Celsius during the summer months. It is a harsh but stunning environment, relatively unpopulated, with few signs of civilisation between the established townships. Due to the large distances between these townships, cyclists riding the trail self guided should be prepared to carry all their food and drink requirements for the days ride on their bikes as there is very little if any available for purchase along the way. Riders should be comfortable cycling at least 60-80kms per day.
The Alps 2 Ocean Trail in its entirety extends over 300km and consists of a mix of cycle trail, sealed and gravel roads. Although the trail starts at 600m above sea level and finishes at sea level, it is not all downhill, there are some significant climbs to negotiate, particularly nearer the coast.
If you start at Mt Cook and ride to the first town on the trail (Twizel) there is a short helicopter flight and then 77km of reasonably easy yet very exposed terrain to ride, with not a single shop, village or town to take a rest at or shelter from the weather. On this day you need to be totally self sufficient in terms of any food, coffee and water that you may require over those 77kms. If you start from Jollie River the distance to Twizel is 61km, or from Tekapo 54km. Again there are no shops or villages to speak of until you arrive in Twizel.
From Twizel it is 38kms to Lake Ohau Lodge which serve meals, coffee etc. There are no other shops or towns en-route or at the Lake Ohau village itself. On this section there is a weir to cross which can sometimes be closed after heavy rain or if the power companies are spilling water for whatever reason. If this is the case then you need to take a 29km detour on the road from Twizel to Lake Ohau via the state highway 8 before rejoining the trail (it is best to check if the weir is open before leaving Twizel).
Once you leave Ohau Lodge there is a significant climb that takes you 900m above sea level. This section is very exposed to the weather and can experience temperature variations from 5-35 degrees Celsius between October and April . Once again there are no shops to speak of over the 45km between Lake Ohau Lodge & Omarama so you need to be totally self contained with food and water. Parts of this section also do not have phone reception, so we recommend independent cyclists carry a SPOT locator or emergency locator beacon with them on this section.
From Omarama to Kurow (67km) there is one significant climb on the main highway to contend with, another short sharp slog up the Benmore Dam, then a fairly easy ride down the valley. There is a dairy & pub midway at Otematata where you can replenish your supplies and have a break. Kurow has several cafes and pubs to eat at as well as a small Four Square supermarket.
Leaving Kurow, the fords on the trail beyond Kurow are often impassable after rain, however there are detours on the highway in place for these occasions. After 28km Duntroon is reached. There is a pub here serving meals and coffee.
From Duntroon to Oamaru (54km) there are again no shops at all to buy food, coffee or water from apart from a pub at the 42km mark. This section is also deceptively hilly with a number of significant climbs. You can expect to find a toilet approximately every 30kms.
If you feel you may be pushed out of your comfort zone with the lack of facilities and villages to recharge at along the way on a self guided package, you may find our supported tour options to be a more enjoyable and safer holiday experience. We have a tour guide who drives the support vehicle with you (and our tour group of up to 14 people) for the whole trip, and organises all the meals and refreshment stops (including hot drinks) along the way so you do not have to worry about where your next meal is coming from or what to do if the weather takes a turn for the worst or the rivers are high. Our aim is to look after you and ensure you have an amazing cycle holiday experience no matter what conditions you are faced with.
Our recommended Alps to Ocean Trail self guided package itinerary below features comfortable daily cycling distances for experienced cyclists with time to relax and explore the sights of interest along the way.
All packages can be customised to suit your requirements, so you can add or deduct days to suit your needs. Some more budget friendly or luxurious accommodation is available at some of the towns.
Day 1 Arrive in Twizel, explore local area
Make your own way to Twizel, or alternatively we can organise transport for you from Oamaru. Rental cars/public bus connections are also available from Christchurch or Queenstown. Check into your accommodation for the next two nights and explore the local area. Collect your hire bike (if available early).
Cycling Distance 0km
Day 2 Cycle Mt Cook/Jollie River/Tekapo to Twizel
Catch a shuttle to your chosen start point, being either the Mt Cook Village*, Jollie River, or Tekapo. Whichever option you choose, todays ride through the vast open Mackenzie Basin features stunning views of the intense turquoise colours of Lake Pukaki, with Aoraki Mt Cook and the Southern Alps as a backdrop.
Cycling Distance 77km from Mt Cook Village* OR 61km from Jollie River OR 54km from Tekapo
*A helicopter transfer across the Tasman River is required for the Mt Cook Village start.
Day 3 Cycle Twizel to Ohau
Todays ride takes you along the sealed road beside the picturesque Pukaki-Ohau hydro canal to Lake Ohau. From here take the trail across the Ohau weir (the weir can sometimes be closed when the dam is spilling) and along the south side of Lake Ohau, continuing on to Ohau Lodge. Check into your accommodation and spend the afternoon enjoying the view from on the deck of the lodge in the most majestic of landscapes, or wadding in the lake.
Cycling Distance 38km
Day 4 Cycle Ohau to Omarama
The next section is perhaps the most challenging of the whole trail, a slow 11km climb to the 900m highpoint, Tarnbrae. This section though challenging can also be incredibly rewarding with amazing views right across the Mackenzie Basin’s lakes, canals and distant alps. Enjoy the quick descent of the Quailburn Road before crossing the Ahuriri River and into the town of Omarama. Check into your accommodation and find a meal at the local pub. Those with energy remaining may enjoy a soak under the stars in the Omarama Hot Tubs.
Cycling Distance 45km
Day 5 Cycle Omarama to Kurow
Cycle the trail to Sailors Cutting on serene shores of Lake Benmore, over the Ahuriri Saddle on the highway, and then back on quiet roads and trails alongside the hydro lakes of Aviemore and Waitaki as you make your way down the Waitaki Valley. Check into your accommodation in Kurow and explore the quirky shops and cafes of this sleepy town.
Cycling Distance 67km
Day 6 Cycle Kurow to Enfield
Todays ride follows a trail on the riverbed of the braided Waitaki River and through the wetlands to Duntroon. Take a break here at the cafe before embarking on the final stage to Enfield. Explore the unusual Elephant limestone rocks and fossil sites on this section of trail as it meanders through fertile green farmland up hill and down dale towards the coast, and through an old rail tunnel. At Enfield, check into your accommodation and enjoy an evening in a country pub.
Cycling Distance 69km
Day 7 Cycle Enfield to Oamaru
The final stretch follows a rail trail into the outskirts of Oamaru, before dissecting the pretty botanical gardens and down through the historic and grand Victorian Precinct to the finish line at Friendly Bay. Explore the historic Victorian Precinct of Oamaru before departing. You have the option of returning to Twizel, or making transport connections through to Christchurch, Dunedin or Queenstown.
Cycling Distance 12km
ALL PRICING IS SUBJECT TO CONFIRMATION AT THE TIME OF BOOKING.
Based on our recommended Alps 2 Ocean Trail self guided 7 day itinerary package:
+ 1 adult: $1,329
+ 2 adults: $806 pp
+ family of 3: $678 pp
+ family of 4: $579 pp
Other sized groups can be priced on request.
+ 6 nights comfortable ensuite accommodation
+ bag transfers on Days 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 (15kgs per person)
+ Twizel to start (Mt Cook/Jollie River/Tekapo) shuttle (with bike)
+ 2 continental breakfasts (per person)
+ Comprehensive information pack including local history; dining recommendations and contact phone numbers for meal bookings
+ bike hire: $315 pp
+ ebike hire: $615 pp
+ full suspension mountain bike hire: $615 pp
+ childs (24″) bike: $225 pp
+ pannier bag hire: $5 per pannier per day
+ Tasman River helicopter transfer for Mt Cook start: $160 pp (min 2, max 6)
+ Alps 2 Ocean Trail guide book $15
+ transfers Oamaru to Twizel: $55* pp
*Bikes can be transported on these transfers: $15 per bike
+ Excess baggage (max 15kg per bag) transported from Twizel to Oamaru or vs versa: $20 per bag
Booking Terms & Conditions
Once a self guided cycle package has been finalised, a quote raised and accepted, a 25% non-refundable deposit is required to secure your package. Accommodation bookings will be held for no more than 72 hours pending the receipt of a deposit. Bookings received within 60 days of the departure date requires full payment to confirm your booking.
Changes to your package after it has been finalised such as date of departure, or swapping a client name, will incur a $50 alteration fee.
Prices quoted are in New Zealand dollars. The balance of the tour or package price is payable 60 days prior to departure and payments must be made in New Zealand dollars. Payment is accepted by:
+ direct credit;
+ visa or mastercard & debit cards (add 2.9% surcharge applies);
+ international bank transfer (add $25 funds clearance fee);
3] Cancellations & Refunds
PureTrails New Zealand strongly recommends all clients, including domestic travellers, purchase travel insurance to protect against unexpected cancellations. Cancellations must be received in writing and the following conditions apply:
+ Cancellations outside 60 days of the tour or package departure date will forfeit the full deposit;
+ Cancellations between 60-30 days of the departure date will forfeit 50% of the package price*;
+ Cancellations within 30 days of the departure date will forfeit 100% of the package price*;
+ There are no refunds for changes on the day or any unused elements of your package.
* The package price is defined as the total quoted package price.
There are no minimum numbers applicable to self-guided packages, however the price of some items such as shuttle transfers may change depending on the group size.
+ Tasman River helicopter transfers $140 pp (min 2, max 6)