Are you looking to do a self guided cycle tour? Please take a moment to understand the environment of the cycle trails in the South Island and how that can translate to a self guided tour experience.

Alps 2 Ocean Trail

The Alps 2 Ocean Trail in its entirety extends over 300km and consists of a mix of cycle trail, sealed and gravel roads.  If you start at Mt Cook and ride to the first town on the trail (Twizel) there 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.

From Twizel it is 80kms to the next town of Omarama, however there is a lodge situated at the half way point (Lake Ohau Lodge) which serve meals etc. Once you leave Ohau 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 80km between Twizel & Omarama (apart for Ohau Lodge) so you need to be totally self contained with food and water.

From Omarama to Duntroon (96km) there is one significant climb on the main highway to contend with, then a fairly easy ride down the valley. The fords on the trail beyond Kurow are often impassable after rain. There are two towns on this section so it is possible to buy food/coffee/water etc along the way.

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.

So if you feel you could manage riding, and enjoying rather than enduring, a trail with such a lack of infrastructure, a self guided tour may be a great option for you. Self guided outfitters can get your bags from accommodation to accommodation each day and fit you out with a bike. You could opt to do parts of the trail rather than the full 300km if you have limited time or are concerned about the more remote areas. Talk to us about which companies can organise a self guided tour for you.

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, you may find our supported tour package 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. Our aim is to look after you and ensure you have an amazing cycle holiday experience no matter what conditions you are faced with.

West Coast Wilderness Trail

The West Coast Wilderness Trail is a 132km trail that features a mix or virgin podocarp forests, coastal dunes and open farmland. Despite the west coast having a high annual rainfall, this trail has been very well built with a nice fine granite chip surface which withstands even the heaviest of downpours.

Starting from Ross at the south end of the trail, the first 30km section takes you on a relatively easy ride on a through a mix of trail surfaces to Hokitika. There is one place to refuel at along the way, the Treetop walkway and cafe. After leaving Hokitika there is a 73km ride through to the next town of Kumara. There is virtually no shops or cafes along the way from Kaniere (just outside Hokitika) right through to Kumara apart from the offerings at the replica wild west shooting range and lodgings ‘Cowboys Paradise’, which is indeed very wild west in nature and can vary day to day (take cash and expect instant coffee). It pays to be self sufficient with all your food and water needs on this 73km section.

This section of trail is stunning and a real highlight. After leaving Lake Kaniere (21kms from Hokitika) there is no cell phone reception until you are close to Kumara, some 50kms away. There is also a weir to cross on this section, at approximately the 69km mark. The high water detour route was washed away in a severe storm in March 2019, so now if there is any heavy rain in the preceding 24-48 hours, this section is impassable. If this is the case you need to make your way back to Hokitika and around to the Kumara side of the trail via State Highway 6.

There is a good selection of lodgings at Kumara and the restored Theatre Royal Hotel put on good meals and entertainment. From Kumara the trail once again takes you on a relatively easy ride on a through a mix of trail surfaces to Greymouth, 28kms away. There is a pub at Paroa around 11kms from Greymouth with refreshments available.

So if you feel you would be happy to ride this trail (or parts of it) in your own time and with no company other than your own, a self guided tour may be a great option for you. Self guided outfitters can get your bags from accommodation to accommodation each day and fit you out with a bike. Talk to us about which companies can organise a self guided tour for you.

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, you may find our supported tour package 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 12 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. 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 6 day tour also includes further bike rides and travel through Punakaiki, Cape Foulwind, and Moana as well as a visit to a dairy farm at Haupiri, giving you an extended experience of the upper west coast region.

Otago Central Rail Trail

The Otago Central Rail Trail is a 152km cycle trail built on a former railway corridor through what was once referred to as Otago’s ‘interior wasteland’ due to the harsh brutal climate that our pioneering gold-miners endured during the gold rush of the 1860s. Nowadays the landscape is much admired for its raw beauty, though the conditions can still be brutal at any time of the year. Temperature variations from 5-35 degrees Celsius between October and April are the normal. Snow can fall year-round.

The fantastic feature of the Otago Central Rail Trail is that many of the original cob and coach hotels still exist today (pre-railway era) and many operate as pubs and ‘watering holes’ along the trail. Conveniently these are mostly 16 miles apart, which was the limit of a horse team in the cob and coach days.

So starting your ride from Clyde, there are two ‘watering holes’ to stop at and get a coffee/meal/water etc before arriving in Omakau or Ophir, which is a 40km ride. From Omakau to Wedderburn, again there is water/meal facilities available at two towns along the way servicing this 35km ride. For the 23km ride from Wedderburn to Waipiata there is another two service towns/villages to pass through. Stopping at all these villages along the way is a wonderful way to explore the small communities of Central Otago, with the bonus of having access to top class meals, coffee, beer and wine to make your whole journey a enjoyable and memorable experience.

However once you leave Waipiata there is very limited accommodation and virtually no places to get a meal or coffee from until you reach Middlemarch, some 52kms away. There is water potable water available at the Hyde Station. So on this final section of the trail you need to be self sufficient with your food and water requirements. Fortunately from Hyde it is on a downhill gradient, so unless there is a southerly wind blowing, it is generally quite a quick ride.

So if you feel you would be happy to ride this trail (or parts of it) in your own time and with no company other than your own, a self guided tour may be a great option for you. Self guided outfitters can get your bags from accommodation to accommodation each day and fit you out with a bike. Talk to us about which companies can organise a self guided tour for you.

If you feel you may be pushed out of your comfort zone with the lack of vehicle support while you ride, you may find our supported tour package to be a more fun, 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. We also take pride in showing you much more of Central Otago than simply the rail corridor, with a number of side trips (in our bus) to the outlying historic gold mining towns, the possibility of having a go at curling, as well as a tour of one of the high country cattle, sheep and deer stations in the area, and a tour of a garden of national significance, all part of our packages.

Around the Mountains Trail

The Around the Mountains cycle trail is a 186km trail that circumnavigates the Eyre Mountains, to the south of Lake Wakatipu. The trail can be ridden in either direction however we would recommend starting at the Kingston end. From Kingston, there is 63kms of relatively easy grade trail off the road, with three villages to pass through with numerous food outlets and accommodation options. From Lumsden it is a rather unexciting 20km ride on a trail alongside the highway to the next town of Mossburn. The 103km ride from Mossburn consists of a 24km cycle trail to Centre Hill (just a dot on the map) and then 79km of gravel roads taking you all the way to Walter Peak. The road through Mt Nicholas is generally in good condition however the 29km stretch to Mavora Lakes can be quite rough with thick gravel on the road sides. The ride from Mossburn to the top of the Von Hill is a moderate climb (approx 500m ascent over 75km), though if the trail is ridden from the Walter Peak end, it is a steep 370m climb over 20km.

There are two fords to cross between Mavora and Walter Peak. You can expect to get wet feet in the fords and there will be times after heavy rain when they will not be safe to cross at all (it is recommended you check river flow conditions at the Metservice before setting out). The weather in the far south is very changeable, and it can go from being very nice to very cold and wet in a short space of time.

Shortly after leaving Centre Hill you will lose phone reception for approximately 68km, until you get to Mt Nicholas (we highly recommend you take a locator beacon). Between Mossburn and Walter Peak, there are no villages to get food and water or any commercial accommodation available for 103km, until you arrive at Walter Peak, apart from the DOC camping site at Mavora Lakes. You need to be totally self sufficient in terms of food, water and a roof over your head for the 103kms between Mossburn and Walter Peak. The scenery on this part of the trail is stunning and the remoteness really gives it the X factor.

This trail really is for the adventurous and if you are looking for an intrepid adventure, a self guided tour on this trail could be just what you are looking for. Self guided outfitters can get your bags from accommodation to accommodation each day and fit you out with a bike. Talk to us about which companies can organise a self guided tour for you.

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, you may find our supported tour package 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. Our aim is to look after you and ensure you have an amazing cycle holiday experience no matter what conditions you are faced with. We also spend two nights in the resort town of Te Anau and include a ride on the new 28km ‘Lake2Lake Trail’ from Te Anau to Manapouri, so you will see more of the area rather than just the trail corridor.