New Zealand offers unparelleled variety. In the south: rugged snowy alps, dense native bush and plains. After a ferry crossing through the beautiful Marlborough Sounds, explore the north, with its busy cities, green pastures, mud pools and volcanoes. You'll need to be moderately fit to cycle distances up to 65 km daily. There's 740 km total biking, but you're welcome to ride in the support vehicle whenever you wish.
DAY 1. CHRISTCHURCH –
We meet at the hotel in the early afternoon. Tour
members arriving today will be transferred from the airport to the
accommodation. Later this afternoon we'll go for a short drive up the Port
Hills to the Sign of the Kiwi, a historic stone house with awesome views across
the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. The fittings for hired bikes will
also be completed this afternoon. There are no meals provided on tour, but you
may choose to contribute to a group kitty for the occasional breakfast and many
DAY 2. CHRISTCHURCH –
We leave Christchurch in good time and drive across
the Canterbury plains through the inland rural towns of Ashburton, Geraldine
and Fairlie. From here the road climbs 709 m to Burkes Pass, the northern
entrance to the MacKenzie Country, an intermontane basin. The area is famous
for its wild landscapes, merino sheep and hydro-electric lake system. After
lunch and a short drive from scenic Tekapo, we cycle a quiet canal road to Lake
PÅ«kakÄ« and Twizel. On a clear day, enjoy glorious views of New Zealand's
highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook (Aoraki means 'cloud piercer').
DAY 3. TWIZEL –
Ride in the support van by the High Country and
right next to a Hobbit village. Scenes from Peter Jackson's movies were filmed
here in 2012. You start the bike ride on the Vanished World Heritage Trail in
the scenic hills and ride on quiet side roads to the Pacific Ocean. Thereafter
in the van to the small fishing village of Moeraki where you visit the famous
Moeraki Boulders. According to Maori tradition, the boulders are gourds and
calabashes, washed from the great voyaging canoe Araiteuru when it was wrecked
upon landfall in New Zealand some 1000 years ago.
Cycling: 60 km
DAY 4. MOERAKI TO
In the morning it's on the bus up to Macraes Flat,
the largest active gold mine in New Zealand. Since 1990, 1.8 million ounces of
gold have been obtained from the rock. From the vantage point you can look
directly into the gold mine. At an altitude of 500m, today is one of the most
beautiful cycling areas, you journey down to the town of Hyde (20 km). From
Hyde drive on a section of the Otago Rail Trail, a former railway line from Old
Gold Rush times (1879), through tunnels and over bridges with spectacular views
of the landscape of Central Otago (40 km light gravel surface).
Cycling: 50 km
DAY 5. QUEENSTOWN -
Alpine paradise Queenstown is like a big adventure
playground. Your options for the day include a day trip to Milford Sound or
Doubtful Sound in Fiordland. Local activities include shopping, a gondola ride
to the Skyline restaurant and viewpoint, a steam boat trip on TSS Earnslaw with
majestic views from Lake Wakatipu, jet boating on the Shotover River, bungy
jumping, white water rafting, tandem paragliding, or visit to the Kiwi Birdlife
Park to see New Zealand's national icon for real. There's never a dull moment
in vibrant Queenstown.
DAY 6. QUEENSTOWN TO
Today we'll go on an early morning visit to
spectacularly beautiful Arrowtown, an old gold mining town with tree lined
streets and fascinating shops. This is followed by a challenging ride over the
Crown Range. From the bike there is a great downhill into the Cardrona Valley.
On your left you will pass the historic Cardrona Hotel, an iconic relic from
gold prospecting days. From there we cycle to the beautiful lakeside town of
DAY 7. WANAKA TO FOX
Today we drive west past Lakes Hawea and Wanaka,
watching arid pastures give way to dense bush in Mt Aspiring National Park.
There, we bike from the Makarora Valley to Haast Pass (563 m). Then, a brief
walk to the 30 m Thunder Creek Falls. We follow the Haast River to Haast
village in Fiordland National Park, maybe stopping at the excellent visitor's
centre. A spectacular snaking road takes us north through dense rainforest,
over swift rivers and past 3 beautiful lakes. To our left: rugged coastline; to
our right: massive alps. We finish with a short walk to the Fox Glacier face.
Cycling: 81 km
DAY 8. FOX GLACIER
This morning, perhaps take an optional helicopter
flight to the glaciers (including landing). Or maybe walk around picturesque
Lake Matheson, known as 'Mirror Lake'. Your guide will choose 1 of 2 cycling
options, depending on weather. 1: Leaving Fox, ride through rainforest to Franz
Josef Glacier and Ross township; then on to Hari Hari town. 2: From Lake
Mahinapua ride to glacial Lake Kaniere, nestled in mountains and rainforest.
Follow the shoreline on a gravel road and stop at a campsite for a picnic or
swim. Then it's a pleasant 20 km ride to the town of Hokitika.
DAY 9. HOKITIKA VIA
PUNAKAIKI TO PICTON
In Greymouth you get on your bikes and cycle the
spectacular coast road to the famous Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki (limestone
formations that resemble well stacked pancakes).Here in the heart of the
Paparoa NP we take a walk to the blowholes. They spout blasts of seawater out
at high tide. Back on the bus leaving the West Coast through the Buller Gorge,
via The Nelson Lakes National Park to Picton in the Marlborough Sounds. Should
the weather be wet, we offer you an alternative route in the Wairau valley on
the east side of the Alps and this is usually dry. Later we drive directly on
to Picton to our accommodation.
DAY 10. PICTON -
Today you have the entire day at your own leisure
to explore Picton and the Queen Charlotte Sound â€“ Captain James Cookâ€™s
favourite on his discovery journeys to Australia, New Zealand and the South
Pacific. Some options include: A water taxi trip across the picturesque
Marlborough Sounds, bike tour along the Kenepuru Panorama Route following the
shore line of the Kenepuru Sound (from 40 - 120km), cycle tour to Blenheim
(many vineyards in the Wairau Valley) and back 60km or a sea kayak tour.
DAY 11. FERRY
CROSSING FROM PICTON TO WELLINGTON
Today we take the ferry to New Zealandâ€™s capital
Wellington on the North Island. Enjoy the scenic views as you go through the
Fjord like Queen Charlotte inlet, the Torry Channel and the Cook Strait. The afternoon
is at leisure in Wellington.
DAY 12. WELLINGTON
After a short sightseeing tour of vibrant 'Welly',
you'll still have time to visit the famous Museum of New Zealand Te Papa
Tongarewa, or enjoy panoramic views with a steep cable car ride from bustling
Lambton Quay to the Botanic Gardens. Around lunchtime, we head north along
State Highway 1 to Wanganui (sometimes called Whanganui), set on plains at the
Whangaui river mouth. One of New Zealand's oldest towns, it is known for its
DAY 13. WHANGANUI TO
WHAKAPAPA (TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK)
Three volcanic peaks greet you as you approach
Tongariro National Park - Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Tongariro. They seem
to beckon you, as you bike along the Whanganui River to Kakatahi (57 km); or
the Mangawhero river toward your nights destination in Whakapapa.
Cycling: Wanganui to Kakatahi 57km, or Whanganui to
Raetihi (part of) - up to 65km
DAY 14. WHAKAPAPA
(TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK) TO ROTORUA
This morning you cycle from Whakapapa along little
Lake Rotoaira to Turangi on the shores of Lake TaupÅ. Lake TaupÅ was formed
by a huge volcanic eruption around 135 AD. We continue driving down State
Highway 1 to Rotorua, famous for its active wonderland of geysers, hot springs
and boiling mud pools. This evening, why not enjoy a traditional MÄori concert
and hÄngÄ« dinner (optional). HÄngÄ« are earth ovens where food is steamed
over heated rocks, creating succulent, smoke-tinged flavours.
Cycling: Whakapapa to Turangi - 53km
DAY 15. ROTORUA TO
Before leaving this famous geothermal area, we take
you on a short city tour of Rotorua. The cycle leg today starts in Tapapa (or
Te Poi for those wanting to cycle a few less kms) and takes you north alongside
the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park to Te Aroha, nestled under Mt Te Aroha. The rest
of the afternoon is free. Visit the natural hot pools, take a short walk to
Mokena Geyser, or head to the visitor's centre to learn more about Te Aroha's
gold mining history.
DAY 16. TE AROHA TO
This morning is at leisure allowing you to explore
the small town, then the bus takes you down to the Gulf of Thames and on the
coast road to Miranda (named after a British ship that arrived in the area in
1863). From there, we finish the cycling for this tour with a beautiful ride on
an easy coastal road to the rural town of Clevedon, east of Auckland. After
arriving in Auckland, we'll go on a sightseeing tour of New Zealandâ€™s largest
city where you amongst other things will view the Harbour Bridge, Mt Eden, see
the huge Marina and the Skytower.
DAY 17. DEPARTURE
DAY - AUCKLAND
Today it's time to bid farewell
after an amazing tour. If you're flying out of Auckland, we'll arrange for the
transfers back to the airport to connect with your flight.