Multi Day Fully Supported Biking Tour of the South Island, Arthur’s Pass, Fox Glacier, Molesworth and Mt. Nicholas High Country Station Roads, Milford Sound, The West Coast, Two day ride on the Central Otago Rail Trail
Cycling notes are provided for
each day's ride. We describe the riding surface, terrain, and mileage. We
maintain a great deal of flexibility on our trips, in order to cater for
all levels of fitness, so the two mileage figures are indicative only. If
you want to take it easy, you can ride the shorter mileages, or less. If
you want push yourself, you can ride the longer mileages. On most days you
can also head out for an extra ride in the morning or evening, to enjoy
the local sights.
Tuesday - Arrive, cycle to Hanmer Springs
Most people leave the Northern hemisphere on a Sunday, and arrive in New Zealand early on Tuesday morning. You'll lose a day to the dateline - but you'll get it back on the way home! If you haven't flown direct to Christchurch, you'll immediately take a short flight from Auckland to the South Island, where we'll meet you. You'lll need to arrive in Christchurch by 10am or so, where we'll have some time to get acquainted with our cross-terrain touring bikes. If you're brought your own bike with you, we can help you set it up to your liking. After lunch, we'll head up the coast and into the Southern Alps towards the resort town of Hanmer Springs. You'll get a chance to stretch your legs along the way with a short cycle into Hanmer Springs via the Waiau Valley. In the evening you can soak, relax and get to know your co-travellers in the fresh water mineral spa at Hanmer Springs.
15 to 20 miles of road riding
– predominantly flat to get accustomed to your bike
ACCOMMODATION:Hanmer Springs Lodgings, Hanmer Springs (L,D)
Wednesday - High country cycle traverse of the Rainbow Station Road
We'll begin today with a short drive up Jacks Pass to New Zealand's largest backcountry sheep farm, Molesworth Station. Here we”ll ride on a spectacular high country farm road from Hanmer Springs to Saint Arnaud via the Rainbow Station. During the winter this area is home to the Rainbow and Hanmer Springs Ski Areas, and in summer it provides cycling access to some remote and spectacular mountain areas. You'll appreciate the vehicle support in this remote part of the South Island! From Jacks Pass Saddle, we follow the Clarence River up to Lake Tennyson and over the Island Saddle, before following the Wairau and Rainbow Rivers down to the small village of Saint Arnaud, nestled on the edge of the Nelson Lakes National Park.
30 - 60 miles (50 - 100km) of gravel road - undulating - one long uphill stretch gaining over 2,400 feet to Island Saddle before a gradual 1,800 foot descent into Saint Arnaud - a stunning remote alpine valley.
ACCOMMODATION:St Arnaud Bed and Breakfast (B,L,D)
Thursday - Cycle along the Buller Gorge and Punakaiki Coast
From Saint Arnaud we head through Murchison to the West Coast, cycling alongside the Buller River from the massive Inangahua Slip, the site of a huge earthquake-triggered landslide that dammed the river in the 1960's. This ride allows you plenty of time to check out the awesome scenery, thick temperate rainforest and historic gold mining sites on the way to the coast at Punakaiki. After lunch we'll do a short cycle along the coast road. This is one of our favorite parts of New Zealand and after a short hike along the beach, you'llsee why we love it so much! Tonight we'll stay on the West Coast for a well-earned BBQ dinner and a cold beer (or soft drink!).
30 - 70 miles (50 - 110km) of road riding - slightly downhill, descending 400 feet to the coast alongside a river gorge - short coastal walk at Punakaiki.
ACCOMMODATION: Shining Star Chalets, Hokitika - next to the beach! (B,L,D)
Friday - Coastal cycle from Lake Kaniere to Kakapotahi Ecological Area
Today we'll head down the West Coast, cycle a stunning remote loop road around Lake Kaniere and then continue south past Lake Mahinapua, and onwards towards the coast. This area is full of dense native rainforest, huge fast-flowing rivers and spectacular views of the snow-capped Southern Alps. We'lll follow the main inland road, turning after the Mikonui River onto a smaller coastal road to the village of Kakapotahi, enjoying sweeping views of deserted West Coast beaches.
30 - 70 miles
– of flat road riding - coastal vistas - deserted beaches - views of the Southern Alps.
ACCOMMODATION: The Westhaven, Fox Glacier (B,L,D)
Saturday - Cycle from Fox Glacier to the Tasman Sea
Today's ride is off the scenery scale! From our lodgings, we'll cycle a winding road through an ancient podocarp forest to the amazing Fox Glacier. This is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, dropping 7000 feet in about seven miles, from its neve in the Southern Alps almost to the sea. After checking out the glacier, we'll cycle south from Fox Glacier past West Coast farmland, ending at the deserted mineral beaches of Bruce Bay. Tonight we stay in the remote West Coast village of Haast. During the evening, if you like, you can stretch your legs and take a quiet and remote beach walk. Dinner tonight is a real kiwi favorite - fish and chips (with fresh salads too of course)!
30 - 60 miles (50 - 100km) of undulating road riding, alongside dense native rainforest, from the base of Fox Glacier to the beach of Bruce Bay - optional one hour return hike to Fox Glacier.
ACCOMMODATION: World Heritage Hotel, Haast (B,L,D)
Sunday - Cycle Haast Pass, and along the Clutha River and Lake Wanaka Track
Today is a day of contrasting scenery. This morning we'll leave the West Coast and cycle past thick beech forest from Pleasant Flat to the "ates of Haast?Eand over Haast Pass. This memorable day of cycling takes us over one of only three mountain passes through the majestic Southern Alps. We'll then follow the road down through Makarora Valley on the edge of Mt. Aspiring National Park. After a short drive through to the more arid area around Albert Town, we'll take to the bikes again for a short ride along a smooth trail that offers spectacular views of the Clutha River, the South Island's longest river, before it opens out to the shoreline of Lake Wanaka. If you prefer, you can explore Wanaka township or relax by the lake.
25 - 50 miles (40 - 80km) of road riding - an uphill stretch gaining 1,400 feet to the Haast Pass; and cycling along a smooth, gently undulating trail to Lake Wanaka.
ACCOMMODATION: Lake Wanaka Lodge, Wanaka (B,L,D)
- Cycle the Cardrona Valley and Crown Range to Queenstown
Today we cycle from our lodgings in Wanaka through the historic gold mining area of Cardrona Valley, stopping for a cold drink at the old miner'stavern. From here we continue up the valley, through tussock-country, before crossing the Cardrona Saddle on the Crown Range. Our reward for the steep climb up to the saddle is a grand view of the Wakatipu basin and mountains beyond. As with all of the cycling on the Weka Cycling tour, you can choose to skip the steepest part of today's ride and simply enjoy the views. After a picnic lunch at this lookout we wind our way down towards Queenstown, where we'll be staying for the next two nights.
30 - 60 miles (50 - 100km) of road riding - gentle valley cycle that steepens towards the saddle gaining 2000 feet.
Queenstown apartments, Queenstown (B,L)
Tuesday - Free Day in Queenstown
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand - you'll find all the comforts of civilization: massage therapists, restaurants, sidewalk cafes, window shopping, as well as incredible hikes, bike rides, and adrenaline pumping activities such as hang gliding, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving - it's all here! Ask your guides for more information on organizing local tours, while we take the opportunity to give your bike a mid-trip tune up. Queenstown is not a big place - the population is about 8000 - but there's plenty to do! Or, you can relax and take it easy if you prefer to just soak up the atmosphere. It's all up to you today - enjoy!
There are a number of fantastic mountain biking and road cycling options around the Queenstown area. Check out the Moonlight and Skippers Tracks for some awesome downhill mountain biking and the Glenorchy Road is a fun scenic road trip to do in the area. Ask your guides for more information on organizing local adventure tours or hiring bikes for your free day in Queenstown.
There are a number of fantastic
mountain biking and road cycling options around the Queenstown area. Check
out the Moonlight and Skippers tracks for some awesome downhill mountain
biking and the Glenorchy Road is a fun scenic road trip to do in the area.
Ask your guides for more information on organizing local tours or hiring bikes for your free day in Queenstown.
ACCOMMODATION: Queenstown apartments (B)
Wednesday - Cycling the Mt Nicholas road from Walter Peak to the Mavora Lakes
Today we'll catch an early morning ferry ride on the steamship TSS Earnslaw across Lake Wakatipu to the base of the imposing Walter Peak. Here we'll jump back on our bikes and follow the Mt Nicholas farm road to the isolated Mavora Lakes. We'll bike up through the head waters of the Von River surrounded by the towering Livingston Mountains. This is a true wilderness cycling experience on a deserted back road and after your time in Queenstown you'll appreciate the peaceful surroundings!
40 - 60 miles (65 - 100km) of deserted gravel road - steamship across Lake Wakatipu to road head - winding, undulating road with a total elevation gain of 1,000 feet - remote high-country lakes.
ACCOMMODATION: Lake Te Anau lodgings, Te Anau (B,L,D)
Thursday - Cruise Milford Sound, cycle Hollyford Valley
We'll start the day by heading into the heart of Fiordland National Park. We'll enjoy a spectacular cruise on Milford Sound, rated the 8th Natural Wonder of the World by Rudyard Kipling, taking in its sheer rock walls, huge waterfalls and the famous Mitre Peak. On the cruise we'll see all sorts of marine wildlife, from fur seals to penguins and dolphins, and even the occasional orca! After lunch, we have a spectacular ride through the Hollyford Valley. This remote backcountry road is lined with unspoilt beech forest and surrounded by towering peaks - it's not the longest ride you'll cycle on the Weka, but it's one of the most memorable and is one of Jim's favorite rides! Afterwards we'll head back to our accommodations on the shores of Lake Te Anau.
20 - 40 miles (30 - 65km) mostly downhill road and gravel road riding descending 1,000 feet - undulating terrain with breathtaking alpine scenery.
ACCOMMODATION: Lake Te Anau lodgings (B,L,D)
Friday - Central Otago Rail Trail - Lauder to Danseys Pass
The Central Otago Rail Trail follows the route of the old Cromwell to Dunedin train line that was retired in 1990. Over the past decade the trail has been upgraded and rebuilt to become one of the best multi-day bike rides in New Zealand - and we'll cycle the best part of the trail. We'll cross over 60 bridges and viaducts as we wind our way along the smooth track that passes through Raggedy Range and Rough Ridge. We start the trail near the small historic settlement of Lauder and have a gradual climb through the Ida Valley, before taking a backroad through Naseby to our lodgings at Danseys Pass for a hearty roast dinner (with vegetarian options available). This area, at the foot of the Kakanui Mountains, was heavily worked for gold in the 19th century and you'll see some of the fluted land scarring left by the use of large hydraulic sluicing guns.
30 - 70 miles (50 - 110km) of compact gravel trails, bridges, viaducts and road riding - slight uphill gradient all day with a 500 foot elevation gain
ACCOMMODATION: Danseys Pass Coach Inn, Danseys Pass (B,L,D)
Saturday - Cycle over Danseys Pass into Limestone Country
Today we'll have a spectacular ride over Danseys Pass and down into the limestone country of North Otago. We'll ride up Danseys Pass Road where huge schist outcrops dominate the landscape and the views of the distant Pacific Ocean from the top are stunning. If you prefer to skip the uphill climb, you can always start your ride from the top and simply take more time to enjoy the scenery. The ride down takes us from remote high-country into green valleys that are lined with impressive limestone cliffs and crags. We'll stop for lunch in the little village of Duntroon, where you can check out some of the fossils and other curiosities that have been dug up from the local limestone, before we continue on through this peaceful sheep farming area set amongst the cliffs. The views back towards Danseys Pass provide an impressive mountain backdrop to this unique area. It's then a short drive to the historic Millhouse, where we'll celebrate our two unforgettable weeks of cycling together.
20 - 60 miles (30 ? 100km) of gravel and road riding ? Steep uphill section gaining 1,000 feet followed by long downhill ride descending 2,500 feet before gently undulating road riding through limestone country..
ACCOMMODATION: The Millhouse (B,L,D)
Sunday - Depart for home
This is the last day of your 13-day cycling tour around the South Island. See the itinerary for the Kauri trip if you want to take a few more days to see the North Island as well. Or check out our ACTIVE AUSTRALIA itineraries if you've got another week or so and want to visit Australia, fondly known as New Zealand's "West Island". We'll leave after breakfast for the drive to Christchurch and arrive mid afternoon in time for the flights back to Auckland. Any international flight after 4pm is ideal, and we can make domestic flights as early as 2.30pm with a little notice. International flights from Auckland usually leave early evening, so if you're heading to North America you'll get home some time on Sunday, even though you left on Sunday evening. Flights back to Europe, of course, take a little longer. You'll be refreshed and invigorated from the good rides and great times you'll have had with us in New Zealand! (B, L)
ACCOMMODATIONS: The Weka is a fully supported cycling trip around the South Island. We've chosen interesting and comfortable accommodation throughout. In some places it's quite luxurious. Other places we stay are off-the-beaten-track, and don't have many accommodation options, but are really, really spectacular. You'll love the places we stay!
If you are staying a few extra days in Christchurch before or after your trip, click here to take a look at our Christchurc information page which has a list of a few selected hotels and B&B's in and around Christchurch.
RECOMMENDED FLIGHTS: If you're flying in on the first day of the trip, or out on the last day, we recommend arriving in Christchurch by approximately 9 ? 10.30am on Tuesday, and departing from Christchurch after 2.30 ? 4pm on Sunday. Other flight times may also be possible ? If you are considering alternative flight times please let us know.
PICK-UP INFORMATION: On the first day of the trip we can either pick you up from the Holiday Inn City Centre in Christchurch at 10.30am or at the Christchurch airport in front of the information desk at 11am.
DROP OFF INFORMATION: On the last day of the trip we can drop you off at the Christchurch airport in time for the flights above or anywhere in central Christchurch in mid-late afternoon.
FITNESS: You must have a reasonable level of cycling fitness to enjoy yourself on the Weka . You don't have to be young and extremely fit (although if you are, you won't be bored) but you should be in the habit of doing at least some riding. Age and experience are not as important as attitude. If you're concerned about your fitness level, have a chat with us so we can help you choose between the Weka and our other trips.
EXPERIENCE: You don't need any cycle touring experience to enjoy our trips. All our trips allow you to make the most of New Zealand's incredible environment. Our experienced guides are highly trained and will look after you! All we ask is that you be energetic and in reasonable shape. We guarantee you'll have an incredible time - and you'll just love the comfortable wagon that follows you and your bike. The challenges are there though, if you're looking for them. For instance, on the second day of the trip you can set off a little early and tackle the Jack's Pass Road up to the Molesworth Station. The views are incredible and they get better the higher you go, so the fitter members of the party can push ahead, while others can enjoy just starting their day's cycle from the top of the pass. We manage the level of commitment to suit your experience and we have an impeccable safety record. We hold all relevant government licenses and our staff are highly trained and experienced.
WEKA START & END POINT, AND DIRECTION OF TRAVEL: To keep our group sizes down, we run the Weka in two different directions around the South Island - Northbound (refers to initial direction of travel from Christchurch) and Southbound. This itinerary happens to be written up in the northbound format. Whichever trip you take, you'll do all the activities we've mentioned, just in a different order.
FLEXIBILITY: Because of the off-the-beaten path and non-commercial nature of some of our accommodation on this trip, we sometimes need to change a night stop. We try to make as few changes as possible but retain the flexibility to make sure your trip is as good as it can be.
BIKES: We have a fleet of quality cycles for our Weka cycling trip. Due to the varied terrain and conditions we encounter on the trip - tar sealed and gravel roads, paved tracks and bridges - we use lightweight front-suspension mountain bikes. Each bike comes kitted with a cycle computer, rear rack and a bottle cage. We supply, free-of-charge, a saddlebag for the rear rack which most of our clients find sufficient to carry all they might need whilst cycling. We have a variety of frame sizes available and if you have specific requirements let us know. If you want to bring your own bike or cycling gear such as cycling shoes or pedals with you - that's fine. Please be aware that although we don't do any mountain biking on the trip we do ride on gravel and roughly paved sections of road,
so road bikes with skinny tires are not suitable for use on these days.
INCLUDED: Your trip fare includes just about everything, specifically:
- Good quality bikes for your entire trip. There is no extra charge for bike rental.
- All guiding services. We have two guides per trip, a lead guide/driver and a co-guide who is responsible for meals and accommodations. This means we can really make sure you have a great time! We operate with small groups and we don't hesitate to offer a second departure when our trips start getting full.
- Comfortable accommodation for the entire period you are with us. We can also organize accommodation for you if you want to arrive earlier or leave later.
- All your meals, except in Queenstown where we've found people prefer to check out the wide range of restaurants. Alcohol is not generally included, although we do spring for a few drinks here and there!
- All cycling described in the itinerary, except optional extra activities. We have estimated the rates for optional extra activities operated by local activity operators in US dollars, including all required equipment, but these rates may vary according to the USD/NZD exchange rate of the day. There are many optional activities available at extra cost, particularly in Queenstown. None of these activities are compulsory and nor will your trip seem less awesome if you do the cheap or free options. Although some people enjoy sampling hang gliding, bungy jumping, jet boating, skydiving, and so on, others prefer to focus on more cycling, which is of course the reason you're coming to New Zealand in the first place!
NOT INCLUDED: This is your holiday, and we are serious about not nickel-and-diming you! You'll have a few meals and drinks to cover, extra activities if you choose them, and you'll probably feel like tipping your guides at the end of a fabulous time, but you won't be pulling out your wallet every few minutes on this trip!
We'll see you soon!