Our journey begins at Mount Cook Village, an alpine settlement perched under the watchful eye of Aoraki Mount Cook. At 3,724 meters (12,218 feet), Aoraki Mount Cook is New Zealand’s tallest peak. Our journey descends over 1,000 metres across 300 kilometers of trail and quiet country roads - making it the longest continuous ride in New Zealand.
(Trip start - Christchurch, trip end - Christchurch).
- All guiding services: Experienced New Zealand guides on every trip. Having more than one guide allows for much greater flexibility, meaning you're able to go at your own pace.
- All meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days, except where indicated on the itinerary.
- All transport: Airport transfers on the first & last days. When you're not travelling under your own steam, there will be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.
- All accommodations: A range of hotels, lodges, chalets, inns, sheep stations and backcountry huts.
- All activities: Your bike hire is included for the duration of the trip. Also included is an epic helicopter flight across the Tasman River to a section of the trail called 'Rotten Tommy' - we'll arrive in style!
Arrive, drive to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, bike fitting
Whether you’re combining the Whanui trip with a longer South Island adventure or simply taking a welldeserved week out of your day-to-day life, Christchurch is just a short journey from any other New Zealand airport. We recommend arriving the day before we start our trip. If that’s not possible, you’ll just need to make sure you arrive into Christchurch before 10am. Once we’ve met you at the pick-up hotel or Christchurch Airport, we’ll head south to the magnificent Aoraki Mount Cook. Along the way we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch nestled in the foothills of the Southern Alps. Once we arrive in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, we'll be fitted with bikes for our trip. These are lightweight, cross-terrain touring bikes, perfect for the backcountry gravel roads and trails we’ll be travelling on. Once fitted, we’ll embark on a scenic 8km (5 miles) ride to White Horse Campground. If there's time today we'll take a popular walk along Hooker Valley, around 2-3 hours return.To wrap up an adventure-packed day we’ll be spending the night at lodgings in Aoraki Mount Cook Village. Get a good sleep tonight, tomorrow our ride to the ocean begins!
Aoraki Mt Cook Lodgings, Mt Cook Village
Hiking Distance (time permitting): 9 kilometres (5.6 miles), 2-3 hours
Biking Distance: 8 kilometres (5 miles), 0.5 hours
Helicopter flight, ride Braemar Road to Tekapo B Power Station
After breakfast at our accommodation this morning, it's a short ride from the start of our trail at White Horse Hill Campground, to the helipad, where comes an experience you won't soon forget - a helicopter flight over the Tasman River to 'Rotten Tommy', the next section of the Alps to Ocean trail. Our pilot will fly us and our bikes over the thundering waters of the river, flowing out of New Zealand's longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier. Be sure to stock up your day pack with snacks from the basket on the bus before we head off! Our ride today takes us from the end of Braemar road to Tekapo B Power Station, one of the hydroelectric stations on this network. The system transfers water from Lakes Tekapo and Ohau to lakes Pukaki, Benmore, and Aviemore, and finally along the Waitaki River to the Pacific on the East Coast, and is responsible for generating a vast amount of New Zealand's annual energy requirement. In total we're riding 53 kilometres today (33 miles), on mostly gravel road, with some shingle to negotiate too. Tonight we'll be staying at Braemar Station, a working sheep farm. It's a beautiful setting and a great opportunity to get to know your new riding buddies whilst your guides cook a delicious dinner.
Braemar Station, Mackenzie Country
Biking Distance: 53 kilometres (33 miles)
Elevation Gain: 35 metres (115 feet)
Elevation Loss: 190 metres(623 feet)
Bike from Lake Pukaki to Lake Ohau Lodge
Today, under our own steam, we'll travel from one breathtaking lakeside accommodation (Braemar), to another - Lake Ohau Lodge. From Tekapo B Power Station, we'll skirt the rest of the east side of Lake Pukaki, but before we leave this lake behind, we'll pause at the lookout point for a water break (around 13 kilometres / 8 miles into today's ride). This is your opportunity to capture one of the most famous scenes in New Zealand - looking across the cobalt blue water of the lake to Aoraki Mt Cook, where our ride started yesterday. Next we'll pass through the town of Twizel, built initially as a settlement for construction workers working on the hydroelectric scheme, these days Twizel has a character all of its own! Our ride today winds mostly along quiet, sealed roads, though towards the end of our pedal we'll negotiate smooth shingle on the wide biking trail leading up to Ohau Lodge. You can be forgiven for being distracted by the views along this stretch, looking across to Lake Ohau and the surrounding peaks. Our home for tonight is Ohau Lodge - if it's a clear night this is some of the best stargazing country in the world. We'll dine together tonight in the Lodge restaurant.
Lake Ohau Lodge, Ohau
Biking Distance: 62 kilometres (38.5 miles)
Elevation Gain: 73 metres (240 feet)
Elevation Loss: 150 metres (492 feet)
Bike Lake Ohau Lodge to Otematata
Today's section of the Alps to Ocean trail starts with a grunty climb, so it's a good idea to stretch and be warm before jumping on your bike today! Luckily we'll be fuelled by a delicious breakfast, and ready to tackle the day. We'll climb up from the Lodge at 560 (1837 feet) metres to the highest point on the whole trail, Tarnbrae, at 900 metres (2953 feet). Along the way we'll cross Parsons, Sawyers, and Freehold Creek, and be able to look across to the route we rode yesterday. Once we hop over the top, it's a glorious uninterrupted downhill almost all the way to Omarama, where we'll take a well earned breather. Omarama is the gliding capital of New Zealand - due to its position on a flat plain surrounded by taller peaks, the thermals here are perfect for flying without an engine, so be sure to look up occasionally! From Omarama we'll push on for another 24 kilometres (15 miles), and arrive in Otematata. Today is one of the two bigger days in the saddle (69 kilometres/42.9 miles), but the mixture of ups and downs, plus views unlike anywhere you've ridden before, make it a day you won't want to end, even when your bum gets sore! We'll retrace our steps from Otematata on the bus back to Omarama where we'll spend the night.
Omarama Lodgings, Omarama
Biking Distance: 69 kilometres (42.9 miles)
Elevation Gain: 460 metres (1509 feet)
Elevation Loss: 705 metres (2313 feet)
Bike Otematata to Duntroon via Benmore Hydro Dam and Kurow
Our day starts with a 45 kilometre (30 miles) ride from Otematata to Kurow, and almost all of this section is on low-traffic, tar-sealed roads - which might be a welcome break for your bum after yesterday's climb! We'll pass over the Benmore Hydro Dam, New Zealand's second-largest hydro station, before skirting the edge of Lake Aviemore and on to Kurow. Kurow is New Zealand's most up-and-coming pinot noir region, the limestone rich soils have proved a great tonic for the vines. After a leg stretch we’ll jump back on our bikes and tackle the second part of the day, a 28 kilometre ride from Kurow to Duntroon. This predominantly gravel trail brings us alongside the Waitaki River and sweeps along the valley. Today is our biggest day in the saddle, so we'll be taking it easy and making sure everyone is well fuelled and hydrated. There’s plenty to see along this diverse trail - we'll pass vineyards, rivers, and the Takiroa Maori rock art site - a limestone shelter containing several pieces of rock art dating back to between 1400 and 1900 AD. Once we arrive in Duntroon, we'll retrace our route slightly on the bus, to spend the night in Kurow, where we'll eat dinner together.
Kurow Accommodation, Kurow
Biking Distance: 73 kilometres (45.4 miles)
Elevation Gain: 134 metres (440 feet)
Elevation Loss: 200 metres (656 feet)
Bike the final leg of the A2O trail, Duntroon to Oamaru, depart
Today is our last day together, and we'll finish in style - with the final 54 kilometres (33.5 miles) from Duntroon to the Pacific Ocean at Oamaru. Today is another big day, but we'll be motivated by the upcoming reward of the Pacific East Coast! Most of our ride today is on smooth shingle and away from traffic. We'll pass through irrigated farmland, as well as Elephant Rocks, so-called because of their likeness to, you guessed it, elephants - this limestone formation was millions of years in the making! We're following an old railway for part of our ride today, which includes a tunnel of around 100 metres in length (328 feet). When we reach Oamaru, we'll wind our way in to Oamaru Gardens, which the trail passes through, and follow our noses through the Victorian Historic Precinct to the harbour where the trail ends at the aptly named 'Friendly Bay'. We'll all have been enriched by new friendships, and by the feeling of achievement that comes with completing New Zealand's longest continuous cycle trail. After exploring the Victorian Precinct on foot, and enjoying a beer to celebrate our efforts, we'll hit the road back to Christchurch and say our goodbyes.
Biking Distance: 54 kilometres (33.5 miles)
Elevation Gain: 330 metres (1083 feet)
Elevation Loss: 450 metres (1476 feet)