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A guided cycling tour of New Zealand's South Island

The amazing scenery of New Zealand’s South Island has become well known from being the setting for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. It is also home to some of the greatest cycling in the world!

We are teaming up with Alan Campbell, who has been guiding with us in France for 10 years, to offer a guided tour through the most stunning vistas of the South Island. Alan lives in the middle of the island and knows the countryside like the back of his hand.

The first tour we will be offering is the Alps to Ocean tour. Starting at iconic Mount Cook (Aoraki in Maori) in the Southern Alps, the route follows traffic-free trails past lakes and over rivers to arrive at the Pacific Ocean at the charming town of Oamaru on Friendly Bay.

Staying in luxury hotels and lodges situated in the midst of the breathtaking views, and eating superb meals cooked using the freshest local produce (and with the wonderful wines for which New Zealand has such a magnificent reputation!), the tours run in the same format as our French trips – 7 days, 6 nights with 2 guides, one to ride with the group, the second to drive the accompanying minibus and deliver the luggage to rooms at the next hotel.

The ride covers 312km over 5 days, and as the route drops from 780m altitude to sea level, the rute is mainly flat or downhill. There are a few upward hills however – it’s very rare that outstanding views don’t need a little bit of earning them! (of course the minibus is never too far away if you need it!)

Alan and Marie-Françoise have been looking after guests on the island for many years, and with their hospitality and local knowledge they will deliver an unforgettable experience!

Tour highlights

  • Stunning vistas of Mount Cook
  • Traffic free cycling on maintained bike only trails
  • The breathtaking landscapes of Lord of the Rings
  • Tasting the innovative wines of New Zealand
  • Helicopter flight across a mountain lake
  • The blue waters of the Pacific Ocean


To and from Christchurch International Airport or Christchurch accommodations. Alternatively guests may wish to continue a tour of South Island from Oamaru – we are happy to assist with car or bus reservations.


Pick-up from Christchurch International Airport (or Christchurch accommodation) or meet at Mt Cook. Transfer to Hermitage Hotel Mt Cook (3 1/2hrs from Christchurch). After fitting bikes there will be a short warm-up ride to Lake Tasman and a chance to visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Museum.

Monday: Mt Cook to Twizel

Mount Cook

Mount Cook

After riding a few km to the Tasman River, we take a short transfer across the glacier-fed lake by helicopter to start of bike trail. With Mount Cook towering over the lake, an unforgettable start to the journey!

The ride follows the banks of the Tasman River and Lake Pukaki with great views of Mt Cook. After arriving at the hotel in Twizel those interested in fishing may like to spend an hour or two time permitting spinning for trout on a nearby river or visit one of the famous Lord of the Rings set locations!

Total distance: 70km

Tuesday: Twizel to Lake Oha

Today is a short day, so a late start is okay – maybe a spot of fishing if there was no time yesterday.

The route follows the canals built in the 1960s for the great hydro-electric projects, to reach Lake Ohau. From there an off-road trail descends down to the lake foreshore, taking you to the Ohau Weir. Keen birdwatchers might want to stop at a lakeside hide to catch a view of the rare Black Stilt (or Kaki).

After the weir the trail skirts around the lake foreshore where it eventually meets up with the sealed Lake Ohau Road, and thence to the Lodge where we stay for the night.

Total distance: 38km

Wednesday: Lake Ohau to Omarama

Mount Cook

Quiet roads. Dramatic scenes.

The first part of the day with stunning views back to Southern Alps and hidden hill tarns. This is mountain bike country and with small streams to cross so feet may get wet!

The trail traverses the lower slopes of the Ruataniwha Conservation Park, with stunning views back across the basin to the Benmore Range. 6.3km of easy cycling will take you to Freehold Creek, 600m above sea level. From here the track narrows and it’s a steady climb to the high point on the trail at 900m.

From the ridge the rest of the day is an easy descent to Omarama where for the adventurous Alan can arrange a glider flight or the less adventurous he can organise a sauna or an open air hot tub.


Thursday: Omarama to Kurow.

Ride heads off down Waitaki Valley beside Lake Benmore before crossing the Ahuriri saddle and dropping down to Lake Aviemore. With wonderful views on all sides we cycle around the lake up over the Benmore hydro dam and rejoin the cycle path by the main road at Lake Waitaki.

The colours on the leaves change colour throughout March and April, giving a wonderful display of reds and ambers and greens.

The road then descends to the town of Kurow, our overnight stop. Additional activities that can be organised (if you have the energy) include horseback trekking.

Total distance: 66km

Friday: Kurow to Oamaru.

After passing through the village of Duntroon we head south-west past a Maori rock art site to the unique rock formations called Elephant Rocks. An off-road trail leads through several farms, rejoining the road at Prydes Gulley, surrounded by limestone escarpments, before heading off-road again beside Karara Creek.

In the afternoon we join a reclaimed railway track to descend to Oamaru Gardens, cycling through the gardens to arrive at the historic town of Oamaru. After riding through the Victorian Historic Precinct we arrive at the harbour and the trail’s end!

Total distance: 76km

Tour map


Pen-y-Brin luxury option£2,1502,6873,526
Standard option£1,9752,4683,239

Prices are per person based on 2 sharing. Single room supplement £250 (Pen-y-Brin option £325).

A 5% discount will apply to all bookings of 6 persons or more.

Tour Dates

Start Date
22 October 2017
17 December 2017
19 March 2018

Other dates are available on request for groups of 6 or more


All bookings are in Pound Sterling (£GBP). US Dollar and Australian Dollar prices indicative.

More information

Sunday – Mt Cook

The Hermitage Lodge

The Hermitage Lodge

Located in the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, is a very comfortable mountain hotel, with views of the mountain and lakes, and its Alpine restaurant serves great food with equally dramatic scenery!

Monday – Twizel

The Heartland Lodge

The Heartland Lodge

Heartland Lodge is purpose built luxury hosted accommodation, situated on two acres of grounds, well back from a quiet rural road on the edge of Twizel. Jim and Mary, the hosts, offer the warmest welcome you can imagine, and the rooms and setting more than match that warmth.

Aoraki Lodge

or Aoraki Lodge

Aoraki Lodge is a beautiful bed and breakfast lodge, on the secluded outskirts of Twizel, with wonderful gardens to stroll in. The breakfast if you are up to it, is ‘full English’ and will set you up for the day. The lounge is a great place to relax with a beer or a coffee!

Tuesday – Lake Ohau

Lake Ohau Lodge

Lake Ohau Lodge

Another mountain style hotel set in fabulous scenery, the Lake Ohau lodge feature views across Lake Ohau all the way to Mount Cook.

The restaurant at Lake Ohau Lodge has a reputation for outstanding food, great service and warm, welcoming atmosphere. The cosy restaurant features an open fire and panoramic windows with lake views.

Wednesday - Omarama

The Omarama Station Homestead

The Omarama Station Homestead

The ‘Station‘ in the name doesn’t refer to the railway! Station is the Australian and New Zealand term for a large, usually remote, farm homestead. The Omarama Station is considered a classic example of a High Country homestead, and has been completely modernised with all comforts, whilst retaining the charm of an 1860’s farmhouse.

Thursday – Kurow

The Sublime Winery Lodge

The Sublime Winery Lodge

Positioned in the heart of the Waitaki Valley's vineyards Sublime Lodge offers a luxurious rural retreat and romantic getaway. Sublime Lodge is the perfect place to unwind and savour all the Waitaki Valley can offer; the vineyard makes award winning wines which are included at dinner, which also features produce grown on the farm. If you’ve got the energy, enjoy a few games on the tennis court before dinner!

Friday – Oamaru

Oamaru Creek Bed and Breakfast

Oamaru Creek Bed and Breakfast

The Hebden family welcomes you to Oamaru Creek Bed and Breakfast. The historic double story villa dating back to the early 1900’s has been renovated maintaining much of its character and original features. It is perfectly situated for exploring the Victorian Whitestone historic precinct, town centre, Oamaru Botanic gardens and the Blue Penguin colonies.

Pen-y-bryn Lodge

or Premium Option Pen-y-bryn Lodge

Pen-y-bryn Lodge was built as a private residence in 1889 by the famed architectural firm of Forrester & Lemon for local businessman John Bulleid and his wife, Fanny. Pen-y-bryn is Welsh for “Top of the Hill” and indeed the house sits atop South Hill, one of Oamaru’s most sought-after districts. Reputed to be the largest single-storey timber dwelling in Australasia, the house has kept true to its Victorian heritage and today offers discerning guests the perfect combination of old world elegance and modern amenities.

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