Our trip begins in Christchurch, New Zealand. Meet your guides and fellow travelers in the Chateau on the Park Hotel lobby at 8:30am. Our guides conduct an orientation and bike fitting and then we?re off. We drive south to Geraldine and begin our ride to Fairlie. We follow quiet, sealed roads through picturesque landscapes. After a short break for lunch, we transfer to Lake Tekapo Village, located on the shores of an idyllic lake. Our ride beside the turquoise waters of the canal system introduces us to the famous Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. Returning to Tekapo, there is free time to visit the local hot pools or the famous Church of the Good Shepherd. Lunch and dinner included.
Cycling: 22 miles, 3.5 hours, Elevation gain/loss: +160'/-570' on cycle trails, paved and gravel roads; driving: 3 hours
The next three days are spent cycling some of the best sections of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, considered one of New Zealand?s ?Great Rides.? The trail showcases geological, scenic, and historical highlights from the nearby mountain ranges to the South Pacific Ocean. We begin our ride along the Tekapo Canal and wind our way along the shores of Lake Pukaki. On a clear day there are views to Mount Cook across its sapphire waters. We have lunch in Twizel, a small town located in the heart of the Mackenzie Basin. From here the cycle way follows the Ohau Canal to the southern shores of Lake Ohau with views of Glen Mary Glacier and the Ben Ohau Range. All meals included.
Cycling: 47 miles, 4.5-5 hours, Elevation gain/loss: +1,177'/-1,597' on a mix of smooth shingle, gravel and sealed road/cycle trails
We continue our ride on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, cycling up and over the Tarnbrae Saddle to Omarama, a famous gliding hotspot. After lunch we continue along the shores of Lake Benmore to Sailors Cutting, where we load up the bikes and transfer to the village of Otematata. We continue our ride over the Benmore Dam, then descend to Lake Aviemore and ride along the northern shore. A transfer brings us to the tiny village of Kurow. Options to explore the village by bike include a ride to the beautifully restored St. Albans Chapel and Vicarage (a Heritage New Zealand site), or to the local Pasquale vineyards to taste award-winning wines. Tonight we stay at the Waitaki Braids Lodge (est. 1888) and dine in the lodge?s restaurant to enjoy a meal by an award-winning chef. All meals included.
Cycling: Up to 51 mile, 5.5-6 hours, Elevation gain/loss: +1,975'/-1,984' on a mix of gravel and paved roads, hard-packed shingle and cycle trails
The cycle trail takes us along the banks of the Waitaki River and through Kurow?s vineyards. We pass by a Maori rock art site before reaching Duntroon and begin cycling on a mix of trails and quiet rural roads. We pause to walk amongst the unusual rock formations known as Elephant Rocks, then follow a short section of an old branch railway line through the Rakis railway tunnel. We pass the Oamaru Stone quarry, where stone has been extracted since the 19th Century; its influence on local architecture is clearly seen as we ride our final section into the harbourside town of Oamaru. There is time to explore the old Victorian Precinct with its many galleries, shops and cafes, and perhaps visit the fascinating Steampunk Museum. From Oamaru we transfer by van to Dunedin, our home for the next two nights. All meals included.
Cycling: Up to 51 miles, 5.5 hours, Elevation gain/loss: +1,217'/-1,820' on a mix of gravel and paved roads, hard-packed shingle and cycle trails
Today is free to explore Dunedin at your leisure. The cultural mix of Maori and Scottish settlers gave the city a unique, quirky character. Add in the world?s steepest street with a maximum 35% grade, and New Zealand?s smallest bar at 1.8 meters wide, and you get the picture! The city also has the finest examples of Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere, and the rail depot is considered one of the world?s most beautiful train stations. The stunning Otago Peninsula also hosts the only mainland breeding colony of the Royal Albatross and nesting grounds for the rare Yellow-eyed Penguins. Breakfast included.
From Dunedin?s splendid rail station we take a journey aboard the historic Taieri Gorge Railway. Traveling through the narrow and deep gorge cut out by the Taieri River, we pass through ten tunnels and cross numerous bridges and viaducts. Our train ride concludes at Pukerangi, where we begin our bike ride on New Zealand?s original and most famous "Great Ride," the Otago Central Rail Trail. This rail trail offers a 150-kilometer scenic and historic journey into the Central Otago heartland. We witness the natural beauty and look in awe at some early feats of the first settlers of this region. Our destination is Ranfurly, a sleepy town known for its restored Art Deco buildings. All meals included.
Cycling: 37 miles, 3.5 hours; Elevation gain/loss: +728' on mostly flat, hard-packed gravel cycle trails, with one tunnel.
Our cycling route continues along the Otago Central Rail Trail. The ever-changing landscape includes rugged mountains and steep, winding gorges. We are treated to views of the Dunstan Mountains and the Raggedy Range as we ride to Clyde. This quaint, historic town is perfectly situated in an up-and-coming wine region. Clyde was once a wild and rollicking "canvas" town bustling with gold miners. Dunstan House was significant as a social gathering point for the thousands of miners. This historic hotel, built in 1900, has been fully restored and will be our lodgings for the night. We visit a local winery to learn about the region?s exceptional grapes, and sample an award-winning Pinot Noir. All meals included.
Cycling: up to 56 miles, 5.5 hours; Elevation gain/loss: +640'/-1,469' on hard packed gravel cycle trails, with two tunnels.
We drive from Clyde to the Gibbston Valley near Queenstown. Reaching a local winery, we gear up for our final ride. Our route initially winds through Gibbston Valley on part of the famous Queenstown Trails, where we have views of the scenic Kawarau River. While crossing a large suspension bridge, we may see bungee jumpers launching themselves toward the river below. Our ride brings us to Arrowtown, a charming gold rush village settled below the high peaks that surround the Arrow River. After lunch, postcard views are around every bend as we climb and descend to the aquamarine riverbed. The trail gradually turns onto quiet streets, signaling our arrival into Queenstown. We transfer by van to our lodgings. Tonight we celebrate our journey with a farewell dinner. All meals included.
Cycling: 22 miles, 3 hours, Elevation gain/loss: +850'/-1,150' on hard-packed gravel cycle trails, with several suspension bridges; driving: 1.5 hours
The trip concludes with a group transfer at 8:30am to the Queenstown Airport. Consider extending your stay to explore Milford Sound, take a jet boat ride on Shotover River, or even experience bungee jumping. Breakfast included.