The Weka cycling tour ensures you will do the best cycling New Zealand has to offer. This tour includes the best of the South Island rides, from the stunning coastal routes of the West Coast, to the historic Otago Rail Trail. The scenery and terrain you will cover is as diverse as it is beautiful. Various distances will be covered on this trip, from 25 and 70 miles (40 – 112km) per day, with the opportunity to do more or less if you prefer. Generally the cycling ranges between 25 and 60 miles (40 – 100km) a day, although you can ride less or more than that if you prefer. The Weka is fully vehicle-supported, so there is plenty of flexibility and freedom on the road. The specialist biking guides that will accompany you on this trip are experienced, compassionate and enthusiastic.
Who did we design this trip for?
The Weka trip is designed for people who enjoy biking and want to ride on and off the road and see all the best parts of New Zealand. You willl complete a loop of the South Island, from Christchurch and back, with the opportunity to cycle around 590 miles (950km). There is the chance each day to cycle more than the daily mileage, or jump in the support vehicle and do less, depending on your mood. This is your cycle tour and and you can make it as physically demanding as you like.
Meal Code: B = Breakfast L = Lunch D = Dinner
You’ll need to arrive in Christchurch by around 10am, where we'll adjust your bike to your liking. Then it's time to stretch your legs and cycle the Waiau Valley near Hanmer Springs. This evening you can soak, relax and mingle in Hanmer’s fresh water mineral spas.
Notes: Cycling distance 20 miles (30km) of road riding – predominantly flat.
ACCOMMODATION: Hanmer Springs lodgings, Hanmer Springs (L,D)
This morning we head into the mountains, starting the day with a downhill ride through native beech forest in the Lewis Pass. This Pass is one of the three main passes that straddle the Southern Alps. We will bike through a remote backcountry road and follow the Matakitaki River Valley towards Maruia Saddle. We will make our way down into Murchison. The Matakitaki is an upper tributary of the mighty Buller River and includes several sections of white water, which are popular with local kayakers.
Notes: Cycling distance 30 miles (50km) downhill sealed road. Then 30 miles (50 km) of unsealed road with a gradual 1000 foot ascent.
ACCOMMODATION: Murchison lodgings, Murchison (B,L,D)
From Murchison we will make our way through the Buller River past the Inangahua Slip, a huge landslide that dammed the river after a massive earthquake in the 1960’s. As you pedal along, you have time to enjoy the thick temperate rainforest and historic gold mining sites of the area before arriving on the West Coast. The last leg of today’s biking is a stunning coastal ride to Punakaiki, where you can walk on the beach and enjoy the sun setting over the Tasman Sea after dinner. A perfect ending of the third day.
Notes: Cycling distance 70 miles (110km) road riding – slightly downhill, descending 400 feet.
ACCOMMODATION: West Coast lodgings, Punakaiki (B,L,D)
Today we will ride south along the isolated West Coast. This area is full of dense native rainforest, huge fast-flowing rivers and spectacular views of the snow-capped Southern Alps. As you can imagine it will be full of beautiful scenery. We will follow the main inland road, turning after the Mikonui River onto a smaller coastal road to the village of Kakapotahi. Today you will get to enjoy the deserted West Coast beaches before heading into the Westland Tai Poutini National Park and glacier country!
Notes: Cycling distance 70 miles (110km) flat road riding.
ACCOMMODATION: The Westhaven, Fox Glacier (B,L,D)
The scenery today is off the charts! From the lodgings, we will cycle a winding road through an ancient podocarp forest to Fox Glacier. This glacier drops 7000 feet in about seven miles, from its névé in the Southern Alps almost to the sea. After visiting the glacier and taking lots of pictures, we will cycle south past farmland, ending at the deserted mineral beaches of Bruce Bay. Tonight we stay in the West Coast village of Haast.
Notes: Cycling distance 60 miles (100km) undulating road riding from the base of Fox Glacier to the beach of Bruce Bay – optional one hour return hike to Fox Glacier.
ACCOMMODATION: World Heritage Heartland Hotel, Haast (B,L,D)
Today we will be traveling inland, cycling from Pleasant Flat to the “Gates of Haast” and over Haast Pass. This memorable ride takes us into the Makarora Valley bordering Mt. Aspiring National Park. After we are through the Pass, we will take a short drive to Hawea. At Hawea we will ride along a smooth trail with spectacular views of the Clutha River, the South Island’s longest river, as it flows into Lake Wanaka. If you prefer, you can explore Wanaka township or relax by the lake.
Notes: Cycling distance 50 miles (80km) road riding –uphill 1,400 feet to Haast Pass. Then a smooth, gently undulating trail to Lake Wanaka
ACCOMMODATION: Lake Wanaka Lodge, Wanaka (B,L,D)
In the morning we will cycle from our lodgings through the historic gold mining area of Cardrona, stopping for a cold drink at an old miners’ tavern. After having enjoyed our cold drinks we will bike through tussock-clad hills, before crossing the Cardrona Saddle on the Crown Range. It is a steep climb to the saddle, but the views from the top are worth it. Then we wind our way down towards Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital. We will be staying in Queenstown for the next two nights. As with all cycling on the Weka cycling tour, you can skip the steepest part of today’s ride if you like.
Notes: Cycling distance 60 miles (100km) road riding – gentle valley cycle that steepens towards the saddle gaining 2000 feet.
ACCOMMODATION: Queenstown apartments, Queenstown (B,L)
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand and here you will find all the comforts of civilization: massage therapists, restaurants, sidewalk cafés, window shopping, as well as incredible hikes, bike rides, and adrenaline pumping activities such as hang gliding, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving. Ask the guides for more information on organizing local activities, while the bikes will receive a mid-trip tune up. There are some great mountain and road cycling options around Queenstown too if you're keen to fit in some extra bike time!
ACCOMMODATION: Queenstown apartments, Queenstown
A refreshingly early start with a cruise across Lake Wakatipu on the steamship TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station. Here you will get on your freshly tuned bike and follow Mt. Nicholas farm road to the isolated Mavora Lakes. You will bike up through the head waters of the Von River surrounded by the Livingston Mountains. Today you will experience true wilderness cycling on a deserted back road and after your time in Queenstown, you'll appreciate the peaceful surroundings!
Notes: Cycling distance 60 miles (100km) deserted farm road. Then 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)
Today starts with a spectacular cruise on Milford Sound, rated the 8th Natural Wonder of the World by Rudyard Kipling. During the cruise you will have the opportunity to view sheer rock walls, huge waterfalls and the famous Mitre Peak, and hopefully be visited by the fur seals, penguins and dolphins that frequent the area. After lunch, we have a spectacular ride through the Hollyford Valley, a remote backcountry road lined with unspoilt beech forest and towering peaks. This ride is one of the favorites and definitely one of the most memorable rides on the trip!
Notes: Cycling distance 40 miles (65km) mostly downhill road and gravel road riding descending 1,000 feet – undulating terrain.
ACCOMMODATION: Lake Te Anau lodgings, Te Anau (B,L,D)
The Central Otago Rail Trail follows an old train line built in the early 1900’s. The line was retired in 1990 and is now one of the best multi-day bike rides in New Zealand. Today we will cross an amazing 60 bridges and viaducts, winding our way along the smooth track past Raggedy Range and Rough Ridge. We have a gradual climb through the Ida Valley, then after Wedderburn it is all downhill to our lodgings at Ranfurly tonight. Ranfurly is a classic Kiwi provincial town with some unique art deco architechture, right on the rail trail.
Notes: Cycling distance 70 miles (110km) - gravel trails, bridges, viaducts and road riding - slight uphill gradient all day with a 500 foot elevation gain.
ACCOMMODATION: Hawkdun Lodge, Ranfurly (B,L,D)
This morning we will take a backroad to nearby Naseby. From Naseby we will head up and over the Dansey’s Pass and then we will ride into the limestone country of North Otago. We will head over the Pass, with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean from the top. Then we will descend from remote high-country into green valleys, lined with impressive limestone cliffs and crags. Today lunch will be in the village of Duntroon, where you can see fossils dug up from the local limestone, before continuing on through the peaceful farmland with a backdrop of mountains. It is then a short drive to the historic Millhouse, where we will celebrate our two unforgettable weeks of cycling together.
Notes: Cycling distance 60 miles (100km) - gravel and road riding with a steep uphill section gaining 1,000 feet. Then a long downhill ride descending 2,500 feet.
ACCOMMODATION: The Millhouse, Oamaru (B,L,D)
This is the last day of your 13-day South Island biking trip. If you are interested in spending a few more days biking on the North Island, we would be happy to make some arrangements for you. After breakfast, we will set out for Christchurch, arriving by mid afternoon. You will be refreshed and invigorated from the good rides and great times you will have had with us in New Zealand!
Tour departure dates:
Tue: Arrive, cycle to Hanmer Springs
Wed: Biking Lewis Pass and Matakitaki River Valley
Thu: Biking along the Buller Gorge and Punakaiki Coast
Fri: Coastal Biking from Punakaiki to Kakapotahi Ecological Area
Sat: Biking from Fox Glacier to the Tasman Sea
Sun: Biking Haast Pass, and Lake Wanaka Track
Mon: Biking the Cardrona Valley over the Crown Range to Queenstown
Tue: Free day in Queenstown
Wed: Biking Mt Nicholas Road from Walter Peak to Mavora Lakes
Thu: Cruise Milford Sound, Biking Hollyford Valley
Fri: Central Otago Rail Trail – Lauder to Ranfurly
Sat: Biking over Danseys Pass into Limestone Country
Sun: Depart for home