TRAIL STATUS UPDATE – New Section of trail open from Awakino to Kurow. Further details may be found here.
DATE NOTIFIED – 22/12/17
Aoraki Mt Cook Village — Oamaru (6 days, 306km)
The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is the longest continuous ride in New Zealand and takes in some of the country’s most incredible scenery.
From New Zealand’s highest mountain, Aoraki Mt Cook, the trail descends over 2000ft and travels 300km to the coastal town of Oamaru. This trail showcases New Zealand’s geological, geographical and historical highlights from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean.
Experience an unspoilt paradise in the South Island halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown where people come from all over the world to enjoy stunning vistas, wide open spaces and expansive landscapes.
The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail encompasses a World Heritage National Park, glacial-fed lakes, hydro dam lakes, golden grasslands, limestone cliffs, Maori rock art and more.
Suitable for all abilities of cyclists, the trail includes a mixture of off- and on-road trail, which can be enjoyed in sections or in its entirety.
It’s recommended that you start from Aoraki Mt Cook Village (the Southern Alps) although there are numerous access points along the trail. A number of tour operators begin their tours to Aoraki Mt Cook from Christchurch.
This cycle trail is a joint initiative involving the Waitaki and Mackenzie District Councils and the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.
AORAKI MT COOK & THE TASMAN GLACIER
Aoraki Mt Cook Village is perfectly positioned to take advantage of some sensational scenery. Aoraki Mt Cook towers above a range of massive peaks in the World Heritage-listed Aoraki Mt Cook National Park.
Explore the mountains on a walk or hike, take a scenic flight above the dazzling scenery, go skiing or snow-boarding (heli-skiing and glacier skiing available), or take a guided boat tour on a lake and experience the mighty Tasman Glacier. Also visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre at the Hermitage Hotel.
Duntroon is home to the fascinating Elephant Rocks – intriguing limestone formations – and key fossil sites. Abseiling and rock climbing is available here with a local tour company.
RIDING THE TRAIL
AORAKI/MT COOK TO BRAEMAR ROAD – (GRADE 2 EASY) 35KM
The trail starts at the White Horse Hill Campground, 2km north of Aoraki Mt Cook Village. A 7.2km off-road trail takes you to Mt Cook Airport, where riders need to take a short helicopter flight across the Tasman River.
If you wish to avoid the helicopter crossing there are several different starts: from Lake Tekapo, from the Tekapo B Power Station or from the Jollie car park.
BRAEMAR ROAD TO TWIZEL – (GRADE 2 EASY) 42KM
The trail continues along a quiet country road that follows the eastern shores of Lake Pukaki, passing the Tekapo B power station. Riders will enjoy outstanding views across Lake Pukaki towards the Southern Alps.
The off-road trail starts at the bottom of Hayman Rd and follows the Lake Pukaki shoreline before passing over the Pukaki Dam and heading across the Pukaki Flats to Twizel.
TWIZEL TO LAKE OHAU – (GRADE 2 EASY) 38KM
From Twizel, head off on Mackenzie Dr then follow the signs. You’ll head across a canal bridge just past Loch Cameron then follow the road until the edge of Lake Ohau.
From here the trail descends to the lake foreshore, taking you to the Ohau Weir. Then skirt around the foreshore before heading for Lake Ohau Lodge.
NOTE: when the Ohau Weir is in flood, there is no way across.
See alps2ocean.com for alternative route.
LAKE OHAU LODGE TO OMARAMA – (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 41KM
This section traverses the lower slopes of the Ruataniwha Conservation Park, with views across the basin to the Benmore Range.
After easy cycling to Freehold Creek it’s a steady climb to the high point, 900m above sea level (bring high-energy food, drinking water is available from various mountain streams).
The trail then descends to Quailburn Rd. From the Quailburn Rd intersection you can detour 2km to the historic woolshed at the end of the road where there are toilets.
On the way down Quailburn Rd you can take a side trip to the Clay Cliffs (14km return) before following the highway to Omarama.
OMARAMA TO OTEMATATA – (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 24KM
Ride east down the Waitaki Valley, over Chain Hills and on past Pumpkin Point to Sailors Cutting – a popular boating, fishing and camping destination.
The trail then follows SH 83 (extra care is needed on the highway). There’s a short climb to Otematata Saddle with views of Lake Aviemore, then it’s downhill to Otematata.
OTEMATATA TO KUROW – (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 43KM
From Otematata, ride up Loch Laird Rd and over the massive Benmore Hydro Dam. You may need to walk the last 800m as it’s quite steep.
Then follow the road along the margins of Lake Aviemore to the Aviemore Dam. After crossing the dam the trail follows the road to Lake Waitaki and the Waitaki Dam, then on to Kurow.
Take extra care on SH 83.
KUROW TO DUNTROON – (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 28KM
A gravel track takes you across to the Waitaki River which you follow down the valley, traversing ancient alluvial plains through Kurow’s wine country.
The off-road trail then follows alongside the highway to the Maori rock art site. From there it’s back to the Waitaki River, and through the wetlands into the township of Duntroon.
DUNTROON TO OAMARU – (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 55KM
From Duntroon head to the rock formations known as the Elephant Rocks.
An off-road trail then takes you through several farms. You rejoin the road at Prydes Gulley before heading off-road again beside Karara Creek.
A series of gravel roads take you to the Rakis Railway Tunnel.
Then it is on to Windsor and Weston where you rejoin the old railway line for a flat run to Saleyards Rd.
Follow the cycleway downhill to the Oamaru Gardens. Bike through the gardens, across SH 1, then through the park to the main street (Thames St).
Turn right into the far lane and ride south past the i-SITE, turning left on Itchen St, right onto Tyne, then left onto Harbour St. Go through the Victorian Historic Precinct to the Oamaru Harbour where the trail ends.
The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is located in the South Island, halfway between Christchurch and Queenstown.
It’s recommended that you start your ride from Mount Cook Village (the Southern Alps) – though there are numerous access points along the trail from which to start or end your ride.
There is an airport at Mount Cook, but it is limited to seasonal flights only, over December and January. The nearest international airports are located in Christchurch and Queenstown. A number of tour operators begin their tours to Mt Cook from Christchurch for convenience.
Daily bus services operate to Mt Cook from Christchurch, Queenstown and Twizel.
Oamaru is located on State Highway 1 between Timaru and Dunedin. It has an airport and daily bus services.
Distances (and estimated driving times) to Mt Cook:
From Christchurch – 330 km (4 hrs)
From Queenstown – 263 km (3 hrs)
From Twizel – 65 km (45 mins)
Distances (and estimated driving times) to Oamaru:
From Christchurch – 247 km (3 hrs)
From Queenstown – 287 km (3 hrs 30 mins)
From Twizel – 145 km (1 hr 45 mins)
- Mt Cook MacKenzie
- Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
- Oamaru & the Waitaki District
The Alps 2 Ocean Trail is a grade 2-3 (easy to intermediate) cycle trail.
The trail includes a number of sections on public roads, where riders should be prepared to meet vehicles. You may also encounter stock grazing along the roadside or being moved.
The trail descends approximately 2000 feet, so ensure you take a few layers of clothing and be prepared for sudden changes in the weather.
There is a range of services and accommodation available in the towns dotted along the trail, including Mount Cook Village, Twizel, Omarama, Otemetata, Kurow, Duntroon and Oamaru. Public toilets are also available at Lake Pukaki and Lake Ohau (with plans for more to be installed along the trail).
MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: Coverage is generally good along the trail, though may be patchy in places.
DRINKING WATER: Water is available in the towns along the trail.
The Alps 2 Ocean trail is characterised by two distinct climate zones across its length: Inland South Island and Southern New Zealand.
These zones are largely determined by the presence of the Southern Alps extending the length of the South Island, which has a major effect on the climate of the various regions and produces much sharper climatic contrasts from west to east, than from north to south.
Riders are advised to be prepared for all weather conditions.