Easy to Intermediate
Cycle amidst the majestic Southern Alps, past blue glacial-fed lakes, and towards the sparkling Pacific coast on this 8-day Alps 2 Ocean itinerary.
This section of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle trail is a must do for towering views of New Zealand’s highest mountain – Aoraki/Mt Cook, the scenic helicopter ride and true high country hospitality. If the helicopter ride isn’t for you, then begin the track on the east side of Lake Pukaki at Tekapo B Power Station.
Accommodation: Braemar Station or Guide Hill Station.
A quiet and stunning country road following the eastern shores of Lake Pukaki takes you to Twizel. The town was built in 1968 as a base for workers constructing a major hydroelectric power plant. Nowadays it is popular for its mountains and lakes. Take a break on your ride and savour the fresh flavours of the award-winning Mt Cook Alpine Salmon.
You’ll follow scenic roads and ride across a canal bridge before descending towards the lake foreshore, which takes you to Ohau Weir (note, see alps2ocean.com for alternate route when Ohau Weir is in flood). Lake Ohau is one of the region’s best kept secrets – it is simply stunning!
With views across the basin to the Benmore Range, this section of the trail weaves across conservation land before descending to Quailburn Rd. A 2km detour from here takes you to a historic woolshed that provides a picture of early sheep shearing methods. If you’re up for it, take another longer detour (14km return) to Clay Cliffs – a majestic natural rock formation. Nestled amongst mountains and lakes, Omarama is renowned as a gliding and fishing mecca.
Riding east down Waitaki Valley, you’ll cross Sailors Cutting, a popular boating and camping destination. Otematata, a small village with accommodation options, was built to service the construction of New Zealand’s largest man made dam – the Benmore Hydro Dam.
This is an easy section of the trail, mostly on sealed road. It narrates a rich hydroelectric history through a series of dams, including the impressive Benmore Hydro Dam. Kurow sits at the junction of two rivers and offers plenty of water activities, including jet boating and fishing.
Check out the Kurow Museum and Kurow Island, a 20 hectare island formed by braided river geomorphic processes. The island is easily accessible with beautiful backwaters, walking tracks, gentle braids and roads. Back on the Alps 2 Ocean trail, you’ll traverse Kurow wine country and follow SH83 to Duntroon.
From Duntroon to Oamaru, the trail leaves the riverside, passes interesting limestone formations (Elephant Rocks) before joining an old railway line till Oamaru. This historic town has a fascinating mix of shops, galleries and Victorian cafes. In Oamaru be sure to check out Steampunk HQ, the Victorian Precinct, the North Otago Museum and the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony.