South Island Mountain Biking itinerary

7 DAYS

810 km

Highlights

  • Old Ghost Road Trail
  • Dean Bank Track
  • Queenstown Bike Park

Proximity

CAR-FREE TRAVEL OPTIONS

Visit two of New Zealand's most challenging cycle trails, Dun Mountain Trail and Old Ghost Road with this epic 7-day cycle itinerary through the South Island.

Travel from sunny Nelson down the West Coast to Wanaka and Queenstown, along the way you'll discover some of the best mountain bike parks in the country and a huge range of other attractions including glacier walks, rafting, bungy jumping and more. 

Day 1: Dun Mountain Trail, Nelson

Nelson
Dun Mountain Trail, Nelson

By Sven Martin

Nelson

NELSON

Long golden beaches and untouched native forests

Highlights

  • Dun Mountain Trail
  • Wildlife encounters
  • Wine tasting trails

DUN MOUNTAIN TRAIL

Mix spectacular scenery with a pristine mountain trail.

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Arrive in Nelson and relax at a local café before starting the ride from the Nelson i-SITE to the start of the Dun Mountain Trail.

The cycle trail traces the route of the old Dun Mountain railway, a horse-drawn tramway that served Duppa Lode chromite mine in the late 1800s. You'll journey up into the alpine landscape, with stunning views of the Nelson-Tasman region. Then take the exciting 20km downhill run back to Nelson.

Relax in the evening with a meal at one of Nelson's many restaurants, sample the region's world-class wine or check out the plethora of craft breweries that populate the town. 

Day 2 - 3: Old Ghost Road Trail, Murchison

West Coast
Old Ghost Rd trail, West Coast

By NZCT

Highlights

  • Historic mining trail
  • Stay at Ghost Lake Hut
  • Pristine wilderness

Proximity

OLD GHOST ROAD TRAIL

The most remote and challenging of New Zealand’s Great Rides.

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Travel on to the ghost town of Lyell in the Buller Gorge. Nearby Murchison is a good place to stop on the way for last minute supplies.

The Old Ghost Road trail is the most remote and challenging of all New Zealand's great rides. This itinerary includes the first section, the full trail takes 3-days and follows an old miners route from Lyell, deep into the wilderness along the Mokihinui River and on to Seddonville north of Westport. Ride the first part of the trail to Ghost Lake Hut, where you can spend the night or head back to Lyell and stay at the DOC campsite.  A track from the campsite to an abandoned stamping battery and historic cemetery makes an interesting walk to end the day.

Day 4: Blue Spur Track, Hokitika

West Coast
Blue Spur track, West Coast

By Jonathan Kennett

Highlights

  • Tunnels track
  • West Coast Wilderness Trail
  • Hokitika Wild Food Festival

Proximity

BLUE SPUR TRACK

From the wild food capital of New Zealand to the wild mountain bike trails of Blue Spur.

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Travel down the coast to Hokitika, where you'll find the area known as Blue Spur. During the New Zealand gold rush Blue Spur was home to around 2,500 people, today it is a hub for mountain bikers.

Built by local bikers for pure fun, the Blue Spur track is actually a network of tracks all within easy riding distance of Hokitika. With names like The Edge, Stags Drop, Bad Boys and Seesaw, the tracks each have a character all of their own. Spend the day trying out as many as you can. Be sure to finish with the Tunnels Track, which leads through an old mining tunnel.

If you have time, stay an extra day and explore the West Coast Wilderness Trail from Kumara to Cowboy Paradise. 

Day 5: Fox Glacier

West Coast
Fox Glacier/Te O Tuawe Valley Walk, West Coast

By Miles Holden

Proximity

Highlights

  • Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
  • Wild coastline and native forests
  • Lake Matheson walking trail

EXPLORE WEST COAST GLACIERS

Discover a place where the ice age is still underway.

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From Hokitika, you'll travel south down the wild coast, past small towns, beautiful lakes and lush native rainforests to glacier territory.

There are two glaciers in this region, Franz Josef and Fox Glacier. Both are easily accessible. At Fox Glacier Village, you'll find a short easy ride to the glacier's terminal face. The trail is flat and the scenery along the way is amazing. Venture onto the glacier itself with a guided trip or take a scenic helicopter flight and see the full glacier from above.

In the evening, check out the glowworm caves a short distance from the town centre.

Day 6: Dean Bank Track, Wanaka

Wanaka
Deans Bank Track, Wanaka

By Camilla Rutherford

Highlights

  • Deans Bank Track
  • Hiking and 4WD off-road tours
  • Climbing adventures with Wildwire

Proximity

DEANS BANK TRACK

Fast and flowing single-track mountain biking circuit with million-dollar views.

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From Fox Village drive south and over the Southern Alps through the incredible Haast Pass to Wanaka. At Albert Town, just before Wanaka Township, you'll find the popular Deans Bank Track. This purpose-built track cuts into the river terrace and takes in spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, Clutha River and Wanaka Basin.

From here, you can choose to ride back to Wanaka Town via the linking Lakeside Trails. Here you'll find plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars in which to relax and if you have time, visit some of the town's unique attractions, such as Puzzling World and the quirky Paradiso Cinema.

Day 7: Queenstown Bike Park

Queenstown
Queenstown Bike Park, Queenstown

By Callum Wood

Highlights

  • Ben Lomond Forest
  • Bungy, skydiving, rafting and jet boats
  • Food, wine and luxury spas

Proximity

QUEENSTOWN BIKE PARK

Some of New Zealand’s best downhill mountain bike trails.

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From Wanaka, it's a short journey on to Queenstown, where along with some great mountain bike trails you'll also find a whole array of other adventure activities.

The Skyline Gondola, near Queenstown's centre, will transport you and your bike to the top of Bob's Peak where you will find the Queenstown Bike Park. Here you'll find a whole range of downhill tracks through the forest. Once you're done, there are plenty of other mountain bike trails to check out or simply relax with a soak in a hot pool overlooking the Shotover River.

Driving in New Zealand

Important things you need to know about driving in New Zealand.

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