Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is one of the 23 Great Rides under Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail.

Status: Sections Open

Grade: Easy (2) - Intermediate (3)

Duration: 6 days

Total Length: 310km

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is distinctive as it showcases a unique selection of New Zealand’s iconic geological, geographic and historic highlights.

The 310km trail begins in the Southern Alps at Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, descends 780m through the Mackenzie basin, and down the Waitaki Valley to Oamaru and the Pacific Ocean. The trail includes multiple access points to begin or end a ride or to ride local sections only.

The full trail has eight logical stages. It is recommended that cyclists ride “downhill’ from Mount Cook to Oamaru with the prevailing north-westerly wind behind them. The route is generally well serviced by established accommodation, food outlets and amenities and can easily cater to both multi and single day cyclists.

Highlights include Aoraki/Mt Cook, the Ben Ohau and Ohau mountain ranges, Lakes Pukaki, Ruataniwha, Ohau, Benmore, Aviemore and Waitaki, the Pukaki, Benmore, Aviemore and Waitaki hydro dams, the Elephant Rocks and Vanished World limestone wonderland, and the historic Tokarahi Branch rail line containing the limestone block lined Rakis and Tapui tunnels. The trail also passes Maori Rock Art, traverses elements of the Te Araroa Trail, Mahinga Kai (food gathering) sites and parts of the greenstone trail to the West Coast along the shores of Lake Ohau.

Sections Open

A small 2.3km section of trail is now open and runs along State Highway 8 past Twizel, offering views of Southern Alps. This is the first step in the local leg of the trail that will eventually run from Mt Cook, through Twizel down to Oamaru. It links two existing tracks, the Te Araroa tramping trail and the Twizel River Trail. A further section from Mount Cook to Omarara (via Twizel & Lake Ohau) is expected to be opened by summer 2011.

Best time to ride

Late spring to view the alpine flowers including the indigenous Mount Cook Lily (Ranunculus lyallii) and the famous Mackenzie Basin lupins. Summer brings out the majestic colours of the Mackenzie and Waitaki valleys and during summer swimming can be enjoyed in lakes and rivers. Early autumn sees the change of season colours and the mountain ranges get a dusting of snow sometimes, which adds to the beauty.

Getting there

The main start point is Aoraki Mount Cook and the finish point is Oamaru but there are multiple access points along the route. For location based cyclists, or trail riders looking for side trips along the way. The trail is also ideally placed to combine with existing trails in the region.

Trail partners

The trail is a joint initiative of Waitaki and Mackenzie District Councils and the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.

Click here for more information, photos and maps.