Discover the charms of the South Island by road bike
Every day brings new landscapes and experiences as you enjoy the road cycling through NZ
Enjoy the surroundings and the camaraderie of riding with like-minded new friends
Lap up the smooth, quiet roads as you cruise through the glorious vistas

South Island Road Cycling Experience

Duration
14 days
Site savings
$70
From
$3,417 USD

Enjoy superb road cycling on New Zealand’s South Island, via the wild scenery of the West Coast. This epic New Zealand road cycling tour takes you from southernmost Bluff to the northern end of the island, finishing in beautiful Picton, and is designed for serious cyclists. You’ll see constantly changing terrain: from Southland’s green hills to Central Otago’s arid mountains, West Coast rainforests to serene Marlborough vineyards and bays. This is road cycling at its finest with good company, stunning views and fantastic biking.

  • Category
    Road Cycling
  • Type
    Fully Guided
  • Duration
    14 days
  • Culture Level
    Familiar
  • Skill Level
    4 - Advanced
  • Activity Level
    4 - Challenging
  • Elevation
    4 - Challenging
  • Terrain
    Mixed
  • Distance
    797.2 miles
  • Avg. Daily Distance
    79.7 miles
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Quick Stats

  • Duration
    14 days
  • Main Destination
    South Island
  • Distance
    797.2 miles
  • Avg. Daily Distance
    79.7 miles
  • Elevation
    4 - Challenging
  • Terrain
    Mixed

Itinerary Details

  1. Day 1 Invercargill (or Bluff)

    Please make your way to New Zealand's southernmost domestic airport at Invercargill, where you will be met by your guide and transferred to your Invercargill (or Bluff) hotel. After assembling your bikes, or being fitted to your hire bike, you will gather for a drink and pre-tour briefing before getting to know each other during the evening. Being in Southland, you may have the chance to taste those famous Bluff oysters (usually in season February-June, but available frozen year-round).

    • Accommodation in Invercargill
  2. Day 2Invercargill to Bluff

    Your first day’s cycling begins with a 30 km (18.6 mi) drive to the port town of Bluff. Bluff is at the southernmost point of State Highway 1, New Zealand's longest road (2047 km/1271 mi). You will have a leisurely 100 km (62 mi) biking ahead, first on the main road and then on quieter pastoral backroads. The terrain is reasonably flat and a good warm-up for longer rides ahead. You’ll have a late lunch in Gore, an important rural servicing town in this agriculture-dominated region.

    • 62.1 miles
    • Accommodation in Bluff
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  3. Day 3Gore to Clyde

    You'll ‘up the pace’ today with one of the three biggest cycling days. You'll see a dramatic change in scenery from Southland's green pastures to dry, barren Central Otago. As you cycle from the Blue Mountains through a gorge to the foot of the Old Man Range, you'll pass old gold mining areas and hydroelectric stations. The route is undulating with steeper climbs to test the legs as you approach pretty Alexandra by the Clutha River. Alexandra is New Zealand's hottest, driest, and coldest town. Then, a gentle 10 km (6.2 mi) following the Clutha to the quaint historic township of Clyde.

    • 90.7 miles
    • Accommodation in Clyde
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  4. Day 4Clyde to Queenstown

    An easier, flatter day’s cycling today. You will pass Lake Dunstan via the beautiful Kawarau Gorge to Queenstown, New Zealand's Adventure Capital. There are no major climbs today, but instead, plenty of distractions such as wineries that may tempt the group to stop. Central Otago is the world’s most southerly grape-growing region, best known for its stunning Pinot Noir. For those wanting an adrenaline rush, how about a bungee jump from the historic Kawarau Bridge, as you pass AJ Hackett's Bungy's first ever location.

    • 55.3 miles
    • Accommodation in Queenstown
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  5. Day 5Queenstown (Rest Day)

    Today is a free day in action-packed Queenstown. You could try a fly-cruise-fly package into the dramatic Milford Sound, white water rafting, jet boating, paragliding, helicopter rides and many other options. You could shop in the town centre, relax with a massage, or take an afternoon cruise on Lake Wakatipu on the steamship TSS Earnslaw. However, if you would rather clock up some more kms on your bike, you will be pointed in the right direction. For the record, so far you've done 330 km (205 mi)!

    • Accommodation in Queenstown
    • Breakfast
  6. Day 6Queenstown to Wanaka

    After a day’s rest, your legs should be ready for the most challenging climb, the Crown Range. First, a fairly easy ride to the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown, with just one real climb. Then you'll head to the summit of New Zealand's highest highway (1080 m/3543 ft). It's a hard 3 km (1.8 mi) up steep hairpins, a flattish 5 km (3.1 mi), then a lung-wrenching, leg-burning 3.5 km (2.2 mi). Then it's ‘plain sailing’ as you follow the Cardrona River down to Wanaka, a popular lakeside resort town. Relax and enjoy local eateries and sights. There are also plenty of options for extra riding.

    • 45.4 miles
    • Accommodation in Wanaka
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  7. Day 7Wanaka to Haast

    A longer ride is in store today as you will head west across the Southern Alps. The landscapes again change dramatically, from the dry, arid mountains of Central Otago to the dense rainforests of the wild West Coast. There will be numerous photo opportunities as you ride alongside Lakes Wanaka and Hawea and then over the glorious alpine Haast Pass. From here it’s a beautiful downhill as you follow the Haast River from its inception to the Tasman Sea.

    • 88.9 miles
    • Accommodation in Haast
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  8. Day 8Haast to Franz Josef

    Heading north, you will follow the rugged West Coast coastline for 30 km (18.6 mi), with just one small climb before turning inland. Another little hill takes you to scenic Lake Paringa. A flat section through rainforest allows for some recovery until just before Fox Glacier at 120 km (74.4 mi). To round off a spectacular day you will now have three steep climbs and descents for around 22 km (13.6 mi) to Franz Josef. The rugged coastal scenery and dense rainforest make today’s ride one of the most scenic of the tour. The perfect finish could be the Glacier Hot Pools, nestled in lush rainforest near the township's edge.

    • 89.5 miles
    • Accommodation in Franz Josef
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  9. Day 9Franz Josef (Rest Day)

    A free day in this scenic alpine town surrounded by native rainforest. Relax, rest your legs and do as you please. Optional cycling is available, or you may choose to book a half day hike on the glacier or go for a helicopter ride. Those Glacier Hot Pools with their natural glacier water may again be tempting!

    • Accommodation in Franz Josef
    • Breakfast
  10. Day 10Franz Josef to Hokitika

    There's a flat to slightly undulating ride up beautiful West Coast roads today. Most of the route is slightly inland. The only hills are a short climb over Mt Hercules on a very scenic, winding bush-clad road. There are also small undulations around Pukekura, home of the Bushman’s centre and some ‘tall tails’. Hokitika is a pleasant town known as the Heritage and Cultural centre of the West Coast. Here you'll find New Zealand’s finest pounamu (local jade). Your accommodation tonight is on the beachfront.

    • 83.3 miles
    • Beachfront accommodation in Hokitika
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  11. Day 11Hokitika to Westport

    Continuing north, it’s a reasonably easy flat ride along the coastline for around 82 km (50 mi) to your rest stop at Punakaiki. It's spectacular layered 'Pancake Rocks' and Blowholes at the coastline are a must-see. Punakaiki is also the gateway to the 30,000 hectare (74,000 acre) Paparoa National Park. Then it's on to Perpendicular Point and Pakihi Hill with their great sea views before descending into the port town of Westport for a hard-earned pint of their local Miner’s beer.

    • 85.7 miles
    • Accommodation in Westport
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  12. Day 12Westport to St Arnaud

    After following the stunning coastal road for 3 days, you will now head inland on a gradual climb. You will follow the Buller River past Fern Arch and Hawk's Crag, a tunnel blasted through rock in 1900. You will pass the small towns Inangahua Junction and Murchison to Kawatiri. Then you will turn off onto a quiet road and cycle northeast to the alpine village of St Arnaud, in the Nelson Lakes National Park beside Lake Rotoiti and the towering Mt Robert. Today is your longest cycling day and while you will cycle gradually for the entire 156 km (96 mi), it's only to 700 m (2296 ft) above sea level.

    • 96.9 miles
    • Accommodation in St Arnaud
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  13. Day 13St Arnaud to Picton

    Through forest and then farmland, you will cycle down the long Wairau Valley to the outskirts of Blenheim, centre of one of New Zealand's major wine regions. At Renwick, a meandering back road leads to Havelock, a charming little port town on the edge of the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. On your final 30 km (18.6 mi) of the winding coastline to Picton, you will see some of the most beautiful scenery in the region. It's a great finish to your last cycling day.

    • 95.1 miles
    • Accommodation in Picton
    • Breakfast and Lunch
  14. Day 14Picton Departure Day

    After 1283 km (797 mi) of great riding, it's time to pack up the bikes and bid your farewells. If you're travelling to Wellington and the North Island, the ferry terminals are close by, and the airport at Blenheim is an easy transfer. For those who wish to return with the tour operator to Christchurch, the support vehicle leaves mid-morning for the 5-hour drive via Kaikoura and the East Coast.

    • Breakfast