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South Island Gravel Grind
Explore the vast and impressive Mackenzie Basin and remote Central Otago on this remarkable gravel tour from Christchurch to Queenstown. You'll trace the footsteps of the early pioneers, along gold mining trails and stock routes which now form quiet back country roads. Journey from Christchurch to Queenstown, challenging yourself with 7 days of breathtaking gravel grinding. Enjoy incredible views of the Southern Alps from the Banks Peninsula and cycle through arid McKenzie Country surrounded by the highest peaks in the country. Admire a contrast of vivid blue lakes, sparkling rivers, snow capped mountains and golden tussock-lands and indulge in award winning wine and local Kiwi cuisine.
- CategoryTrail Riding
- TypeFully Guided
- Duration7 days
- Culture LevelFamiliar
- Skill Level3 - Intermediate
- Activity Level3 - Active
- Elevation3 - Intermediate
- Distance326.2 miles
- Avg. Daily Distance46.6 miles
The journey begins with an awesome ride on the Banks Peninsula with views of the vivid blue Akaroa harbor, the crater of an extinct volcano. You will then travel through beautiful farm country to the stunning turquoise Lake Tekapo and into the "big-sky country" of Central Otago. You'll cross the Hakataramea and Danseys Passes and then follow the route of the historic railway, crossing viaducts, bridges and through railway tunnels dating back to the gold mining era of the 1880s.
The final two days take you into the Nevis and Von Valleys where you can experience real isolation cycling through secluded farm country before arriving at shimmering Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by high mountain peaks. You'll finish this epic cycle tour with a voyage on the historic TSS Earnslaw Steamer to bring you to Queenstown, and the end of this amazing adventure.
This tour is graded moderate to challenging. You will need to be a competent rider with stamina and a good level of fitness, you should be able to cycle comfortably for 6-8 hours or around 80-100km/50-60miles per day, day after day. There are some long undulating and hilly days on a mix of smooth gravel, dirt roads with some rougher corrugated and stony sections. There are some river crossings, so you can expect to get wet feet. You should be confident riding on roads with traffic, although the routes you'll cycle are quiet, you need to expect to see some vehicles. This tour is not for beginners. The tour is fully supported and if at any stage you feel like having a rest from cycling you will be able to ride in the support vehicle.