Wouldn’t it be awesome to ride all the South Island’s iconic trails in one 10-day period? Ride the A2O, Otago Central Rail Trail, Lake Dunstan Trail, Queenstown Trails & Around the Mountains in one continuous, fantastic adventure. Save your annual leave and the cost of multiple flights to and from the South Island and do them all on one trip.

At a Glance…

Price: NZD $5,750 inc GST. BYO bike.
If you did all these trails with other operators it would take you 21 days and cost over $11,000, so why so cheep? The daily stages are longer: 85 km versus 55 kms on average. Longer day stages reduces the number of meals and hotel nights. Let your legs do the saving.
Driver & Guide: yes, both. The guide will be riding behind the group with puncture repair, PLB and first aid.
Dates: leaving 6 April 2024, gathering on Friday 5 April at the airport hotel, leaving first thing Saturday morning. See day stage information below.
Time commitment: 10 days (10 days riding, fly into Christchurch and out of Queenstown)
Who is it for: Seasoned cyclists & ebikers, capable of averaging 85 kms of varied terrain riding each day
Ride starts at: Fairlie or the alternate A2O start from Tekapo
Ride ends at: Queenstown Airport
Total kilometres: approx. 860 kms, maybe longer depending on group choices.
Accommodation styles: from holiday cabins, resorts & motels. Best we can find to suit our day stages and number of riders (see accommodation tab below)
Best bike: hard tail mountain bike, full-suspension mountain bike, gravel bike. Gravel tyres are best.
Ebikes: we are offering a transport option for ebikes from the North Island to the South Island for $345 inc GST both ways. We need a minimum of 4 ebikes. Non ebikers can fly with their bike.
Max number of riders on the trip? 14

What Track & Trail provides…

  • Daily ride information, map files for your phone, route notes
  • All accommodation (10 nights)
  • Breakfasts, lunches, dinners
  • Water, riding snacks and sunscreen
  • Basic mechanical support and first aid
  • Carry your luggage forward
  • Support vehicle (in some places the van cannot be on the route)
  • Carbon offsets for the van and your travel to the start
  • Bike hire if needed
  • … what you provide: you ride, have fun, be awesome

The Ride

  • A total distance of ~860 km spread over 10 days of riding.
  • Though e-bikers are welcome, this is a human-powered cycle trip so riding distances and daily stages have been designed around puff powered pedal bikes.
  • Daily riding distances have been planned to be challenging but achievable and to allow plenty of time for photo stops, to explore the local towns, stop at cafes and points of interest along the way.
  • 50-125 km riding per day on well-formed, grade 1-2, scenic riding routes.
  • NZ cycle trails have variable terrain and generally slow, average riding speed.
  • Single-track, gravel or road biking experience will add to the enjoyment of your tour.
  • Our support vehicle is available (most of the time) should you need a break from the saddle.

The Route Map

Relive Video

South Island Omnibus Itinerary

This section may be subject to small changes right up until the start of the tour.

Day one is part transit, part ride. Leaving Christchurch airport we drive to Fairlie and unbox and assemble our bikes for a short afternoon, ride of 50 km or 2 hours 15 from Fairlie to Tekapo via Bourke’s Pass. We arrive into Tekapo in time for a swim or a visit to the Church of the Good Shepherd. Overnighting at Lake Edge Holiday Park.

After a big breakfast, we head out past the Tekapo A Power Station (built between 1938 & 1951) hydro station at Tekapo and ride beside the canal system, past the salmon farms, over to Lake Pukaki. Here we will get our first view of Aoraki/Mt Cook. Then the beautiful Lakeside ride to Lake Pukaki dam, down across the flats to Twizel (a Lord of the Rings film set), more canal system to the Ohau, where, and then stopping in Ohau Village overnight.

The day starts with a good uphill ride of around 9 km and up to 900 m to the top of the Tarnbrae Track. From here you do a careful grade 3 descent to the Quailburn wool shed and then out to Omarama. After a cup of coffee and good country scone, you head off east down the top of the Waitaki Valley taking a turn at Sailors Cutting to ride beside Lake Benmore and over the dam itself. Your afternoon is spent riding beside the north edge of Lake Aviemore, over the dam at Aviemore, and then down into Kurow to motel accommodation and a hearty pub meal.

Day 4 is a big day, and we will be up and at it directly. We start the day in the valley and end by the sea. Heading east down the Waitaki Valley and the first stop of the day at the Takiroa Maori Rock Drawings just west of Duntroon. There is an important and interesting fossil museum in Duntroon that is well worth checking out. After mid-morning refreshment at the Flying Pig Cafe in Duntroon, we cycle on a short distance to Elephant Rocks then through another movie set (Aslan’s camp, Narnia), through Enfield, Herbert, Hampden and onto Moeraki beach, site of the concretion boulders. There will be a shuttle option over the Highway 1 sections of this day.

There’s a good day’s riding ahead as we make our way to the start of the Otago Central Rail Trail (OCRT). There’s a couple of big climbs today so a big breakfast will be served at the camp kitchen. Leaving Moeraki and the Pacific Ocean behind, we avoid Highway 1 but stop at Palmerston for morning tea. The village of Macraes is halfway between Palmerston and Hyde. The elevation is 500 metres above sea level. After leaving Macraes you’ll do another rise before you drop onto the OCRT route and wee settlement of Hyde. Mccraes is the service town for a very large gold mine which we will cycle through before stopping at the Macraes pub for refreshment.

Otago Central Rail Trail

Today we complete the Otago Central Rail Trail, New Zealand’s most well-known and original cycle trail. We pass “superb ‘Central’ scenery, rich human history, character eateries & cafes”. Add tunnels and bridges and you get the picture. We will be riding 85% of it in one day. The route is mostly flat, and you can expect to cover the 124 km stage in 6 1/2 hours. We end the day we pull up in Clyde to overnight.

The Lake Dunstan Trail is a relative newcomer to the lower South Island trail network, but what a gift! It connects the Clyde Dam to the historic precinct of Cromwell. It’s completely car free and graded 2 and 3 with some fun downhill features and floating cafes. The Lake Dunstan Trail is 55km long with a vertical ascent of 580m. It takes between 4 to 5 hours to complete…. especially if you are weigh laid at the Carrick Winery.

Riding past Roar Meg, through the Kawarau Gorge and into the Gibbston Valley and onto Arrowtown. Then in the PM onto Queenstown. The morning starts on the road, specifically SH6, which is tight and not fun on a bike, so there will be a short shuttle option here. The bottom of the Gibbston Valley is home to some of NZ’s finest pinot noir wines for those interested, otherwise ride on into Arrowtown, through the Barfoot tunnel and over the Edgar swing bridge and along the Arrow River. The afternoon takes you through Millbrook resort and over the Shotover Bridge into Frankton.

around the mountains

After a short ride from Frankton to Queenstown we catch a boat across Lake Wakatipu to start our ride from Mount Nicholas. We ride south beside the Von River and under the gaze of the Bronte range to our left. We stop and lunch at Mavora Lakes. Before riding onto Mossburn to overnight.

Last day, and nothing too challenging. Kick back and enjoy the ride into Kingston. Jane Peak and the Mataura River will be with you most of the day.

Bikes, Food & Accommodation

BYOB BYO bike is a great option. See this how-to blog post that will give you some helpful pointers: https://trackntrail.co.nz/2023/06/23/how-to-prepare-your-bike-for-a-flight/

Best Bike There are a few bike styles that are well-suited to the trip. In order:

  1. Hardtail mountain bike
  2. Full suspension MTB with rear shock pumped up
  3. Gravel bike
  4. Touring bike …. whatever your bike, gravel tyres are best. Road bikes will not work on this trip.

Service Your Bike You are responsible for the fitness of your bike. Please get it fully serviced before you join the tour.

Your bike must be able to carry 1.5 litres of water, your rain jacket, snacks, phone, spare inner tube and sunscreen so a handlebar bag, front roll or frame bag is recommended. Avoid backpacks as they put too much pressure on your sitting bones, affect your balance and are too hot in summer.

Track & Trail The cost is $115 incl GST per day to hire an e-bike for the tour. Contact Peter if you plan on hiring any type of bike.

The tour includes all breakfasts, lunches, evening meals and snacks. We may be able to cater for vegetarians and coeliac. If this includes you, it is crucial to advise us of this well before the tour begins.

Typical meals Include:

  • Breakfasts – fruit, muesli, toast and spreads, hot drinks.  Cooked breakfasts depending on the accommodation style.
  • Lunches – make your own lunch in the morning, carry it or have to delivered to you.
  • Snacks – Fresh fruit, muesli bars, nuts and baking.
  • Evening – Prepared by your tour leader, local accommodation or nearby pub or eatery.

Accommodation is included for all 8 nights of the tour. Our job is to explore and find the most fitting accommodation to work in with the riding route. The South Island Omnibus is a rural riding route and the availability of accommodation can be limited with often only basic options available. We will be staying in a combination of motels, holiday park cabins, farm stays, lodges, a hotel and one community communal accommodation. Where possible we choose accommodation with ensuite bathrooms, however it more likely bathrooms will be shared.

Accommodation is on a share twin basis. If you’re travelling alone, we’ll pair you to twin-share with another same gender biker. Single supplement is generally not available.

Safety comes first! The main threats are; rough or loose surfaces, getting lost, getting cold, running out of water & sunburn. We are here to mitigate as many of those risks as possible but care and attention will be required from you at all times.

This cycle tour includes rides of 90-125 km per day.

Preparing for your cycle tour should involve:

  • Riding on gravel and other unpaved surfaces
  • Riding hills, lots of them! In a day you may climb 1,500 to 2,000 metres in rises and falls.
  • Riding 2-3 times a week with rides of 50-80km in length.

The more prepared you are the more you will enjoy your adventure!

South Island Omnibus Trip Price

NZD $5,750 inc GST.

– If you’re travelling alone, we’ll pair you to twin-share with another rider.
– If you do not wish to share let us know early.

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The tour price does NOT include:

  • getting to and from the start ie. any flights
  • bike hire. Contact us if required.
  • optional activities
  • personal equipment (bags, helmets)
  • bike repairs
  • alcoholic drinks & random café stops
  • emergencies. The cost of emergency evacuation by ambulance or helicopter is at your own cost.

If you have to leave the tour we will we help you arrange transport back to Christchurch or Queenstown at your own expense. You may wish to take travel insurance.

Please read our Terms & Conditions carefully before booking.