The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Ride with Cycle Journeys
2nd of February, 2018
The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Ride
If cycling is your thing, then New Zealand is the place to come! The government has spent millions of dollars on wonderful cycle tracks nationwide. I have only been fortunate to try the Alps To Ocean so far. It's fair to say that it is an absolutely awesome ride! There are various different bike companies that can provide bikes, luggage shuttles, lifts and even guided trips but my experience is with the wickedly wonderful company called Cycle Journeys. Real New Zealand Tours have personal connections with this great team.
This is a great activity to do with your family if you can all get the holiday time booked together,
The average ride from the start at Aoraki Mt Cook to the Pacific ocean at Oamaru over a distance of 302 km takes between 4 and 6 days. There are various different styles of accommodation to stay in ranging from motels to authentic Kiwi farm stays.
The route follows the sleepy Waitaki Valley that was previously known for its Hydro Electricity systems of canals and dams, but now sure enough for about 7 months of the year there are many cycling tourists pedalling their way to the ocean, revitalising the rural economy as they go.
Every day on The Alps to Ocean has a different highlight because as you travel down the well thought out cycle trail the countryside changes from the dramatic Southern Alps to the more open rolling farmland closer to Oamaru.
Below follows a quick pictorial guide of what can be expected on this stunning ride.
Day 1- The start at Aoraki Mt Cook involves a helicopter ride over the Tasman river
Hopefully, the weather is kind to you so you get the most amazing views
Day 2- involves cycling along the Hydro canals with their electric blue water and funky reflections, you will be stopping every 5 minutes for the next photo!
If you travel in November and December the canal banks are dotted with beautiful lupins. The canal then leads to wonderful Lake Ohau. There is something quite mystical and spiritual about the Ben Ohau mountain range that hugs the side of the cycle path.
After a refreshing night at Lake Ohau Lodge, your next big challenge awaits.
Day 3 - is a stunning ride up through the lower slopes of the Ruataniwha Conservation Park, climbing up to 900m the highest point of the trail. The brochure calls this day "Intermediate fitness level" it is quite a challenging ride but it is seriously worth it for the views and a real sense of achievement. We did this section on my birthday making it even more awesome for me!
There is a fabulous old woolshed to visit once you have descended then a great fast ride to the next Township of Omarama, where I highly suggest you treat yourself to a wonderful hot tub to help relieve any aching muscles. The Omarama Hot tubs.
Day 4 - normally involves cycling from Omarama to Otematata ( i pronounce it OTETOMATO), and then on to the quiet sleepy town of Kurow, This is an epic day as you have to ride to the top of Benmore dam and then along the shoreline of Lake Aviemore. The scenery has totally changed by now and I was in awe of the men that built the largest earth dam in the Southern Hempishere.
Riding down into Kurow past lots of vineyards gets you in the mood for an evening drink. Kurow is "Ritchie McCaw" country he was brought up very close to this small town, and it was here he played his first ever game of rugby.
Day 5 - is another great day because it's short! 28km of beautiful cycle track through the Pasquale Kurow winery and along the banks of the braided Waitaki River. The name originates from the Early Maori who fished and hunted on the river they named “water of tears.” The name refers to tears shed by Tane, god of the forest, for Tangaroa, god of the sea. The waters of the river were also referred to as Wai-para-hoanga, or water of grinding-stone dirt,
This trip also takes you to some Maori rock art, it is just wonderful. I started to feel connected to the ancient land of New Zealand. A great ride up through the Duntroon wetlands brings cyclists to their resting place for that day.
There might not any shops or bars and cafes in Duntroon but do not dismay, Tuesday through to Sunday you can get a wonderful flat white coffee from Evie in her coffee cart until 2 pm and you will have been sensible enough to stock up with some delicious local wine from one of the wineries you just cycled past. Duntroon has loads of character with lots of curious museum type places including the old forge and the gaolhouse, stocks and all!
Day 6 - hurray the final day, some may think, be warned it's a toughy! Again the Kiwi for a Moderate fitness day really actually means you should be very fit to tackle this one! It's the day of the rolling countryside, up one hill and down the next, then up the next hill and down the next and it continues! It's another mega day with amazing scenery along the way including the Elephant Rocks and the Anatini Valley which was transformed by Disney when they made The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Don't be surprised to cycle through cow poop on this day, you are lucky enough to be riding through some private and remote farmland that no else gets to access. Also don't be surprised if you get irrigated, I was dumped on twice! Very refreshing I have to say. The final 55km seems to fly past and before you know it you are in the wonderfully friendly and proud town of Oamaru. The trail takes you through the beautiful botanical gardens and on down through the Victorian precinct. A must stop place! Then to the final place the Pacific Ocean.
If time permits this is an awesome activity to do when visiting New Zealand. If you have a limited time and you want to do shorter sections the fabulous Cycle Journey team in Christchurch can make that happen! The Twizel depot staff will make you feel most welcome when your trip begins talking you through the trail and the bikes. Those of you who sort of want to give it a go but are concerned for whatever reason, worry not there are E BIKES available!
Real NewZealand tours can connect with Cycle Journeys and guarantee you a ride of a lifetime!
One very important thing I didn't mention is:
"BEWARE THE HEADWIND"
The Alps 2 Ocean is awesome - Libby Venning!