The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is not only the longest of NZ’s 23 Great Rides, spanning over 300km, but might also be the one with the most spectacular views. Starting from Aoraki Mt Cook National Park and journeying across the South Islands to the quirky coastal town Ōamaru at the Pacific Ocean, this trail truly offers it all.
Broken up into 5 sections, Alps 2 Ocean can be conquered on a 5-7 day trip or split into great day trips. With 5 of the 8 sections being labelled as ‘Easy’, most abilities and fitness levels can enjoy this spectacular ride.
Section 1: Aoraki-Mt Cook to Braemar Road – 35km
Starting just out of Mt Cook Village, the trail is starting of with a highlight – a helicopter ride and bike transfer across the Tasman River to Rotten Tommy.
Now would be the perfect opportunity to upgrade that necessary flight to another ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience and discover the great national park from above in a helicopter and even land on the Haupapa/Tasman Glacier.
A gravel road will take you to Breamar Road, with spectacular views of the National Park on a clear day.
Section 2: Braemar Road to Twizel – 40km
Day two starts on a quiet country road that will take you post the picturesque Lake Pukaki and the Takapo power station with stunning views of the Southern Alps. Continue the ride through the iconic grasslands of Mackenzie until you reach Twizel, the second stop along the journey.
Section 3: Twizel to Lake Ōhau Lodge – 38km
The third section of the trail will also consist of easy riding, surrounded by beautiful views of native flora and fauna. Stop at Loch Cameron for a little dip or venture off on a couple MTB trails a kick of adrenaline. With the Alps as your backdrop and lakes to your side, you will feel like as if you are riding in paradise.
Section 4: Lake Ōhau Lodge to Ōmarama – 43km
The coming 43km are classified as intermediate for both fitness and skill. A steady climb to the trail’s highpoint at 900m lays in front of you, but the rolling descent makes the effort well worth it. If you are up for it, you can take a 14km detour to cycle past Clay Cliffs or you can stop by the Quailburn Historic Woolshed.
Section 5: Ōmarama to Ōtematata – 35km
Another ‘intermediate’ day is ahead. Taking you from Ōmarama to the Chain Hills and following the shore of Lake Benmore to Pumpkin Point. After conquering a couple narrower trails, you will have made your way into Ōtematata.
Section 6: Ōtematata to Kurow – 44km
Start the day’s ride off with a steep but short climb onto Benmore Dam. Then cross over to cycle along the dreamy shore to the next dam, Avienmore Dam. You’ll pass through one of NZ’s ghost towns, Wharekuri, before making your way into Kurow.
Section 7: Kurow to Duntroon – 27km
Follow the Waitaki River down the valley, before passing through a winery (great for a little stop over and an early celebration of your adventure), and two more river crossing. Ride past the Takiroa Maori rock art site and venture out into the Duntroon Wetlands, taking you into town.
Section 8: Duntroon to Ōamaru – 54km
You are almost there! Your last day of cycling lays ahead of you and starts off with the unique rock formations known as Elephant Rocks. This takes you on your way to the Island Cliff. Surrounded by limestone formations this is the highest point of this section. It gets a little bit more adventures when you have to cycle through the old Rakis Railway Tunnel (make sure to bring a light or torch!) before the downhill section into Ōamaru starts. The last 6km take you through the greater Ōamaru region and the town center and ends at Friendly Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
The Alps2Ocean trail is definitely well worth the effort and will easily be under your top 3 bike journeys overall, though a little bit of preparation is well needed. If you have any specific questions, concerns or are looking for more info, the Alps2Ocean team will be there to help you.