Harbor of Picton in New Zealand. Photo via Flickr:Daniel Chodusov

Vineyards at sunset in New Zealand.

South Island Road Cycling Experience

New Zealand Bike Tours

Cycle New Zealand from Queenstown to Picton

This bike tour New Zealand is for the serious cyclist. It starts in the South Island of New Zealand from alpine Queenstown through the wild West Coast to the Marlborough Sounds. Along the way you will see constantly changing terrain: from Central Otago's arid mountains, the West Coast's rainforests, to serene Marlborough vineyards and bays. Biking in New Zealand is a once in a lifetime experience, and this tour has it all plus leaves extra time for fun in both the fast-paced alpine mecca, Queenstown and the scenic glacier village of Franz Josef.

Be sure to check out our other New Zealand bike tour, New Zealand’s Wine Trail, perfect for the leisure cyclist!

Where You’ll Stay

Accommodations in 3 and 4 star hotels

What’s Included

  • 9 or 13 nights’ accommodations in 3 to 4 hotels
  • 9 or 13 x breakfast
  • 7 or 10 x lunch
  • Road bike
  • Support vehicle and luggage transfer
  • Tour guide (drives the support vehicle)
  • 10 day tour: Airport transfer on arrival day (between 7 am and 2 pm)
  • 14 day tour: Airport transfer on arrival day (from 1 pm)
  • Department of Conservation fees

What’s Not Included

  • Dinners
  • Bicycle protection
  • Trip insurance
Length10–14 days
From$3945 Rates
Client Reviews

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Tour Dates

10 Day Tour
January 1, March 23, 2016

14 day Tour
February 8, March 19, 2016

*7 people needed to confirm a departure.

Skill Level

This New Zealand Bike tour is considered moderate to difficult with average daily distances ranging from 44 to 92 miles (73 to 153 km).

Day-To-Day Itinerary

South Island Road Cycling Experience Map

10 Day Tour

Day 1: Arrival in Queenstown
Day 2: Queenstown - Wanaka, 44 mi. (73 km)
Day 3: Wanaka - Haast, 86 mi. (143 km)
Day 4: Haast - Franz Josef, 86 mi. (144 km)
Day 5: Franz Josef (Rest Day)
Day 6: Franz Josef - Hokitika, 80 mi. (134 km)
Day 7: Hokitika - Westport, 83 mi. (138 km)
Day 8: Westport - St. Arnaud, 94 mi. (156 km)
Day 9: St. Arnaud - Picton, 92 mi. (153 km)
Day 10:  Departure

*All distances are approximate.

Day 1: Arrival in Queenstown
Welcome to Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital. Depending on your arrival time, you could try a fly-cruise package into the dramatic Milford Sound, white water rafting, jet boating, paragliding, or helicopter rides. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy shopping in the pretty town center, or take an afternoon cruise on Lake Wakatipu on the steamship TSS Earnslaw. You could also head out for your first bike ride. Tonight you will meet your tour guide and your fellow tour members, some of whom started the tour in the southernmost town of Bluff. 

Day 2: Queenstown - Wanaka, 44 mi. (73 km)
On this day is the most challenging climb of the tour, the Crown Range. First, is a fairly easy ride to the historic gold mining town of Arrowtown. Then, head to the summit of New Zealand's highest highway (1080 m). It consists of a hard, 3 km, steep hairpins, a mostly flat 5 km, then a lung-wrenching, leg-burning 3.5 km. Then, it's ‘smooth 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. 

Day 3: Wanaka - Haast, 86 mi. (143 km)
A longer ride is in store today as you 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 cycle along Lakes Wanaka and Hawea and then over the glorious alpine, Haast Pass. From here it is a beautiful downhill as you follow the Haast River from its inception to the Tasman Sea. 

Day 4: Haast - Franz Josef, 86 mi. (144 km)
Heading north, follow the rugged West Coast coastline for 30 km, 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. To round off a spectacular day we now have three steep climbs and descents for around 22 km 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. 

Day 5: Franz Joseph (Rest Day)
Today your bicycle tour in New Zealand rests 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 be tempting! 

Day 6: Franz Josef - Hokitika, 80 mi. (134 km)
There is a flat to slightly undulating ride up beautiful West Coast roads today. Most of the route is slightly inland. The only hills of note are are a short climb over Mt. Hercules on a very scenic, winding road and also small undulations around Pukekura, home of the Bushman’s center and some ‘tall tails’. Hokitika is a pleasant town known as the Heritage and Cultural center of the West Coast. Here, you will find New Zealand’s finest pounamu (local jade). Tonight's accommodation is on the beachfront. 

Day 7: Hokitika - Westport, 83 mi. (138 km)
Continuing north, it is a reasonably easy flat ride along the coastline for around 82 km to our rest stop at Punakaiki. It's a spectacular layered 'Pancake Rocks' and Blowholes at the coastline are a must-see. Punakaiki is also the gateway to the 30,000 ha Paparoa National Park. Then it is 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. 

Day 8: Westport - St. Arnaud, 94 mi. (156 km)
After following the stunning coastal road for 3 days, you now head inland and begin a gradual climb following the Buller River past Fern Arch and Hawk's Crag, and through a tunnel blasted through rock in 1900. Along the route you will pass through the small towns, Inangahua Junction and Murchison to Kawatiri. Then follow 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 the longest cycling day and although you have cycled gradually uphill for the entire 158 km, it's only to 700 m above sea level. 

Day 9: St. Arnaud - Picton, 92 mi. (153 km)
Through forest and then farmland, you cycle down the long Wairau Valley to the outskirts of Blenheim, in the center of one of New Zealand's major wine regions. At Renwick, a meandering back road takes you back to Havelock, a charming little port town on the edge of the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. During the final 30 km of the winding coastline to Picton you will see some of the most beautiful scenery in the region. It is a great finish to your last cycling day. 

Day 10:  Departure
After over 500 miles of great cycling, you adventure comes to an end. If you are traveling 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 to Christchurch, the support vehicle leaves mid morning for the 5-hour drive via Kaikoura and the East Coast. 

14 Day Tour

Day 1: Invercargill (or Bluff)
Day 2: Invercargill - Bluff - Gore, 60 mi. (100 km)
Day 3: Gore - Clyde, 87 mi. (146 km)
Day 4: Clyde - Queenstown, 53 mi. (89 km)
Day 5: Rest day in Queenstown
Day 6: Queenstown - Wanaka, 44 mi. (73 km)
Day 7: Wanaka - Haast, 86 mi. (143 km)
Day 8: Haast - Franz Josef, 86 mi. (144 km)
Day 9: Franz Josef (Rest Day)
Day 10: Franz Josef - Hokitika, 80 mi. (134 km)
Day 11: Hokitika - Westport, 83 mi. (138 km)
Day 12: Westport - St. Arnaud, 94 mi. (156 km)
Day 13: St. Arnaud - Picton, 92 mi. (153 km)
Day 14:  Departure

*Please contact us for a detailed itinerary.

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