If you’re travelling a long way or across several time zones to New Zealand (which most of you will be!), we recommend arriving into Christchurch a day or two early to allow your body to adjust and to make sure any flight or luggage days don’t spoil your trip.
Your guides will meet you at the H+I recommended hotel on the morning of day 1.
The first day of your mountain bike tour New Zealand starts off bright and early, when your guides will meet you at the designated pre-trip hotel. We’ll transfer to our local base so you can build your bike or get kitted out with a rental.
Once everyone’s geared up, we’ll pack the van and hit the road. Before we set off your guide will go through the all-important pre-trip briefing.
Your warm-up ride and first taste of South Island singletrack, will be a traverse of the volcanic crater rim that separates Christchurch from the impressive Lyttelton harbour. You’ll have the chance to shake-down your bikes and legs after your travels before we drop in to the fantastic Christchurch Adventure Park. You’ll enjoy a mix of flow trails and pedalling, and you’ll get spectacular views out to the Southern Alps which will be our destination later in the tour.
After a couple of laps we’ll chill out on the deck at the Park with a cold drink and lunch, before we head off in the direction of the Southern Alps to check in to our mountain lodge for the night.
We’ll enjoy drinks and dinner as the sun disappears behind the hills.
Eat well and muster up all your strength over breakfast, because today we hit Craigieburn – world-renowned for its flowing singletrack trails that weave and wind through the area’s beautiful beech forests.
The mountainous terrain of the Craigieburn Range has spectacular views that rival the grand majesty of the American Rockies, so we’ll spend most of the day riding through and enjoying the varied trails Craigieburn has to offer. Mountain biking with these incredible views will take your breath away.
Once we’ve had our fill of this epic riding, we’ll drive through the mountains to the historic Gold Mining town of Reefton.
Over a hearty dinner we’ll share stories and prepare ourselves for tomorrow’s ride on the legendary Ghost Road.
The aim of our New Zealand adventure is to show you the best the country has to offer mountain bikers. After revelling in the fabulous singletrack climbs and descents of Craigieburn, today you’ll need to have your climbing legs with you for the first stage of your two-day adventure through the rainforest.
We’ll fuel up at one of the best bakeries in New Zealand, then make the drive to the start of our adventure-within-adventure.
You’ll step out of the van right into the jungle at the foot of New Zealand’s longest singletrack – the Old Ghost Road. At a fairly easygoing incline of 2%, you’ll winch your way up the bench cut forest track to the ridge peak at 1400m.
At 28km, the trail may be long, but it’s also long-standing: originally trekked by gold miners seeking their fortune in the 1870s.
Once the trees thin out and we hit the ridge line, you’ll get a breath-taking panoramic vista of the rainforests below, sprawling out as far as the eye can see. By the time we reach our home for the night, Ghost Lake hut, your provisions will all have been dropped off so you can settle in for a quiet night high above the rainforest. We’ll wash, change and grab a beer on the terrace as we watch the sun set over the rainforest as daylight gives way to an awe-inspiring night sky.
Sitting at an altitude of 1200m, you’ll gaze out into the depths of the universe with unparalleled clarity, just as the miners would have over a century before.
Please note: Ghost Lake Hut is a basic accommodation in the New Zealand rain forest. You’ll be sleeping on basic beds with sleeping bags, in dorm-style rooms with bathroom facilities outside the main building. It’s rustic but absolutely adds to the sense of adventure.
As morning light breaks over the tree tops, the Bell Birds will rise you from your slumber as their distinctive songs echo from the forest canopy. Mother Nature’s way of telling you to get up and ride bikes!
We’ll leave the hut on a singletrack leading down the opposite side of the mountain and back towards civilisation. The track leads through a diverse range of scenery as we make our way towards the valley floor.
The path carves fluidly back through the rainforest on a singletrack trail, leading over bridges that span deep gorges and old landslides in the steep sided valley.
Reaching the bottom of the trail it’s just 10 seconds to our night’s accommodation; a truly unique lodge where Marion Boatwright first conceived the Old Ghost Road. The lodge is the spiritual home of the Old Ghost Road, and as well as learning about the history of the trail, you can enjoy pizza and beers on the deck overlooking the Mokihinuni River.
Your unforgettable post-ride meal and sunset views over the Buller River will provide the perfect close to a truly epic first few days.
After a couple of big days on the bike, we have a day off to rest our legs and cover some miles in the van to our next destination. This is no ordinary transfer, however, as we’ll be driving down the spectacular west coast of the South Island, stopping along the way to stretch legs and take photos.
Much of our drive today will be accompanied by views of the imposing Franz Josef Glacier, which descends 3,000m from its origins high in the Southern Alps, over a distance of 11km, making it one of the steepest in New Zealand.
We’ll break up the drive with stops at the beach, lunch at Hokitika gold town, and a good walk around Okarito lagoon, home to more than 70 species of birdlife.
Your accommodation is a short drive from the glacier, and when we arrive we’ll have time to do a bit of bike maintenance, ready to get back in the saddle around Wanaka tomorrow
We’ll leave Franz Josef Glacier in our wake and drive south to the stunning small town of Wanaka – the unofficial capital of the great outdoors. The town is nestled at the head of Lake Wanaka and pinned in by the Crown Range mountains.
Our ride today is a locals’ version of the Wanaka Trails. We’ll pedal by the mighty Clutha River, through to its Lake Wanaka outlet, and finish lakeside in town. Along the way we’ll enjoy the mountain backdrop, flow trails, and potential for a swim before enjoying a beer in the evening sunshine.
Between the water and the slopes, you’ll see why Wanaka dominates the summer and winter outdoor scene in New Zealand.
We’ll have dinner in another lovely local restaurant and get ourselves psyched up for a fun-filled day tomorrow.
Hope you’re still hungry for more riding, because today we’re tackling the newest ‘bike park’ in the area, the tremendous Glendhu Bay MTB Park.
This is a bike park with a difference and, although you’ll have the benefit of shuttles, you’ll still be riding in magnificent landscapes and doing plenty of pedalling.
We’ll get up high today and enjoy spectacular views to Mount Aspiring and down to Lake Wanaka.
The riding at Glendhu Bay is characterised by (relatively!) easy climbing, big mountain views, rough moorland, and a delicious mix of super-flowy trails and technical descents.
We can do as much or as little as we want today, and prepare for our last few big days of riding in the south of the South Island!
After an amazing day in the Wanaka region you can expect another fine selection of local craft beers before crashing out happily for the night.
After breakfast this morning we’ll drive from Wanaka to our next stop at Alexandra, passing Kawarau Gorge on the way. The Otago landscape is peppered with gold mines and early explorer history, and today you’ll be riding into the thick of it!
Upon reaching the sleepy town of Alexandra we’ll drop in for the obligatory cup of coffee before meeting our local guide, then set out on another ride in a uniquely impressive landscape, adding one more to the mounting collection of amazing rides already gathered on this adventure in New Zealand.
We’ll climb up a dry riverbed that will lead us to a rabbit warren of valleys, all dropping off a high plateau that is pock-marked by massive rock formations that look like they’ve rained down from outer space.
We’ll select the trails – some flowing and fluid, others more rocky and technical – to suit the group and conditions, before finishing at our favourite café at the foot of the trails. Try one of the smoothies, they’re incredible!
In recent years, Queenstown has become a bit of a mountain biking Mecca, but with so many trail choices available, you really need a local to show you around the best routes.
For the last day of your adventure we’re going to enjoy the incredible trails around Rude Rock to the absolute max!
Having already ridden some pretty big days, today we’re minimising the climbing and maximising the descending, riding laps of Rude Rock and Zoots, which will blow your mind.
When you arrive back at your Queenstown accommodation you’ll be ready – and deserving of – that post-ride beer and dinner!
All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately that means your mountain bike tour New Zealand adventure too.
We’ll transfer you to Queenstown airport at around 9am to catch your flight back to the real world.