The Alps to Ocean Cycle trail is a 4-6 day ride from Mt Cook (necessitating ahelicopter ride) or Tekapo.
Six of us are heading off to start it, and I have volunteered to be the support vehicle, with my electric bike on the back, I plan to do a bit of the trail along the way.
Cycle Journeys – local A2O specialists
You do not need a support vehicle – Cycle Journeys were fantastic and have set up a great system for supporting your journey – from booking accommodation (three levels to choose from), renting bikes (ebikes are an option), storing cars, and ferrying your bags from one stop to another. You can pick and mix your options with them, and they were very helpful.
Lake Tekapo Village Motel is our base in Tekapo – in the centre of the village with views over the lake and mountains, it is a perfect base.
A stone’s throw to morning coffee and breakfast at Run 76 a short walk to Kohan – Japanese restaurant for dinner. If you got leave room for desert – all come decorated with fairy floss – spun sugar, they look amazing and taste pretty good to.
Tekapo is the centre of an International Dark Sky Reserve – now known as the ‘’Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve’’ and was awarded gold status by the IDA (International Dark-Sky Association). Earth and Sky have exclusive commercial and tourism access to Mt John for their new venture, to be known as Astro-tourism, and to provide public astronomy outreach on behalf of the University of Canterbury. It is worth fitting in a tour if you can with Earth Sky.
Remember in Tekapo
- Enjoy the café at the top of Mt John – it opens at 10am
- Definitely find time to go for a walk before you go to bed, so you can enjoy the night sky
- Enjoy the nearby Tekapo spa and hotpools
A2O Day One Tekapo to Twizel
First stage is along the Canals feeding from Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki, part of New Zealand’s hydro electricity network. Mostly gravel, a little seal, very flat. I joined the trail where it crossed the Highway. I parked the car and enjoyed a 6km road along the canals and back again. Along here I met Anne who is scootering her way around New Zealand.
Second stage is simply spectacular around Lake Pukaki to the power station. I joined this ride – a sublime ride along a very scenic lake with views across to Aoraki, Mt Cook, with lots of stopping places for lunch and swims.
At the main car park there is a small shop with delicious salmon sashimi and well deserved ice creams with stunning views over a crisply blue lake across to Aoraki.
Next stage is the ride to Twizel – a purpose built cycle track into the home of Cycle Journeys and our next accommodation – The Lakes Motel. Warm welcome and a spa bath – loved our delicious luke warm soak before dinner.
Voted the best section today: From end of Canals along the Lake
Twizel to Lake Ohau Lodge
The day has started with a light drizzle as we cycle to breakfast at the Hydro Café in the Twizel village centre. Nice and cool for the riders today. I am off to the bike repair shop. My bike tipped over in the bicycle rack and twisted the front wheel. Bummer. Next to Hydro in the village centre is a fantastic general hardware store, brimming with interesting things – Jakes Hardware. I leave my bike with them to order a new front wheel. Sigh. No cycling for me today.
Lake Ohau Lodge is right on the A2O trail, so a perfect stop for lunch or in our case a stay over. 72 rooms overlooking the lake, with restaurant and bar, it is gorgeous – I can see why Cycle journeys recommended we stay here. In winter it is the main accommodation for the nearby Ohau ski field. Today the clouds and rain have cleared from the lake, though not entirely from the mountains. It is beautiful.
Best cycle section around Lake Ohau from Ohau Road to the main road.
Ohau to Otematata
Two of our number hired electric bikes just for this bit, and they were glad they did, so that made three on electric bikes, and one under their own steam, and another decided to miss that section and join me in the support vehicle.
Those of us in the support vehicle had the added bonus of being able to add in a visit to the Clay Cliffs. We were all to meet at the old woolshed. In the car we went to the end of the road and found a woolshed, and waited and waited. Eventually a text came through (very little reception) – we were at the wrong woolshed!
Of we went to the Ahuriri River where we all met up for lunch, a swim and some bicycle swaps. Cynthia had had enough, so I cycled on to Otematata, via an iced coffee at Omarama. We cycled on a great off road track to Lake Benmore where we enjoyed a fabulous off road ride around the lake. Then it was back to the main road to a big climb up to the saddle, and then a fabulous 6km down hill run (up to 65kms/hr) to Otematata and our beds for the night at Valley Lodge.
By the time I knocked on the door at Valley Lodge I was exhausted and suffering from heat exhaustion, – Anita answered the door and handed me some iced water, before I fell into a cold shower. It was 35 degrees in the shade.
Best part of the ride – from Omarama to Sallors Cutting along the lake edge
Otematata to Duntroon
I had to head back to Twizel to pick up my bike. On the way got a flat tyre on the car and needed to sort that too – the trials and tribulations of a support driver 🙂
I caught up with the riders for lunch at Kurow Winery – Good choice. We demolished the platters and enjoyed a glass of wine as well. Two others took over the driving and I rode on to Duntroon – which was fairly easy, but pretty boring riding.
The final ride was a short ride through a newly restored wetland. We drive up to meet Cat who is one of the voluteers who helped establish the wetland we cycled through. She is letting us put our bikes in her back shed, so we get a head start tomorrow. Then it is all 6 of us into the car to go back to our lodgings at GlenMac.
Watch out for Duntroon developments – the hotel is empty and the café closed, but Duntroon has a few funky interesting shops and the locals have developed and planted a wetland as part of the cycle trail. I can see it is just waiting for some people to move in and offer food and more accommodation. It would have been a great base to leave from for Oamaru – Kurow a bit too far away for the last day. A great place to stay in Duntroon Kowhai Cottage.
Best Section – around Lake Benmore and lake Avebury
Duntroon to Oamaru
We are on sheep station GlenMac half way between Kurow and Duntroon, and up a country road. Thanks to Kay and Keith – lovely dinner and breakfast, and some of us got to feed the orphan lambs before we left.
As we set off, I can see the mist hugging the river, and it follows me all the way to Oamaru. The cyclists take higher inland route and soon climbed out of the fog.
Love NZ – the small auto shop in Duntroon could not fix our tyre but did not think twice about recommending someone in Oamaru, and then ringing them up to make sure they can get the tyre. All sorted – I get the new tyre at 1pm.
Oamaru is a lovely old town, and worth staying overnight to explore it – a fantastic area around the waterfront, and lovely repurposed historic precinct.
The Galley café is right on the water, at the end of the Alps to Ocean Cycleway, and well worth stopping at for coffee, a snack and free wifi. I am typing this as I look at the boats bobbing in the harbour on a mist filled morning.
Best part of this section – cycling into Oamaru through the botanic gardens, through the historic area down to the sea.
This summer I was the support vehicle for a group of friends doing the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail. I took my electric bike along and joined in for some of the best parts of the trail – you can read about it here. This fantastic 300 km ride goes from Aoraki Mt Cook (or […]More...