Active Adventures |  Weka -  New Zealand Biking Adventure

Christchurch to ChristchurchWe’re keen bikers here at Active, so we wanted to create the ‘dream itinerary’ for fellow biking enthusiasts. We’ve escaped the traffic by crafting a trip that maximises New Zealand's amazing network of gravel biking trails.There’s plenty of flexibility and freedom if you want to ride a little further or a little less, we’ve got you covered!

  • Highlights

    Bike with full vehicle support:
    McLeans Island
    West Coast Wilderness trail
    Hawea River track
    Queenstown Cycle trail
    Mavora Lakes
    Cental Otago Rail trail
    Alps 2 Ocean trail

    Hike:
    Castle Hill
    Franz Josef Glacier
    Routeburn track and Key Summit
    Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

    Plus...
    Explore Queenstown
    Cruise Milford Sound

  • What's Included

    All accommodations
    A range of hotels, lodges, chalets and inns.

    All activities
    Calling all keen bikers! Bike and/or hike each day, with a couple of opportunities to rest your legs whilst out on a boat cruise.

    All guiding services
    Two experienced New Zealand guides per trip. Having two guides allows for much greater flexibility, meaning you're able to go at your own pace.

    All meals
    Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days, except where indicated on the itinerary (usually 1 day per trip is a free day, allowing you to choose your own dining location).

    All transport
    Airport transfers on the first & last days.
    When you're not travelling under your own steam, there will be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.

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  • Itinerary

    DAY 2 - JOURNEY TO THE WEST COAST, BIKE WEST COAST WILDERNESS TRAIL

    This morning we’ll head west to Kuru Tawhiti Conservation Area in the heart of the Southern Alps. We’ll take a gentle one-hour walk among the imposing limestone tors of Castle Hill, which were once a meeting place for moa hunters of the Ngai Tahu tribe. The Dalai Lama visited this area and described it as a ‘spiritual centre of the universe’. Aftwerwards we’ll continue on to the West Coast via Arthur’s Pass, one of New Zealand’s impressive alpine passes - look out for the Otira Viaduct. After lunch, we’ll take an afternoon ride on a section of the West Coast Wilderness trail from Greymouth to Taramakau and then it’s a short drive back down to Kumara. Once an old bustling goldmining town, Kumara is one of the many West Coast towns given a new lease of life by the opening of the West Coast Wilderness Trail cycleway In November 2013. We’ll spend the night here, enjoying dinner at the local pub.Theatre Royal Hotel, Kumara (All meals)Wilderness Trail Biking Distance: 18 kilometres (11 miles), 2-3 hours

     

    DAY 3 - BIKE WEST COAST WILDERNESS TRAIL

    We’ll journey down the coast this morning and inland to the small settlement of Kumara and the start of our next ride along another section of the West Coast Wilderness Trail. This trail offers contrasting cycling along water races, tramways and railway lines and through dense, lush rainforest. Passing by the Kapitea Reservoir, we’ll head inland towards the Great Southern Divide and the raging Arahura River. We’ll find a nice spot for a picnic lunch before continuing along the trail back towards the Tasman Sea and Lake Kaniere. The bike ride today will get your heart pumping and the excitement levels rising, in anticipation of all the trails you’re soon to experience. Later we’ll carry on down to Franz Josef, nestled in the rainforest-clad foothills of the Southern Alps, where we’ll stay for the next couple of nights. Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)Biking Distance: 38-46 kilometres (24-28 miles), 4 hours - Medium technical ridingElevation Gain: 300 metres (984 feet)Elevation Loss: 300 metres (984 feet)

     

    DAY 4 - HIKE NEAR FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER

    With some 140 glaciers making their way down from the Southern Alps, this area is fittingly known as glacier country. Few sights equal the spectacle of this giant frozen river (Franz Josef Glacier) imperceptibly grinding its way down through temperate rainforest to just 250 metres (820 feet) above sea level. We’ll spend most of the day near Franz Josef Glacier hiking up through the forest to either Alex Knob or Roberts Point, both of which give incredible views of the ice. This hike can be inaccessible in wet weather, so we may opt for an alternative hike in sheltered terrain.Optional Heli-hike (extra fee applies)An outrageously scenic alternative to today’s hike is to heli-hike on Franz Josef Glacier itself. After being fitted with crampons, ice axes and so on, you’ll board a turbine helicopter and fly towards the highest peaks of the Southern Alps, landing on the glacier at 1300 metres (4265 feet) above sea level. Led by specialist glacier guides, you’ll hike through the grand ice formations of the glacier, checking out its crevasses, seracs and tunnels – no previous experience is required! The constant movement of the glacier means every day is different, so your guides will cut steps in the ice to make the most of the conditions. At the end of your hike on the ice, you’ll take another helicopter ride out of the mountains and back to civilisation.The heli-hike is extremely popular, so we offer advance reservations with the helicopter operators and guiding company. At the time of booking, or up until one month before your trip, we can reserve a space for you, or you can leave your decision until the start of your trip and your guides will get you a spot if it’s available.After settling into our accommodation back in Franz Josef township, we can head out after dark with flashlights for a short night walk to search for the native glowworm while listening to some of New Zealand’s nocturnal birdlife, such as the morepork owl.Rainforest Retreat, Franz Josef (All meals)Alex Knob Hiking Distance: 8 kilometres (5 miles), 5-6 hoursElevation Gain: 1,100 metres (3,609 feet)Elevation Loss: 1,100 metres (3,609 feet)ORFranz Josef Glacier Terminal Face Hiking Distance: 4.8 kilometres (3 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Gain: 20 metres (65 feet)Elevation Loss: 20 metres (65 feet)OR (OPTIONAL)Heli-Hike on Franz Josef Glacier: 3-hour excursion

     

    DAY 5 - HIKE LAKE MATHESON AND BIKE HAWEA RIVER TRACK

    This morning, we’ll hike around Lake Matheson, an enchanting icon of the region that, on a still day, offers impressive reflections of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman (New Zealand’s two tallest peaks). After lunch, we’ll travel down the coast through lush forest and then inland across the Haast Pass to Wanaka, ready to jump back on the bikes and ride the Hawea River Track, linking Lake Hawea township to Wanaka, via Albert town. This is a nice, gentle ride with uninterrupted views of the clear Hawea River.Wanaka Lodgings, Wanaka (All meals)Lake Matheson Hiking Distance: 2.8 kilometres (1.7 miles), 1-2 hoursElevation Gain: 10 metres (33 feet)Elevation Loss: 10 metres (33 feet)Biking Distance: 8-26 kilometres (5-16 miles), 2-2.5 hours

     

    DAY 6 - BIKE GIBBSTON RIVER AND QUEENSTOWN TRAILS

    From Wanaka, it’s a short but dramatic journey over the Cardrona Saddle to the Gibbston Valley, an area best known for producing world-class grapes. You’ll be spoilt for vistas riding along the Gibbston River Trail - with the Kawarau River far below, impressive suspension bridges and iconic Central Otago landscapes. You’ll also pass through a rare pre-1900 fruit orchard and rock huts left over from the goldrush. Along the way, there are plenty of award-winning wineries to stop at and sample a drop if you’d like. We’ll have lunch in Arrowtown before continuing along the trails to Queenstown, with incredible views of the Remarkables mountain range and Lake Wakatipu.Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (Breakfast, Lunch)Biking Distance: 40-48 kilometres (25-30 miles), 2-4 hours, mostly flat

     

    DAY 7 - FREE DAY IN QUEENSTOWN

    Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand (if not the world!) and all the comforts of civilisation are packed into this tiny resort town: restaurants galore, stylish lounge bars, day spas, and boutiques. You’ll also find incredible optional activities here including horse trekking, a gondola, fishing, winery tours, bungy jumping, jet boating and skydiving as well as some great hiking opportunities. Or you can just soak up the atmosphere at one of many local cafés. Your guides will happily share their favourite haunts and point you in the right direction for your free day today.Crowne Plaza Hotel, Queenstown (No meals included)

     

    DAY 8 - CRUISE ON THE EARNSLAW STEAM SHIP TO WALTER PEAK, BIKE TO MAVORA LAKES

    This morning, we’ll cross Lake Wakatipu on board the historic steamship TSS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station. Here, you’ll follow Mt Nicholas farm road to the isolated Mavora Lakes. You’ll bike alongside the lake before heading gently up through the head waters of the Von River, surrounded by the Livingston Mountains. This is a true wilderness cycling experience on a quiet back road, and after your time in Queenstown, you’ll appreciate the peaceful surroundings! From Mavora Lakes, we’ll take a scenic drive through to Te Anau, our base for the next couple of nights.Te Anau lodgings, Te Anau (All meals)Biking Distance: 48-55 kilometres (30-34 miles), 4-5 hoursElevation Gain: 415 metres (1,360 feet)Elevation Loss: 115 metres (377 feet)

     

    DAY 9 - CRUISE MILFORD SOUND AND HIKE ROUTEBURN TRACK

    It’s worth the early start this morning as we set off for our largest and perhaps most spectacular national park, Fiordland. When we arrive, we’ll be greeted with jaw-dropping views of Mitre Peak and the surrounding jagged granite peaks – quite possibly the most picturesque mountain range in New Zealand – though we’ll let you be the judge of that! For close up views, we’ll jump on board a boat cruise to explore the silky smooth waters and hidden coves of Milford Sound. Gaze in wonder at the waterfalls cascading down enormous vertical rock faces and if you’re lucky, you may spot the odd fur seal or dolphin making itself at home in the fiord! After lunch, we’ll head back through the Homer Tunnel to hike part of the Routeburn Track to Key Summit, for unsurpassed views of the Hollyford Valley, as well as Lake Marian and Mt Christina.Te Anau lodgings, Te Anau (All meals)Hiking Distance: 3.4 kilometres (2 miles), 3-4 hoursElevation Gain: 380 metres (1,246 feet)Elevation Loss: 380 metres (1,246 feet)

     

    DAY 10 - BIKE THE OTAGO RAIL TRAIL FROM LAUDER TO RANFURLY

    Today we’ll head east from Te Anau right into the heart of the Maniototo region in Central Otago. The trail here follows an old train line built in the early 1900s. The tracks were retired and removed in 1990 and now the Central Otago Rail Trail is one of the most iconic cycling trails in New Zealand. We’ll cross numerous bridges and viaducts, winding our way along the smooth track past Raggedy Range and Rough Ridge. We have a gradual climb through the Ida Valley, and once at the summit of the trail, it’s a slight downhill all the way into Ranfurly, a small town famous for its Art Deco architecture and warm and welcoming community. Hawkdun Lodge, Ranfurly (All meals)Biking Distance: 23-48 kilometres (14-30 miles), 4-5 hoursElevation Gain: 100 metres (328 feet)Elevation Loss: 100 metres (328 feet)

     

    DAY 11 - BIKE ALPS 2 OCEAN CYCLE TRAIL

    This morning we’ll journey over Danseys Pass, through the spectacular limestone country of North Otago. From Omarama we’ll jump back on the bikes to experience another iconic ride - on a section of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail to Lake Ohau. Along this trail through the Ruataniwha Conservation Park, you’ll be rewarded with expansive views of rugged mountain country, vast tussock lands, beech and tawhai forest and sparkling clear rivers. Tonight we’ll stay at the remote and beautiful Lake Ohau Lodge. The lodge is tucked in beside an alpine lake, with incredible views stretching across to Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps – the ideal spot to rejuvinate the body and soak in the hot tub whilst gazing at the stars!Lake Ohau Lodge, Ohau (All meals)Alps 2 Ocean Trail Biking Distance: 28 kilometres (17 miles), 2-3 hoursElevation Gain: 30 metres (98 feet)Elevation Loss: 30 metres (98 feet)OPTIONAL 

     

    DAY 12 - CONTINUE ALPS 2 OCEAN CYCLE TRAIL

    Today is our last day on two wheels, so we’ll make it extra special with a ride that’ll knock your socks off! We’ll set off around Lake Ohau and then alongside the Ohau Canal to Twizel. From Twizel, the dramatic scenery steps up a notch with the shimmering cobalt-blue Lake Pukaki on the left, and Aoraki/Mt Cook straight ahead.  Along this section of the trail, you’ll also pass a range of native plants including Kowhai (with brilliant yellow flowers, popular with endemic Tui birds), flax and tussocks. Tonight we’ll stay on Hamish and Julia McKenzie’s 5000 hectare high-country sheep farm, Braemar Station (station is the New Zealand word for a big ranch). With no lights for miles around, the stars on a clear night are like nothing you’ve ever seen. Many of our travellers have told us this was one of their favourite places on the whole trip!Shearers’ quarters, Braemar Station (All meals)Alps 2 Ocean Trail Biking Distance: 60-90 kilometres (37-66 miles), 5-6 hoursElevation Gain: 30 metres (98 feet)Elevation Loss: 30 metres (98 feet)

     

    DAY 13 - HIKE AORAKI MT COOK NATIONAL PARK

    A short distance away is Mt Cook, named Aoraki or ‘cloud piercer’ by South Island Maori, the highest mountain in New Zealand. Directly opposite Aoraki/Mt Cook, there’s a stunning day hike to the main ridge above Mueller Glacier. This area has a unique alpine environment and includes endemic flora such as the Mt Cook lily (Ranunculus lyallii), the world’s largest buttercup. Our travellers often say this is the best hike they’ve ever done and it’s a fine way to finish off a great trip. It’s a bit of a hike, and you’ll remember the view of the glacier and the surrounding peaks forever! The weather conditions are very important in this area, as it’s a true alpine climate notorious for sudden weather shifts. If we aren’t able to do the Mueller Glacier hike, or you’d like to take it a little easier, there’s an impressive hike up to a glacial lake (complete with icebergs!) at the base of the Hooker Glacier. After hiking, we’ll relax at our lodge and have a celebratory dinner for our last night together.Aoraki Alpine Lodge, Aoraki Mt Cook Village (All meals)Mueller Ridge Hiking Distance: 7 kilometres (4.5 miles), 5-6 hoursElevation Gain: 975 metres (3,199 feet)Elevation Loss: 975 metres (3,199 feet)ORHooker Valley Hiking Distance: 9 kilometres (5.6 miles), 3-4 hoursElevation Gain: 100 metres (328 feet)Elevation Loss: 100 metres (328 feet)

     

    DAY 14 - DEPART FOR HOME

    This is the last day of your ‘Weka’ trip and we’ll leave you refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times you’ll have had with us in New Zealand! For a great way to see the North Island as well, where you’ll experience Maori culture, pristine beaches and geothermal areas, combine this trip with our 11-day ‘Kauri’ (5-day ‘Kauri’ options available).(Breakfast, Lunch)

     

    DAY 1 - ARRIVE, SET UP, BIKE MCLEANS ISLAND

    Most people leave the Northern Hemisphere on a Friday evening, arriving into Auckland early Sunday morning. You’ll lose a day crossing the dateline – but you get it back on the way home! It’s a short flight from Auckland to Christchurch on the South Island where we’ll meet you. Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city, is framed by the Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps to the West and the Pacific Ocean and Banks Penisula to the East. After fitting our bikes we’ll take a warm up ride at McLeans Island. Depending on where you’re coming from, you’ll probably find jetlag is no big deal – for instance, it’s a 12 to 13 hour direct overnight flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, and there’s only a 3 hour time difference between New Zealand and US Pacific time. If you’re coming from further afield, you’ll appreciate the gentle start to your New Zealand adventure.Merivale Manor, Christchurch (Lunch, Dinner)Biking Distance: 5-10 kilometres (3-6 miles), 1-2 hours

 

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