NZ's Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail FAQs

Lake Aviemore | Lachlan Gardiner
Lake Aviemore | Lachlan Gardiner

From the best times to cycle in New Zealand to information about the trail surface, find helpful advice and frequently asked questions about the Alps to Ocean cycle trail below.

How difficult is the Alps to Ocean cycle?

Overall the trail descends 780m from the Southern Alps to The Pacific Ocean, although don’t be fooled into thinking it's all downhill. There are some introductory sections and some moderate sections with a variety of ‘cruisy’ downhill sections, flat trail sections and several rewarding uphills that you will need to be prepared for.

Our Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail is graded introductory to moderate and is suitable for almost anyone with a moderate level of fitness. So you don’t have to be an avid cyclist to enjoy a cycling trip in New Zealand, just to be reasonably fit with a spirit of adventure and a love of nature.

There’s an itinerary to suit a variety of riders – from beginners, with an e-bike option available, to those who are comfortable in a saddle and revel at the idea of ticking off the full 310km trail.

When to ride the Alps to Ocean trail?

The riding season on the Alps to Ocean trail is from October to April, with each season providing its own unique experience on the trail.

Spring (October - November)
Come spring, the weather is starting to warm up, the flowers start to bring colour to the trail and there are fewer people around meaning uninterrupted views – there is a higher chance of rain, however, the spring flowers can often make up for that.

Beautiful local flora around New Zealand's Lake Tekapo |  <i>Learna Cale</i>

Summer (December - February)
Summer is a great time to ride the trail. The trail is buzzing with people, and with lupine in bloom. The days are hot but not too hot for cycling and the daylight hours are longer meaning more time to explore. 

Autumn (March - April)
Crisp sunny days, long fine spells of weather and cooler temperatures make Autumn a great time to ride the trail. The summer crowds have moved on and autumn shows its true colours as the changing leaves transform the landscape into a golden paradise.

What gear should I bring?

The weather can change unexpectedly in New Zealand as cold fronts and warm highs quickly blow in, so it’s important to have the right gear. This basically means having a good waterproof jacket and several layers of warm clothing for any cold spells and lightweight clothing for the hotter days.

A fleece and/or jumper and good thermals are a must (even in summer). Gloves are always handy to have as well as padded cycling shorts for those long days on the bike.

We supply a full gear list for the trip before you arrive to make sure your trip is as comfortable as possible.

How much training do I need to do? What is the trail surface like?

Cycling distances range from 30 kilometres to 65 kilometres on the trail each day, so you will need a reasonable level of fitness. We suggest 90 minutes of cycling three to five times a week for the three months leading up to your trip.

There is a mix of surfaces on the trail from gravel, to dedicated cycle trail (small stones) and sealed roads. We do recommend spending some time cycling on loose gravel to make your cycling experience more enjoyable. 

What do I do if I get tired on the bike?

One of the best parts about a guided trip is having the support vehicle nearby if you get tired or want a break. Your guide will let you know where the next vehicle can next access the trail and you can hop on-board.

Cycling through Pasquale Kurow Winery |  <i>Daniel Thour</i>

What happens if I get hungry or thirsty while I’m cycling?

There is always a selection of fresh fruit and snacks in the support vehicle, which you will have access to at the stops along the trail or can carry with you in your bike bag. There is also a supply of water in the support vehicle, which you can access regularly to refill your water bottle.

Will I have cell phone reception?

There is good mobile reception along most of the trail.

Is Wi-Fi available along the trail?

Most of the accommodation we use along the trail will have Wi-Fi. This may not be unlimited and there may be the occasional place without it but it's always good to detach from the screen every now and then.

Can I bring my own bike?

Yes, you can bring your own bike. You can also bring your own pedal or seats, however, you just need to check in with our bookings team to make sure they are the right fit for our bikes.

New Zealand, Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, cycling in New Zealand, popular cycle trails in New Zealand

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