NEW Trip 2023Manaslu Circuit & Base Camp TrekView Trip Details

7 Days$2940USD

  • 7 day gravel riding
  • 6 nights hotel/motel
  • 4 Dinners
  • 7 Lunches
  • 6 Breakfasts
moderate to challenging

Trip highlights

  • Challenge yourself with 7 days of breathtaking gravel grinding
  • Enjoy incredible views of the Southern Alps from the Banks Peninsula
  • Cycle through arid McKenzie Country surrounded by the highest peaks in the country
  • Admire a contrast of vivid blue lakes, sparkling rivers, snow capped mountains and golden tussock-lands
  • Indulge in award winning wine and local Kiwi cuisine
  • Ride a section of NZ’s famous Otago Central Rail Trail, along the course of a historic rail road
  • Ride the spectacular new Lake Dunstan Trail, plus the magnificent Roxburgh Gorge
  • Conclude the tour in iconic Queenstown, New Zealand's adventure capital

Explore the vast and impressive Mackenzie Basin and remote Central Otago on this remarkable gravel tour from Christchurch to Queenstown. We trace the footsteps of the early pioneers, along gold mining trails and stock routes which now form quiet back country roads.

Our journey begins with an awesome ride on the Banks Peninsula with views of the vivid blue Akaroa Harbour, the crater of an extinct volcano. We then travel through beautiful farm country to the stunning turquoise Lake Tekapo and into the "big-sky country" of Central Otago. We cross the Hakataramea and Danseys Passes and then follow the route of the historic railway, crossing viaducts, bridges and through railway tunnels dating back to the gold mining era of the 1880’s.

Our final two days take us along the Clutha Gold and Roxburgh Gorge where we experience real isolation cycling alongside the Clutha River before we embark on the newly created Lake Dunstan trail, surrounded by high mountain peaks and above a stunning gorge. We finish this epic cycle tour in Queenstown.

Trip Code: GGR

We will meet our guides at 8:00am in the reception of the Quest Hotel. Please be wearing your cycling clothing as we will be riding on the first morning. We will be taken to the depot where we can assemble our bikes or for a bike fit of hire bikes and a tour briefing. Today we find our cycle legs with a warm-up ride on Banks Peninsula. We will start with a 1 hour drive out of Christchurch and set off riding from French Farm Bay out towards the Akaroa harbour heads. We start on an undulating paved road and then beyond the settlement of Wainui sees us on an extended climb up to the panoramic Bossu Road. The road turns to gravel at the top and we follow the crater rim of an extinct volcano with incredible views towards the Canterbury Plains, the snowy Southern Alps and into the vivid blue harbour. We enjoy a fast descent into the old railway town of Little River where we can have a well deserved snack and a wander around the art gallery. After Lunch we join the Little River cycle trail and roll our legs over alongside Lakes Forsyth and Ellesmere back towards Christchurch. Lake Ellesmere is Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest lake and an internationally important wildlife area with abundant birdlife. This trail is easy rolling gravel, and the scenery and views of the water and hills give a real Canterbury flavour. As the trail ends we load up the bikes and drive back to the city centre and our hotel, arriving in the late afternoon. There will be time to explore the city centre before meeting for our first group dinner in the evening. Cycling Distance: French Farm Bay to Little River - approx 30km Little River to Tai Tapu- 40km Elevation Gain: 1300m/4900ft

Meals:  L,D

After breakfast, we load up our gear and drive to the small settlement of Albury on the edge of the Canterbury Plains with a coffee stop at Pleasant Point. This area, New Zealand’s only “flat” land, is wide open country with braided rivers teeming with trout and salmon. The Canterbury Plains are also rich in sheep and dairy farming and today’s ride finds us traveling through a pastoral landscape. Today our ride takes us up the Little Opawa River Valley and over the Waratah Saddle, winding through rolling farmland. We then head towards the tussock covered hills and over the Mackenzie Saddle (785m/2575ft) which cuts through the ranges and gives us our first views of the vast arid Mackenzie Country, where rivers flow through sweeping tussock plains with a backdrop of the snowy alps. We head northwards to meet the main highway at Dog Kennel Corner, a memorial to the importance of sheep dogs, prior to formal fencing of farmland. Here there will be the option to jump onto the support van, or continue the last undulating 15km along the main road to Tekapo. In early summer this road is lined with lupins creating an incredible splash of colour to the arid landscape. Upon arrival in Lake Tekapo, we take in views of the amazing turquoise water and the Southern Alps from the Church of the Good Shepherd, and we can enjoy a soak in the Tekapo Hot Pools before dinner. Cycling Distance: Albury to Dog Kennel Corner - 46km Optional Ride: Dog Kennel Corner to Tekapo - 15km Elevation Gain: 900m/2950ft

Meals:  B,L

This morning we retrace our steps by vehicle to Dog Kennel Corner and start riding southwards. The first part is paved road, but shortly after the turn off to Mackenzie Pass we see a sign pointing to Hakataramea Pass and we meet the gravel. We leave civilisation and climb towards an indigo sky, lofty views of the Southern Alps and the cloud piercer, Aoraki/Mt Cook behind us are now even more imposing above the Mackenzie Basin, whose truly vast scale is more easily appreciated as we approach the pass. The pass, marked with a fence-line, gate and signposts to destinations in both directions, proudly announces the pass is at 965m (3230ft) above sea level. A short winding descent leads to the broad Hakataramea Valley. The imposing Kirkliston Range to the west towers above the ordered, rolling farmland and we descend to Kurow, a small town where the Hakataramea and Waitaki valleys meet. Tonight we enjoy a home cooked meal and fine kiwi hospitality at our lodge in Kurow. Cycling Distance: Dog Kennel Corner to Kurow – 91km Elevation Gain: 500m/1640ft

Meals:  B,L,D

Today's journey takes us over the remote alpine Dansey's Pass, a historic stock route and gold mining route linking the Waitaki District with Central Otago. On leaving Kurow we start by following the famous Alps to Ocean trail, a designated cycle track that leads from Aoraki/Mt Cook to the Pacific Ocean at Oamaru. We ride a section that follows the Waitaki River and passes Takiroa Maori rock art site before reaching Duntroon. Signposts lead us to the gravelled Dansey's Pass road and we wind onward and upward over the fractured Kakanui Mountains. We cycle through sections of gorge where the road clings to the cliff side and finally up to the barren tussock covered pass at 935m where huge triangular faced mountains tower above. From the summit we coast for 9km descending to the Dansey's Pass Coach House at the former gold mining settlement of Kyeburn Diggings. The hotel's original stonework was constructed in 1862 by a mason known as “Happy Bill”. Bill’s remuneration was in beer, and he received one pint for every schist boulder shaped and laid! We can relax with a drink in'front of the large fireplace and there is the opportunity to explore the old cemetery and mining relics before we load up the bikes and drive to our overnight accommodation in Wedderburn. Those eager to keep riding can ride the extra kms to our cottage accommodation. Cycling Distance: Kurow to Kyeburn Diggings - 75km Optional Ride: Kyeburn Diggings to Wedderburn - 34km Elevation Gain: 1100m/3600ft

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we embark on the best section of New Zealand’s original and most famous “Great Ride,” the Otago Central Rail Trail. Steeped in history, this off-road rail trail offers a scenic and historic journey into the Central Otago heartland. This ever-changing landscape includes rugged mountains, crystal clear rivers, and steep winding gorges. We set off from the iconic Wedderburn Station and cycle over the impressive Poolburn viaduct and Manuherikia Bridge and through the 229m Poolburn tunnel. With views of the Dunstan Mountains and the Raggedy Range, we continue on to Clyde, a quaint historic town in this up and coming wine region. Clyde was once a wild and rollicking “canvas” town bustling with gold miners, shop keepers and ever-present dancing girls. Dunstan House, significant as a social gathering point for the thousands of miners, was the first hotel built in Clyde. This unique hotel with an ambiance of yesteryear is our accommodation for the night. The “gold” that can be found in this region today is wine and before dinner, we have an option to try award-winning Pinot Noir with a private wine tasting at a local winery. Cycling Distance: Wedderburn to Clyde - 80km Elevation Gain: 275m/900ft

Meals:  B,L

Today we get to ride 2 stunning NZ Great Rides alongside the mighty Clutha / Mata-Au River. The day begins with the drive to Lawrence, birthplace of the 1860s gold rush. After a wander around this delightful village, we’ll hop on our bikes at the start of the Clutha Gold Trail and head for the gentle climb up to the 434m-long Big Tunnel. Downhill at Beaumont we’ll meet the River - be prepared to be captivated by its swirling, turquoise waters. Twenty scenic kilometres on through the scenic Beaumont Gorge, we’ll reach the small farming settlement of Millers Flat. The next 30kms takes us past interesting riverside landmarks and deep into the orchard-lands of the Teviot Valley. The impressive Roxburgh hydro dam marks the end of the Clutha Gold Trail and the start of the Roxburgh Gorge Trail. With amazing northerly vistas across the Lake Roxburgh the trail drops into the Gorge and then heads away from the water passing through a small secluded valley with regenerating Ka-nuka (tea tree) scrubland and into sweeping hill country farmland. At Elbow Creek, it’s a gradual descent to Shingle Creek, the halfway mark where we take a scenic jet boat ride for the next 10km to Doctor’s Point. The second half of the trail is equally remote and awe-inspiring with stone-walled water races and other remnants of gold mining activity. We continue tracing the gorge to finally emerge in Alexandra where there is the option to hop in the van or ride the 12km riverside trail back to Clyde. Cycling distances : Clutha Gold : 71km +534m; Roxburgh Gorge : 21km +254m River Trail : 12km +94km

Meals:  B,L,D

Be amongst the first riders to cycle the recently opened Lake Dunstan Trail, an easy, but spectacular, ride through unique and fascinating landscapes so characteristic of Central Otago as it journeys along the Clutha, the Kawarau River and the shores of Lake Dunstan. The region’s rich modern, pioneering and Maori historical stories are integrated along the way, some of which are brought to life in Clyde and Cromwell Historical Precinct. Starting in Clyde you pass the Clyde Dam and enter the stunning Cromwell Gorge where you cycle around sheer rock faces rising above the Clutha and eventually meet the Kawarau River at Cornish Point. Passing vineyards and olive groves the trail heads right past Carrick Winery, where we may choose to stop for a 'refuel', before crossing the Bannockburn Bridge and ducking into the Cromwell Heritage Precinct. After time to explore this lovely old town we'll re-join the trail which heads along the shores of Lake Dunstan and finishes part way up the lake just beyond Pisa Moorings. The drive through the picturesque Kawerau Gorge to Queenstown is stunning, passing the historic Kawerau Bridge before heading into the vine-lined Gibbston Valley and onto Queenstown, the final destination for our Gravel adventure. Cycling Distance: Clyde to Cromwell Heritage Precinct - 38km; Cromwell to Smiths Way - 16km Elevation Gain : 570m

Meals:  B,L


  • 6 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 4 dinners
  • 6 nights hotel/motel ensuite accommodation on twin share basis
  • Professional qualified driver/guide
  • 2 professional guides/drivers on trips with 8 or more people
  • Private vehicle transport
  • Entry to the Tekapo hotpools
  • Wine tasting at boutique Central Otago vineyard
  • Water and snacks while cycling
  • Access and concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation
  • New Zealand Goods and Services Tax (GST)

  • International or domestic flights and taxes
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Meals not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All beverages, other than breakfast
  • Bike hire (including helmet)
  • Water bottle (help us save the environment and bring your own bike drink bottle)
  • Optional activities
  • Personal expenses (eg. phone calls, internet, laundry, shopping etc)
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa (if required)
  • Tips

About Your Leader

Our guides are one of our biggest assets and we pride ourselves on their level of quality and high standards. Once the trip reaches 8 people, we provide you with two of our expert guides to maximise your enjoyment and overall experience. You’ll know you’re in safe hands as all of our guides are certified in first aid and CPR and many of them are trained bike mechanics. They come from all walks of life but our guides have a common desire to give you the best possible experience, fun and lots of fond memories to take home with you.


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Options & Supplements*
  • Gravel Bike HireUSD$220
  • Single SupplementUSD$580
*Prices listed are per person

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed South Island Gravel Explorer trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

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Why travel with us

Award Winning Adventures

Enhancing your journey with authentic experiences, genuine cultural exchange and real exploration are the focal points on all of our adventures. In 2019, we were crowned by our peers as the best in adventure travel at The Travel Awards in Sydney.

Thoughtful Travel

Our vision is to leave the world a better place by following our sustainable active outdoor travel charter. All our adventures are 100% carbon offset and our Regenerative 2030 Project aims to integrate ‘regenerative’ projects into every one of our global operations by 2030.

Ultimate Value

 When you book one of our adventures, you will receive quality services at the best prices with plenty of inclusions. There are no hidden costs, single travellers don’t pay more and you’ll enjoy many ‘extra touches’ that ensure your holiday is excellent value for money.

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