West Coast Cycling New Zealand

On the road from Christchurch to Queenstown

The West Coast of the South Island was made for cycle touring. Wild, rugged scenery, exhilarating twists and turns and interesting, out-of-the-way townships. Today we’re giving you an insight into one of our most popular self-guided South Island tours: the 8 Day Christchurch to Queenstown Road Tour. Settle back and enjoy the ride…

west coast cycle tours
The wild West Coast of the South Island

Day 1: Christchurch to Hokitika. 40km
An early wakeup call and quick ride to the train station in Christchurch. You’re about to embark on one of the world’s most famous train journeys, taking you from the farmlands of Canterbury across the mighty Southern Alps to Greymouth. Sit back and enjoy the views! From Greymouth it’s a leisurely and fairly flat ride to Hokitika.

Day 2: Hokitika to Harihari. 72km
Flat to rolling ground for most of today’s ride. You’ll pass through the small gold mining town of Ross and the banks of the very photogenic Lake Lanthe.

Day 3: Harihari to Fox Glacier. 84.4km
The ominously-named Mount Hercules is one of your challenges today. Luckily it’s not as immense as it sounds and your reward is a zippy downhill to Whataroa. There’s scenery aplenty on the next stretch, before a series of short climbs and a final drop into Fox Glacier.

Day 4: Rest (or explore) day
Enjoy a break from the saddle and take in the sights of Fox Glacier. Take a guided glacier walk, head out on a hike, go white water rafting or jump out of a plane. There’s also horse riding on offer if your backside can handle it! Or kick back in the Glacier Hot Pools.

Day 5: Fox Glacier to Haast. 119km
A long day in the saddle with plenty of undulating terrain, medium climbs, rugged coastal scenery and thundering seas. The Paringa Salmon Farm is a good spot for lunch.

Day 6: Haast to Makaora. 82km
Today you’re bidding farewell to the wild west coastline and heading inland. You’ll be following the Haast River for the first part of the day, before heading up the Haast Pass. You might not welcome rain but the many waterfalls along the way really put on a show when the weather’s wet. The Gates of Haast are a compulsory photo stop.

Day 7: Makarora to Wanaka. 65km
Beautiful and gentle riding along the shores of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. As you drop into Wanaka you’ll pass the Great Maze at Puzzling World – well worth a shot if you’ve still got the energy.

Day 8: Wanaka to Queenstown. 81km
Today you’re heading over the Crown Range, the highest highway in New Zealand. You’ll pass through charming Arrowtown (a good stop for a late lunch), before pushing on to Queenstown via the Shotover River and Arthur’s Point. Head for a famous Fergburger – you’ve earned it!

What’s included on this tour:

  • Specialized Sirrus Touring bike fitted with rear panniers and computer plus helmet. This is a great bike for this style of trip but you can upgrade to the superior Cannondale T2 or Surly Long Haul Trucker for an additional $194 per bike.
  • Detailed route notes and maps. We also provide accommodation suggestions and contact details for each overnight stop (usually backpackers, campsites and hotels), plus recommendations on where to eat and stock up on supplies.

Price: $435 NZD (train fares, accommodation and meals not included). Head here to book >>
Notes: This is a challenging ride, with plenty of hill climbs.

Route alternatives: If you’re uber-fit or short of time, you can do this tour in 5 days. Or you can add in extra days to explore each area more fully.