Self-Guided Catlins Cycle Tour: Not For The Faint-Hearted

self-guided catlins cycle tourRight at the very bottom of the South Island is the Catlins – a wild, rugged and remote region full of intriguing wildlife, history and scenery. If you’re searching for a tough tour that will test your fitness to the max, this self-guided route is for you.

This tour takes you from Dunedin to Invercargill (or vice versa). The first day gives you the option to explore the beautiful Otago Peninsula with a visit to the Albatross colony on Taiaroa Head.

Day two sees you bidding farewell to Dunedin and following the coastline south to Milton. Your journey weaves in and out of bays and headlands and around the edge of the Otago Coast Forest before a fast descent into Milton.

Day three takes you south across the mighty Clutha River to meet the coast at Kaka Point. You’ll then backtrack over the Karoro Creek towards Owaka. By day’s end you’ll arrive at Surat Bay for a walk on the beach. For those not wanting to cycle so far, there are options to stay in Kaka Point or Owaka.

Day four to Curio Bay involves lots of climbing, but the route is interspersed by a number of side trips to visit waterfalls, caves and bays which breaks up the riding and makes for an interesting journey. There is accommodation dotted along the way and specifically at Papatowai, if you’d prefer to break the ride up into two days, or you are travelling from Kaka Point. Curio Bay is famous for one of the world’s finest “petrified” or fossil forests. Make sure you’re settled into the lookout on the south shore an hour before sunset, to see the yellow eyed penguins waddling ashore.

Day five is a shorter day in terms of cycling distance, but allows you plenty of time to visit the fossilised forest, see the dolphins in Porpoise Bay, walk to Slope Point (the southernmost point of the South Island) and visit the historic lighthouse and shipwreck site at Waipapa Point.

The last day of your Catlins tour takes you northwest across the flat Awarua Plains to Invercargill. There is the option to visit Bluff, New Zealand’s southernmost town, which will double the day’s cycling distance.

Like all self-guided tours, your schedule is completely up to you. Add in more days to fully discover each area or break the riding into more manageable distances.

The remote nature of this tour means it’s suitable only for fit riders with cycle touring experience and the ability to ride five to eight hours per day with significant climbing on gravel roads. You will need to carry your own food and water as the distances between towns are large, and you will need basic bike maintenance skills to repair your own punctures.

This self-guided Catlins cycle tour includes:

  • Rental of a Rockhopper or Crosstrail fitted with pannier rear racks
  • Rear panniers
  • Cycle helmet
  • Bike computer
  • Full repair gear
  • Tour briefing
  • Detailed map and route information
  • Accommodation suggestions

Got questions? Ready to book? Send me an email.

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt