North and South Epic

This is it, the best of New Zealand's North and South Islands. Discover the wonder of this incredible land, the diversity between the ocean, rivers, glaciers, fjords, farmland and majestic mountains. For the intermediate to experienced mountain biker who enjoys a challenge, you'll love the flowing single trail and cycle trails through some of the most stunning scenery that New Zealand has to offer.

  • Intro
  • Itinerary
  • Dates
  • Price and What's Included

This is the best New Zealand mountain biking of both North and South Islands. Discover the wonder of this incredible land and the extreme diversity.

Explore the shimmering lakes, flowing river valleys, alpine passes, private farmland and pastoral plains while mountain biking New Zealand’s north and south islands. Biking through this amazing land you’ll visit the dry, rocky terrain of the high country, the ancient rainforests and the breathtaking mountains growing from the seas of the Marlborough Sounds. And to top it off, discover the wonder of New Zealand’s fresh produce and cuisine, accompanied by a local brew or glass of New Zealand’s finest vino.

North and South Epic itinerary

View Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to Christchurch
We welcome you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. The rest of the day is yours to explore the city of Christchurch, known as the gateway to the South Island.
Riding: none
Meals: none

Day 2: Christchurch – Queenstown
Our trip starts with a scenic bus transfer from Christchurch to Queenstown. We see Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki, Lindies Pass and the Kawarau Gorges. Our trip takes approx. 5-6 hours. En route you see Aoraki/Mt Cook.
In the late afternoon your guide will meet you at the Tour Hotel in Queenstown for a welcome briefing. You will get an overview of the program and your hire bike will be fitted, plus you’ll have a chance to ask any questions you may have.
In the evening we’ll get to know each other over dinner at one of the many excellent local restaurants.
Riding: none
Meals: B, L

Day 3: Let the Riding Begin
As a nice warm up day, today we ride along Frankton Arm and around the lake to Jack’s Point. It is a great 25km trail on a mixture of undulating gravel roads and single trails in this stunning location. The support van can meet us at Jack’s Point for a ‘comfy’ drive back to the hotel or we might choose to bike back as a group via the same route. This is an easy ‘warm-up ride’, however there are longer and more technical ride options: There are a number of purpose-built MTB tracks in Queenstown, e.g. the 7-mile delta track which can be combined with the Moke Lake Loop or if some group members likes to start the tour with ‘down-hilling” we can purchase a day or half day pass at the Queenstown Gondola for some ‘up-hill assistance’. See: (
In the evening we choose a local restaurant to try some of the local cuisine.
Riding: 25km, 3:30hrs (return trip would be 51km)
Meals: B, L

Day 4: Queenstown – Wanaka
This morning we start with a bus transfer to the nearby historical goldmining village of Arrowtown, before driving up the Crown Range Road to the Crown Saddle. From here we jump on the bikes and join the Tuohys Track, which follows exposed ridges on a scenic up-and-down rollercoaster to the intersection with the Roaring Meg Pack Track via Rock Peak, Mt Allan and Queensbury Hill to Tuohys Saddle. We have an optional excursion down to the Meg Hut (involving a 20 min climb back up to the Tuohys Saddle). We finish the day with a magnificent downhill on the Cromwell – Cardrona Pack Track. The historic Cardrona Pub awaits you with a cool beer – while the guide ‘quickly’ rides back on the road to get the van. This is one of the most scenic rides in the area and despite the tough climbs, it’s one of our favourite ride options between Queenstown and Wanaka.
The transfer to Wanaka is only a short 25 min drive. You will have the evening to enjoy the lake setting of the resort town.
If the weather is not suitable for the exposed and scenic ride described above, the guide will offer you a variety of alternative ‘all-weather’ ride options on the Queenstown Trail exploring the Wakatipu Basin from the Lake to the Gibbston Valley.
Riding: 24 km, 2 – 4 hours
Meals: B, L

Day 5: Wanaka Single Trail
A ‘fun ride’ is in stall for us today, offering great tracks for all levels of rider!
In the morning we’ll head out to Glenduh Bay for a cruisy, flowing single trail experience back to the Wanaka Lakefront. We stop for morning tea and coffee. Then we head out along the lakeshore to the Clutha River Outlet from where we start climbing up into ‘Sticky Forest’. This network of trails makes great use of the exotic pine forest close to the township, with over 20 tracks to choose from including some technical switchbacks. After a picnic lunch we continue our ‘fun riding’ around the Dean’s Bay 11km single trail loop close to Albert Town. We finish the day with a pleasant run down along the Cutha River trail to the Luggate Pub – so we can finish the day in style with a cold beer.
The transfer back to Wanaka only takes about 15min and there will be enough time to explore the resort town.
Riding: About 45km, 4-5 hrs to Luggate (+ extra ride 24km, 1:30hrs)
Meals: B, L

Day 6: The Most Scenic Drive in the World?
Today is not about the bike but it certainly doesn’t disappoint. We have a long transfer drive from Wanaka to the West Coast Town of Hokitika.
Travelling west toward the main divide of the Southern Alps the road initially follows Lake Hawea, then rejoins Lake Wanaka over a low pass. We witness a gradual change in New Zealand’s ever changing landscape. The dry, arid pasture lands of Central Otago slowly give way to the dense native bush of the Mount Aspiring National Park. The road slowly climbs out of the Makarora Valley and heads towards the newest alpine road to transect the Southern Alps, the 563m Haast Pass. Further on a short walk leads to the 30m Thunder Creek Falls, a good place to stretch the legs and enjoy the rainforest. From here the road follows the Haast River plains into Haast Village, situated in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand’s largest World Heritage Park.
The northward journey is spectacular. The road snakes its way through dense rainforest, over fast running rivers and past lovely lakes, such as Lakes Paringa, Ianthe and Moeraki. To the left the rugged, ever changing coastline and to the right the massive, snow covered peaks of the Southern Alps towering above all.
Today’s late lunch break will be at Fox Glacier township, which lies a short distance from the glacier’s terminal face. A short walk to the glacier face – just above sea level will be the perfect activity to loosen up the legs. From Fox the drive continues down the West Coast on ever winding roads passing Franz Josef Glacier, the old gold mining town of Ross and many more scenic delights.
We stay in one of the liveliest towns on the Coast – Hokitika. Enjoy the sunset during a walk down the wide beach or explore the local glow-worm caves.
Riding: no riding
Meals: B, L

Day 7: West Coast Wilderness
A full day on the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail awaits us today. The trail – completed in November 2013 – opens up the unique opportunity to ride the lush rainforest of the West Coast while travelling along historic paths, roads and abandoned tram lines.
From Hokitika the trail follows a tramline and then the Kaniere River and finally a gentle climb along an old water race to Lake Kaniere, nestled in the green foothills of the Alps.  Those of you up for a big challenge will start from Hokitika, while the rest of us will start from Lake Kaniere, thanks to our support van.
From Lake Kaniere the trail follows the Milltowen Road then climbs up the switchbacks to “Cowboys Paradise”, a replica Wild West town. From here the trail features everything that makes the New Zealand Trails a unique experience: a stunning swing bridge, “untouched” forest sections, boardwalk wooden trails over boggy areas, a trail along a water race, some gravel roads and a picturesque water reservoir before arriving in the town of Kumara – famous for the start of the Coast-to-Coast multisport race from the Tasman Sea to the Pacific Ocean.
From here the bus takes the group across the main divide to the spa town of Hanmer on the Eastern Side of the Southern Alps. For the next 2 nights in Hanmer Springs the motel is close to the village centre and easy walking distance to the famous Hanmer Springs Hot Pools. One entry is included in the tour price, which will be best utilized after our ride tomorrow. However, you are welcome to visit the pools this evening as well.
Riding: 55km, 3hrs
Meals: B, L

Day 8: Hanmer Springs
The New Zealand Government has recently purchased two massive farms and turned them into conservation land, opening up many recreational opportunities. To explore the 78,196ha St. James Station, we start with a 45min drive into the mountains alongside the Clarence River to Fowlers Hut before riding on a gravel road to the edge of Lake Tennyson. Then we climb Maling Pass, drop down into the Waiau valley and follow the river for a while on a smooth trail before a side valley takes us to our lunch stop at Lake Guyon (at 29km). From the lake, only those riders with an adventurous spirit and very good technical skills should complete the loop over Fowlers Pass. The rest of the group will backtrack down to the Waiau and back out to Lake Tenyson.
The Alpine group will start with a gentle 12km climb preceding the steep, technical climb up to Fowlers Pass (1296m) at 40km before a flowing single track leads us back to the bus. Should the weather not allow us to venture into the hills today, we will ride the forest tracks in the low-lying, sheltered plantations around the town. There are plenty of fun loops to test all abilities.
Riding: 47km, 4-5hrs
Meals: B, L

Day 9: The Famous Marlborough Sounds
After breakfast we drive from Hanmer via Kaikoura to Picton, along the very scenic inland connection between the Waiau Plains and the rugged Kaikoura coast. You’ll love the view to  start your day and we’ll have plenty of photo opportunities in Kaikoura offering the opportunity to spot some seals on the famous stretch of coast around the Kaikoura Peninsula.
The 290km transfer to Picton is followed by a short water taxi ride across the Queen Charlotte Sound to Anakiwa or Mistletoe Bay. From here the bikes are out again we ride along the Queens Charlotte Track to the Portage Resort. The Hotel is located on a narrow peninsula between the Queen Charlotte Sound and the Kenepuru Sound.
Riding: 21km, 3hrs
Meals: B, L

Day 10: A Visit with Queen Charlotte
A long and exciting day awaits us today. After breakfast we ride up the hill to the track start, and continue the journey we ‘broke’ yesterday.
This single trail takes us up a gradual forested climb onto a long ridge track, which will reward us with breathtaking views of the Marlborough Sounds. As we bike the single trail down to Camp Bay we will be escorted by numerous songbirds as the large Resolution Bay opens up beneath us. We stop for lunch at Camp Bay or at the café in Punga Cove and if you’re game, we continue our exploration of the Queen Charlotte track. For many locals, the last 28km from Punga Cove to Ship Cove are the most beautiful with the track eventually emerging from some last farms into native New Zealand bush. From Ship Cove riders catch a water taxi back to Picton. (Note: after December 1st to end of February the section between Punga Cove and Ship Cove is closed for mountain biking).
The 1 hour water taxi ride takes us back through the picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound to Picton harbour. Your guide will have arranged a take-away dinner before we drive across to the ferry terminal for the evening sailing across Cook Strait to NZ capital, Wellington. We will have a late arrival at around 10:30 pm so head straight to the hotel.
Riding: 55km, 6hrs
Meals: B, L

Day 11: Jet Boat and Away!
Today on our program we have a 5-hour drive (269km) to Pipiriki at the edge of the Wanganui River National Park. There is time for a leisurely breakfast after the late arrival last night into Wellington, before hitting the road up to Wanganui and further on into the National Park.
Once we arrive in Pipiriki, we will have to pack our bags for one night away on the ‘Mountains to Sea’ bike trail. After a 1-hour jet boat ride up the Wanganui River we’ll reach the Bridge of Nowhere Lodge, where we will spend the night. Make sure the day pack you bring can fit your overnight gear. We will not see the bus until tomorrow evening and each rider will be able to ride with a small daypack for food for the day and a change of cloths. All bedding and food for the night will be supplied, so taking only the essentials makes it easy for this backcountry adventure.
The lodge sits on a bend in the river in the middle of nowhere just being here is worth the trip!
Riding: None
Meals: B, L, D

Day 12: Over the Bridge to Nowhere
We start the day with a 15min jet boat transfer to the Mangapurua Landing. The boat will drop us and our bikes on a big rock and the famous Bridge to Nowhere track starts with a 2km climb up to the Bridge to Nowhere. After spending some time at this monument of the failed attempt to settle this area we continue along the small trail through this amazing landscape full of history, greenery and many stunning cliffs. As we are riding upstream we climb gradually and finish the first section with a 400m climb to the Mangapurua Trig. After a good break we can walk up to the trig to the stunning viewpoint. It is all downhill for the next 17km along the Kaiwhakauka Track to Whakahoro. Once there we are back at the Wanganui River we enjoy the hospitality of the Blue Duck Farm Café. We are still “in the middle of nowhere” yet the cosy café will allow us to relax before the 45km transfer drive up onto the Volcanic Plateau to the National Park.
Riding: 50km, 5hrs
Meals: B, L

Day 13: Up a Little Hill and onto Rotorua
After the backcountry adventure on the Wanganui River away from civilisation, the visit to the Waikato River could not be richer in contrast. The Waikato River Trail – another of the new cycle trails recently completed – crosses the heartland of the North Island: a land that has always been populated and cultivated since the first Polynesians arrived in New Zealand. The river is a vital source of water and electricity for the area and the landscape is varied with agricultural land intercepted by small patches of native bush and wetlands.
Our tour rides the last two sections on the North end of the Waikato River Trail.
From the National Park we travel by bus to the village of Maraetai. The trail rolls along the river, gradually climbing but without big climbs. It is just right – neither boring nor too hard. At the end of the second section the bus will pick us up for the short transfer drive to Rotorua.
The thermal spa town of Rotorua is the last stop this journey North to Auckland and since it is a world-renowned status as a MTB mecca we stay for two nights.
Riding: 38km
Meals: B, L

Day 14: Rotorua and the Whirinaki Forest
Here are the three options for today:
1. Off Day – Relax at your own leisure
2. Whakawerawera Forest MTB Park in Rotorua (: is one of the finest single trail MTB Parks on the planet – no kidding. You find trails for all abilities and all of them are heaps of fun. We can easily spend all day playing here followed by a visit to one of the many thermal spas in the area. Depending on our plans we start the ride from the motel or use the bus to shuttle to a start point further away and work our way back to the motel. We recommend a visit to Zippy’s café after the ride, just as the locals do! Great coffee, nice cookies and cakes – what more can you ask for? Your guide can also help to arrange one of the many activities offered in and around Rotorua (helicopter trips, Maori experiences, golf, wine tasting, etc.). Wherever you go in Rotorua, the smell of sulphur will be with you all day and you must be careful to stay on the footpath when walking near the lake shore as there are bubbling mud pools everywhere. In the afternoon we could make a trip out to the thermal pools at the Waikite Valley to relax before heading back to Rotorua town.
3. Whirinaki Forest Excursion:
This is described as the finest back-country trip in the North Island. The Forest is a 90 km drive from Rotorua at the edge of the Te Urewera National Park to the East. The ride will require a local shuttle service as it is a point to point ride – unless we decide to ride the 36km Moerangi Track out and back and make it a 72km epic adventure. The choice is yours! The ride takes you through a dense forest giving you an idea of how New Zealand looked before humans arrive here about 1000 years ago. It is unique opportunity to ride a bike into such remote country. At the end of the Moerangi Track, another track system has been developed which could be an alternative for the afternoon – only after a decent picnic lunch of course; and when the sun is shining. With the drive to and from the Minginui, this will be a relatively long day.
Riding: 52km, 5-6hrs
Meals: B, L

Day 15: A Morning Ride and onto Auckland
The drive from Rotorua to Auckland is approximately 230km (3.5h), which leaves the entire morning to ride the trails in Whakarewarewa Forest. Our suggestion is a loop starting in the famous Redwoods of the Forest and meandering through the forest via thermal fields and covering the best trail sections before finish the ride at stunning Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake). The bus will transfer the group to the start of the ride and pick it up from the end the semi loop through the forest. On a nice day the lake is great for a refreshing swim before the drive to Auckland.
On arrival in Auckland, we can explore the city and Viaduct Harbour area from the hotel using our bikes or even on foot. The guide can also take you with the bus on a tour of Auckland’s highlights, before retiring to the Viaduct Harbour area for our last dinner together.
Riding: ’as many as you like’ km, 2-3hrs
Meals: B, L

Day 16: Farewell for Now
Today is the last day of our tour and depending on departure times your guide can suggest a ride at Auckland’s Woodhill MTB Park which is located north of the city or in the Hunua Ranges which are south of Auckland and are actually not too far from Auckland airport.
Riding: variable
Meals: none

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We run this trip during the New Zealand summer from November to April as this is the time of year where there is least rain and the days are longer and warmer.

Current departure dates

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Base price per person NZ$5693

Single supplement $NZ1275 per person
Bike hire $NZ450 per bike - Cube Hardtail 29 (only if you can't bring your own)
Note the price is in NZ Dollars and based on a minimum group of 4.


This tour is fully supported with a mini bus or 4WD there as backup most of the time. You will be lead by a very qualified tour leader along with local mountain bike leaders. We stay in Hotels, hostels and on farms during the entire tour.

What is included

  • Airport transfers:
    Day 1 only: Queenstown (all day from the Airport)
    Day 15 only: Auckland (all day to AKL Airport)
    Transfers outside these days/times are your own arrangements
  • 15 nights accommodation
    14 nights in 3-4star hotels/motels/apartments
    1 night in farm lodges
  • Breakfast and lunch each day on the trail
  • Support vehicle (Bus and/or 4WD) with a bike trailer (& luggage space)
  • Tour guide (also the driver) & local MTB guide(s) – crew numbers subject to group size
  • Boat transfer to Portage Resort and start of Queen Charlotte Track
  • Local fees for use of private land and conservation land

What is not included

  • International flights & airport taxes
  • Airport transfers outside the days/times specified
  • Travel Insurance (we insist you have one)
  • Excess baggage charges
  • Visa fees
  • Meals where not specified on the itinerary
  • Drinks (except water while riding), phone calls, laundry expenses & minibar expenses
  • Personal expenses (including any specific medical related requirements)
  • Bike repairs and maintenance (except if hiring a bike)
  • Mountain bike hire – see above for pricing

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