Southern Off Road Adventure

15-days of power-packed adventure, biking your way around the scenic wonderland that is New Zealand's stunning South Island.

From NZ$5495
  • Intro
  • Itinerary
  • Dates
  • Price and What's Included

Our 15 day off road New Zealand mountain bike tour is full of adventure, challenge and excitement for the intermediate to experienced mountain biker. The route, sometimes on private farmland, takes you over Alpine passes, alongside beautiful lakes, through river valleys and across pastoral plains, highlighting the incredible diversity of landscapes and scenery within New Zealand’s South Island. We begin in Central Otago by riding amongst the typically dry and rocky terrain of this High Country and Lakes Region. Then it is on to Canterbury where the landscape changes to beech forests and rugged mountains before we finish our Tour by riding the spectacular Queen Charlotte Track in the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. Along the way you can sample New Zealand’s delicious cuisine washed down with our fine wines.

This is, for very good reason, one of our favourite trips ever!

Southern Off Road Adventure itinerary

View Detailed itinerary
DAY 1: Queenstown (tour start)
At 10:00am your guide(s) will meet you at the Tour Hotel in Queenstown for a preliminary briefing. This afternoon we ride along ‘Frankton Arm’ and around the lakeshore to Jack’s Point. It is a great 25km warm up on a mixture of undulating gravel roads and single trails in this stunning location. You can take the support van for a ‘comfy’ drive back to the hotel or choose to bike via the same route. In the evening we’ll get to know each other over dinner at one of the many excellent local restaurants.
Total Riding: 25km, ST G2, 3:30hrs (return trip would be 51km)
Meals: L, D

DAY 2: Queenstown – Snowfarm (Pisa Range)
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 little settlement of Cardrona. A 15km gravel road takes us high up into the Pisa Range to the ‘Snowfarm’, which for summer months has been developed into a mountain biker’s ‘playground’. All the intertwined trails are set up as ‘loops’ between 1km – 30km across a great variety of landscapes. All rides start and finish at the Snowfarm Lodge and there are options for everyone including those who are into downhill riding. The lodge up in the mountains will provide a nice setting for afternoon drinks and dinner.
Total Riding: Various XC ‘loop’ G2-3 and ‘downhill’ G4(5) options
Meals: B, L, D

DAY 3: Snowfarm (Pisa Range) – Wanaka
A big day out is ahead of us including a mighty downhill from the top of the Pisa Range into the Clutha River Valley (approx 800m vertically). It is partly over a private sheep and cattle Station and is a truly unique backcountry experience. From the Lodge we climb up to Mt. Pisa for a stunning view before descending on rugged 4WD tracks to Luggate for lunch. You can choose to finish your day’s ride here or cycle the 12km Clutha River trail to Albert Town followed by another 12km along the Outlet Track around the shore of Lake Wanaka into the resort town of Wanaka – our home for the next two nights. This evening, you can relax in the charming atmosphere of our Resort.
Total Riding: About 20km biking, 3.5hrs riding time, 750Am, plus extra riding in afternoon.
Meals: B, L

DAY 4: Wanaka/b>
A ‘fun ride’ is in stall for us today, offering great tracks for all levels of rider! We head back 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 Albert Town before ending up at the Albert Town Tavern or a Cafe along the Wanaka Waterfront.
Total Riding: approx 14-44km ST G3(4); 2-5hrs (with individual preferences)
Meals: B, L
DAY 5: Wanaka to Clyde
A 50 minute (61km) bus transfer alongside Lake Dunstan & via the township of Cromwell takes us to Bannockburn – a small village becoming increasingly famous for its Pinot Noir Grapes grown on the surrounding arid hills. We start with a gradual climb (not too steep) on a 4WD track to the top of the mountain from where there are normally great views down to Lake Dunstan and Clyde. For the downhill section you can just follow the 4WD track all the way to the Old Clyde Bridge, or the more advanced downhillers can have a go at some of the single trails. During your stay in Clyde you can embrace the history of this rugged area, which has one of the gold richest rivers on this planet. For those seeking more adventure this afternoon, there are an abundance of easily accessible mountain biking trails just waiting to be explored.
Total Riding: 35km 4WD + ST G2+(4); 3 hrs (plus additional options)
Meals: B, L

DAY 6: Clyde
A 1.5 hour transfer via Alexandra to the Roxburgh Dam followed by a steep gravel road takes us to Knobbys Range. Now on our bikes, a gentle climb to the top precedes one of the most scenic downhills in the area. This rocky mountain range is particularly beautiful in spring when the flowering thyme turns the hills purple. The descent leads us to the Shaky Bridge Cafe for a ‘fuel up’ before our afternoon choices of: The Otago Central Rail Trail – explore part of the old railway line, which has been officially converted into a cycling and hiking track. Ride the most scenic Poolburn Gorge section, over viaducts and through tunnels to Chatto Creek (20km). Continue for another 27km to Alexandra or ‘hitch’ a comfortable ride back. All easy riding. River Trail – an easy trail alongside the mighty Clutha River from Alexandra to Clyde.
Total Riding: 22km 4WD G2(3) or ST G3+(4), 2:30 hrs, (Knobby’s Range Ride) Plus 20km (31km or 48km) G1, 2-4hrs (Otago Central Rail Trail) or Alexandra ST G3-4 + 14km ST G2, 1hr (Clutha River Trail)
Meals: B, L

DAY 7: Clyde to Christchurch
Today we take a rest from our bikes, as after 6 days of continuous riding your body may just welcome this little break. It will take most of the day for our Bus transfer from Clyde to Christchurch via the Inland Road along the foot of the Southern Alps. Provided the skies are clear, we will have a good view of Aoraki Mt Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain). For the next 2 nights in Christchurch we stay just outside the CBD but still close to Hagley Park, the Botanical Gardens and the upmarket suburbs of Merivale and Fendalton (where there are many good restaurants), making it an ideal base.
No Biking
Meals: B
DAY 8: Christchurch
We have the day to explore a mountain biking ‘jewel’ just 20km from our Hotel at ‘Living Springs’, located in Lyttelton Harbour. This purpose-built Cross Country Loop is on steepish farmland, through a mix of pine forest and regenerating native bush, so you need to have moderately good technical skills to enjoy this track. The climb to the top is broken into some steeper, open grassy sections and nice twisting single trails through pine forest. From the top it is a fun downhill. Ride as many laps as you like before dropping down to the shore for lunch. A short transfer to the ‘Sign of the Kiwi’ (a historic stone cottage) at the top of the Port Hills offers views all the way across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. We ride a great bit of single trail called ‘Flying Nunn’ which leads into Victoria Park, a tree plantation crisscrossed with trails – most of them downhill. Our guide will select the track(s) for some fun riding!
Total Riding: 5km ST loops G3+(4), 0:45hr/loop (as many loops as you like!) 4-10km ST G3+(4), 1:00-2:00hrs, (Flying Nunn & Victoria Park)
Meals: B, L

DAY 9: Christchurch to Flock Hill Station (Craigieburn Range)
After yesterday’s reasonably hard ride, we have scheduled an easier day. Christchurch is very fortunate to have two purpose-built single trail loops in two forests on the outskirts of the city. Bottle Lake Forest is a 1000ha pine plantation and the undulating trails with many bermed corners are fun and suitable for any level rider. Tracks lead us right to the beach and the loop can be ridden in about 1.5 hours. A 20km transfer takes us to McLeans Island Recreation Reserve, where the surface of this single trail loop is more hard packed, so is ideal for learning and practicing cornering techniques. It starts and ends in a sheltered picnic area where we will have our lunch before driving the 90km to Flock Hill Station in the Craigieburn Range. If time permits we’ll stop at the beautiful Kura Tawhiti (Castle Hill) Reserve which is an old Maori food gathering site along the famous Pounamu (greenstone/jade) trading route between the West Coast and the East Coast. The limestone outcrops have become a popular place for rock climbing.
Total Riding: 10km + 4km ST loop G2, 2 hrs, no climbing (McLeans Island), 10km + 2km ST loop G2, 1.5hrs, undulating (Bottle Lake Forest)
Meals: B, L

DAY 10: Flock Hill Station to Craigieburn Forest Park
This ride is for those who love twisted single trails covered in tree roots and ‘littered’ with other natural obstacles. After a 5km transfer to the bottom of the Craigieburn Mountains, we switch to our bikes and climb steadily for 8km through dense beech forest on a gravel skifield access road. We then follow a technical single trail back down for 7km, across some wide scree slopes where we will have to push/carry our bikes. This will be a highlight for lovers of high alpine terrain – as long as you don’t have a fear of heights (we do have an alternative for these high sections). After lunch, we ride two more sections of single trail that hug the mountains and weave in and out of beech forest. The first section starts with a magnificent flowing descent followed by a little bit of ‘bush-bashing’. Then its on open tussock grassland where the views across the basin are stunning on a clear day. Eventually, we tuck back into the beech forest and descend to Castle Hill Village for a welcome snack … or beer – Cheers!
Total Riding: Approx. 15km ST G5, 3hrs (Craigieburn Valley Loop) Approx. 10km ST G3+(4), 2hrs (Craigieburn to Cheesman Track) Approx. 10km ST G3+(4), 1.5hrs (Hogs Back Track to Castle Hill Village)
Meals: B, L

DAY 11: Flock Hill Station to Wharfdale Track to Hanmer Springs
Today we have a ‘Classic Canterbury MTB Adventure’ on the menu starting with a 70km drive back over Porters Pass and across the Waimakariri River to the base of Mt. Oxford. The Wharfdale track, an old stock route which circumnavigates the mountain, is now a reasonably challenging mountain bike ride. It starts with a climb over the Wharfdale Saddle, then winds through beech forest on gnarly trails, before a 4WD track down tussock flats leads us to the bottom end of the Lees Valley. A 17km winding shingle road (sometimes through beech forest) takes us to the end of our ride at the Ashley Gorge. Those clients wanting a less challenging option, can instead ride the scenic 17km into the Lees Valley (the van will also take this road). Then its a 140km drive to Hanmer Springs where we stay for 2 nights. Your body may already be looking forward to a soak in the famous Hot Pools of this Thermal Resort Town.
Total Riding: 55km XC G3+(4), 6hrs (Wharfdale Track) or 17km, 1:30hrs (Ashley River Gorge Road)
Meals: B, L

DAY 12: Hanmer Springs (St. James Conservation Area)
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). A gentle 12km climb precedes a steep climb up to Fowlers Pass (1296m asl) at 40km before a 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.
Total Riding: 47km XC G2-4, 4-5hrs (Maling Pass – Lake Guyon – Fowlers Pass Loop)
Meals: B, L

DAY 13: Hanmer Springs – The Portage (Marlborough Sounds)
After breakfast, we head out to ‘play’ in the local forest for a couple of hours just to get the blood flowing because it is a long driving day otherwise. The 290km transfer to Picton is followed by a short water taxi ride across the Queen Charlotte Sound to Torea Bay. The Portage Resort is located on a narrow peninsula between the Queen Charlotte Sound and the Kenepuru Sound and we will use the hotel as a base to explore this beautiful area over the next two days.
Total Riding: 47km XC G2-4, 4-5hrs
Meals: B, L

DAY 14″ Portage (Queen Charlotte Track)
A long and exciting day awaits us. After breakfast we ride over the hill to the jetty, from where a 1 hour water taxi ride takes us out through the picturesque Queen Charlotte Sound to Ship Cove (or Resolution Bay). This single trail takes us along the amazing coastline through dense forest where we will be escorted by numerous songbirds. After a good warm up ride and a re-fuelling stop, a challenging afternoon lies ahead, where we will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Marlborough Sounds as we bike the single trail back to Portage.
Total Riding: 15km ST G3, 2:30hrs (Ship Cove to Furneaux Lodge: not available Dec-Feb) 12.5km ST G3, 2hrs (Furneaux Lodge to Kenepuru Saddle) 24km ST G3, 3hrs (Kenepuru Saddle to Portage) or 20km on road (1:15hrs)
Meals: B, L

DAY 15: Portage to Picton – Departure
The last section of the Queen Charlotte Track is as equally attractive as the first. You bike from lush green coastal forest over mountain ridges, where you again have magnificent views. There are two options available to suit different riders. If you are tired from yesterdays ride, you have the option to skip the big hill today and ride on the sealed road. However the last section of the trail from Te Mahia Saddle to Anakiwa is a pleasure to ride for mountain bikers of all skills. From the trailhead in Anakiwa, we either continue riding along the winding sealed coastal road to Picton or you can ‘hitch’ a shuttle ride back to town in our support van. We finish the tour with lunch at the waterfront.
Total Riding: : 8.5km ST G3, 1:45hrs (Portage to Te Mahia Saddle) or 45 mins on tarseal 12.6km ST G2, 1hr (Te Mahia Saddle to Anakiwa) 23.3km Road, 1:30hrs (Anakiwa to Picton)
Meals: B, L

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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$5495

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 highly qualified tour leader along with local mountain bike leaders. We stay in a variety of accommodation from hotels and motels, to a farm lodge and an alpine lodge

What is included

  • Airport/Ferry Transfers
    Pre-tour only: Queenstown (between 4pm and 7pm from the Airport)
    Day 15 only: Picton (from 2pm shuttle to Picton ferry terminal to Blenheim Airport)
    Transfers outside these days/times are your own arrangements)
  • 14 nights accommodation:
    9 nights in 3-4 star hotels/motels/apartments
    2 nights in bed and breakfast (some rooms with shared facilities)
    2 nights in farm lodge
    1 night alpine lodge
  • Meals:
    14 Breakfasts, 13 Lunches, 2 dinners (excluding drinks)
  • Support vehicle: (Bus and/or 4WD) with bike trailer (& luggage space)
  • Tour guide (who is also the driver) & local MTB guide(s) – crew numbers subject to group size
  • Boat transfer to Portage Resort and start of Queencharlotte Track
  • Local fees for use of private land and conservation land

What is not included

  • International flights and airport taxes
  • Airport transfers outside the days/times specified
  • Travel insurance (we insist you have comprehensive insurance)
  • Bike rental – NZ$629 (full suspension)
  • Meals where not specified on the itinerary
  • Drinks (except water while riding), phone calls and minibar expenses
  • Personal expenses (including any specific medical-related requirements)
  • Bike repairs and maintenance (except if hiring a bike)
  • Options trips and sightseeing tours
  • Additional nights at beginning or end of trip
From NZ$5495

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