We Did It! The Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail over 4 days & 3 nights – October (Springtime) 2016!
UPDATE: Sections of the track have since been made off road and completed in Feb 2020. In particular Aviemore Dam to Kurow. Please see Alps to Ocean Trail Status page for the latest on the trail.
Rhea, 11yrs & Isaac, 8yrs rode sections on the first 2 days with me. We choose the alternative start point in Tekapo. See our story Alps to Ocean: Planning & Preparation for all the details. Read on for the highlights and our comments about our trip…
Spring time is a fantastic time of year to ride this trail….snow capped mountains reflected in canals and lakes…just breath taking. The down side to this is slightly unstable weather, we had rain overnight on two of our three nights camping and I endured a southerly weather change going into Oamaru making me cold and wet for the end of my ride.
Day One: Tekapo to Lake Pukaki: Riding with the kids, canals and the colour of the water, Mt Cook and surrounding snow capped Southern Alps, just awesome. Also the great little cycle track along Lake Pukaki shore.
Day Two: Lake Pukaki to Lake Ohau to Omarama: Riding with Rhea to Twizel with stunning views of Mt Cook behind us and the MacKenzie countryside opening up in front of us. The majestic Ben Ohau & stunning views over Lake Ohau from Tarnbrae Track.
Day Three: Omarama to Otematata to Lake Aviemore Dam: Lovely ride along the shore of Lake Benmore to Sailors Cutting – this would be great for kids. Riding over Benmore Dam and peaceful ride along shores of Lake Aviemore.
Day Four: Kurow to Duntroon to Oamaru: Great little section through a working vineyard, fun little climb & downhill after Elephant rocks & these amazing rock formations, surprisingly pretty street that is Winsor, Oamaru gardens is stunning and finally the streets and shop fronts of the Oamaru old town – Wow! It just puts a smile on your face when you see the ocean.
I don’t recommend doing this entire trail over 4 days, it’s meant to be ridden in 6 to 8 for a reason. Instead of spending most of the day on the bike you can rest up and explore the area you have stopped at and enjoy your surroundings in a more relaxed manner than I managed.
Sections of this track have not been designed with young families or people towing trailers in mind. Some of it would be really challenging in terms of track widths and surfaces for bikes towing trailers. Every section of track seemed to have multiple gate/vehicle stop barriers – see photo to right. I imagine you would need to unhitch your trailer at all these barriers – depending on its height.
Towing any kind of trailer for gear or for your toddler would be difficult from Ohau over the Tarnbrae Track and there are several gravel road sections that are sluggish and hard going on a bike without the added weight of towing something. Bike tyres can clear patheways but trailer wheels sit wide and don’t follow these lines so would get stuck in gravel & shingle. The river crossings heading to Duntroon where over a foot deep and a couple of metres wide. The two State Highway 83 road sections after Omarama would also prove difficult/dangerous with any added width. NOTE – these sections are now off-road, Feb 2020.
So if you have limited time, want to ride with your kids or want to ride with a trailer behind you I suggest picking out sections to complete.
Kid friendly sections include:
- The Canal Roads make for easy, flat riding but could be a bit long depending on the age of your children, two 15km sections at Tekapo, one 12km section after Twizel
- The off road section of track next to Lake Pukaki, 13km from Tekapo B Power Station to Lake Pukaki Visitor Centre
- The Pukaki Flats Track from Lake Pukaki to Twizel, 11km
- The Lake Ohau shore track from the end of Glen Lyon Road to Lake Ohau Road, 11km
- Tarnbrae Track from Lake Ohau Lodge to Quailburn Road, 18km – your kids would enjoy this track only if they mountain bike regularly
- Omarama to Sailors Cutting, 13km
- Otematata to the top of Benmore Dam, 6km – the last 800m is steep! But well worth the effort
- Benmore Dam to Aviemore Dam is on an undulating lake side road – watch traffic flow in summer, 22km
- Kurow to Duntroon, 28km. Give yourself 3hrs…if this is too far do the beginning and finish just after 15km when the trail comes back next to the highway
- Elephant Rocks to Conlans Road, single track through farmland with great little down section, 7km – your kids would enjoy this track if they mountain bike regularly
- Pig Island Road just after Winsor to Oamaru, 18km. If this is too far there are a number of places along this section to join the trail at
For more details of sections see Alps to Ocean: Planning & Preparation
Isaac, 8yrs said: It was beautiful because there were lots of canals – the colour of the water was beautiful. The mountains were exquiste. The lake was really big and beautiful in front of Mount Cook.
Rhea, 11 yrs said: It was a good challenge and it was satisfying at the end when we finished. You got to see the mountains they were amazing. On the second day the little hilly bit at the start was fun then it was just flat. It was good to be able to see the buildings of Twizel that we were heading to.
My kids road from Tekapo to Hayman Rd on the first day (30km) and then from Lake Pukaki to Twizel on the second day (11km).
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