Guide to the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

Conquering the mighty Alps 2 Ocean | Gesine C
Conquering the mighty Alps 2 Ocean | Gesine C

Guide to Cycling the Alps 2 Ocean

Starting off with an epic heli-ride, the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is the longest continuous bike trail of New Zealand's 22 Great Rides. Journeying from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean, you'll ride through canals, past pristine glacial lakes and between mountain ranges. 

The slower-paced travel will enable you to really enjoy the fantastic riding and diverse scenery. Read on to learn more about the Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail.

Where is the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail 
Map of Alps 2 Ocean 
Trail Route and Distance 
Starting points on the trail 
Trail gradient and difficulty 
Best time of the year to cycle it 
Popular Itineraries


Where is the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

Located in the middle of the South Island of New Zealand, the Alps 2 Ocean bike trail is cut into 9 sections starting from the base of Aoraki/Mt Cook through to the small east coast town of Oamaru. 

There is an alternative starting point, beginning at Lake Tekapo with a shorter cycling distance of 301km.

Both starting points can take between 5-8 days to complete the ride. 

Map of Alps 2 Ocean

Trail Route and Distance

Aorkai/ Mt Cook to Braemar Road - 35km
Braemar Road to Twizel - 40km
Alt Start: Lake Tekapo to Twizel - 55km
Twizel to Lake Ohau Lodge - 38km
Lake Ohau Lodge to Omarama - 43km
Omarama to Otematata - 35km
Otemata to Kurow - 44km
Kurow to Duntoon - 27km
Duntoon to Oamaru - 54km

Starting points on the trail

Starting at Aoraki/Mt Cook

Starting at the base of Aoraki/ Mt Cook, the complete A2O cycle trail is a 315+ km ride. You'll have the chance to explore the National Park and walk up to Tasman Glacier view point before jumping on a heli-ride over the Tasman River. 

From there, a scenic ride by Lake Pukaki will have you in awe. The bright turquoise blue colour comes from the Tasman Glacier upstream, found to be due to glacier remnants of silt particles and glacial flour in the water.

Starting at Tekapo (alternative starting point)

An alternative route of the Alps 2 Ocean is the 301km ride from Tekapo to Omarau. You'll follow the canals before descending to meet the rest of the trail at Lake Pukaki. A few highlights when cycling the A2O bike trail includes the Clay Cliffs in Omarama, riding around Sailor's Cutting from Omarama to Lake Benmore and along the canals to Lake Ohau.


Trail Gradient and Difficulty 

The Alps to Ocean is an 'introductory to moderately' graded bike trail. The bike trail includes sections of gravel (45%), sealed road (30%), gravel road (18%) and rougher terrain such as shingles (6%). 

The bike trail includes narrow sections and switchbacks when heading over Tarnbrae Saddle and from Sailor's Cutting to Benmore Dam.

To prepare for this multi-day bike ride, we suggest 90 minutes of cycle training incorporated into your training regime 3-5 times a week for an enjoyable ride. Read more on how to prepare for a multi-day bike ride

Best time of the year to visit

You can cycle the Alps 2 Ocean all year round, just dress with the correct bike gear according to the climate you're riding in. Read more on essential winter bike gear and how to layer according to the season. Otherwise, Summer is a great time to complete the longest cycle trail. 

Popular Itineraries

Before deciding on what Alps 2 Ocean bike trip, ask yourself what distance are you comfortable riding per day? This will help determine the duration of your self-guided bike holiday with us. 

For example: if you are looking for a more leisurely paced cycling holiday, take a look at our 7-day self-guided trips or for a premium cycling experience, take a look at our Full Monty.  

Aoraki/ Mt Cook starting point
>> 8-day A2O Full Monty: Ride the complete trail in style.
>> 6-day and 7-day: Aoraki/ Mt Cook to Oamaru.
>> 5-day Aoraki Mt Cook to OtematataConclude your ride in Otematata.

Lake Tekapo starting point
>> 5 day, 6 day or 7 day Tekapo to Oamaru: Complete alternative A2O trail. 
>> 4 day Tekapo to Omarama: Conclude your ride in Omarama.
>> Browse all our 8 self-guided Alps to Ocean cycling trips here.

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