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Biking Vacation New Zealand: The South Island ​

Activity Level: Easy / Moderate  |  Daily Mileage: 13 – 56 mi  |  Daily Biking: 2 – 5 hr
Air package plus
12 days from only
Price includes roundtrip airfare.
Land only
9 days from only
Pre-trip Extension:
Sydney · 3 nights $795*

Post-trip Extension:
Queenstown · 2 nights $245*
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Detailed Itinerary

Please note: For those traveling in 2015, your itinerary may vary slightly from what is presented below. 

Day 1 - Depart U.S.

You depart from the U.S. for Christchurch. The particulars of your arrival are detailed with your flight itinerary and airline tickets.

Day 2 - In flight to Christchurch

Flying from the U.S. to New Zealand requires crossing the International Date Line, so this day is “lost.”

Day 3 - Arrive in Christchurch

Upon arrival at the Christchurch airport, gather your luggage at the international baggage collection area and proceed toward the main exit past the International Free phone area. Around the corner, look for the Super Shuttle vehicle. It will be parked in the International Shuttle Rank on your left. Use it to transfer (approximately 30 minutes) to your Christchurch hotel. If your flight is delayed, please notify Super Shuttle at 64 9 522 5100. Once you arrive at the hotel, the rest of the day is yours to relax or explore.

Your hotel room may not be available until 2:00 pm. You may store your luggage with the reception desk. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Christchurch during your stay.

Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you fly in earlier than the scheduled program dates, transportation from the airport will be at your own expense.

Day 4 - All guests meet at Christchurch / Warm-up ride / Welcome reception

VBT No-Air Package guests: Please plan to arrive at your Christchurch hotel by late morning. If you are unable to arrive before 12:00 pm, please contact the hotel, who will advise our Trip Leaders. 

VBT Air and Pre-Trip Extension guests: You are free to explore Christchurch's museums and botanical gardens on your own after breakfast.

Lunch is on your own, and then begin your New Zealand travel experience with VBT; meet your VBT Trip Leaders at 12:00 pm at the hotel for a safety and bike-fitting session, followed by a warm-up ride and a welcome reception. Trip Leaders will be wearing VBT staff garments. Dine with the group tonight.

Day 5 - Cross Southern Alps by train / Cycle to the seaside town of Hokitika

After an early breakfast, shuttle with your Trip Leaders to the Christchurch train station. We board the 8:15 a.m. TranzAlpine Express. Our train passes through the Canterbury Plains and traverses the gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River.  We are treated to stunning views of the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps as we climb 2300 feet towards Arthurs Pass, the south’s highest settlement.

We leave the train at either Arthur’s Pass or Jacksons, and begin cycling from Little Orangipuki through open farmland to Lake Brunner.  We stop for lunch at the Station House Café in Moana en route.  At the end of our ride we shuttle to Hokitika. Hokitika boomed with gold-rush fever, and at one time the main street once housed more than 80 hotels. Today there are only six here.

This evening, you have free time to enjoy dinner on your own. Later, you might take a walk along the beach and look skyward for the Southern Cross, a constellation that can be seen year-round, but only from the Southern Hemisphere. The Southern Cross contains four bright stars that depict the extremities of a Latin cross. The stars are very bright and located close together, making the constellation very easy to spot.

Day 6 - Cycle Westland National Park / Discover Franz Josef Glacier

This morning, visit the Greenstone Jade Factory, featuring carvings from this beautiful native stone. Then shuttle to Ross, where we begin cycling toward Westland National Park and Franz Josef Glacier. The park covers an expanse of towering mountains and glaciers, dramatic waterfalls and icy, gray-blue rivers that tumble down to the Tasman Sea. A rolling ride through this beautiful forest takes us to a picnic lunch under a covered shelter in Pukekura. After lunch, we continue cycling to Hari Hari. Spend free time in town before shuttling back to the hotel, where you can freshen up before dinner.

Day 7 - Optional hike on Franz Josef Glacier / Cycle to Okarito with hiking and kayaking options

After breakfast, we have a free day to choose from a variety of optional pursuits. Head to Franz Josef Glacier for an exhilarating hike, or embark on a guided heli-hiking adventure (both options at your own expense). If you prefer, remain in Franz Josef to shop and explore the town. In the afternoon, cycle to Okarito Lagoon, a rich wildlife haven noted for its unspoiled beaches. Here you can find more than 70 species of birds. Experience the lagoon up close during an optional hike or kayaking excursion. Tonight, dinner is on your own at one of the many wonderful local restaurants.

Day 8 - Cycle in the heart of Westland

A morning shuttle brings us over a scenic pass to Fox Glacier, where we pedal through native New Zealand rain forest along the Tasman Sea. Enjoy lunch at a salmon farm, and then continue on to the Wilderness Lodge Lake Moeraki. Surrounded by a thriving 1,000-year-old rain forest and pristine seacoast, the lodge is perfectly situated for outdoor exploration and activity – or just relaxing and taking in the wonders of nature. The owner of the lodge, Dr. Gerry McSweeney, is the former president of the New Zealand Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society, the country's largest environmental organization. Accordingly, the lodge is committed to the protection of the environment.

Dinner this evening is in the lodge's dining room, which overlooks the wilderness area.

Later, you may wish to join your lodge host for a walk on the grounds to view a colony of glowworms!

Day 9 - Explore Lake Moeraki

After breakfast, we spend a free day participating in optional outdoor activities provided by the Wilderness Lodge, including kayaking or hiking through the rain forest. Your trip price includes two shorter guided activities of 60-90 minutes, including the rain forest, bird and tree fern walks, freshwater eel feeding, canoe instruction on the river and lake, night sky walks and historical talks. Additional activities may incur extra costs. After a day of exploration and lunch on your own, rejoin the group for dinner at the lodge.

Day 10 - Cycle through the Haast River Valley and enjoy a local homestay

Take a brief shuttle along the dramatic cliffs above the Tasman Sea. We stop at the Haast Visitor Center; from there, cycle beside the clear blue Haast River as you travel east toward Haast Pass. Descend into the Makarora River Valley and ride through Mt. Aspiring National Park. Spend the night at a local homestay and enjoy Kiwi hospitality and a home-cooked meal.

Day 11 - Cycle through the Otago region to Queenstown

This morning we cycle along the Clutha River, lifeblood of the Otago region, to the historic town of Cromwell. Stop at a local winery, for a picnic lunch in the garden and enjoy a wine tasting. Then head to Queenstown, via the shuttle van, with an optional stop at A.J. Hackett Bungy at Kawarau Bridge — home of the original, 130-foot-high bungee jump! If you're feeling daring, you can experience the thrill of a bungee jump for yourself at your own expense, or watch others as they gather up the courage to plummet to the Kawaru River below only to be caught at the last second by their secure bungee harness.

Once at your Queenstown hotel, you have free time on your own before a group farewell dinner at a local restaurant.  

Day 12 - Depart for U.S. or begin your optional trip extension in Queenstown

VBT No-Air Package guests: You are responsible for your own transfer arrangements to the airport. The hotel's Elements Restaurant opens at 6 am for any guests with early departure flights. 

VBT Air Package guests: Transfer from the hotel by Super Shuttle to the Queenstown Airport 2½ hours prior to your scheduled flight departure time. (This transfer is included in your package.) The Elements Restaurant opens at 6:00 am for any guests with early departure flights.

VBT Post-Trip Extension guests: Enjoy one of the many optional activities available in Queenstown. Perhaps you'll join an excursion to breathtaking Milford Sound, a thrilling jet-boat ride through the Shotover River Canyons, a pleasant Lake Wakatipu cruise on the S.S. Earnslaw to a sheep station or a scenic gondola ride. After a full day of exploration, relax at the hotel this evening. Dinner is on your own tonight. VBT provides you with City Information in your Final Travel Booklet that includes information and recommendations on what to see and do in Queenstown during your stay.

Please note: VBT transfer times and departure points are finalized in advance and cannot be modified for individual guests. If you extend your stay beyond the scheduled program dates, return transportation to the airport will be at your own expense.

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