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New Zealand: The South Island

Whether you’re after beautiful beaches, expansive glaciers or lush rainforests, New Zealand’s South Island has something for you. Join VBT for an enriching tour as only biking allows, in one of the most stunning settings in the world.

  • 12 Days
  • Activity Level: Easy / Moderate
  • Daily Mileage: 13 - 56 mi
  • Daily Biking: 2 - 5 hr
  • Small Groups: 20
  • Biking
  • Easy / Moderate
  • Plane

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

New Zealand: The South Island

From the snow-capped majesty of the Southern Alps to the rainforest lushness of Lake Moeraki, no place on Earth holds the extraordinary variety of landscape, seascape, wildlife, and beauty as New Zealand’s South Island. On this spectacular VBT adventure, we’ll cycle amid mountains and glaciers, waterfalls and lagoons, while keeping a lookout for albatross and alpine parrots. A picnic lunch in Pukekura, an overnight stay with a New Zealand family, and a mountain train ride—along with opportunities to kayak, hike, and savor relaxation—make this bicycling trip an unforgettable masterpiece for body and soul.

Cultural Highlights

  • Marvel at the gorges of the Southern Alps on the TranzAlpine Express train.
  • Gaze upward to a heaven of stars to find the distinctive, brilliant Southern Cross.
  • Cycle amid Westland National Park’s mountains, glaciers, and waterfalls.
  • Discover the wildlife haven of Okarito Lagoon, a birder’s delight.
  • Pedal through the shimmering New Zealand rainforest along the Tasman Sea.
  • Stay in lovely lodges and hotels that highlight the natural beauty of the wilderness.
  • Descend into the Makarora River Valley and cycle by the Haast River.
  • Share a home-cooked meal and Kiwi hospitality with a New Zealand family.

What to Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain mixed with moderate hills and is ideal for beginning and experienced cyclists. The VBT van support shuttle is always available for those who need assistance.

Average Daily Mileage: 13 - 56 miles
Average Cycling Time: 2 - 5 hours

Climate Information

Average Daily Temperature (°F) – Hokitka
Jan 67°  Feb 68°  Mar 65°  Apr 62°  Nov 61°  Dec 64°

Average Rainfall (in.) – Hokitka
Jan 9.6  Feb 7.8  Mar 9.1  Apr 9.2  Nov 10.4  Dec 10

What’s Included:

Bicycle Tour Only – without Air

  • 8 nights in comfortable lodgings
  • 17 meals – 8 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners

Air Package Plus

  • Roundtrip international airfare
  • 9 nights in comfortable lodgings
  • 18 meals – 9 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners
  • Transfers
  • AND the option to add our Low-Cost Trip Extensions: Pre-trip: Sydney – 3 nights for only $1145* • Post-trip: Queenstown – 2 nights for only $395

Both Vacation Options Include

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Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $645 | Land Only Single Supplement: $545

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 2015/2016 Prices include all airline surcharges and Government taxes and fees. Ask our Tour Consultants for details. Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. Prices are based on preferences selected above, including meals and sightseeing as specified in What’s Included. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.
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Itinerary & Map
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DAY 1: Depart from home

You depart from home for Christchurch. The particulars of your arrival are detailed with your flight itinerary.

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 0800 748885. 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 p.m. If you are early, you may store your luggage at the reception desk. VBT provides you with City Information that includes 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.

Hotel: Chateau on the Park

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 noon, please contact the hotel, which 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 today.

At noon, meet your VBT Trip Leaders 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.

Hotel: Chateau on the Park
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 6 miles (9.5 km)

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 2,300 feet toward Arthur’s Pass, the south’s highest settlement.

We leave the train at Arthur’s Pass and begin cycling from Little Orangipuki through open farmland to Lake Brunner, stopping for lunch at the Station House Café in Moana. At the end of our ride, we shuttle to Hokitika, which once boomed with gold-rush fever. 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 easy to spot.

Hotel: Beachfront Hotel
Meals: B, L
Daily Options: 20 or 36 miles (32 or 58 km)

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.

Hotel: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Alternate Hotel: Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 14 or 28 miles (22.5 or 45 km)

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.

Hotel: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Alternate Hotel: Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Meals: B
Daily Options: Optional 35 miles (56 km)

DAY 8: Cycle in the heart of Westland

A morning shuttle takes us over a scenic pass to Fox Glacier, where we pedal through native New Zealand rainforest 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 rainforest 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!

Hotel: Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 40 or 56 miles (64 or 90 km)

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 to 90 minutes, including the rainforest, 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.

Hotel: Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: Non-cycling day

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, we cycle beside the clear blue Haast River as we travel east toward Haast Pass. Descend into the Makarora River Valley, and ride through Mt. Aspiring National Park. Spend the night at a local home, where you will enjoy Kiwi hospitality, a home-cooked meal and an authentic slice of New Zealand life.

Hotel: Hunter Valley Station Homestay
Alternate Hotel: Grand Mercure Oakridge
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 15, 30 or 51 miles (24, 48 or 82 km)

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.

Hotel: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 23 or 46 miles (37 or 74 km)

DAY 12: Depart for home 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 6:00 a.m. for any guests with early departure flights.

VBT Air Package guests: Transfer from the hotel by Super Shuttle to the Queenstown Airport 2 hours prior to your scheduled flight departure time. (This transfer is included in your package.) The Elements Restaurant opens at 6:00 a.m. 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 that includes 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.

Hotel: Novotel Queenstown Lakeside
Meals: B

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Accommodations

Sir Stamford at Circular Quay

This boutique luxury hotel features an outdoor heated pool and deck that overlooks Sydney Harbor and Circular Quay. The award-winning restaurant and bar has views of the Royal Botanic Gardens. In the heart of Sydney on historic Macquarie Street, the hotel is a 5-minute walk from the world-famous Sydney Opera House. Each room features an executive work desk with broadband Internet access and a marble bathroom with a double vanity, a bathrobe, and slippers. Some of the rooms have an intimate Juliet balcony with stunning views. Sir Stamford at Circular Quay has one of Australia's largest private collections of fine art, and features 18th-century antiques, open fireplaces, and crystal chandeliers. The dining room has modern Australian cuisine and exceptional service in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere. Ideal for high tea, fine wines or cocktails, “The Bar” features a stylish gourmet bar menu.

Beachfront Hotel

This seaside hotel on the West Coast has been in the same family for 120 years, making for a unique experience of true Kiwi hospitality. Its location offers the best of two worlds. In the center of a historic gold-mining town, charming streets are right outside your door for strolling. And since it overlooks the Tasman Sea, the beach is your backyard, and its comfortable restaurant and bar offer great ocean views.

Lake Moeraki Wilderness Lodge

Owned by local ecologists, this nature-lover’s riverside paradise is set amid the rainforest of South Westland. The luxury lodge is landscaped into the rainforest with lawns flowing down to the river’s edge, where there are jumping trout, water birds, and stunning reflections. View them all from the Riverside Restaurant and Lounge, where you can relax, read, enjoy a drink from the wine cellar, and enjoy great wilderness food.

Novotel Queenstown Lakeside

Centrally located in one of the most picturesque settings in the world, Novotel Queenstown Lakeside is nestled beside the beautiful, tranquil Wakatipu Lake on which Queenstown sits. All rooms offer balconies with views of the Remarkables Mountain Range. This modern hotel offers guests superb uninterrupted views of the lake, mountains, and adjoining gardens. Novotel Queenstown Lakeside also features an excellent restaurant and bar.

Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier

Set on the edge of tiny Franz Josef village on the South Island's west coast, the warm and welcoming Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier provides quality accommodation for visitors to the glacier, rainforest, and Westland World Heritage Park. The hotel makes the most of its alpine location and offers spa pools to soak in, wireless Internet, and two restaurants. Each room has a refrigerator and a minibar with tea- and coffee-making facilities.

Chateau on the Park

The Chateau on the Park is a resort-style hotel tucked between Hagley Park and the beautiful historic home and gardens of Mona Vale, just minutes from the center of Christchurch. Nestled in 5 acres of beautiful and tranquil gardens, the 193-room Chateau on the Park offers a unique escape, seemingly a world away from city life. Yet, just minutes from this secluded retreat is the sparkling city of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Free WiFi Included

Te Waonui Forest Retreat

This five-star retreat is nestled amongst native West Coast rainforest at Franz Josef. The resort promises to provide a unique and memorable experience. Enjoy the luxuriously appointed guests rooms, generously proportioned and featuring the highest standard of room amenities, such as personal pillow menu, natural wool mattress and high speed internet.
Free WiFi Included
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Enjoy Your Vacation Longer With LOw-Cost Trip Extensions

Pre-Trip Extension - Sydney

3 nights for only $1145

Post-Trip Extension - Queenstown

2 nights for only $395

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