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New Zealand: The South Island

Whether you’re after beautiful beaches, expansive glaciers or lush rainforests, our New Zealand Bike Tour has something for you. Join VBT for an enriching vacation 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 Activity
  • Ideal for energetic beginners to more experienced riders.
  • Airfare Packages Available

Why You'll Love This Tour

Overview

New Zealand: The South Island Bike Vacation

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 what you’ll experience on our New Zealand Bike Tour. 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

• Traverse the gorges of the Waimakariri River on the TranzAlpine Express train
• Gaze at the splendor of the snow-capped Southern Alps from a 2,300-foot perch
• Marvel at the brilliant Southern Cross, a constellation only seen in the Southern Hemisphere
• Cycle to Westland National Park, a rich expanse of stunning glaciers and waterfalls
• Ride through the forest by the Tasman Sea and break for a picnic lunch
• Enjoy free time near Franz Josef Glacier and Lake Moeraki to explore or relax
• Cycle to Okarito Lagoon, a renowned haven for wildlife
• At Fox Glacier, cycle through native rainforest and enjoy lunch at a salmon farm
• Refresh with a picnic lunch in the garden of an Otago winery
• Descend into the Makarora River Valley, and ride through Mt. Aspiring National Park
• Share the night at a local home to enjoy a home-cooked meal and Kiwi hospitality

What to Expect

This tour offers a combination of easy terrain mixed with moderate hills and is ideal for enthusiastic beginners and experienced cyclists. Riding is on paved roads, shared with vehicular traffic. The VBT van support shuttle is always available for a head start, catch-up or shorter option.

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

Climate Information

Average High/Low Temperature (°F) – Hokitka
Jan 67º/53º  Feb 68º/54º  Mar 66º/50º  Apr  62º/47º  Nov 62º/48º  Dec 64º/51º

Average Precipitation (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: Auckland* – 3 nights for only $595 • Post-trip: Queenstown – 2 nights for only $245

*Please Note: For January through March departures the Pre-trip Extension is 3 nights in Sydney, Australia for $1,045.

Both Vacation Options Include

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For departures Jan. - March Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $645 | Land Only Single Supplement: $545

For departures Oct. - Dec. Air Package Plus Single Supplement: $845 | Land Only Single Supplement: $745

Please note: Web Special savings cannot be combined with any other offer. Standard Terms & Conditions apply when purchasing this trip. 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

 – Please Note: January through March departures follow an alternate itinerary. Call our Tour Consultants for more details: 800-245-3868 –

Depart from home for Christchurch, New Zealand. 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 area on your left. Give the driver your name and let them know that you are with VBT. 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: 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 your 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 (11 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. You board the 8:15 a.m. TranzAlpine Express. Your train passes through the Canterbury Plains and traverses the gorges and river valleys of the Waimakariri River. You are treated to stunning views of the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps as you climb 2,300 feet toward Arthur’s Pass, the south’s highest settlement.

You 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 your ride, you’ll 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: 17 or 30 miles (28 or 51 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 the unique Pukekura Bushmans Centre, where you’ll 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 you to a picnic lunch in Hari Hari, the destination for the first solo flight across the Tasman Sea in 1931. After lunch, continue cycling to Whataroa before shuttling to your accommodation in Franz Josef. There is the option to shuttle over the hill locally know as Mount Hercules. Spend free time in town before an included dinner.

Hotel: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier
Alternate Hotel: Te Waonui Forest Retreat
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 14 or 33 miles (23 or 56 km)

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

After breakfast, you have a free day to choose from a variety of optional pursuits. Head to Franz Josef Glacier to embark on a guided heli-hiking adventure (at your own expense). If you prefer, remain in Franz Josef to shop and explore the town. For those keen to gain more miles, 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 16 or 32 miles (27 or 54 km)

DAY 8: Cycle in the heart of Westland

A morning shuttle takes you over a scenic pass to Fox Glacier, where you’ll pedal through native New Zealand rainforest along the Tasman Sea. Enjoy lunch on your own 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: 38 or 55 miles (63 or 89 km)

DAY 9: Explore Lake Moeraki

After breakfast, 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 from Ship Creek to Jackson Bay and enjoy lodging on Lake Wanaka

Take a 15 minute shuttle along the dramatic cliffs above the Tasman Sea to Ship Creek where you’ll start your ride. Next visit the Haast Visitor Center before joining Jackson Bay Road; a quiet, scenic ride and the westernmost access on the west coast. You’ll witness White Bait settlements, farming communities and a corridor of lush forest. Your destination is the village of Jackson Bay, where a tasty and picturesque lunch-on-your-own option exists. This ride maybe done in reverse depending on the prevailing wind. Following the ride you’ll shuttle (the longest of the trip at three hours) to Wanaka with a stop on route in Makaroua. Spend two nights in Charming Wanaka, in comfortable lodging overlooking the magnificent Southern Alps and deep blue Lake Wanaka.

Hotel: Edgewater Hotel
Meals: B, D
Daily Options: 30 miles (49 km)

DAY 11: Cycle through the Otago region / Wine tasting

This morning, you’ll cycle along the Clutha River, lifeblood of the Otago region, to the small town of Tarras. A short shuttle brings you to the historic town of Cromwell. You’ll stop at an excellent, family-run winery, Aurum, for a picnic lunch in the garden and to enjoy a wine tasting. Ride or shuttle back to Wanaka where there is time to enjoy all that this great town has to offer; outdoors along the dramatic lakefront, or the town’s galleries, shops and cafes.

Join fellow travelers for a memorable farewell dinner this evening.

Hotel: Edgewater Hotel
Meals: B, L, D
Daily Options: 22 or 34 miles (36 or 57 km)

DAY 12: Queenstown visit and depart for home or begin your optional trip extension in Queenstown

VBT No-Air Package guests: You may join our transfer to Queenstown, arriving at approximately 11:00 am. Enjoy free time before making your own way to the airport or otherwise continuing with your own arrangements.

VBT Air Package guests: We shuttle to Queenstown after breakfast for free time prior to flights home.

VBT Post-Trip Extension guests: Check-into the lakeside hotel and 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

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.
Free WiFi Included

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.
Free WiFi Included

Hilton Auckland

Sleek rooms, gorgeous views and the perfect location… you can have it all, at the Hilton Auckland.  The hotel sits on the iconic Princes Wharf, 1000 feet out into the Waitemata Harbour. This is the ideal location from which to explore the “City of Sails”. Enjoy views over the city or past the harbor to the Hauraki Gulf. Take a trip from the nearby Ferry terminal or enjoy the fun at the nearby Viaduct or Britomart precincts. Each guest room has floor-to-ceiling windows and a balcony. Enjoy a 32-inch TV, work desk and DVD player, plus a cozy bathrobe and slippers. Experience harbor inspired décor and a dynamic menu focusing on creativity and absolute freshness at FISH restaurant.  Enjoy a drink and small bites at our Bellini Bar, featuring one of the most extensive cocktail lists in Auckland.

Edgewater

Accommodation Description: Edgewater lies right at the water’s edge of Lake Wanaka. It is the perfect destination to experience all that Central Otago’s seasons have to offer. At Edgewater you’ll find genuine local knowledge that complements inviting accommodation and an enticing seasonal menu.
Free WiFi Included
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Reviews

Enjoy Your Vacation Longer With LOw-Cost Trip Extensions

New Zealand Bike Tour Pre Trip Extension

Pre-Trip Extension - Auckland*

3 nights for only $595

Queenstown New Zealand Bike Tour Post Trip

Post-Trip Extension - Queenstown

2 nights for only $245

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