If you are riding an e-bike, only a moderate level of fitness is required. Our customers tend to be more mature, well-travelled people with active lifestyles. We’ve had plenty of people in their 80s! You don’t need to be a regular cyclist, but it helps to have a reasonable base level of fitness. E-bikes make a massive difference. They take all the hard work out of cycling long distances and let you zip up hills with minimal effort. They reduce the cycling effort by around 50%.
If you want to ride a standard mountain bike, you’ll need a higher level of fitness. You’ll want to be a fairly regular cyclist and be used to riding for up to 2 hours at a time. You’ll be doing well to keep up with the e-bikes!
A typical day on our Cycle Trail Tours might involve 40-60km (roughly 4-6 hours) of riding, with plenty of time for lunch, photos and breaks. On our Combined Cycle Tours we would normally cover 25-35km with one longer day when we ride up to 45km. There’s no need to hurry – you can ride at your own pace. And most sections you have the option to ride in the van if you need a break. Your tour guide can advise you further.
If you have any doubts, please call to discuss.
A lot of people have doubts about this. If you’re on an e-bike you’ll be able to keep up with everyone easily. In fact, they might struggle to keep up with you! E-bikes add a significant boost to your cycling ability and greatly compensate for a moderate fitness level. If you have any doubts about your fitness, you should choose an e-bike.
Make sure you talk to your tour guide! If you’re finding it tough at any point, there are a number of things we can do to help. We can slow down the pace of the group, give you a little extra resting time and even adapt the itinerary. You can always jump in the van and take a break. Our guides know all the best places to access the trails so you can ride the best parts and skip any challenging sections, if need be.
We design our trips so that everyone can ride at their own pace. We have regular breaks to allow slower riders time to catch up. We encourage you to take it easy and enjoy the scenery.
Probably the majority of our clients have never ridden an e-bike before. And many are a little apprehensive about it! E-bike technology has come a long way in recent years. Newer models are lighter, handle better and have batteries that last much longer. Our bikes are not the sit-upright hybrid bikes of old. Those bikes are generally lower quality, out-dated and not suitable for the trails we ride. We have German-engineered Merida e-BIG 600 bikes with the latest Shimano Steps technology. They are sporty, easy to ride and handle like proper mountain bikes. Before we start, we adjust your bike to fit you, explain how to use them clearly and give you the opportunity to practice before we start on the trail. Anyone who can ride a bicycle can ride an e-bike. They are smooth, very easy to handle and fun to ride. Most people love them within the first few seconds. Others might take a minute or 2 to get used to them. They make cycling much easier overall. At the end of the tour, we often get asked if we will sell our bikes!
WHAT TO PACK:
Recommended Gear List
- A high quality breathable, waterproof jacket suitable for cycling is essential, preferably one with an adjustable hood which can fit over your helmet (if it can’t, we provide a helmet cover). A pair of breathable waterproof trousers or shorts is also recommended.
- One set of robust comfortable shoes suitable for cycling on flat pedals. They may get wet or muddy but can be dried out overnight. Open-toed sandals, jandals or flip-flips are not suitable!
- Padded cycling shorts (2 pairs for longer tours), used together with “Vaseline” or similar lubricating product to minimize chafing and discomfort. Please note – cycle shorts are designed to be worn without underwear!
- Layers: 2-3 next-to-skin/underlayers, a mid weight insulating layer (eg windproof vest) and an outer shell (waterproof jacket). We recommend quality outdoor fabrics/materials.
- A pair of long cycle leggings/trousers – jeans/cotton not suitable.
- At least one pair of cycling gloves with padding is essential. A second pair of full fingered warmer gloves is recommended, particularly in spring or autumn.
- A hat, neck scarf and/or face covering. A thin wool or polypropelene beanie to wear under your helmet can be great if it’s cold or windy.
- Sunglasses, sun cream, insect repellent, hand sanitizer, moisturizer and chapstick.
- You are encouraged to bring your own drink bottle (to reduce plastic waste). If you don’t, we will provide you with one.
- Toiletries, medication and PJs – most rooms have private en suite bathrooms, but some have shared bathrooms.
- Phone/camera, chargers etc – WIFI is provided in most but not all accommodation.
- Swimming costume for the hot pools! Towels are provided.
- A set of warm casual clothes – It gets cold at night. We will be going out to restaurants. But please don’t bring a whole wardrobe!
- There will be opportunities to do laundry in some locations, but please do not expect to wash your clothes every day.
We have limited space in our vans, especially if a tour is full. Please limit your luggage to one medium-sized suitcase per person (<18kg) or one large suitcase between 2 (<25kg). Please leave any excess luggage with your accommodation in Queenstown. We do not have room for bike transport bags or boxes.
We recommend you bring a small day pack (<20L) each which you can use to carry spare clothing while riding, or leave it in the van. You will not be able to access to your suitcases easily during the day.
ABOUT THE BIKES & EQUIPMENT:
We stock top quality front-suspension bikes, in a full range of sizes, well maintained and in excellent condition. Our bikes are serviced after every tour by the best bike mechanics in Queenstown.
We have a new fleet of Merida e-BIG 600 ebikes. Smaller sizes have 27.5” wheels, larger ones have 29”. They use Shimano steps technology with 3 levels of pedal assistance and a battery with excellent longevity. We estimate they cut the effort required by around 50%. They let you zip up the hills and glide through the terrain like you’re floating on a cloud. Or you can dial back the level of support if you want more of a workout.
If you prefer a conventional mountain bike, we stock a full range Kona Honzo bikes. These excellent bikes are light, quick and amazing fun to ride.
Over the years we have experimented with many different seats and chosen the one everyone finds to be the most comfortable overall. The vast majority of people find them comfortable by themselves and we rarely have any problems. But we do carry a couple of alternative seats in the van (from hard planks to cushy sofas) and we have gel seat covers on hand in case they are needed.
We use flat pedals with small spikes for grip. We recommend robust, comfortable flat-soled shoes that give your feet decent protection. Open toed shoes/sandals are not suitable.
Yes, you are welcome to bring your own bike, provided it doesn’t have more than 2.5” wide tyres – otherwise it will not fit on our bike trailer! We will transport your bike along with ours on the bike trailer. It will be racked and tied down with bungies in the same way we treat our own bikes – very carefully! However please note, we do not accept liability for any damage or scratches. If you are bringing your own bike, please make sure it is a high quality mountain bike with front or dual suspension, a full range gears and preferably off-road knobbly tyres. If you’re bringing an ebike, don’t forget your charger!
You are welcome to bring your own helmet, pedals or seat and we will fit them to our bikes. But please let us know in advance on your questionnaire – otherwise we might not have enough time to fit them.
Each bike comes with a bottle cage, flat grippy pedals (not clip-ins), pump, tyre levers and a spare tube. We invite you to bring your own drink bottle to reduce plastic waste. If you don’t bring it, we will provide you with one. Our ebikes fit 7-8cm diameter by <20-25-27cm for Small-Medium-Large.
Usually the van is not far away so you should not need to carry a lot of gear while riding but we provide you with a small handlebar bag to keep snacks, small items and a spare layer of clothing on your bike. You are welcome to bring a small day pack to carry anything more substantial while riding.
We supply you with a helmet – in a range of sizes. It is a legal requirement to wear a cycle helmet in NZ. We also carry tools, spare parts, spare seats and gel seat covers in the van. And we carry a spare bike on the trailer, in case of any more serious bike problems. There is no need to bring your own tools or spares unless they are specific to your own bike.
ABOUT THE TRAILS
The trails we ride are generally very good quality, well maintained and easy riding. They are a combination of purpose-built cycle trails linked up with unsealed gravel roads and occasionally small sections of sealed road. You will encounter a range of different surfaces – predominantly unsealed gravel roads and trails. They are easy to moderate (mostly grade 1-2) but there are a few sections of grade 3, which is intermediate.
The trails occasionally cross small streams and can be damaged by weather and erosion. You may also encounter deep loose metal, potholes, sharp corners, downhill sections, exposed rocks and boulders, tree branches, slips, mud, pools and flooding (among other things). These hazards are infrequent- but they do occur. Where you come across these hazards or if you’re ever unsure about anything, we strongly encourage you to stop, get off your bike and walk your bike around the hazard. You must take care, ride within your limits and use common sense.
You must be confident riding a bicycle and know your limits. We encourage going for a few training rides of 1-2 hours before your tour. This will improve your skills and fitness, helping make your tour more fun and enjoyable. If you are not confident riding on gravel, you might like to practice on an unsealed gravel road or trail.
There are some hills, we will brief you of these before each section. If you’re riding an electric bike, you will hardly notice them. You’ll zip up them with ease and wonder why the non-ebikers have slowed down. If you are riding a conventional bike, you will be working harder. But there are no serious inclines which a moderate level of fitness can’t handle. In a worst case scenario – you can always get off and walk. For the most part, there are not many long climbs or descents, but you will get used to us talking about “undulations” as you pass through the amazing landscapes!
New Zealand’s weather is very changeable. Spring (Nov-Dec) is beautiful as the snow is still melting on the mountains, trees are out in blossom and the fields are filled with lambs. The spring temperature is usually cool-mild (maybe 14-20C). Summers are usually warm and dry (around 17-25C) but it can get both very hot or very cold. The autumn colours come out early-mid April and temperatures cool down again.
The trails pass through some remote areas, close to the mountains. It is often windy, can rain a lot and is always cold at night. This means you will need clothing suitable for every condition – cold, wet, windy and occasionally very hot! Please see our recommended gear list for more info.
Having vehicle support helps a lot with the weather. We monitor the weather during your cycle tour and can adapt the itinerary to suit the conditions. If there is a strong headwind, we can sometimes switch the direction of travel (reverse ride a section). If bad weather is forecast, we can alter the timings or move things around to avoid the worst of it. Or If things get really unpleasant we can always jump in the van and head to a nice café instead. We like to be flexible and tailor the tour to the needs of the group. Having a good tour guide and vehicle support can make a huge difference to the enjoyment of your holiday!
Our tours take you into remote, unspoilt parts of New Zealand, away from the crowds and civilisation. We tend to stay in small villages which usually have a small supermarket or convenience store. However some places we stay have no shops nearby at all (particularly the first night of the A2O). We will let you know in advance of these and try to give you the opportunity to buy any essentials you’ve forgotten. But there’s no guarantee the shops will be open. We strongly advise you to come prepared with all essential toiletries and medicines you’ll need for the duration of your tour. Most places we stay either sell alcohol or you will have the opportunity to purchase it beforehand.
All the cycle trails we operate on are `Great Rides” of New Zealand – they generally have good signage, and fairly regular toilet stops – although they can be quite “basic”. We always give you plenty of opportunities to use bathrooms before and after your rides and brief you on the location of toilets before each section of trail.
ABOUT THE TOURS
Our tours are “all-inclusive” meaning your meals, accommodation, bike (electric bike or mountain bike) and transport costs are included in the tour price. Depending on the tour, it also includes helicopter rides, jet boats, a boat cruise, train tickets, hot pools, a treetop walk or wine tastings. These activities are listed on the relevant tour page and included in the overall price you pay for the trip. There are some occasions (detailed on the relevant tour pages) where you have the option to partake in extra activities, at your own expense. For example, you might choose to add on a scenic helicopter flight at Franz Josef glacier, or Mt Cook/Aoraki National Park (as an extension to the regular helicopter transfer). We are happy to discuss these options with you and help make the bookings.
All included meals are listed in the tour details. While you are riding on the trails we provide drinks breaks (water, tea and coffee) and snacks (fruit, nuts, biscuits, sweets and chocolate). Lunch is usually either a picnic (depending on the weather) or a visit to a local café. We either eat at our accommodation or take you out to a local restaurant.
What is NOT included?
Alcohol, drinks, teas or barista coffees, or extra snacks purchased from café’s or restaurants are not included in the price. You’ll be sent a tour itinerary with a full list of meals included and further information, when you book on your tour.
Our cycle tours are “fully-supported”. Which means a combination of providing vehicle support and on occasion, riding with you on the trails.
Before each section of riding, we ensure you are comfortable on your bike, have everything you need and provide clear instructions where to go. We like to let you ride the trail at your own pace – you cannot get lost! There’s no need to ride together as a group. Your tour guide drives the van as a support vehicle. You generally only need to carry a few small items and maybe an extra layer of clothing. We have regular meet-ups, with drinks breaks and picnics along the trail to allow everyone to catch up and make sure you are having fun!
However, on the first day of the Alps 2 Ocean and the Around the Mountains, the cycle trails pass through areas with no road access. We cannot provide any vehicle support. On those days only, your tour guide rides with you at the back of the group as “tail-end Charlie” providing support and assistance if needed.
Our cycle tours take you into areas of natural beauty and wilderness around the South Island. There are no 5 star hotels or Michelin restaurants. Our cycle tours take you into areas of natural beauty and wilderness around the South Island. We stay in small rural villages and choose places set in beautiful locations, with lots of local character and charm. They are typically boutique bed and breakfast, farm cottage, or lodge-style accommodation. We tend to choose places based on their unique location, amazing food and excellent standard of hospitality. They are always exceptionally clean and comfortable and usually exceed people’s expectations!
All rooms come with their own private en-suite bathroom, with one exception. On the first night of the Alps 2 Ocean we stay on a remote high country station overlooking Lake Pukaki and the Southern Alps. On that occasion there are shared bathroom facilities. However, this is a truly unique experience in an amazing location which people usually find to be one of the highlights of the trip.
Food is one of the most important parts of our tours! All meals are excellent quality, made from fresh local produce, with lots of variety. Meals may be provided at the accommodation or at local restaurants, where you may be offered a set menu or a la carte. Breakfasts may be cooked or continental, depending on the location, but are always fantastic.
For lunch we often have a picnic at a beautiful spot along the trail. We are famous for our make-your-own picnics with a selection of fresh bread, wraps, cold cuts, cheeses and salads. We often include humus, sauces and dips. We vary the ingredients to provide plenty of variety. Otherwise we may visit a local café nearby. We also provide unlimited snacks – mixed nuts, fresh fruit, muesli/granola bars, liquorice, sweets and chocolate coated coffee-beans to keep you going!
We cater to vegetarians, and vegans. If you have any dietary requirements or allergies we need to know about, please let us know in our tour questionnaire which each person must complete when you book.
WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
We take your safety very seriously throughout the tour and have strict safety procedures in place. Even though we are not legally required to do so, we voluntarily have our health and safety processes audited annually by an independent safety assurance organisation. Our guides are all certified first-aid responders and we carry emergency locator beacons and first aid kits on every tour. Our staff are trained to deal with emergency situations and can organise help or rescue quickly and efficiently, if need be. We provide you with a full safety briefing before you start riding.
For minor injuries, we are usually close at hand to assist quickly and take you to the nearest medical centre. In a more serious situation, we can coordinate with emergency services and arrange helicopter evacuation if need be. We have an excellent public health care system in New Zealand, including cover for accidents under the Accident Compensation Corporation or “ACC” scheme. If any person (including a tourist) has an accident in New Zealand, they usually have access to (almost) free medical treatment. However this does not substitute for appropriate travel insurance.
If your injury prevents you from riding, you are still welcome to attend the tour as a non-rider, or participate in some occasional cycling. You can travel in the van with the tour guide who will keep you entertained. We will keep you involved in all non-cycling activities and you will get to spend plenty of time socialising with the group. We’ve had plenty of positive feedback from non-riders over the years who have enjoyed themselves.
However if your injury or illness prevents you from coming on the tour, please see our Booking Terms and Conditions. We recommend you consider travel insurance to protect you against unexpected events.
Our tours usually start and finish in Queenstown, except for the WCW and GSC which start in Christchurch. It is possible to start and finish the A2O from Christchurch using Intercity buses which we can arrange. We can usually arrange pick-ups and drop-offs within the Queenstown/Frankton area, including Queenstown Airport. Other locations will depend on the tour, number of people, how far out of the way you are and timing of other activities eg boats and helicopters. Please let us know if you have any questions. In particular, please ask before booking flights if you are in any doubt what time to arrive or depart.
No, we do not have any parking facilities for your car while you are on tour. However feel free to give us a call and we can discuss options where to leave your car.
Yes, absolutely! If you would like:
- To ride some of New Zealand’s most beautiful cycle trails.
- To share an amazing outdoor experience with friends, family and other like-minded people.
- To enjoy an active healthy holiday with good food and plenty of exercise.
- To see the “real” New Zealand, meet some locals and gain a better understanding of the country.
We are committed to helping you have a great holiday and will go to great lengths to exceed your expectations!