Big coun­try

The Alps to Ocean Cy­cle Trail is a ma­jes­tic me­an­der

Go Travel New Zealand - - Mackenzie Country -

O ne of the grand­est of New Zealand great cy­cle rides is the 301km Alps 2 Ocean Cy­cle Trail ( A2O). This is New Zealand in all its colour and beauty: From the high­est moun­tains, past great lakes and rivers, down to the ocean. Start­ing at ei­ther Ao­raki/Mt Cook (he­li­copter cross­ing re­quired), or at Lake Tekapo (no he­li­copter re­quired), the trail crosses spec­tac­u­lar coun­try­side be­fore fetch­ing up in the quaint and arty sea­side town of Oa­maru. The trail is made of nine sec­tions. Some are easy, oth­ers re­quire a higher level of fit­ness. Have a look at the trail maps to gain an un­der­stand­ing of the gra­di­ent, and the skill and fit­ness re­quired for each sec­tion. If you aren't a fit and ex­pe­ri­enced cy­clist at the start, you will be when you reach the fin­ish! In all se­ri­ous­ness, though, it is rec­om­mended to do some de­cent rides be­fore tack­ling the A2O. To cy­cle the full trail takes an av­er­age of four to six days. How­ever, with so much to ex­pe­ri­ence along the way, there is no rush. The A2O is more than a cy­cle trail: It is 301km of at­trac­tions, din­ing, shop­ping and ac­tiv­i­ties. It's not a race but rather a leisurely jour­ney with plenty of op­por­tu­ni­ties to get off the bike and dis­cover the re­gion. Hot springs, gi­ant wa­ter­slides, wine tast­ings, boutique shops, pen­guin tours, stargaz­ing, and mu­sic concerts are just some of the en­joy­able di­ver­sions along the trail.

The Mt Cook Alpine Sal­mon Shop is lo­cated on beau­ti­ful Lake Pukaki - Leg 2 of the Alps 2 Ocean Cy­cle Trail! Stop by to en­joy the iconic view, pic­nic ta­bles, ice cold drinks and range of sal­mon prod­ucts on of­fer.

Their Fresh­wa­ter King Sal­mon has been raised in nearby canals, which the bike trail goes past. The water in these canals flows straight from the South­ern Alps above. This glacial, highly oxy­genated water and the dis­tinc­tive touch of the sea­sons, cre­ates a very spe­cial sal­mon del­i­cacy – a must try on any travel ‘to do’ list!

One of the pos­i­tive as­pects of the trail is that it can be en­joyed on al­most any bud­get: From the ba­sic back­packer through to five- star lux­ury lodges. It’s en­tirely up to you how much to spend. The trail it­self is free to ride, al­though pur­chas­ing a $10 trail sup­porter wrist­band is highly en­cour­aged. The prof­its from the wrist­bands are used for trail main­te­nance and im­prove­ments.

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