The Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail is a majestic meander
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.