Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to get to Twizel?
Flying in to Christchurch or Queenstown is best. The Intercity bus departs from Christchurch City Centre at 8:30am arriving in Twizel at 1:30pm. Similarly, there is an InterCity bus departure from Queenstown at 8:05am and arrives in Twizel at 11:15am. Please note, that catching either of these morning buses will require that you arrive and stay 1 night prior to the bus departure date (as flights generally do not arrive early enough for you to meet the bus). We suggest checking the current Intercity timetables on their website before making any travel plans.
If you are driving to the start of the trail, you are welcome to park your vehicle at our depot in Twizel. You can then book the Cycle Journeys shuttle that departs Oamaru at 2:45pm and gets back to Twizel at approximately 4:45pm on the last day of your trip.
How long does it take to cycle the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle trail?
There are 8 sections of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. Completing 1 trail section per day works out to about 3-4.5 hours of cycling per day over 8 cycling days (you will have to allow for 1 extra day of travel time to the starting point). Many people who ride bikes regularly will double up some trail sections, which reduces the overall duration. For each day the trip duration is reduced this will make that day’s cycling 5-6.5 hours. The most popular duration to cycle the trail is over 6 cycling days (7 days total including the arrival day). 6 cycling days will be 4 days of 3-4.5 hours cycling per day with 2 longer days of 5-8 hours. If you are wanting to cycle the trail over 6 cycling days consider the difference in distance between either starting at Mt Cook Village or from Lake Tekapo. From Mt Cook Village is 80km (5.5-8 hours cycling depending on fitness level), while from Lake Tekapo it is 55km (3.5-5.5 hours).
Are meals included if we book with Cycle Journeys?
Meals are included at rural locations where there are no local dining options available. For these nights the dinner is provided along with breakfast & a packed lunch the next morning. On other nights you will be in a township where there is always at least one pub, cafe, minimart, etc, so you can take care of your own meals. As a general guide a 6 cycling day trip will have 3 dinners, breakfasts, packed lunches while an 8 cycling days trip will have 4 of each meal provided. For some superior and premium level trips there may be more breakfasts included.
What weather can we expect?
New Zealand’s weather is changeable at any time of the year. The temperature range in this part of New Zealand in summer is likely to be between 15- 25 degrees but it can vary from 5-35 degrees. Early or later in the season – October, November, April, May – the temperature is usually between 10-20 degrees but can vary from 0-25 degrees. The trail starts at the base of the Southern Alps and so extreme temperature variations of 20 degrees or more within a 48 hour period are not unusual.
What clothing should we bring?
Prepare for all 4 seasons. Please have a read of our “A2O Suggested Gear List” document for a detailed suggestion of what to bring to cycle the trail.
What is provided with the hire bikes?
Each hire bike comes with a cycle helmet, rear carrier bag (approximately a 10 litre capacity), lock, and bottle cage. You do need to bring your own water bottle. With each group hiring bikes we provide a number of spare tubes, tyre levers, & mini-pumps.
All of our bikes have upgraded seats that are very comfortable, and we have both extra-wide comfort seats, or narrower performance seats are also available. For even more comfort we have gel seat covers available for purchase at our Twizel depot.
Shimano SPD clip-in pedals are available with a hire bike for no extra charge. Please request these at the time of making your booking if you would like them fitted to the bike.
Can I bring my own seat and/or pedals to use on the hire bike?
Yes you can, however we do ask that our depot mechanics do the fitting of any parts to the hire bikes at our Twizel depot. We do have a limited quantity of Shimano SPD pedals available that can be requested with your bike hire at the time of booking. This can save the hassle of bringing your own.
Once you finish the bike ride, if you have brought your own pedals or seat, we ask you to kindly remove these yourself before leaving the bike at our Oamaru depot. We recommend bringing your own tools such as a pedal spanner if you have your own pedals fitted.
What if a bike breaks down or has a puncture?
We suggest that at least one person in your group is familiar with removing a wheel from a bike and changing a tube. Some cycle shops offer classes so perhaps ask your local store if you have never done this before.
Our hire bikes are serviced after every trip and are in great working order however occasionally a random mechanical issue can occur. Part of the service provided with hiring a bike from us is that we will arrange for a replacement bike to be delivered to you if your bike becomes unrideable. If you have had a crash and the bike is damaged there may be a cost to bring another bike to you (and to repair the bike).
If you are bringing your own bike to cycle the trail then it’s a good idea to have it serviced before the trip.
Is there cell phone coverage along the trail?
There is cell phone reception most of the way with the exception of a couple of short locations in remote areas. Different mobile network companies may have slightly different ranges of coverage.
If you have an overseas mobile number it is possible purchase a NZ sim card upon arrival in to the country. Many overseas holidaymakers find a NZ sim a cost effective option rather than using international roaming. Please ensure that Cycle Journeys Twizel depot staff have your correct contact number before you start on the trail.
How long will it take to cycle the trail sections each day?
Some sections of the A2O trail are easy going on sealed road and other sections over the hills or on rougher parts can be slower. The overall conditions are similar to easy mountain biking rather than road cycling and this is reflected in the average speeds. Use the following as a guide:
- Non-cyclist/beginner: 10kmh average speed
- Recreational cyclist: 12-13kmh average speed
- Very fit cyclist: 15kmh average speed
How should I prepare for cycling on the A2O trail?
The more bike riding you can do before your trip the better prepared you will be. There are a mix of surfaces on the A2O, from loose gravel, to dedicated cycle trail (compacted gravel), and sealed roads. We recommend spending some time cycling on off-road trail surfaces prior to your trip to get familiar with riding a bike on mixed terrain. If you are going to hire an E.bike it’s a good idea to have ridden one beforehand to become accustomed with the extra power they provide.
There are some hills along the trail route so any cycling on hills that you can do in the months leading up to the trip will help your fitness.
Keep in mind that cycling the A2O trail involves on average 6 consecutive days of cycling of an average of 40km per day (depending on which trail start point you begin from). A distance of 10km on the A2O will be similar in duration to cycling 15km on the road. If you can fit in some rides in the 1-3 months leading up to your trip that are close to the expected daily duration on the A2O trail then this will be good preparation. An optimal goal would be to do 3 bike rides per week.
I’m thinking of hiring an E.bike. When should I book one?
Cycle Journeys has a fleet of E.bikes that are ideal for the A2O trail. E.bikes are in increasingly high demand and are reserved on a first-in first-booked basis. For peak months such as March the E.bikes can be fully booked over 6 months in advance so it’s a good idea get in early.
Please note that if you decide to book an E.bike there is no refund available if you change your mind and cancel it later on.
Is it easy to follow the trail?
Yes, the trail is signposted. Our Twizel depot staff will also provide you with Alps to Ocean trail map information when you arrive there at the start of your trip.
Are there places to get water along the trail?
We suggest starting each day on the bike with enough water for the full distance of that day as there are often no opportunities to refill bottles between townships.
Cycle Journeys hire bikes are fitted with one bottle cage that is designed for use with a 750ml cycling type water bottle (bottles such as Pump, Powerade etc do not fit into cycling bottle cages). You will need to bring your own water bottle and we suggest bringing at least one other normal screw-top type bottle of minimum 1 litre capacity. This can be carried in the hire bike’s rear carrier bag.
As an extra tip, some people use a hydration pack as many of these have bladders that can hold 2-3 litres of fluid. These can be purchased from cycle shops or sport stores.
What if the heliflight over the Tasman River is cancelled?
Occasionally the helicopter cannot fly over the Tasman River due to weather conditions. If your heliflight has been booked by Cycle Journeys our depot staff will take care of alternate arrangements for you. We will contact you to discuss starting from another trail point, whether that be Jollie River Carpark, Braemar Road, or Lake Tekapo. The heliflight portion is refunded and any difference in shuttle costs worked out.
Is there a weight limit for bag transfers?
The weight limit for luggage transferred is 15kg per bag. As bags often have to be carried over uneven terrain in semi-rural environments it’s important the weight limit is kept to. If you are travelling with more weight than this we will ask for you to pack excess gear into a second bag. This second bag can be transferred to your accommodation for $15.00 per day, or from our Twizel depot to our Oamaru depot for a single $20.00 charge.
Once a bag is booked to be transferred a luggage label is created and attached to it, and it is logged into our bag transfer system. This is done for the security of your bag and its belongings so we know exactly which bag is going to and from which location. Any bag without a luggage label is unable to be transferred.
Is our luggage at our accommodation when we arrive each day?
Generally yes, depending on how fast you cycle there. Our luggage vehicles start the first pickups at around 9:00am. The first bags are dropped off by about 10:00am and the luggage van then travels to each township along the trail. We aim to have bags in Oamaru no later than 2:00pm to time in with anyone taking the Intercity bus to Christchurch at 3:25pm. Unforeseen circumstances and extreme weather conditions may at times affect the scheduled timetable.
How do we contact Cycle Journeys while cycling the trail?
The Cycle Journeys Twizel depot is open from 8:00am to 5:00pm every day from late September until early May (except Christmas Day). The phone number is 03 435 0578.
What happens if we have an accident and need help?
In an emergency call 111. Local emergency facilities and services are available. We will provide you with emergency contact details when you arrive at our Twizel depot. It’s a good idea for at least one person in your group to carry a first aid kit with them on the bike.
For non-emergencies we may be able to send out a shuttle but there can be a delay in getting to you. Please note that extra shuttle charges do apply if you request to be picked up and taken in the vehicle to the next location or township.
What happens if the weather is bad?
If you don’t wish to cycle on a given day then it works best to pre-arrange a shuttle transfer the day before (although sometimes it can still be organised if you phone the depot by 8:30am that morning). The minimum cost of a shuttle transfer is $25.00 per person but depot staff will advise the actual cost based on the distance of your transfer and where the township is that you require the pickup from.
Due to the logistics of operating over a large trail distance we cannot guarantee that all requests for late notice shuttle transfers can be accommodated. First priority is given to customers who have booked full trips with bike hire.
What is the best way to get home from Oamaru at the end?
The Intercity bus company operate a service twice daily from Oamaru to Christchurch; one departing at 9:30am and another departing at 3:25pm. There is also a bus that departs at 12:05pm heading to Dunedin. We suggest checking the current Intercity timetables on their website before making any travel plans.
The car hire companies in Oamaru are local firms that have a relocation fee if you hire a car one way from Oamaru to another city, although this can still work out to be an economical option for a group.
Which trail should I cycle next after completing the A2O?
Cycle Journeys also operate on the West Coast Wilderness Trail and in late 2019 will be present on the new Paparoa Track. For your next cycling holiday consider a week on the West Coast and experience one of the most unique native forest environments in New Zealand. We look forward to seeing you again soon!
Reviewed March 2020
Amazing scenery, fantastic accommodation, a bit of grunting from time to time given we didn’t use e-bikes. Awesome team at Cycle Journeys – everything went like clockwork with not a single hitch. Very good communicators and operate like a well oiled machine. THANK YOU so much,
Rob and Raewyn – Tauranga.
P.S. Make sure you start with the helicopter flight – it’s well worth the money
Visited March 2020
Made Arranging our A2O Holiday so Easy
Reviewed February 2020
We used Cycle journeys to organise our Alps2Ocean trip. They could not have made it easier for us – arranging bikes and equipment, good accommodation, baggage transfers, meals, maps, packing lists, detailed itinerary and travel arrangements etc…etc. Staff were very friendly and everything ran like clockwork. Small issue with one bike was quickly and easily resolved.
Would definitely recommend.
Visited February 2020