• Lake Ohau
  • Lake Pukaki

What’s the Best Time of the Year to Cycle the A2O?

Our customers often ask us what is the best time of year to cycle the A2O trail. We have now completed 4 photo shoots on the trail, each of them seeking to capture the spectacular essence of the seasons.  Winter hasn’t yet featured in our plans so lets put that aside.

The Lupins

Traditionally the lupins of the Mackenzie basin are a huge drawcard and they do create an immediately recognisable iconic foreground.  However they are particular to heart of the Mackenzie Basin, and not particularly evident below Omarama – which does represent at least 50% of the overall trail.  Apart from that, increasingly we end up fighting for our place in photo ops competing with roadside photographers with bigger lenses than I can carry.  However if you are in the region mid November through to mid January, undeniably these can create great memories.




In early autumn the willows turn gold.  With Photographer friend Colin Monteath, he has captured some absolutely stunning images, timing the light and fine weather spells to perfection.  In NZ we seem to treat Anzac weekend as the end of all things summer, and from this time through to the snows of early winter, the trail is virtually empty.  Booking accommodation is breeze, no waiting at restaurants and often the weather is sublime.  So for autumn scenery, mid April through to mid May is often a gem.


Spring is a favourite for me because it combines the pre-season low rider numbers along with the brilliance of the spring growth as the willows bud up and burst into leaf.  The colour is vivid and at this time, there is usually snow on the hills creating a great contrast to the foreground.  The traffic at this time is also much quieter should there be any on-road sections and the staff at the accommodation and services are new and fresh and happy to have people to talk to.

So – my choice is the Oct / Nov period followed closely by mid April – Mid May.

Geoff Gabites

Lake Ohau Lodge