Frequently Asked Questions

To help you with your planning, here are some answers to the more frequently asked questions...

If you do not find the answer to the specific question that you have, please contact us via the Contact Us page.

Yes, most definitely the Trail is there for the enjoyment of walkers, runners and cyclists.

This was part of the original vision for not just the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, but all of the New Zealands 22 Great Rides. We see increasing numbers of walkers enjoying the Trail for its awesome and constantly changing scenery. Equally many joggers and runners enjoy getting 'off-road' and find the Trail surface a really comfortable surface to run on.

Parts of the Trail from Tekapo to Ohau also share the same route as the Te Araroa walking trail that journeys from the very south of the South Island to the top of the North Island - that walking trail typically takes about three months to complete. On that basis the Alps 2 Ocean should take about 12 days to tick off, but we'd like to hear more from those that have completed that journey on foot (in either direction) to get a better idea of the timing.

The Alps 2 Ocean Ultra was a competitive 320km running race organised over seven days on a course that took the competitors mostly on the Trail. Some competitors ran the race unsupported which meant they also carried their own food for the duration (and paid an entry fee for the privilidge!). Hats off to all those that even attempted this awasome feat of human endurance. The Alps 2 Ocean Ultra was organised in 2018, 2019 and 2020 and was completed by around 100 competitors each year.

Please share your Trail walking or running experience with us... or click on the 'Share your Feedback' tab at the top of the page.
The entire Trail is now 100% signposted and rideable. Several sections are open, while other sections are still under construction with temporary routes in place. Out of the total 301km, 13km are temporarily on the State Highway (Sailors Cutting to Otematata 11km and a couple of small sections of the Trail between Aviemore and Kurow (no more than 2km)).

Many cyclists have already ridden the entire 306km Trail and enjoyed the Trail in its current state. Wearing a high-visibility vest is recommended for any of the on-road sections (be safe - be seen!), and thius is particularly true for the remaining 13km on the State Highway mentioned above.

Work will commence shortly on the off-road section from Sailors Cutting to Benmore Dam which will avoid the last major section that remains on State Highway - this is expected to be open around Christmas 2020.
Almost anyone with a moderate level of fitness can ride the Trail. Some sections are easy, while others are intermediate. This is not a flat Trail - you will encounter a variety of inclines, declines, and ever-changing trail surfaces. Please look at the maps and study the Trail surface photos/gradients. This will help you gain an understanding of what lies ahead on the Trail. Most of the sections are between 30-50km. If a person rode at an average of 10km per hour, this is 3-5 hours out of the day. Spread it out and take it easy, or go fast and do 2 sections per day - the choice is yours. It is recommended that you practice cycling some distances before embarking on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.

To help you with your training Janet Stak and NZCT have put together an invaluable 12 week training plan for the Alps 2 Ocean and other cycle trails. A link to her free training programmes can be found by following this link to the NZCT website...

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail encompasses a wide variety of Trail surfaces. While the smooth off-road portions shouldn't present a problem, it is recommended that you have some prior experience with cycling on loose gravel and alongside vehicles on the highway. The gradient is overall relatively easy to handle, although there are a few uphill/downhill portions.
The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is free to ride. However, if you have enjoyed your experience and would like to make a donation for the ongoing maintenance and construction that would be much appreciated. Every little bit helps! Donate here.
A mountain bike is probably best suited for the variety of trail surfaces you'll encounter on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. However, a touring or hybrid bike will also handle the Trail. One recommendation is to have your road/hybrid tyres changes to a tyre with more tread and grip.

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail has been successfully ridden by all types of bikes: road, hybrid, tandem, recumbent, touring, single speed, folding bikes with 20" tyres, even penny farthings.

If you are not riding a mountain bike please be aware you may need to walk your bike over some rough sections.
Yes and no. To cycle the full Trail, a helicopter is the only way across the Tasman River. Prices start from $135 per person, minimum of 2 people.

However, there are many options for alternate starting points. The Tekapo B Power Station near the bottom of Lake Pukaki is a popular alternate starting point that skips the helicopter crossing. You can also start at Lake Tekapo, and cycle the Tekapo Canal Road until you reach the shores of Lake Pukaki, where you join the proper Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.

For helicopter pricing and details, contact:

Mt Cook Ski Planes and Helicopters (Inflite Experiences) 0800 80 07 02
(Alps 2 Ocean Trail Guardian)
[Mt Cook Airport]

Heliworks 0800 66 66 68
[Mt Cook Airport]

Helicopter Line 0800 650 651
[Glentanner Park Centre]
Summer and autumn are nice times to ride. Spring can also be pleasant, although there is sometimes rain and wind around that time of the year.

March and April are generally cooler than the summer months, plus there are autumnal colours in certain sections.

You may encounter snow and frosty conditions on the Trail during the winter months.

Alpine weather can change quickly - several parts of the trail are in alpine environments where the weather can turn cold (even in summer). Please take some water and energy snacks, as well as plenty of clothing layers and make sure to include warm and waterproof items.

Please refer to the Trail Safety notes on the website for further saftey guidance.
It is advised to ride from West to East (Aoraki/Mt Cook to Oamaru). This is for several reasons: it's generally downhill (but still encompassing some uphill), and the prevailing wind should be behind you.

Some have completed the Trail from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru and wish to return to do it in the opposite direction. There is no doubt that you will get a different perspective of the scenery cycling from Oamaru on the coast towards the mountains.

With the advent of e-bikes there is less of a challenge on the hill sections and we are seeing many more people cycling from the Ocean to the Alps - even if they only pick off a section or two at a time.

Many parts of the Trail are on canals or run along side lakes and for these sections there is very little difference in the amount of 'downhill' encountered but the prevailing wind may still be a factor to consider.
There are several ways you can arrange this. You can book a supported or guided tour through one of the tour companies. They will drop off luggage, drive you to various points, and in the case of guided tours, be there with you to make sure everything is going well.

Another option is to find a friend or family member who is keen on the idea of a holiday, but doesn't want to cycle. They can drive a van and trailer instead of cycling. Fishing, reading a book, preparing lunch, napping in the shade - there are many ways to spend the time. More info is available on the transport page.
There are a number of operators providing luggage transfer.

You may also ask these companies if they provide a car transfer service, so that you can meet up with your car at the end of the day or end of the Trail, which ever works for you.
Yes. The locations of these are shown on the maps. They should be stocked with toilet paper, but it may be safe to bring your own as well.
No and for several reasons. No permission for horse riding has been sort nor granted from any of the landowners that have generously granted Trail access to their land.

The Trail was funded and built specifically for the enjoyment of walkers and cyclists. As a result horses can damage the existing Cycle Trail surface, as it was never designed for their use.

Having a mix of horses & cyclists on the Trail can be problematic for cyclists and walkers for a couple of more reasons that don't bear mentioning...
No, Trail users do not have permission to use the Trail between sunset and sunrise each day.
No, motorbikes and mopeds are not allowed under the terms of the Trail's easements (permission) with the land owners - passage is permitted by bicycle, on foot or any other form of human powered transportation.

Power assisted bicycles (e-bikes) are permitted on the Trail up to a capacity of 300watts - above that level the Transport Authority has designated more powerful e-bikes to fall into the category of motorbikes, which are therefore not permitted on the Cycle Trail.
The short answer to that question is that we tell everyone that dogs are not allowed on the Cycle Trail. The reason for this is that the Trail easements only include permission to walk and cycle (under your own power) and do not include permission for either horses or dogs. Some land owners have taken this a step further and asked to have additional signage to say 'no dogs allowed'. If you do not see one of these signs however, it still does not give you permission to walk a dog!

The DoC Trail easment on their land (and many others) expressly forbid dogs on the Cycle Trail.

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail are in no position to grant dog walking permission, since we do not hold that right.

Having said that, there is still a sections of the Trail that are on public roads (or on the roadside verge), so no dog restrictions there.

One part of the Trail at Waireka (Section 8) where dog walking does take place is on the old railway line between Weston and the Waireka Saleyards, however you still have a responsibility to clean up after your dog!
Yes, squeeze barriers have been installed at many locations along the Trail at the request of land owners to restrict acess by motorbikes.

The barriers are all of a standard design but some variation exists in the dimensions of individual installations.

Apologies in advance as there is no easy solution that successfully restricts motorbikes while granting unrestricted access to wider or higher versions of a standard cycle configuration.

Please 'Contact Us' for further details of the barrier locations. Adjacent gates have been installed to allow a bypass for hand bikes and modified accessibility bikes. Please contact us for padlock codes. Two photos of their general dimensions can be found in the 'Trade and Media' link found in the page footer...
See our Instagram photos #Alps2Ocean
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