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.

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.

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 tour through one of the tour companies. They will drop off luggage, drive you to various points, and be there 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. Horses can damage the trail surface, and having a mix of horses & cyclists on the Trail can be problematic.
No, Trail users do not have permission to use the Trail between sunset and sunrise each day.
No that is 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 are permitted 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.
See our Instagram photos #Alps2Ocean
Be part of something amazing. Donate now to build your part of the trail. Donate