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Trail safety

Essential safety tips for cycling the trail.

Trail safety

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is a shared trail for the use and enjoyment of a range of users.  It’s easy for everyone to keep safe and have fun on our trail if we respect each other and stick to simple safety practices.

It is all Trail user’s responsibility to:

  • Ensure your own safety while on the Trail.
  • Take reasonable care that what you do or don’t do, does not endanger others.
  • Be responsible for having the skills, competence, and equipment required to ride the Trail, identify the hazards and effectively manage the risks they present.
  • Be alert to and aware of potential hazards and risks of using the Trail through information provided on the A2O website, brochure and through operator briefings.
  • Exercise due diligence prior to engaging in activities on the Trail, to ensure well informed decisions can be made.
  • Adhere to the Code of Conduct
  • Call 111 immediately or activate personal locator beacon for all emergencies. Advise emergency services that you are on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail to activate St John’s A2O Emergency plans.
  • Report any incidents on the Trail as soon as practicable using the Incident Reporting channels.

The trail has a number of surfaces, each of which presents different safety considerations.

​Respect each other and take the lead on courtesy and giving way. A wave and a smile will help foster a positive enjoyable experience for everyone.​

​Respect others​

  • No one user group has exclusive use or rights
  • Respect each other and take the lead on courtesy and giving way
  • A wave and smile will help foster a positive enjoyable experience for everyone
  • Stay in control so you can safely navigate other riders​
  • Give way to walkers ​
  • Use a bell or friendly greeting when approaching other users, to let them know you're there​
  • Ride in small groups ​
  • Be patient behind slower riders and pull over where practical to let faster riders pass​
  • Only ride at a speed that is safe for you and others
  • If you come across maintenance or repair work sites, please follow all instructions of staff, and proceed through the site with care and caution

Respect the rules​

  • Ride only where permitted – keep off any closed sections​
  • Be prepared (take food, water, tools, first aid and warm clothes) and plan for the unexpected​
  • Leave gates as you find them​
  • Obey the 10km/h speed limit in the Oamaru Public Gardens

​Respect the track​

  • Don't skid, cut corners or make new lines​
  • Avoid riding in the mud and rain​
  • Take your rubbish home - leave only tyre prints.​
  • Clean your bike to prevent spreading things like gorse​

Share the road​

  • Stay left​
  • Follow the road rules at all times​
  • Ride predictably, in a straight line and signal your intentions​
  • Ride no more than two abreast.

​1. Plan your trip​

  • Seek local knowledge and plan the route you will take and the amount of time you can reasonably expect it to take.​
  • Make yourself familiar with the A2O website and brochure​
  • A2O is well sign-posted but we advise carrying the A2O brochure for guidance​
  • Download the Great Rides App for A2O Trail information​
  • Check the website or Facebook for the latest Trail status information​

2. Tell someone​

  • Tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned.  We recommend that you ride with others.​
  • The Adventuresmart website provides 3 simple options which enable you to tell someone all the details about your ride into the outdoors.​

3. Check the weather​

  • New Zealand’s weather can be highly unpredictable. ​
  • Always check the forecast before you head off and be prepared for weather changes by carrying a rain jacket and warm clothing.​
  • Take care in the alpine portions of the trail, and dress accordingly. ​
  • Weather forecasts - supplied by OpenWeather via​

4. Know your limits​

  • Your responsibility is to enjoy and maximise your riding experience, while minimising the risk to yourself and others.  Challenge yourself, but ride within your physical limits and ability.​

5. Take sufficient supplies​

  • Make sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency rations for the worst-case scenario.  Take some basic bike tools for any repairs and an appropriate means of communication.​

6. Have a back-up plan​

  • If something goes wrong, mobile phone coverage is non existent on some parts of the Trail and you could be kilometres from the nearest road.​
  • It is recommended to carry a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon).  Should an emergency happen this will call in an emergency helicopter. ​
  • PLB's are available to hire and drop off at a network of providers along the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.​

7. Emergency​

  • In all emergencies you should call 111 and ask for the service you require - Police, Fire or Ambulance. All emergency services are funded by the NZ Government.​
  • Activate your PLB in any physical or medical emergency for evacuation purposes.

Here’s a few simple tips to help keep you stay safe on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.​ Please also refer to the 'Trail Details and maps' section which also gives key safety information for each Trail section.

Be Seen​

Wear high visibility or brightly coloured clothing.  Use front and rear lights at night, in low light and in poor visibility such as fog or rain.​

Be Aware​

Watch and listen for approaching cyclists, vehicles, pedestrians, potholes, animals, car doors opening and other potential hazards.​

Be Predictable​

Maintain a straight line, keep to the left and signal your intentions clearly.​

Be Safe​

Ride to the conditions, and check 'Latest trail information' in Trail conditions section of the website or our Facebook page for the latest daily updates.

Follow road rules and cyclist Code of Conduct.​

Be courteous to others, leave room to pass, stop and walk any section if in doubt, be in the right gear – especially on in e-bikes​

Take extreme care when navigating the road and highway crossings on this Trail. These are high speed environments and there is often limited visibility. It is best to STOP before riding out on to the road. Guidance should be given to young riders.​

​Be Patient​

Slow down when approaching other trail users, particularly from the rear. Pass slowly and only when safe.   On narrow section of the trail pull over where practical to allow faster cyclists to pass.​

Be Prepared​

Wear an approved helmet and check your bike regularly. Plan your route and carry sufficient water and food, along with basic tools for repairs, a PLB, and a small first aid kit.​


There are several sections where the Trail is on road. Be vigilant of other road users including cars, boats, caravans, logging trucks and farm vehicles.

Extreme weather​

The Trail is exposed to rapidly changing mountain weather, including high winds, rain and cold temperatures. Check the website and weather before departing each day.  It is essential for all trail users to carry wet and cold weather gear with them.​

If windy, be extremely careful in exposed areas, especially crossing bridges.

While the Trail can be exposed to cold and wet conditions in summer, you are more likely to encounter very hot weather. Temperatures can exceed 35C, especially in the Mackenzie Basin. Riders are advised to carry at least two litres of water per person in hot weather and try to ride in cooler parts of the day.​


There is fresh water along the Trail, and you can drink this at your own risk.​

Generally, water in the New Zealand mountains is safe to drink, though water in lowland areas is more likely to need treatment. If in doubt, boil or treat it before drinking.​


If you are hassled by a dog, stand/ride sideways to the dog and keep him in your peripheral vision instead of facing him and making eye contact. This will signal to the dog that you are not a threat. Don’t open your hands and arms up to a bite by extending them. Keep your fingers curled into fists to avoid getting them bitten.​


The Trail passes through or adjacent to working farms. Livestock may be present and can be unpredictable​. If you come across livestock:

  • Follow instructions for stock handlers
  • Cycle slowly and keep your distance from the livestock
  • Do not cycle in between livestock


If you find yourself near a wildfire, then take the shortest Trail route in a downwind direction until you reach a safe spot. The fire authority will evacuate areas threatened by a wildfire, though it is best to self-evacuate in the first instance.​


During the nesting season (September to December) magpies may swoop cyclists. If you are attacked, pick up a stick and carry it above your head until out of range.


There are bee hives close to the Trail in some sections.  Carry medication if allergic.

Our role as kaitiaki requires us to protect and nurture our environment and it will in turn protect and nurture us. . It’s easy for us to support this by following a few simple rules:​

  1. ​Don’t litter. Take rubbish home with you. ​
  2. Adhere to fire, animal and other restrictions listed for each trail.​
  3. Respect wildlife and farm animals.​
  4. Clean your bike and boots to avoid spreading weeds.​
  5. Report conservation emergencies to the Department of Conservation (DOC) on 0800 DOC HOT.​
  6. Report wallaby sightings to - Sighting Reports (​
  7. Stay away from bird nesting areas. ​
  8. Please subscribe to the Taika Promise - Care for People and Place. Watch the video here:​

Carrying a PLB while on the Trail is recommended.  This is especially important if travelling alone. Their are several sections that are isolated have little or no phone coverage. Use a PLB to raise an alarm in any physical or medical emergency for evacuation purposes.

PLB hire and drop off points can be found at the following towns and hire points along the Trail:

Aoraki / Mt Cook Village
DOC Information Centre

03 435 1186
1 Larch Grove, Aoraki Mt Cook Village, Canterbury 7999

Bespoke Bike Tours

021 151 3742
8 Simpson Lane Lake Tekapo 7999

Cycle Journeys Depot

03 435 0578
3 Benmore Place, Twizel 7901

Lake Ōhau Lodge

03 438 9885
2295 Lake Ohau Road, Lake, Lake Ōhau 9412

Oasis Bar & Cafe

03 438 9722
4 Chain Hills Highway, Omarama 9412

Feliz and Sage

03 436 0575
16-18 Bledisloe St, Kurow 9435

Monday - Friday, 9am - 5.00 pm
Saturday and Sunday, 9:00am - 4:30pm

Hub and Sprocket Cycles

021 894 427
4 Wansbeck Street, South Hill, Oamaru 9400

Tuesday - Friday, 10.00am to 5.30pm
Saturday, 10am to 1.00pm
Sunday and Monday – Closed.

Please book your hire from the supplier closest to the starting point of your tour. Your hired PLB can be dropped in at any of the other outlets mentioned by prior arrangement (some opening hours may be limited so check before you hire).

Mobile phone coverage varies by service provider, phone and bandwidth e.g. 4G or 5G.  New Zealand has three service providers with other additional phone companies using their services. Roaming plans are also possible.

For maps for the service providers follow their links below, select the appropriate bandwidth of your phone and zoom in on the area of the Cycle Trail you plan to ride.

Note: The coverage map is indicative only, and is intended to provide general guidance on where the network and outdoor coverage is available. Coverage may vary depending on your exact location and the type of device used.

Your experience may vary from the coverage shown depending on mobile capability, how it's used, and the local environment.

Report an accident or incident

If you have an accident, incident or near miss to report, please fill out the A2O Incident Reporting form. 

If we don't know about it we cannot act upon it. Please fill out the form as fully as possible, including all contact details so we can check everyone is OK.