Section 1: Aoraki/Mt Cook to Braemar Road [35km]


35km Fitness: Easy Skill: Moderate Traffic: Low Grade: 2


Section 1 Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail Map


The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail starts at the White Horse Hill Campground, which is 2km north of Mt Cook Village. From here, a 8km off-road Trail takes you to Mount Cook Airport, where riders will need to make a short helicopter flight (at your own expense) across the Tasman River to a spot called Rotten Tommy.

Travelling in a helicopter across a glacially-fed braided river with New Zealand’s highest mountain in view is a must do. The helicopter can carry up to 6 passengers at a time (depending on weight limits).


Mt Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters0800 800 702 [Mt Cook Airport] - Inflite are Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail Guardians

Heliworks: 0800 666 668 [Mt Cook Airport]

Helicopter Line: 0800 650 651 

For more information, please contact [email protected]


From the helipad landing point at Rotten Tommy it’s 8.6km to the Jollie Car Park at the top of Hayman Rd [18km]. This track is rough in places and includes several creek crossings. Dismount if it is particularly rough and slow-going. On occasions after heavy periods of rain in the mountains the Tasman River is subject to flooding the Trail - please check in with your booking Agent / Tour Operator or the helicopter company directly, for an update on the expected flight and river status, as flights and landing points are subject to weather and river conditions.  An alternative helicopter landing point is possible at the Jollie Carpark if the Tasman River is in flood at an additional charge.

On a clear day this section of Trail offers views of Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand's highest peak at 3,724 metres, which towers above a range of snow capped peaks in the Aoraki/ Mt Cook National Park.  40% of the National park is covered by glaciers with the Tasman Glacier being NZ's largest (covering and the longest at about 24km long (but it is shrinking fast at up to 800m/yr).  Nineteen of the country's 20 peaks over 3,000 peaks are also found in this National Park.

From the Jollie Car park, it’s 16.8km on gravel road to Braemar Road. 33km.  

On a clear day , this section of Trail offers great views of Aoraki/Mt Cook, which at 3,754 metres, towers above a range of snow capped peaks in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.


Alternative Routes:


Lake Tekapo
Follow the Tekapo Canal Road to Lake Pukaki. More info here.

Tekapo B Power Station
Located near the bottom of Lake Pukaki, close to the start of the off-road section of trail.

Jollie Carpark
You can ride up to the Rotten Tommy helipad and back [19.2km return].

Highlights Include

  • Aoraki/Mt Cook and the National Park
  • DOC Visitor Centre - 03 435 1186
  • Walking Tracks – Hooker Glacier Terminal Lake, Red Tarns, Governor’s Bush, Blue Lakes, Mueller Hut
  • Tasman Glacier and River
  • Scenic Flights and Glacier Landings
  • The Helicopter Transfer over the Tasman River
  • Lake Pukaki
  • High Country Stations
  • Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve - Stargazing

Section Map

Section 1: Aoraki/Mt Cook to Braemar Road [35km]

Trail Status

Section 1: Useful Information

  • Tasman River - this is one of New Zealand’s largest rivers and under no circumstances should any attempt be made to cross it on foot from either direction.
  • SH80 - this highway is very busy, and the Trail has been designed and built to avoid cyclists riding it. Do not ride this highway to the airport or Glentanner. The helicopter service is available from the Mt Cook Airport. 
  • The Rotten Tommy - Jollie Car Park Trail section is rough in places and includes several creek crossings.Dismount if you are unsure of your riding ability. These creeks can be flooded during or after heavy rainfall and snowmelt events and may be impassable. Check with the DOC Visitor Centre at Aoraki for current conditions. 
  • Braemar - Mount Cook Station Rd - this gravel road can be corrugated and is often used by logging trucks which makes it challenging to ride safely. Please keep left, ride single file and wear high vis clothing.
  • Don't forget your drinking water sunglasses and sunblock.
  • Take lots of layers including warm and waterproof clothing - from Rotten Tommy on the other side of the Tasman River from Aoraki Mt. Cook is one of the more remote sections of the Trail - the alpine weather can change quickly with blistering sunshine, high winds, rain, flooding, sleet and snow all possible at almost any point in the year, so be prepared.
  • This section of the Track is subject to occasional snow falls and freezing conditions in winter and early spring.  The scenery is all the more stunning as a result of the snow but the Trail may not always be rideable as a result.  Certainly if you are correctly prepared and have experience of winter alpine conditions you will find the Trail exhilarating in the off-season but this is not for everyone! 
  • Take a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) with you as an additional safety measure should anything go wrong - in cases of emergency, activating a PLB will call in a rescue helicopter to quickly evacuate you or one of your party to the nearest hospital. 
  • Both the Cycle Trail and  weather conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly. Please check the Trail Status and the weather reports at least daily before departure.


Please contact the provider directly to make your booking enqury. Their contact details can be found below...

To Do

Helicopter Line

The Helicopter Line is New Zealand's leading helicopter company, operating with a feet of AS350 squirrel helicopters based at Mt Cook, Franz Josef Glacier, Fox Glacier, Queenstown and Fiordland....


Make us an integral part of your Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail journey! Cycle the A2O trail from the official start at Aoraki Mount Cook Village to our base at Aoraki Mount Cook Airport. Check in for a...

Mt Cook Skiplanes & Helicopters

Mount Cook Ski Planes & Helicopters have over 65 years experience flying around Aoraki/Mt Cook and Westland/Tai Poutini National Parks and landing on the iconic Tasman, Fox and Franz Josef...

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Section one, from Aoraki/Mt Cook to Braemar Rd is an easy 35km section. Highlights while you cycle include stunning views of Aoraki Mt Cook, Lake Pukaki and the Tasman River.

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Need to book accommodation during your adventure? We have a range of accommodation options available on each section of the trail that can be booked today.

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Dine & Drink

If you're looking for the best recommendations of places to eat and drink while cycling the trail you've come to the right place. Read more on our best dining recommendations on Section 1 of the trail

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To Do

Each section has a range of activities and attractions for you to experience and see while cycling the trail. Find the best things to do on Section 1 of the trail.

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See some of the best photos taken by other trail riders are through Section 1 of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.

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