Canterbury Peaks to Plains, NZ South Island

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+64 3 545 1789

info@escapeadventures.co.nz

Why Book With Us?

  • Small cycle groups
  • Hand-picked Cycle Tours & Activities
  • Family Run Business
  • 6 Days
  • 10 People Per Tour
  • Fitness Level: 1
  • Fully Supported Bike Tour
  • 160 km
  • NZ, CHCH - CHCH

Dwarfed by the Southern Alps you will be immersed in breath taking scenery on the Canterbury Peaks to Plains cycle tour.

We take you off the beaten track to discover the top of the Southern Alps and Canterbury's stunning high country, whilst focusing on opulent accommodation and fine dining experiences. This small but perfectly formed tour is an ideal ‘bridge’ from cycle trail riding to supported cycle touring. Soak up breathtaking views, relax in luxury accommodation and enjoy culinary expertise highlighting proudly New Zealand sourced ingredients.

This cycle tour is ideal for those seeking a little more adventure than the usual cycle trail experience, but with luxury accommodation and fine dining to revitalise you after your days in the saddle. Starting and finishing in Christchurch, your first mode of transport will be the scenic TranszAlpine train to Arthurs Pass village. The ride from here is on a mixture of sealed roads, gravel roads and back country farm tracks staying in a variety of luxury lodges, hotels and even a private musterers hut perched high on a merino station dwarfed by the surrounding landscape.  Throw into the mix an exhilarating jet boat transfer and you’ve got a small but perfectly formed Escape Adventures cycle tour. This is a fully supported loop tour – so you can ride the Canterbury Peaks to Plains Cycle Tour knowing that we have got your back!

What is a “Fully Supported New Zealand Cycle Tour”?

We’ll sort the nitty gritty. Before your tour begins, we will organise all the logistics and book all accommodation.   

We will give you daily digital route maps, that you can follow on your phone or GPS, and route cue notes so that you can ride at your own pace, stop when you like to smell the roses and grab a coffee when the opportunity presents, while always knowing that we are there if you need us.

On tour, your awesome Escape Adventures support crew will have your breakfast ready for an early start and provide snacks for you to carry with you.  They will provide daily ride information and ride sweep with first aid and mechanical support.  Our support vehicle will carry your luggage, and on most days set up a ‘floating picnic lunch’ on route so that you can dine’n’dash and top up on water and snacks.  The support vehicle is also there if you need first aid or mechanical support, or if you need a break from the saddle.

Canterbury Peaks to Plains - Tour Highlights

Departure & Return Location

Meeting Point: Christchurch City
Ride Start: Arthurs Pass
Ride Finish: Mount Somers 
Finish: Christchurch City

Price Includes

  • 5 nights Accommodation
  • Meals as per tour itinerary
  • Two Escape Adventures tour leaders
  • Support vehicle & Bike Trailer
  • Train transfer from Christchurch to Arthurs Pass
  • Vehicle transfer from Staveley to Christchurch
  • Jet boat transfer on the Rakaia River

Optional Extras

  • Bike Hire: If required hire fee is NZD $200 - Booking Essential
  • E-Bike Hire: If required hire fee is NZD $600 Booking Essential

Price Excludes

  • Airfares, visas, or airport taxes
  • Optional activities and excursions
  • One evening meal as per the detailed itinerary
  • Personal equipment
  • Getting to and from Christchurch

Solo Travellers - Single Supplement

  • NO Single Supplement! If you’re traveling alone, we’ll pair you to twin-share with another biker. (same gender)
  • If you do not wish to share that is fine too, a single supplement of $875 NZD will apply. NOTE Single rooms will be provided where available however in some places you will be required to share a bathroom.

Canterbury Peaks to Plains Cycle Tour - Itinerary

Christchurch to Christchurch

Day 1: Meet at our starting hotel in Christchurch

Meet with your fellow bikers and tour leaders at the Commodore hotel in Christchurch. Starting with our pre departure meeting then bike fit for those hiring bikes. Meet back in the restaurant for the first meal together this evening.

Accommodation: Hotel

Day 2: Take the TranzAlpine Train into the mountains

We begin with a short vehicle transfer to .. the train station! That’s right your tour begins with a scenic ride on the famous Tranz Alpine railway line out to Arthur’s Pass. Take a walk through this village steeped in history or clamber some stairs to the Devil’s Punchbowl waterfall. Then we hop on our bikes for a warm up ride, enjoy the mountain scenery from your bikes on quiet gravel roads and farm tracks.

Cycling Distance: 12km / 24km

Accommodation: Hotel / High Country Station 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Exploring Kura Tawhiti and lakeside cycling

A short vehicle transfer takes us to the Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area – or Castle Hill! We’ve got time to explore the famous limestone rock battlements before we gear up and hit the road on our bikes. Its smooth seal to start, then we turn south and take a 4WD road past glistening alpine lakes towards Windwhistle and the mighty Rakaia river. Taste buds will tingle tonight,  as we’re taken on a culinary journey using quintessential  Canterbury ingredients in a bespoke dining experience.

Cycling Distance: 47km

Accommodation: Luxury Hotel 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Jet Boat Rakaia Gorge to a private musterers hut

We start the day ON the Rakaia River! An exhilarating jet boat ride up the gorge gives us a whole new perspective and some interesting insights to the geology of the area. We meet our bikes upriver and pedal on dirt tracks through a working merino sheep station. Our accommodation is a bit different this evening. Inaccessible to the general public, we stay at a beautifully renovated musterer’s hut. It’s shared quarters like you’ve never seen before… Even the shower has stunning views! 

Cycling Distance: 28-40km

Accommodation: Restored Historic Musterers Hut

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Pedal rural roads of the Canterbury plains

Wake up to enjoy the scenery and sip your coffee out on the deck. Today is your last day of riding! We’re pedaling past the working station buildings this morning, and we might be lucky enough to  see a mob of merino sheep being brought down from the hills.  Then we are on our way to the edge of Lake Heron, following quiet rural roads down towards the canterbury plains. Our last night is close to Escape Adventures headquarters, you’ll be eating like a local but with a decadent twist, the menu has been designed to showcase the best of what New Zealand has to offer, with locally sourced ingredients stealing the limelight. 

Cycling Distance: 58km

Accommodation: Country Lodge 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Farewell

After our final leisurely breakfast together, we transfer back to Christchurch. We will aim for midday and say our goodbyes. Stay on an explore Ōtautahi and the surrounds or onwards travel.

Meals: Breakfast

Photos from the Canterbury Peaks to Plains Cycle Tour

Map of the Canterbury Peaks to Plains Cycle Tour
Canterbury Peaks to Plains Cycle Tour - Frequently Asked Questions
Escape Adventures fully supported bike tours have been running for decades, if you have any questions "just ask us"

The biking lowdown

  • A total distance up to 160km spread over 4 days of biking.
  • Riding distances, tour pace and refreshment stops have been designed around a pedal bike pace, but E bikes are absolutely welcome!
  • Daily riding distances have been planned so that you have time to explore historic sights, take in the scenery and also enjoy the luxurious accommodation at the end of the day.
  • We encourage an early start so that you have time to recharge at the end of the day.
  • 12- 58km riding per day on a wonderfully scenic riding route in an area relatively untouched by cycle tourers.  Approximately 38% sealed roads / 62% quiet gravel roads and farm tracks.
  • There will be mostly undulating terrain with some sustained climbs and descents, our main variable will be the prevailing nor’wester. 
  • Dirt/gravel road biking experience will add to the enjoyment of your tour.

Our ‘Sag Wagon’ support is available (most of the time) should you need a break from the saddle.

How does a supported cycle tour work?

How does a ‘Supported Cycle Tour’ Work?

YOU – RIDE . NAVIGATE . ENJOY . EAT . SLEEP .

WE PROVIDE:

  • Daily ride information.
  • Digital navigation and cue notes.
  • Mechanical and first aid support.
  • Carry your luggage.
  • Ride sweep.
  • Sag Wagon.
  • Breakfasts, lunches, water and riding snacks, and all but one dinner. 
  • All the logistics.
  • And all Accommodation

We’ll sort the nitty gritty. Before your tour begins, we will organise all the logistics and book all accommodation.  We will give you daily digital route maps, that you can follow on your phone or GPS, and route cue notes so that you can ride at your own pace, stop when you like to smell the roses and grab a coffee when the opportunity presents, while always knowing that we are there if you need us.

On tour, your awesome Escape Adventures support crew will have your breakfast ready for an early start and provide snacks for you to carry with you. They will provide daily ride information and ride sweep with first aid and mechanical support. Our support vehicle will carry your luggage, and on most days set up a ‘floating picnic lunch’ on route so that you can dine’n’dash and top up on water and snacks. The support vehicle is also there if you need first aid or mechanical support, or if you need a break from the saddle.

How fit do I need to be for this cycle tour?

Preparing for your Cycle Tour

This cycle tour includes rides of 12-58km per day. Please do read about the daily riding distances taking note of the riding terrain in the itinerary and prepare accordingly. The more prepared you are the more you will enjoy your adventure! 

Preparing for your cycle tour should involve:

  • Riding on gravel and unpaved terrain.
  • Some hills
  • Ride 1-2 times a week with rides of 10-30km in length.   

Support: Our trusty support vehicle carries all your luggage, has lunch, snacks and water at hand, and is there if you need a break from the saddle.

What kind of meals do you provide?

Included in your tour: All breakfasts and riding snacks, lunches and evening meals. (One evening meal is at own cost.) 

We are most definitely able to cater for vegetarians and special diets. If this includes you, it is essential to advise us of this before your tour begins, so that the support vehicle can be stocked with the necessary supplies.

Typical Included Meals:

  •  Breakfasts – Fresh fruit, muesli, toast and spreads, hot drinks. Some mornings cooked breakfast will also be an option.
  •  Lunches – Picnic style lunches, fresh salads, cold meats, cheese & bread.
  •  Snacks – Fresh fruit, salty snacks, home baking.
  • Dinner – Dining in house at our accommodations, you will be treated to a couple of hearty home cooked meals, and also elegant fine dining which really showcases the areas local produce.   

What kind of accommodation can I expect?

Accommodation is included for all 5 nights of the cycle tour. Our job is to explore and find the most fitting accommodation to work in with the riding route. The Canterbury High Country Classic is a remote, rural riding route and the availability of accommodation is limited, so on some nights only basic options are available. We will be staying in a combination of  hotels and lodges with one night in a historic musterers hut on private property, which has been beautifully renovated! Where possible we choose accommodation with ensuite bathrooms, however for some nights it will be necessary to share bathrooms.

Accommodation is on a share twin basis. If you’re traveling alone, we’ll pair you to twin-share with another biker. If you do not wish to share a single supplement is available. *Single room options may be limited in some locations. The musterers hut has bunk style shared rooms, however they are large single bunks with all linen and bedding included, this is not a DOC style hut stay!

What type of bikes do we ride?

The ideal bike for the tour is a hardtail mountain bike or a touring bike with off road tyres. A gravel bike is also an option – but only if you are familiar with riding one on unpaved surfaces! You will need to be able to carry up to 1.5-2L water, a jacket and snacks in a backpack, front roll or frame bag.

Bike Hire

Escape Adventures have a small fleet of bikes and E-bikes (from November 2023) available for hire in S M, L & XL. (Bookings Essential).

  • Trek X-Caliber mountain bikes $200
  • E-Bikes (Brand and model tbc) – $450

When you hire one of our bikes – they are maintained by us and kept in excellent running condition. Contact us if you plan on hiring a bike.

What is the maximum size of the cycle group?

This trip has 8-10 bikers, plus two experienced Escape Adventures tour leaders.