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Why Book With Us?

  • Small cycle groups
  • Hand-picked Cycle Tours & Activities
  • Family Run Business
  • 11 Days
  • 12 People Per Tour
  • Fitness Level: 2
  • Fully Supported Bike Tour
  • 620 km

Marlborough Molesworth Epic Cycle Tour, explore the top of New Zealand's South Island by bike

The Marlborough Molesworth Epic is quite possibly the perfect cycle tour, combining some of the best and contrasting riding locations in the top of the South Island. If you’ve ticked off some of New Zealands great rides and you’re keen to explore a little further afield, then this is the tour for you!

This diverse cycle tour begins with bird song and native forest as you wind your way along back roads towards the Nelson Lakes National Park. We hit the great taste trail for a day of smooth cycling, real fruit ice cream opportunities and potential detours for wine tasting on route! Boats and bikes are an unlikely duo, but when exploring the Marlborough Sounds, they are match made in heaven. Enjoy incredible scenery, quiet roads and relax to the gentle sounds of the ocean all around. The Molesworth Station often needs no introduction, a remote high-country road nestled between the inland Kaikoura mountains and the Nelson Lakes National Park makes for an epic day on the bikes bringing us neatly back to Hanmer Springs and the end of our ride.

This is a fully supported loop trip starting and finishing in Christchurch so you can ride the Marlborough Molesworth Epic knowing that we have got your back!

Marlborough Molesworth Epic - Tour Highlights

Departure & Return Location

Meeting Point: Christchurch City
Ride Start: Springs Junction
Ride Finish: Hanmer Springs
Finish: Christchurch City

Price Includes

  • 10 nights Accommodation
  • Meals as per tour itinerary
  • Two Escape Adventures tour leaders
  • Support vehicle & Bike Trailer
  • Start and finish transfer: Christchurch to Hanmer Springs return.
  • Vehicle transfers during tour
  • Boat transfers in the Marlborough Sounds

Optional Extras

  • Bike Hire: If required hire fee is NZD $300 - Booking Essential
  • E-Bike Hire: If required hire fee is NZD $810 - Booking Essential

Price Excludes

  • Airfares, visas, or airport taxes
  • Optional activities and excursions
  • Some meals 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 $650 NZD will apply. NOTE Single rooms will be provided where available however in some places you will be required to share a bathroom.

Itinerary - Marlborough Molesworth Epic Cycle Tour

The daily riding distances listed below are the maximum we plan to ride each day. Our support vehicle is always close by if you would like a break from the saddle.

DAY 1: Meet in Christchurch, vehicle transfer to Hamner Springs

Meet with your fellow bikers and tour leaders at our meeting location in Christchurch. We will depart Christchurch at 1pm. A 2 hr transfer takes us to Hanmer Springs Alpine Village. Ready for your 5pm pre-departure meeting and first meal together.

Accommodation: Motel

DAY 2: Bike the Matakitaki river to Murchison

We start the day with a vehicle transfer along the main road and over the Lewis Pass. Our first ride is on gravel back roads over beautiful Maruia saddle. Make sure to take a moment at the top to enjoy the native bird’s tuneful warbling. Before dropping down and following the Matakitaki River all the way to Murchison.

Cycling Distance: 76km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch 

DAY 3: Cycle back roads to St Arnaud

Following another little used 4×4 track, you will climb steadily up and over the Braeburn Range before dropping down to be greeted by views over Lake Rotoroa and the Nelson Lakes National Park. If you’re lucky the very local ‘cafe’ will be ready and waiting with hot buttered scones and a revitalising cuppa, before the last dash to picturesque St Arnaud village.

Cycling Distance: 74km

Accommodation: Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


DAY 4: Explore the Great Taste Trail to Nelson

We depart St Arnaud on quiet roads lined with small farms and forestry blocks. Then we hook into the Great Taste Cycle Trail for the ride all the way to Nelson City. Don’t forget to bring a torch!! And make the most of ice cream eating and wine tasting opportunities.

Cycling Distance: 98km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 5: Bike & boat to mystery location

A 40 min vehicle transfer out of Nelson takes us to Pelorus Bridge where we ride from Pelorus to Havelock on quiet country roads. Here we board a boat (with our bikes) and motor through generally calm waters to a mystery location in the Marlborough Sounds…

Cycling Distance: 20km

Accommodation: Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: Discovering the Marlborough Sounds

Wake up the gentle sounds of ocean lapping at the pebbled shoreline. This morning we’re taking it easy, riding a remote rolling road, through farmland and native bush. Just around the bay is a cafe and our water taxi pick up point. In the afternoon – optional kayaking, a swim or just sit on a jetty and enjoy the view.

Cycling Distance: 46km

Accommodation: Lodge 

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 7: Twists and turns take us to Picton

We boat back across the sound to Havelock. On our bikes and it is a lovely ride along the scenic Queen Charlotte Drive, or if you fancy a challenge take The Link Pathway cycle trail as we wind our way to the quaint but bustling town of Picton.

Cycling Distance: 42km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 8: Take the road less travelled to Blenheim

We head for the hills and stunning coastal views as we make our way from Picton to Blenheim via the scenic route. Mostly gravel and with some decent hills, this is a great test for the legs before we take on the Molesworth. Remember our support vehicle is always close by if you want to take a break.

Cycling Distance: 69km

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 9: Cycling the stunning Awatere Valley

We take the back route out of Blenheim and the landscape starts to change, linking into the stunning Awatere Valley, we’re definitely heading inland now! It’s a big day of pedaling today, as we gradually make our way up the valley, but we think you’ll agree it was worth it when you arrive at Middlehurst Station.

Cycling Distance: 98km

Accommodation: High Country Lodge

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: Pedal the mighty Molesworth

The biggest day of the tour in km’s, but don’t worry, we’ve got ALL day!! We continue climbing up the Awatere Valley for 30 kms topping out at over 1100m. Then it’s downriver and into the stunning and historical Molesworth Station. Our final day ends with a good honest climb and fun descent into Hanmer Springs thermal resort.

Cycling Distance: 104km

Accommodation: Motel

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 11: Transfer to Christchurch & farewell

After our final relaxed breakfast together, and maybe a sneaky session in the hot pool (?!) we transfer back to Christchurch, aiming for around midday so that you’re not too late for onward travel or some time in Ōtautahi.

Meals: Breakfast

Photos from the Marlborough Molesworth Epic Cycle Tour

Map of the Marlborough Molesworth Epic Cycle Tour - NZ South Island
Marlborough Molesworth 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 of 620km spread over 9 days of biking.
  • This cycle tour is for everyone, pedal or electric bikes, daily riding distances have been planned to be achievable but not without challenge! Gravel riding experience will add to the enjoyment of your tour.
  • 20-104km riding per day on wonderfully remote and scenic riding route.  Approximately 40% sealed roads / 50% quiet gravel roads and farm tracks and 10% cycle trails.
  • There are some big climbs, big downs, undulating coastal terrain and of course there is also some flat terrain. We encourage an early start so that you have time to recharge at the end of the day.

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?

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?

This cycle tour includes rides of 20-104km 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.
  • Lots of hills!
  • Ride 3-2 times a week with rides of 30-60km 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, most lunches and three evening meals. (One lunch is not included).  The one lunch and most of the evening meals (as per the tour itinerary) are in places where there are dining and wining options available – therefore at your own cost and choosing. (This gives you more control over the cost of your tour AND spreads the love supporting local businesses!)  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, spread and hot drinks, or in some places at your accommodation, continental and cooked breakfasts available.
  •  Lunches – Picnic style lunches, fresh salads, cold meats, cheese & bread.
  •  Snacks – Fresh fruit, salty snacks, home baking.
  • Dinners – Included dinners are catered by accommodations, homecooked, hearty and using the incredible local produce from the land around us. It is important you advise us of any dietary requirements. 

What kind of accommodation can I expect?

Accommodation is included for all 10 nights of the cycle tour. Our job is to explore and find the most fitting accommodation to work in with the riding route. The Marlborough Molesworth Epic 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 motels, hotels, lodges, a holiday house and a farm stay. 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.

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 available for hire in S M, L & XL. (Bookings Essential).

  • Trek X-Caliber mountain bikes $300
  • E-Bikes (Brand and Model TBC) – $700 

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 8-12 bikers, plus two experienced Escape Adventures tour leaders.