About The Trail
Queenstown/Southland’s Great Multi Day Cycle Ride
- This 180 km, 3 -5 day cycle trail, begins and ends in Queenstown and sees you travel through Northern Southland, around the show stopping valleys of the Eyre Mountains and Von Valley, and through secluded back country.
- The cycle trail is constructed on 56 km of old railway line, 64 km of easy new cycle trail, and 53 km along the wilderness of a no exit road (for cars).
- The cycle trail was opened to the public in 2014 with funding from Central Government, Ministry of Business Innervation and Employment (MBIE), the Southland District Council, New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), Lotto and the Southland Community Trust.
- The cycle trail is open all year around, but mainly ridden in the warmer months between 01 October to 30 April.
Points to note
- The stunning Mavora Lakes is a prime camping ground all year round for the sandflies. Make sure to carry insect repellent.
- Cellphone coverage is patchy in areas of the track, with no coverage in the Mavora Lakes area.
- Occasionally gates are locked along the track for the safety of the agricultural hinterland. To continue forward, simply pop your bike over the gate and carry along with your journey.
Kingston (Start/ End) - Garston 17 km
Take a shuttle bus or drive 47 kms from Queenstown to Kingston. A small town on the southern edge of Lake Wakatipu, Kingston has a café, a camping ground and a number of B&B lodges.
From Kingston, the trail passes over old formations of a glacier moraine at the foot of the Eyre Mountains and past old stone ruins of the original homestead of the area. The trail then crosses over the Mataura River on a suspension bridge before entering Garston.
Garston – Athol 13 km
Garston has reinvented itself with a mobile café called the Air Stream and a honey shop. Garston is also home to two small and attractive historic churches. The cycle trail from here has been constructed on an old disused railway line. The trail crosses the Mataura River along the way where there are two cycle suspension bridges which are 67m and 92m in length. The locals have named them Athol’s Golden Gates. Looking over the bridge you can often see brown trout swimming around in the pristine, crystal clear waters.
Athol - Five Rivers 18 km
Along this section of the trail you predominately ride on the old railway line. Encompassing panoramic views of Mid Dome, a prominent Northern Southland mountain, and the surrounding mountains before reaching Five Rivers. Due to the agricultural nature of this section of the ride, at times you may find some of the gates are locked to protect to safety of the animals in the area. The track is certainly still rideable, and if this circumstance arises, another aspect of adventure can be added to the already thrilling trail. Lifting your bike is the only way forward, but what better way to give your legs a break!
Five Rivers - Lumsden 17 km
The trail from Five Rivers to Lumsden is slightly downhill and passes through rich farm lands and by the banks of the Oreti River, another great river to spot the brown trout sunning themselves. Stopping in Lumsden, enjoy the relics of the steam train era around the old local railway station.
Lumsden – Mossburn 18 km
The cycle trail back tracks from Lumsden along flood banks and over the Lumsden/Mossburn Bridge. This section is 5 km on old railway line and 10 km beside the State Highway and farm paddocks. The trail leads you to Mossburn, which in the 1970’s was named the deer capital of New Zealand.
Mossburn – Center Hill 25 km
As the trail passes through Mossburn it travels between farms and beside the Oreti River. It then meanders along the side of Starvation Creek before coming back to the Oreti River and crosses to Center Hill and The Eyre Mountains Conservation Park on the other side.
Center Hill – Mavora Lakes 35 km
Cyclists have two options from Center Hill to Mavora Lakes - either get a shuttle bus or ride along the Center Hill Road. As a note of precaution this is a gravel road and can have a lot of traffic during the summer months as well as dusty to ride on at times. If taking the shuttle bus preference, please note you must book in advance and this service only runs between 01 November to 15 April.
Mavora Lakes – Walter Peak 50 km
The trail follows the beautiful, natural tussock valley along Mt Nichols Road. Crossing a ford at the Gorge Burn and crossing the bridge at Black Spur Creek you will arrive at the Southland Otago boundary. The trail then passes the show stopping Von Valley/River through to Mt Nicholas and Walter Peak Stations and onto the Walter Peak Homestead. Mt Nicholas Station was the first station to supply “Ice Breaker" merino wool . At Walter Peak you board the iconic 102 year old vintage steamship the TSS Earnslaw to cruise across Lake Wakatipu back to Queenstown.
Some tips for a great cycle trail experience:
Accommodation- book in advance there is limited accommodation along the trail.
Cycling- allow at least 3 to 4 days of around 4 hours riding at an average speed of 10 km to 12 km per hour, this is easy cycling but some cycle fitness is recommended.
Walking- allow at a minimum six days due to length of walking required each day.
Fitness- a degree of fitness is desirable.
Clothing- carrying appropriate clothing for all seasons, weather can change quickly.
Drinking water- is not readily available. It is advised to take water with you and replenish with commercially bottled water at Kingston, Garston, Athol, Five Rivers, Lumsden and Mossburn.
Toilets- in each of the small towns along the trail, but no toilets yet between Mavora Lakes and Walter Peak.
Mobile Phones- Kingston to Center Hill there is mobile phone coverage. From Mavora Lakes and Mt Nicholas Station there is 36 kms without mobile phone coverage.
EFTPOS- along the trail there is EFTPOS available at all shops in the towns. However not all accommodation providers have EFTPOS available so be sure to call ahead to check or take cash with you.
Medical and other services- bring a First Aid Kit for basic medical items. Please call 0800 668 682 46 for further information.
Gates- please leave them as you find them.
Horses- are not permitted on the cycle trail.
Livestock- please stay on the cycle trail and do not disturb the livestock.
Bicycles- mountain bikes and electric mountain bikes are the best. Please wear a cycle helmet, carry bike tools and a puncture repair kit.
Rubbish- please dispose of all rubbish and recycling at dedicated spots only.
Firearms and open fires- are both prohibited on the trail.
Vehicles prohibited- include cars, motorcycles, quadbikes.
Mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs- permitted on the trail.
Food & Refreshments- cafes and hotels between Kingston and Mossburn (see here for details). There is no food & refreshments between Mossburn, Mavora Lakes and Walter Peak. The only supermarket along the trail is in Lumsden.