From the lakeside to the high country, small towns, retired rail lines, working farms and national parks, the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail gives the rider the chance to explore New Zealand’s secluded beauty.
Along the way you will come across a variety of native flora and fauna and land used for dairy, beef, venison, lamb and wool production. The nearby rivers are world-famous fly-fishing spots and the locals are a friendly bunch.
The beauty of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail is it’s available for everybody to enjoy. However, because it traverses working farms, please respect no dogs or firearms are permitted. Horses and vehicles will affect the quality of the trail so are also not allowed.
Leave the spectacular natural environment as untouched as you find it.
Whether you’re seeking a one-day tour or a multi-day adventure, the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail caters for you.
It’s classed a Grade 2-3 ride with conditions suitable for novices and families, with the exception of the 2.5km-long Von Hill climb which can be walked if it proves too challenging.
The Von Valley is vast and has two rivers to cross so be prepared to get wet feet depending on the weather. We recommend taking a beacon.
An array of guided options and bike and e-bike hire are available through our official partners.
Start at Kingston or Walter Peak – the choice is yours. Either way, you’ll embark on a memorable trek.
Here’s a brief overview:
Walter Peak to Mavora Lakes – 50km, Grade 3/Intermediate, 5-6 hours
Gliding across Lake Wakatipu on the century-old steamship TSS Earnslaw, you dock at the iconic Walter Peak Station and prepare to embark on the trail. Postcard views are plentiful as you venture through Mount Nicholas Station and into the magnificent Von Valley.
Okay, we admit it’s a bit of a slog up Von Hill but totally worth the effort as you immerse yourself in the natural tussock wonderland.
Expect to get your feet wet with two river crossings as you continue. It’s all part of the adventure but remember this is a mountain environment subject to extreme weather at any time of the year and the Von Valley is remote with no mobile phone coverage. So if it’s been raining please check river flow and riding conditions.
Nothing gets the pedals turning like anticipation … and the stunning Mavora Lakes ahead is just the motivation needed. Turn off to Mavora and it’s just a short 2km ride to this gorgeous spot.
Mavora Lakes to Mossburn – 53km, Grade 3/Intermediate, 4-6 hours
Consisting of two lakes aptly named North Mavora and South Mavora, they are nestled amongst a striking landscape of mountains, forest and tussock grassland. No wonder it’s recognised as part of the Te Wāhipounamu/South-West New Zealand World Heritage Area.
Continuing through the Eyre Mountains Conservation Park to Centre Hill, you’ll soon be immersed in the agricultural hub of Southland.
With Centre Hill Road open to traffic and gravel, this segment can be a tad dusty. So booking a shuttle bus is an option for this leg of the trail but must be organised in advance.
Journey alongside the Oreti River as you progress towards Mossburn – hailed as the Deer Capital of New Zealand.
Mossburn to Lumsden – 20km, Grade 2/Easy, 1.5-2.5 hours
Farm paddocks feature prominently as you pedal on a mix of old railway line and well-graded track. Follow the Oreti River as it snakes its way to Lumsden at the heart of the Northern Southland district. Here you’ll discover a range of eateries to refuel with relics of the stream train era adding an interesting element to the town.
Lumsden to Athol – 33km, Grade 2/Easy, 3-4 hours
Follow the old rail line as you soak up panoramic views of Mid Dome and the surrounding mountains. You’re in rural heartland so don’t be surprised to find some gates along the way to keep livestock secure.
Nestled amongst rich countryside like an oasis, the halfway point of Five Rivers is an ideal place to rehydrate.
Athol to Kingston – 30km, Grade 2/Easy, 2.5-3 hours
Dubbed Athol’s Golden Gates, two cycle suspension bridges – 67m and 92m in length respectively – will take you across the Mataura River. Take time to peer over the side and you will likely spot brown trout in the pristine waters below.
An abandoned rail line has been transformed into the next stage of the trail.
Boasting a mobile café and scrumptious honey shop, Garston has quite the buzz about it nowadays and is eager to reinvent itself as a place to stop on the southern tourist route.
Old formations of a glacier moraine at the foot of the Eyre Mountains and the ruins of the area’s original stone homestead feature on the final phase of the trail.
On the edge of Lake Wakatipu, the village of Kingston earned fame as home to the historic steam train which shares its name – the Kingston Flyer, now available for charter trips.
Before making the 47km trip back to the bustle of Queenstown, take time to soak up the tranquillity and reflect on your accomplishments. You’ve earned it.