Plan your ride

Bike Hire, Transport and Tour Operators:

Let’s face it – a great riding experience needs the right equipment … and a darn comfy bike seat!
A ship-shape mountain bike is recommended; e-bikes are also permitted. Due to the remoteness of the Mavora Lakes section, riders should also ideally have decent mechanical skills and carry a spare tube and tools.

Download the PDF map of the trail
Make sure you read through our Need to know and Be prepared sections on this website. 

There is a range of operators with fleets of bikes, transport and tour options ideally suited for our trail. The following have our tick of approval.

Independent and Supported Riding Option (Ferry, bike hire, shuttles)

Fully supported Tour Operators

Getting here:

New Zealand’s tourism mecca, Queenstown sees visitors reach the area by all means of transport – planes, buses, cars and, of course, even pedal power.
Queenstown Airport welcomes travelers from destinations around the globe so flights into the resort town are easily sourced from a vast range of locations.
The flexible nature of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail means you can also alter your starting point to launch your trip from some of the smaller Southland towns – Mossburn, Lumsden, Five Rivers, Athol, Garston and Kingston – all of which lie on the Southern Scenic Route, a memorial road trip which encompasses Te Anau, Invercargill and the Catlins.
Invercargill is an hour’s drive from Lumsden and has a regional airport with good domestic connections.

Suggested itineraries:

Most people who bike the whole length of the 186km trail allow themselves at least 4 days. (This is do-able if you are prepared to cycle for 4.5 – 5.5 hours a day at the average cycling speed of 10kmh.) You can travel from either direction but will need to decide where you want to stop overnight and how far you want to cycle each day.

Mavora Lakes and shuttle options

The 50km section between Walter Peak Station and Mavora Lakes follows a reasonably smooth gravel road. To reach Mavora Lakes, riders will turn off Mt Nicholas Road and travel a further 2km. Camping is available in Mavora Lakes with 60 non-powered tent sites.
The gravel road from Mavora Lakes to Centre Hill Shelter (29km) can be busy and dusty, especially in summer. It is possible to arrange shuttle transport along this section if riders wish to avoid it. Please ensure this is booked prior to starting your journey.

Suggested 4-Day Itinerary (supported riding option) starting in Queenstown:

  • Day 1 – Ferry from Queenstown to Walter Peak (please note that the times and number of sailings/day of the TSS Earnslaw may change so contact Real Journeys for the latest schedule www.realjourneys.co.nz),   cycle from Walter Peak to Mavora Lakes (50km) then shuttle to Mossburn or Te Anau 
    • It is important to ensure you allow enough time to bike from Walter Peak to your destination. It takes approximately 5 hours to bike to Mavora Lakes and there are two rivers to cross. If it has been raining please check river flow and riding conditions. The Von Valley is remote with no mobile phone coverage between Mt Nicholas Station and Centre Hill.
    • If you would like to be shuttled from Mavora Lakes to accommodation, please ensure this is booked prior to starting your journey.
  • Day 2 – Shuttle back to Centre Hill, cycle from Centre Hill to Lumsden (44km)
  • Day 3 – Cycle from Lumsden to Athol (33km) or Garston (45km)
  • Day 4 – Cycle from Athol t o Kingston (30 km), or Garston to Kingston (18km) then shuttle back to Queenstown

Suggested 4-Day Itinerary (self-sufficient/camping option) starting in Queenstown

  • Day 1 – Ferry from Queenstown to Walter Peak (please note that the times and number of sailings/day of the Earnslaw may change so contact Real Journeys for the latest schedule www.realjourneys.co.nz),  cycle from Walter Peak to Mavora Lakes (50km), camp at Mavora Lakes
    • It is important to ensure you allow enough time to bike from Walter Peak to your destination. It takes approximately 5 hours to bike to Mavora Lakes and there are two rivers to cross. If it has been raining please check river flow and riding conditions. The Von Valley is remote with no mobile phone coverage between Mt Nicholas Station and Centre Hill.
  • Day 2 – Cycle from Mavora to Mossburn (53km)
  • Day 3 – Cycle from Mossburn to Athol (45km)
  • Day 4 – Cycle from Athol to Kingston (30 km) then shuttle back to Queenstown 

Day Rides

As the name implies, the ultimate Around the Mountains experience is to ride all the way around the mountains, but that’s not the only way to immerse yourself in this trail’s amazing landscapes. There are plenty of accessible day ride options; our cycle tour partners can help find the right one for you.
May we suggest …

Lumsden—Athol

33km, easy–intermediate, 3–4 hours
Enjoy a day trip meandering through the charming rural scenery of northern Southland. The trail from Lumsden utilises the old railway line and also follows the Oreti River, well known for its fly fishing. At Five Rivers, there is a cafe, art gallery and farm animals to enjoy and take a break from your bike. Then continue on the well-manicured track to Athol where there are yet more friendly locals to meet.

Centre Hill Shelter – Mossburn

24km, easy-intermediate, 2-3hrs
Our newly revitalised section of the trail, between Centre Hill Shelter and Mossburn makes for a stunning setting beside the Oreti River. This unique part of the trail is mostly downhill and riders often experience a tailwind to guide them into the township. This is also the route of the Downriver Dash Event held annually in December.

Lumsden—Five Rivers, Return

28km (14km each way), easy – intermediate, 3 – 4 hours
Enjoy a day trip meandering through the charming rural scenery of northern Southland. The trail from Lumsden utilises the old railway line and also follows the Oreti River, well known for its fly fishing. At Five Rivers there is a cafe, art gallery and farm animals to enjoy and take a break from your bike. Return to Lumsden and enjoy a meal and a comfortable bed before you set off on the next leg of your journey to explore Southland.

Athol—Kingston

30km, easy–intermediate, 2.5–3 hours
This easy trip starts in the quaint town of Athol. The trail passes the wooden suspension bridges nicknamed the Golden Gate Bridges. There are other local villages to break your journey, including Garston from where the final leg of the ride takes you past historic Fairlight Station. From here the trail follows the glacial moraine heading gradually downhill, finishing in Kingston on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.