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.
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.

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.

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

  • Day 1 – Ferry from Queenstown to Walter Peak (please note that the Earnslaw is not taking bookings to carry bikes between 25/12 – 5/1 and 21/1 – 2/2), cycle from Walter Peak to Mavora Lakes (50km) then shuttle to Mossburn
  • 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 to 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 Earnslaw is not taking bookings to carry bikes between 25/12 – 5/1 and 21/1 – 2/2), cycle from Walter Peak to Mavora Lakes (50km), camp at Mavora Lakes
  • 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 …

Station 2 Station Cycle Trail

14km, easy, allow half a day
A classic day trip from Queenstown, this trip can be organised independently, or booked through Real Journeys or Southern Discoveries. Cruise across Lake Wakatipu to Mt Nicholas Station. Cycle the 14km between Mt Nicholas Station and Walter Peak Farm on the western shores of Lake Wakatipu, taking in the panoramic views towards the Southern Alps. At Walter Peak, you board the TSS Earnslaw vintage steamship for the return cruise back to Queenstown, or linger a while longer for lunch and cruise back later in the day.


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.


30km, easy–intermediate, 2.5–3 hours
This easy trip starts in the tiny and rather lovely little town of Athol. The trail passes the wooden suspension bridges nicknamed the Golden Gate Bridges. There are other wee towns 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.