Plan your trip

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.

ALSO make sure you read through our Need to know and Be Prepared sections on this website.

 

Around the Mountains Cycle Trail elevation profile

Around the Mountains Cycle Trail elevation profile

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 10km/h.

You can travel from either direction, Kingston or Walter Peak, but will need to decide where you want to stop overnight and how far you want to cycle each day.

While every effort is taken to ensure that the surface and condition of the trail is described this is an unsealed trail in remote areas.  Weather, spring growth and other events may affect the quality and difficulty of the trail, including river crossings.  Users of the trail should be aware of and take into consideration the forecast weather and the possibility that the trail may not be in the condition described.

DAY 1

Queenstown to Mavora Lakes

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 NZ for the latest schedule www.realnz.com), 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 Shelter.

If you would like to be shuttled from Mavora Lakes to accommodation in Mossburn or Te Anau, please ensure this is booked prior to starting your journey.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

DAY 2

Centre Hill Shelter to Lumsden

Shuttle back to Centre Hill Shelter, and, cycle from Centre Hill Shelter to Lumsden.

Journey alongside the Ōreti River towards Mossburn – hailed as the Deer Capital of New Zealand. Enjoy the peaceful rural setting on the smooth and pleasant curving alignment of the trail.

Farm paddocks feature prominently as you pedal on a mix of old railway line and well-graded track. Follow the Ōreti 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 steam train era adding an interesting element to the town.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

DAY 3

Lumsden to Athol or Garston

Cycle from Lumsden to Athol (33km) or Garston (45km).

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.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

DAY 4

Athol or Garston to Kingston

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 45km trip back to the bustle of Queenstown, take time to soak up the tranquility and reflect on your accomplishments. You’ve earned it.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

DAY 1

Queenstown to Mavora Lakes

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 NZ for the latest schedule www.realnz.com), 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.

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.

The DOC camping ground has 60 non-powered tent sites, tap water and toilets.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

DAY 2

Mavora Lakes to Mossburn

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 Ōreti River as you progress towards Mossburn – hailed as the Deer Capital of New Zealand.

The accommodation in Mossburn is popular, so be sure to book in advance.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

 

DAY 3

Mossburn to Athol

Farm paddocks feature prominently as you pedal on a mix of old railway line and well-graded track. Follow the Ōreti 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.

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.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

DAY 4

Athol to Kingston

Cycle from Athol to Kingston then shuttle back to Queenstown.

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 45km trip back to the bustle of Queenstown, take time to soak up the tranquility and reflect on your accomplishments. You’ve earned it.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

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 and our tour operators can help find the right one for you. May we suggest …

 

OPTION 1

Centre Hill Shelter to Mossburn

Our newly revitalised section of the trail, between Centre Hill Shelter and Mossburn makes for a stunning setting beside the Ōreti 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.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

 

OPTION 2

Lumsden—Five Rivers (return)

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 Ōreti 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.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

OPTION 3

Kingston – Garston (return)

Start your journey at the home of the historic Kingston Flyer steam train. Gradually climb the glacial moraine and ride through tranquil Southland farmland. You just have to look at the woolly sheep grazing in the paddocks to know why this area was chosen as the location for a well-known carpet advertisement. Don’t forget to check out the recently refurbished Fairlight Station before you cross the Mataura river and pedal in the high country surrounds.

At Garston you will discover great coffee and an array of fresh food, along with gallery treasures and scrumptious local honey. Stop to quench your thirst and grab a bite to eat. On your return to Kingston, take in the views of Lake Wakatipu and treat yourself to a delicious meal or drink – you’ve earned it.

Please note: The Kingston TOP 10 will allow anyone who starts or ends the trail while staying at least one night at their premises to leave their car/RV at the park while they are completing the trail.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

OPTION 4

Lumsden to Athol

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 Ōreti 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.

Time allowance is based on the average cycling speed of 10kmh.

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.

Bike hire, transport and tour operators

There are 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 and shuttles

Real NZ TSS Earnslaw
Email: contact@realnz.co.nz
Phone: 0800 656 501
www.realnz.com

Barge Services
Phone: 03 44 11 079 / 0220 954 880

Topedo7
Phone: 03 409 0409
Torpedo7.co.nz

Around the Mountains Cycle Tours
Phone: 027 241 0858
www.aroundthemountainscycling.nz

Around the Basin
9 Duke Street, Queenstown Phone: 027 952 5801
www.aroundthebasin.co.nz

Bike Fiordland
Phone: 03 280 0116
www.bikefiordland.nz

Wheels and Reels Shuttle
Phone: 0212 240 088
wheelsandreels.co.nz

Fully supported tour operators

Escape by Cycle
Phone: 022 399 3768
www.escapebycycle.com

Around the Mountains Cycle Tours
Phone: 027 241 0858
www.aroundthemountainscycling.nz

Bike Fiordland
Phone: 03 280 0116
www.bikefiordland.nz

Sidetracks Women
Phone: 02 4079 2839
sidetrackswomen.co.nz

Adventure South NZ
Phone: 03 942 1222
www.adventuresouth.co.nz

Tuatara Tours
Phone: 0800 377 378
www.tuataratours.co.nz

Air Milford
Phone: 03 44 22 351
airmilford.co.nz

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.

Invercargill Airport, which is an hour’s drive from Lumsden, has good domestic connections from majority of international airports.

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.

 

Where to stay
The Garston Lodge Accommodation
The Garston Lodge Accommodation

The Garston Lodge (the old Garston Hotel) offers accommodation right next to the Cycle Trail.  You can also enjoy the peaceful surrounds and the world famous Mataura river, known for fantastic fly fishing. Guests here will feel cozy, comfortable and homely.  The huge lounge is set up to watch Netflix, read books, play board games […]

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Welcome Rock Trails
Welcome Rock Trails

Welcome Rock Trails, located 3 km east of Garston and the Around the Mountains Trail offers hiking, biking and accommodation set on a private high-country farm. Established in 1911 this family property is 1000m above sea level, nationally protected, remote, peaceful, rugged, and romantic. On-Farm Accommodation Options: Kit’s Crib (tiny home, opening October 2023) is […]

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Kingston TOP 10 Holiday Park
Kingston TOP 10 Holiday Park

Kingston TOP 10 Holiday Park offers comfortable and spacious self-contained motel units, ensuite log cabins, standard cabins and RV/tent sites. Fresh linen and towels are provided for you in all motel units and cabins. Unlimited Wi-Fi for every guest, hot showers and a great location. Secure bike storage is also available during your stay. To […]

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Mataura Lodge Athol
Mataura Lodge Athol

In the heart of Athol, Mataura Lodge is immaculately renovated. Now offering three king-sized bedrooms, two large bathrooms, and a fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities. The generous living space, featuring a log burner with stone surround, will quickly become the heart of your stay. Mataura Lodge has a unique history. Starting life in the […]

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Lumsden Hotel
Lumsden Hotel

Located on the main street of Lumsden the fully renovated Lumsden Hotel provides old-world country hospitality with spotless, airy rooms, a generous guest lounge, a warm and welcoming bar and a large relaxing garden. Great food is available from our kitchen at almost any hour and picnic lunches can be provided.  Only an hour by […]

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Lumsden Motel
Lumsden Motel

The Lumsden Motel is your ideal accommodation. Your hosts, Tracy and Brian Ross, offer you a warm welcome. Clean, spacious, comfortable self-contained units await your arrival. Off street parking, guest BBQ, trout smoker and outdoor socialising area is all provided. A short walk to local eateries and a Four Square supermarket, the motels are located opposite the […]

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Mossburn Country Park
Mossburn Country Park

Welcome to Mossburn Country Park, a privately owned holiday park run by Colleen and Stuart and their much-loved Labrador, Andrew. Enjoy a relaxed and quiet 28-acre farm setting complete with hand-reared farm animals for all guests to enjoy. Located 3.3km from Mossburn (cycle trail entrance) on SH 97, this is the perfect stopover point, approximately […]

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The Lodge Athol and Holiday Park
The Lodge Athol and Holiday Park

Welcome to The Lodge Athol and Holiday Park Athol, Northern Southland – just an hour from Queenstown, Te Anau, Invercargill and Gore. So you can enjoy your stay in our peaceful surroundings whilst never being far away from your next adventure. Be it relaxing in our lodge, complete with all the amenities you could wish […]

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Mossburn Railway Hotel
Mossburn Railway Hotel

Mossburn Railway Hotel is a piece of New Zealand history, built in 1922 in the heart of Southland. Our hotel dates back to 1886 and has a colourful history as a local pub. Located on the main road between Queenstown and Te Anau, we offer a formal dining area, a friendly bar and a lovely […]

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Graceland B&B
Graceland B&B

Graceland B&B offers accommodation with free WIFI and secured parking for cars and bicycles. There is a private bathroom in all our rooms. We also offer a free continental breakfast included in our pricing. After a day of hiking, cycling or fishing, guests can relax in our garden or lounge areas.

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Royal Mail Hotel
Royal Mail Hotel

Our historic hotel is in the heart of beautiful northern Southland providing quaint and affordable accommodation.  We pride ourselves on ensuring our guest’s stay is comfortable and provide personal touches including locally roasted Roar coffee, handmade soaps and shampoos as well as fresh, organic eggs from our “backyard ladies”.  The hotel has been extensively and […]

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Five Rivers Retreat
Five Rivers Retreat

Five Rivers Retreat is based 7km north of Lumsden and offers accommodation on a working farm in the heart of Northern Southland. It’s an ideal base for trout fishing with the Acton Stream and Oreti River nearby, and we are conveniently located across the road of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail access. Our home […]

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Wheels and Reels accommodation
Wheels and Reels accommodation

Wheels and Reels accommodation is situated in Mossburn on the busy gateway route into Fiordland and the busy Milford Sound. Centred on the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail we offer great accommodation and good hearty meals to cyclists on the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail. Find us, book us, stay a spell.

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The Shearers Quarters
The Shearers Quarters

Situated on the Around the Mountain Cycle Trail, The Shearers Quarters at Fiery Creek Farm have been renovated and turned into a private two-bedroom apartment, adjoining the main house. As guests of the Shearer’s Quarters, you’ll have private use of 2 bedrooms, a bathroom & kitchenette, as well as use of the terrace area, and […]

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Take your map on the go
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Discover your next adventure…

Embark on an unforgettable adventure in the picturesque wilderness of southern New Zealand with the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail! This unique trail takes you from the bustling energy of Queenstown to serene agricultural landscapes of Southland, showcasing a range of contrasts.

Cyclists of all levels will be thrilled with the diverse experience offered on this 186km trail, which can be tackled in either direction, starting from Kingston or Walter Peak. Take your time and enjoy the journey at a leisurely pace, it’s an easy trail to conquer!

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