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Ride Rating System

The BAC has a Ride Rating system that can tell you what to expect while on one of our rides. Learn more...

New Zealand East Coast South Island 2023

  • Arrival
  • 1/22/2023
  • Departure
  • 2/5/2023
  • Ride Coordinator
  • Grant McAlister
  • Tour Company
  • NZBicycletours Ltd
  • Starting Location
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Finishing Location
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Estimated Cost †
  • $5200
  • Deposit
  • $2000
  • Number of Riders
  • 13 (min. 10 /max. 15)
  • Space Available
  • 2
  • No. of Pending Riders
  • 0

Ride Rating

2C  Warning - Read the Description Carefully

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† Explanation of BAC Ride Fee – This fee is not included in the Estimated Cost and is non-refundable once submitted. The Ride Fee for US and Canada is $50 and $100 for all other countries, both are per participant.

Ride Description

This tour showcases the often overlooked East Coast of NZ South Island which holds some stunning scenery, fantastic riding and an abundance of quiet country roads. The tour travels through open sheep grazing country, farmlands, coastal roads and sections of native bush with great views of the coast and mountains.  We will stay in a mix of small rural towns and tourist hotspots while winding our way down the east coast to a finish in the Fiordland, home to the famous Doubtful & Milford Sound. 

The first day of the 15 day tour begins in the afternoon with bike assembly, a test bike ride around Hagley Park followed by tour review, happy hour and then dinner. The next day in Christchurch we ride up and along the Port Hills overlooking the Canterbury Plains and Southern Alps with stunning panoramic views of the city, harbor and bay. We depart Christchurch the following day by scenic rail to Kaikoura where you have the opportunity to explore the famous coastal scenery with a short ride or optional whale watching/kayaking/hiking.  From Kaikoura we ride inland and uphill along the foot of the inland Kaikoura range to Hanmer Springs including a visit to the world famous Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools. We start the next day with a transfer to Culverden, cycling along gentle terrain passing through small farming communities on quiet country roads on our way to Oxford.  Leaving Oxford we ride along the foothills of the Southern Alps before crossing the Rakaia gorge with sweeping view of the Mid-Canterbury high country and pass through Mount Somers, one of the areas used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy on our way to Geraldine, our destination for the day.  From Geraldine we cycle through the scenic Pareora Gorge finishing the day in Oamaru, a well preserved Victorian town with a famous Blue Penguin colony, home to the world's smallest penguins.  We head south out of Oamaru on lovely coastal roads with a short transfer to avoid busy Highway 1 and then back to a mainly coastal route through the pretty seaside village of Karitane with an optional climb over Mount Cargill followed by a descent into Dunedin. We have a rest day in Dunedin with plenty of activities to choose from including an optional ride on the Otago Peninsula with its marine wildlife center.  Following our rest day we transfer down to Balclutha again skipping Highway 1 to the start of the Southern Scenic Route making our way through Papatowai with its idiosyncratic Lost Gypsy automata gallery onward to McLeans Falls taking in the lovely coastal vistas on the way. The next day depending on the tides we may have the opportunity to walk to Cathedral Caves, afterwards we cycle through undulating country and native forests that transition to open farmland on our way to our destination of Invercargill where you will have the option to visit Transport World a very large private automotive museum. Heading west we cycle through Riverton, an eclectic and quirky coastal town surrounded by stunning natural beauty on the way to our destination for the evening, Tuatapere, claimed to be the “Sausage Capital of the world” and the center of the Southland farming community.  Having arrived at the south west end of the island we head north from Tuatepere through Clifden with an opportunity to view a 19th century historic suspension bridge and then a nice climb over Blackmont hill to Te Anau the gateway to the Fiordland National Park home to the world famous Doubtful and Milford Sound. On our last full day we explore Doubtful Sound by first taking a boat across Lake Manapouri and then a 3 hour cruise of the Sound.   We will spend the night in Te Anau before finishing with breakfast the next day and transfer to Queenstown airport or back to Christchurch.

Where possible we have selected quiet roads to maximize your enjoyment and will transfer around the busier roads.  NZ Bicycle Tours will support our ride. This company is based in Christchurch and the owners are experienced cyclists and guides.

The ride is rated 2C with 10 required riding days based on an average daily distance of 50.9 miles and 2270 feet of climbing. The ride includes 5 days above the 2C rating, three days at 3B (49.1 miles max & 3260 max feet of climbing), one day at 2D (66.3 miles & 1865 feet of climbing) and the final day at 3C (62.3 miles and 2585 feet of climbing). Many days have additional routes for riders wanting longer rides and there are optional routes on rest days including rides up to a 3D rating. A day-by-day itinerary with daily mileage and elevation is available by contacting the Ride Coordinator.

As with most BAC tours, this is a tour for independent experienced cyclists. We do not stay together as a group on the road and do not have a “guide” with us at all times. The luggage van is primarily a luggage transport vehicle but is available for injuries or illnesses.  The luggage van is not a “sag” and riders should arrive for the tour ready to ride the distance and not expecting to be “sagged”, except for group transfers.

If you bring your own bike, we recommend it be equipped with wider tires for your comfort due to the chip seal roads typical of New Zealand. Your bike boxes will be stored in Christchurch at no additional cost. E-Bikes and tandems are allowed on a case by case basis - contact ride leader prior to signing up for the ride. Bike rentals are available through NZBicycletours ( and are fitted with a Vaude Road 1 front bag as well as being equipped with lower range rear cassettes for easier climbing. NZBicycletours has Scott S20 (300 NZD), Specialized Roubaix (500 NZD), Specialized Sirrus Hybrid (300 NZD) or Cannondale T2 tandem rentals (600 NZD) if you prefer not to bring your own.

The temperatures in January, mid-summer, are typically 70 – 77°F during the day and cooler at night, but may be higher inland and lower near the coast. The weather is unpredictable in New Zealand, so you will need clothing for a wide range of conditions including warm and water-proof clothing for cycling and walking.

If we still have a COVID risk, we will follow all the necessary rules, and change activities as needed to remain COVID compliant, and keep the tour as safe as possible.  We will invite participants to a Zoom meeting about 30 days prior to the tour start date to finalize our COVID protocols. You may be asked to wear PPE in public, maintain social distance in public and limit social gathering according to the destination’s mandate.  We encourage all participants to have completed a vaccination prior to starting the tour.

Accommodation is on a double room basis, with private facilities and are typically 3-4 star quality. Included in the tour price are 14 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 12 dinners, as well as a daily happy hour with snacks and drinks featuring NZ wines & craft beers and non-alcoholic drinks. Note that there is no happy hour on the second night in Dunedin and first night in Te Anau.

The tour begins Sunday late afternoon, Jan 22 at the Orari Bed and Breakfast in central Christchurch with introductions, and a safety & tour briefing. Our New Zealand support team will provide transfers from Christchurch Airport 8:00 – 12:00 noon on Jan 22th by prior arrangement ( The ride ends on the morning of Feb 5 in Te Anau with free transfers to Queenstown or Christchurch. 

The tour cost of $5200 per person is based on the New Zealand dollar being valued at US $0.73. The price includes arrival transfers on Day 1 from 8:.00 – 12:00 noon. Depending on currency exchange rates, there may be an adjustment in the amount of the final payment. The tour price also covers departure transfers to Queenstown or Christchurch on Day 15, vans to transport us and luggage, the Coastal Pacific Train (Day 3), entry to Hanmer Springs Thermal Pool (Day 4), and Doubtful Sound trip (Day 14), cycling snacks, drinks and water, maps and route notes and happy hour expenses featuring NZ wines and craft beers. The price does not include airfare to Christchurch or any other flights, entry fees to any additional optional activities, beverages at included dinners or everyday gratuities. Guide gratuities are at participant discretion but a standard range would be $60 to $80 for the tour.

A limited number of solo supplements are available at $1700. It is recommended that a single who wants a roommate try to find their own. After receipt of the initial deposit, a single without a roommate will be placed on the ride and given until Aug 15, 2022 to find a roommate. If you are unable to find a roommate, you will have the option to receive a full refund (minus the BAC fee and payment processing fee) or pay the $1700 solo supplement and stay on the ride. If a single pays the supplement, they may continue to seek a roommate, but must plan to participate without a roommate if necessary. The Ride Coordinator will assist by attempting to match singles that apply for the ride. Solo supplement payments need to be sent to the BAC office by Aug 15, 2022. Checks should be made out to “BAC” with a notation of the tour name included on the check. They should be mailed to: Bicycle Adventure Club, PO Box 23998, San Diego, CA 92193.

The BAC ride registration fee and payment processing fee is not refundable unless the entire tour is cancelled due to participation below stated minimum requirements. Refunds of tour payments will depend upon whether a replacement rider signs up, and on costs that can be recouped. The amount refunded will be based on the principle that the tour’s remaining participants will not incur any additional cost as a result of cancellations. If the cancelling participant is replaced, a refund will be made at that time. If the cancelling participant can't be replaced, any refund will be determined after the ride and final expense report are completed. If a single participant cancels and another roommate cannot be found, in addition to other costs that cannot be recouped the cancelling roommate may also be liable for the solo supplement fee of the roommate remaining on the tour. BAC encourages members to purchase trip cancellation insurance.

Please remember that BAC Ride Leaders are volunteers, and that successful tours depend on participants providing much of their own support. Participants are expected to come to the ride well trained, in good health and ready to accomplish the required daily riding using well-maintained bicycles. All participants should accept responsibility for a safe and enjoyable tour. We encourage you to read the ride description carefully and respond to requests from Ride Leader. While on the ride, support your Ride Leader with offers to help with various tasks such as happy hour preparation and clean-up. Please do not interfere with the ride by inviting non-participants onto any portion of the ride or tour. Please keep the Ride Leader informed of any special request you may have and respect the Ride Leader’s decisions.

Before participating in any BAC tour, members should review their medical coverage and assess whether what you have is sufficient. If it isn’t, you should purchase additional travel medical coverage. BAC maintains a policy that provides coverage for expenses related to medical emergencies and repatriation when members are on tours outside the US and their home country. The policy ceases to be applicable if a member makes a personal deviation (e.g., makes a side trip not related to the planned BAC tour), has limits on expenses covered for family members and only applies for 45 days following departure from home. None of the policies maintained by BAC will cover costs associated with self-quarantines that may be government mandated. Members should also ensure that vaccinations are up to date (e.g., annual influenza, tetanus, etc.). If travelling outside your home country you may wish to consult with a travel physician or nurse to ensure that the appropriate vaccinations are up to date.

To submit a request to join this ride use the "links" displayed above this Ride Description. When you are accepted, the Ride Leader will move you from the Waitlist to the Pending List. At this time you will receive an email notification to login to the BAC website to sign the release of liability form and pay the non-refundable BAC ride registration fee and the initial tour deposit of $2000 by credit card. The second payment of $1600 is due on Aug 15, 2022, and the last payment of $1600 is due on Oct 31, 2022. As soon as your deposit has been processed, your name(s) will be added to the Participant List. To contact the Ride Leader, "click" the name at the top of this Ride Description.

Bicycle Adventure Club
PO BOX 23998 San Diego, CA 92193
Telephone (858) 715-9510

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