New Zealand's Southern Lakes & Passes

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Queenstown, Wanaka, Lindis and Danseys - Milford Mountain Classic 2022

10 - 22 February (13 Days / 12 Nights)

New Zealand's Southern region is without doubt spectacular. And, COVID gives us the unique chance to ride roads that are normally filled with tourists from all over the world. We're expecting only locals and visitors from Australia will be here in early 2022 we plan to take advantage of.

The absolute highlight will be the sportive from Milford Sound to Te Anau. We'll join hundreds of lycra clad friends for a once in a lifetime opportunity to ride this very special (but hilly) road as it journeys through the UNESCO Fiordland National Park.

Normal Ride Holidays conditions apply. The very best hotels. Fully supported for both cyclists and Team Mac - (non-riders). Choice of 3 rides most days - cappuccino 50km, latte 70-80km and espresso - 100km plus.

More importantly - we eat and drink at the best restaurants, wineries and cafes. This could quite possibly be the only time we have this amazing scenery to ourselves. Let's make the most of it.

New Zealand's Southern Lakes | Tour Details

Tour Inclusions & Highlights

  • 3 nights Queenstown, Wanaka and Fiordland
  • Danseys and Lindis Passes
  • Ride the Crown Range, lunch at the Cardrona Hotel
  • Cruise Lake Wanaka and Wakatipu (Queenstown)
  • 4 star plus accommodation where possible
  • Airport transfers for those arriving, departing 10 / 22 Feb
  • All meals except for 2 lunches and 3 dinners. Cycling snacks on the road
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary - Milford Magic entry, mountain bike hire for 20 Feb, hot tubs, curling etc etc
  • Hand-picked cafes and restaurants
  • This trip is designed around 25 cyclists, 5 Team Mac and 6-7 staff
  • Multiple ride options for varying abilities.
  • Official traffic management vehicle on some days
  • RIDE Holidays cycle jersey and souvenir tour booklet
  • GPS routes available for upload to personal devices
  • Team Macchiato will have a separate itinerary to the cyclists. We also have a budget to include a lot of the entry fees, extra coffee, lunches etc

    The Tour Price Excludes

    • Airfares and extra accommodation
    • Meals not indicated in the itinerary
    • Alcoholic beverages
    • Travel insurance
    • Sports bars, gels etc. We will supply bananas, electrolyte powder etc

    The Tour Cost

    • 13 days / 12 nights NZD$5950.00 per person
    • NZD $1250.00 extra for your own room


    Doubtful Sound - $220.00 per person including lunch. Kepler excursion $240.00 per person.

    Terms and Conditions

    Deposit & Balance terms and conditions. The initial deposit is $0 with a $250.00 per person to be paid 60 days prior to departure. Full payment will be due 30 days prior to departure. Our Covid guarantee - The most you will lose (including inside 30 days) is $250.00 which covers our fixed costs like the clothing etc. (which you would still receive)

      Click on the map to view a larger version

      Queenstown 2022 Cycle Tour Itinerary

      Day 1 - Thursday 10 February

      Arrive Queenstown

      We suggest you arrive mid to late morning if you can. We'll meet you at the airport and transfer you to our central Queenstown hotel.

      Early this afternoon we put the bikes together and head out for a short (about 3pm) spin. We'll have the support vehicles close by to catch up with those first day mechanicals. Today's ride is only 30km. We'll build things up slowly as the tour goes on. If there's time we'll pop into a local craft brewery for a beer on the way back into town. Rude not to.

      Team Macchiato head off to Arrowtown for a coffee or wine where you'll have the chance to meet Geoff - your guide for the next 2 weeks. (don't ask him about Lake Taupo)

      Tonight, we've picked one of Queenstown best restaurants - it's important we start appropriately. We introduce the team and run through the plan for the next few days.

      / Accommodation - Peppers Beacon
      / Meals - Welcome dinner

      Ps, we are happy to arrange accommodation for those wanting to arrive in Queenstown early.

      Day 2 - Friday 11 February

      Crown Range

      After breakfast we throw the luggage in the vans (bike bags stay in Queenstown) and hop on our bikes. First stop is Arrowtown. And then… Hmmm - The Crown Range. One of New Zealand's best rides and is always included in the Tour of Southland. For us - it won't be a race!! There is no rush. Just as well - it's lumpy in this part of the world.

      This trip has been designed around riding from hotel to hotel as much as possible. Today's ride is only 80km from door to door however we anticipate that a few of you may conclude todays proceedings at the Cardrona Hotel. Rumoured to be the most photographed building in New Zealand, the historic facade hides an award-winning restaurant, legendary beer second-to-none. It is also our lunch spot for today.

      Our support plan for the next 13 days looks like this: We'll have a vehicle in the front and another yoyo-ing back and forth. Basically, there will always be 2 vehicles and up to 4 guides around you at all times. On the occasional day where we expect heavier traffic then we'll also have an official pilot vehicle join us. All vehicles will have water, bananas and some very basic muesli bars.

      Team Macchiato… I've learnt that gardens have a star rating similar to hotels etc. Who would have thought!! And, there are especially beautiful flowers at the 5-star Birchwood. So, Birchawood we will go. Designed by landscape architect Paul Bangay, and it is an excellent example of his signature style. However what makes it so interesting is its unique response to the surrounding landscape and views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables, Cecil Peak and Cardrona, which were taken into consideration in the design process, and where close attention to detail has created a stunning environment using limited planting. You then meet the cyclists at the Cardrona hotel for lunch. And now for our highlight - we've booked a guided tour of the local Whisky, gin distillery.

      Wanaka is paradise and it's our home for the next 3 nights. We've booked a hotel that offers lake front views. Tonight, is a free night however the guides will no doubt be heading to the Speights Ale House. You are very welcome to join us. After the Crown Range (or Cardrona Hotel) you will be hungry.

      / Accommodation - Wanaka
      / Meals - Breakfast and Lunch (Dinner is your own arrangements)

      Day 3 - Saturday 12 February

      Your chance to explore Wanaka

      After a leisurely breakfast we ride lake front up towards Treble Cone ski field. This morning is all about spinning the legs prior to heading into town. It's your only chance to explore Wanaka.

      We head out via Glendhu (don't forget the h) and this particular ride is responsible for I'd say about 95% of local cycling. It's beautiful and a must. Maximum distance today is 50km which is to Treble Cone and back. Coffee is at the Glendhu Mountain Bike Park and there's the opportunity to ride the dirt bikes here this afternoon if you'd like to. Your guide will be Abram.

      Our hotel is about a 20min walk to town along the lake edge. This afternoon is all about financially supporting the locals.

      But wait - there's more. Sundowners anyone? Yup, we've hired our own launch. We hop on board at 5pm with the aim of being back by 8ish. Our vessel is truly 5 star and Captain Tim will make sure we are well catered for. I can assure you that it will be a highlight. And that you will sleep well. Just to confirm - Ride Holidays trips are not known for being great weight loss programmes.

      / Accommodation - Wanaka
      / Meals - Breakfast and Dinner (Lunch own arrangements)

      Day 4 - Sunday 13 February

      Le Neck... Or the West Coast of New Zealand

      Today we explore the narrow peninsular that sits between Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. The ride is prominently lake edge until we get to the Neck which is the 600m section in between the 2 lakes. There's an amazing lookout which would be the perfect team photo opportunity.

      Lunch is at the excellent Boundary Creek campsite. It's here that we'll have freshly made sandwiches waiting. Oh, and coffee. It's also the turnaround point for those who want to go home. (105km round trip)

      However - like on both 2021 trips, we will offer the chance to ride further to Mt Aspiring National Park. The end of the ride being the Gates of Haast. I have to say that in all my years of cycling I'd rate the Haast ride as one of the best so I wouldn't discourage you from doing this. We will need to keep an eye on the weather though. (FYI our hotel to the Gates of Haast is almost exactly 100km and 1500VM of climbing) We won't make you ride home. Toot toot.

      Team Mac - Geoff will guide you for a walk to the Blue Pools and then you join us for the rest of the day.

      / Accommodation - Wanaka
      / Meals - Breakfast and Lunch (Dinner is own arrangements)

      Day 5 - Monday 14 February

      Lindis Pass and Tarras pies..

      All good things come to an end as we say goodbye to our Wanaka home. Today we kick off the road trip portion of our holiday which sees us ride the Lindis and Danseys passes. Before we start to travel south to Fiordland.

      Today's adventure is exactly 114km from hotel to hotel via a country café in Tarras and more importantly the dramatic Lindis Pass. Which links the Mackenzie Basin with Central Otago. The actual pass crosses a saddle between the valleys of the Lindis and Ahuriri Rivers at an altitude of 971 metres above sea level. For many months of the year, you can expect to see snow in this mountainous area - often down to the roadside - hmm, we should be pretty safe in February.

      I did laugh when I started to research this route on google. The terrain was listed as generally flat. Hmm, are you sure? Upon further research I can say with confidence that it is a slight false flat. (approx. 1200VM)

      Team Mac - the Lindis usually attracts thousands and thousands of tourists every year. As do the Tarras pies. So, we see your day as being fairly similar to the cyclists. Please be assured that RH is not one of those companies where the non-riders simply follow the cyclists in a van watching legs bop up and down. We'll talk to you each night with a suggested plan although we are more than happy listening to your suggestions. Our thought for this morning is that you visit the Wanaka Lavender Farm before catching up with us. Enjoy a breathtaking walk lavender fields, meet the resident animals, try treats at the cafe and take home a little lavender for yourself from the gift shop! Apparently, they sell fudge… just saying!!

      Tonight, we've booked the world famous Omarama hot tubs. Bring your togs!! We'll go late so we can take advantage of the amazing night sky.

      / Accommodation - Omarama (is known for its trout fishing… just saying!!)
      / Meals included - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

      Day 6 - Tuesday 15 February

      Clay Cliffs & Danseys Pass

      6.58am (sunrise) seems reasonably early, however it is our advice that we all pile into the vehicles so we can witness the Omarama Clay cliffs prior to breakfast. You won't regret it. Check out the images on this page.

      Personally - I think today will be a highlight. Danseys has to be one of the most scenic places I've seen in NZ. Can't wait to get back there. Named after William Heywood Dansey, a North Otago run holder who used the route to move stock, Danseys Pass links Central Otago to the Waitaki District. The unsealed alpine narrow road offers a spectacular vista. Winding through and over the Kakanui mountain range its highest point is 920m above sea level.

      OK, here are the ride options…. All are good. 1. Ride 70km from our Omarama hotel to our lunch spot in Kurow (Richie McCaw country) at the excellent Waitaki Braids Lodge.

      Ride 2. As above, but if you have the correct bike then we could tick off some of the A2O cycle trail that pretty much mirrors the road.

      Ride 3. Danseys Pass. As above - this option is really only for those who have the correct (CX) bike and experience. We will have a vehicle with us, however mobile reception in this part of the world isn't even a thing. The off-road Danseys ride starts at Duntroon and finishes at the Lodge. Even though it's only 47km we anticipate this taking 5 hours and it will be very weather dependent.

      Team Mac - while we are riding you take a short drive north to Aoraki/Mount Cook where there are 10 short walks to choose from. If you feel like doing a scenic flight, then that can be arranged. After lunch you make your way towards us - offering encouragement as you pass cyclists dressed in pink and blue lycra.

      Our accommodation for the night is the only building that's stood the test of time. Originally named the Pass Hotel (now the Danseys Pass Coach Inn) was built in 1862, with the original stonework constructed by a mason known as "Happy Bill". Bill's remuneration was in beer, and he received one pint for every schist boulder shaped and laid. Legend has it that after a particularly busy day the blithe craftsman fell into an open grave at the cemetery and slept the night away.

      / Accommodation - Danseys Pass
      / Meals included - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

      Day 7 - Wednesday 16 February

      Otago Rail Trail vs the road (your choice)

      Naseby is well known for its curling. Given that it's March we are unlikely to experience weather cold enough to curl outside. (hopefully) So, for we've pre-booked the 9am slot at the excellent indoor curling arena. While you are curling the staff will tune, clean your bikes. This is also where we see today's ride starting. Alexandra is our home for this evening and it's 80km down the road. See you there.

      Tomorrow is our first day off the bike so don't be scared to give it your all today. We start our day with a good feed of locally raised bacon and eggs before riding the last 10km of Danseys through to Naseby. Let's stock up on coffee before we start to head south. Tonight, we're staying in Alexandra which is a further 80km down the road.

      The other option for those comfortable on the dirt (very gentle) is to include a section of the Otago Rail Trail although I'm very aware that many of you have done this already. The ORT wasn't a highlight we set out to include however the simple facts are that there's a trail heading in exactly the same direction as we're going. So, totally your choice. We will offer both.

      Team Mac - we thought you may enjoy one (or two) of the local vineyards after curling. We have a budget that includes the odd extra for you and today a winery lunch is included in that budget.

      / Accommodation - Alexandra
      / Meals included - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

      Day 8 - Thursday 17 February

      Te Anau

      We jump in the vehicles to avoid 20km of SH road. Our start is at the Roxburgh dam. We then have 100km of mainly quite Southland roads. There's no point in resting today - that's what tomorrow is for.

      It's about a 90-minute drive from the end of our ride to Te Anau which is our home for the next 3 nights. Nestled on the edge of the South Island's largest lake, Te Anau is the spectacular stepping off point for those exploring the wilderness of Fiordland. (by the way - try to avoid having a conversation with Geoff about Lake Te Anau being bigger than Lake Taupo)

      Team Mac - your guide Geoff lives in Te Anau so will have many suggestions for you. We would certainly recommend including the bird sanctuary. Last year Geoff managed to sweet talk his way inside the enclosures. Here kiwi, kiwi, kiwi…

      Late this afternoon (5pm) we have a quick Mountain Bike fit for the Around Mountains day. This is also a good time to let us know if your road bike needs any work prior to Saturdays event.

      / Accommodation - Te Anau Distinction
      / Meals included - Breakfast and Lunch. (Dinner own arrangements)

      Day 9 - Friday 18 February

      UNESCO Rest day

      Tomorrow is D-day. Today is designed around rest and relaxation. Yes - it's a holiday. (kind of)

      Here is what we suggest.

      1, a gentle coffee ride after breakfast down Lake Manapouri. Maximum mileage is 50km. You then have the rest of the day to rest up. We could even try and arrange massage for those who are keen.

      2, we expect the majority of you to book the day trip to Doubtful Sound. Cruise across beautiful Lake Manapouri and over Wilmot Pass to Deep Cove where you will board our catamaran for a three-hour cruise taking in the dramatic scenery of Doubtful Sound. This would be my suggestion for Team Mac.

      3, there are a huge number of walks which we can recommend - including the challenging Kepler track. At 1pm we'll be guiding a 5 hour jet boat, 6km walk on the Kepler. It's the perfect opportunity to answer emails, do washing in the morning and then tick off something constructive in the afternoon.

      At some stage today you'll need to pick up your event registrations and no doubt there will be press interviews for the likes of Reid and Stabback.

      This evening we all eat together as there are logistics to talk through for tomorrow. Some of you will be nervous. Others excited. We will answer all your questions and try and dampen down those hills for you.

      / Accommodation - Te Anau Distinction
      / Meals included - Breakfast and Dinner (Lunch included for those on the Doubtful Sounds trip)

      Day 10 - Saturday 19 February

      Milford Mountain Classic

      Milford Sound is located within Fiordland National Park, an area that has held UNESCO World Heritage status since 1986. The pristine environment provides a perfect habitat for birdlife and a safe haven for dolphins, fur seals and endangered penguins.

      With an average yearly rainfall of 7000mm (7 metres), Milford Sound is one of the wettest inhabited places on earth and one of the best places to experience the power of nature. Exceptional rainfall produces Milford's famous waterfalls as well as its unique underwater ecosystem where sea and freshwater meet.

      You can choose between the 120km Milford Classic, 100km Homer Hundred or the 65km Eglinton Challenge.

      Let's talk you through the day. After breakfast we all (including Team Mac) pile in the vans and drive the 120km to Milford Sound. This morning is your best chance to discover this NZ highlight which normally attracts thousands and thousands of visitors daily. Today it will be pink and blue lycra on display. (closer to the time we may look at boat tours etc)

      Our actual ride doesn't start until 12pm. That gives all the domestic traffic the chance to get off the road and our guides time to tune your bikes prior to the event start. Keep in mind that it doesn't get dark until after 11pm. Given that it's a late start, late finish - prize giving isn't until tomorrow morning so tonight we'll organise our own special inhouse celebrations.

      There are a few major bike events around the world.. Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and the Vuelta a España but I doubt none are as scenic as what you'll ride today. Bring it on. I can't wait. See you at the start line.

      / Accommodation - Te Anau Distinction
      / Meals included - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

      Day 11 - Sunday 20 February


      After breakfast we'll say goodbye to our luggage. Please make sure bags are clearly named with your RH luggage labels - that way they'll find their way to your room by the time we arrive.

      Just looking at my timesheet for today and I see no reason to depart really early, so please head off to Sandfly (where the locals go) for a coffee. Let's jump in the vehicles at 10am. Today we are accompanied by Garth from Wild Rides Fiordland. He's providing the rental bikes and support for today's adventure.
      Set in the remote wilderness of southern New Zealand, the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail offers a truly unique experience for those seeking to venture off the beaten track. Total trail distance is 186km however we plan to ride 80 of the best. Starting near the pristine waters of the Mavora Lakes - one of the awe-inspiring locations featured in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We then cycle alongside the Oreti and Mataura rivers and through the native tussock lands of Walter Peak and Mt Nicholas stations - both authentic high-country farms. Our 1% experience for today - when you arrive at Walter Peak there's a late afternoon high station BBQ waiting. I suspect the guest of honour for this afternoon's proceedings will be locally sourced. Can't wait.

      Team Mac - after joining us at Movora Lakes you head off early to Walter Peak High Country where the head gardener - Sam will be waiting. He'll show you around these 4 star gardens. The Kauri tree (Agathis australis) on the main lawn is most likely the southernmost specimen in the country as this native tree is usually confined to the temperate sub tropical upper regions of the North Island. Covered in red/pink beak-like flowers from mid-spring to summer are two Kaka Beak shrubs (Clianthus puniceus). This species is critically endangered and normally only found in the North Island. A diverse display of tulips follows. Big mature specimens of Rhododendron and Camelia are a mass of colour and are one of the first things that will catch your eye. Our uber back to Queenstown is none other than the reasonably well known Earnslaw. (8pm expected back at the hotel)

      / Accommodation - Queenstown
      / Meals included - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

      Day 12 - Monday 21 February


      Team Mac - we thought it would be nice if you started your day with a coffee. And a gondola. Or, you could even choose a jet boat road on the Shotover if you prefer? (this is our cost) Anyway - plenty to do before jumping in the van and catching up with the cyclists for lunch. On the way home we suggest you pop in to the art gallery at little Paradise. Here's how Lonely planet described it - ambling and rustic doesn't begin to describe this unique spot perched by Lake Wakatipu. A quirky and slightly eccentric Swiss guy built it all by himself, from the handmade wooden furniture to the uniquely tiled bathrooms. Outside there's a natural swimming pool and various bird life roaming about to keep you company. A must for any visit to Queenstown.

      Le cycliste - we always like our last ride to be an out and back. It takes the pressure off you as we realise there will be tired legs by this stage of the trip. So, we leave our hotel and ride to the northern end of the lake and the small town of Glenorchy. It's 45km each way and you can decide to ride either 1 or both ways. Yes - there are hills. Short steep climbs that will seem a mere blip by this stage of the journey.

      Not even Malcolm Noad could get lost today. Keep the blue stuff to your left on the way to Glenorchy and then when you return keep the blue stuff to the right. We're going to encourage the stronger riders to join us for an extra 9km through to Rees River as it would be nice to finish the trip off with a ton.

      Has anyone seen Malcolm?

      And that's a wrap. Let's have a glass of bubbles and celebrate good times, new and old friends and most importantly - the only positive thing to come out of COVID… that being reasonably quiet roads.

      / Accommodation - Queenstown
      / Meals included - Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

      Day 13 - Tuesday 22 February

      Home James

      Let's recap - Starting Queenstown we headed over the Crown Range to Wanaka… ahh, 3 nights in Paradise before we started our mini tour of Lindis and Danseys Pass. Staying in 1962 Danseys Pass Coach Inn. It was then time to head south to Te Anau - our Fiordland hotel for 3 nights. Featuring the magnificent sportive - the Milford Mountain Classic.

      Seriously - could this have been any better!!! We doubt it.

      After breakfast we'll transfer you to the airport for your flight home. Thank you for travelling with Ride Holidays.

      We look forward to venturing overseas with you again in the near future.


      Karl and RH team


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