After many months of tireless work to prepare the route, the Alps2Ocean Bike Trail officially opens today! The trail, which wends its way 312km from Mt Cook/Aorangi to the Oamaru Harbour, passes through some of New Zealand’s most majestic terrain, and affords visitors a chance to soak in this under-visited area before it is truly “discovered”.
Already a number of people have ridden the A2O (as it’s known locally), enjoying the spectacular scenery and the numerous attractions along the route. Starting at the foot of New Zealand’s highest mountain, and then passing through the starkly beautiful high country of the Mackenzies, the trail makes a loop to visit stunning Lake Ohau (an underutilised ski area in winter, and an ideal site for leisure activities in summer) before making its way to Omarama, the place for fans of glider aircraft and for the spectacle of acres and acres of lupins blooming in spring against the backdrop of the Ahuriri River and the Clay Cliffs. The trail then heads southeast along the braided Waitaki River, passing by the manmade lakes that are favourites for water sports and camping, as well as the wineries of the Kurow area. You then go by the unusual Elephant Rocks and Duntroon’s displays of Maori rock art and ancient geological formations before coasting through the fields on your way to Oamaru’s historic harbour.
There is already a good number of businesses catering to the A2O, providing bicycle and equipment hire, and transfers from Oamaru to whatever starting point you choose. Much like the other bike trails that dot New Zealand, the A2O will surely be the catalyst for tremendous development of the tourist infrastructure along the route, and will draw visitors who are not cyclists, eager to see the scenery that makes this a sure-fire contender for the “most beautiful bike trail” award, if there were such a thing. So if you’re interested in visiting places before they’re “discovered” better hurry and come soon!
For more information, you can visit the following sites: