Tour Aotearoa. South Island - Te Waipounamu

Picton to Bluff

Welcome to the South Island! This is a stunningly diverse ride from the Marlborough Sounds to Bluff in the deep south. We ride takes in the historically mysterious Maungatapu, Nelson Lakes National Park, and as we ride down the wonderfully wild west coast of New Zealand we encounter a fabulous combination of wild coastlines, rain forest, cows, cowboys and possibly cow seals?

Picton to Bluff
20 days
1,410 km
A fully supported cycle tour of Te Waipounamu

The ‘Tour Aotearoa' South Island - Te Waipounamu is a 1410km cycling route created by the Kennett Brothers exploring the length of the South Island from Picton to Bluff and riding on as many of New Zealand's off road cycle trails and quiet back roads as possible.  We have created a fully supported version of the Tour Aotearoa so that you you can ride a full island or indeed the full length of New Zealand knowing that we have got your back!   Our Tour Aotearoa - South Island closely follows this classic route and also includes plenty of quirky extras, stop-overs and special places in the true Escape Adventures' style.

What is “Fully Supported”?

Whether you choose to ride the full length of New Zealand or just one Island at a time - we’ll sort the nitty gritty. Before your tour begins, we will organise all the logistics and book all accommodation.   

We will give you daily digital route maps, that you can follow on your phone or GPS, and route cue notes so that you can ride at your own pace, stop when you like to smell the roses and grab a coffee when the opportunity presents, while always knowing that we are there if you need us.

On tour, your awesome Escape Adventures support crew will have your breakfast ready for an early start and provide snacks for you to carry with you.  They will provide daily ride information and ride sweep with first aid and mechanical support.  Our support vehicle will carry your luggage, and on most days set up a ‘floating picnic lunch’ on route so that you can dine’n’dash and top up on water and snacks.  The support vehicle is also there if you need first aid or mechanical support, or if you need a break from the saddle.

Contact Us for Detailed Trip Information

Aotearoa - Land of the Long Bike Ride!

    Annie Hudson, Wanaka, NZ, 23/02/2021 12:00am

Riding the entire Tour Aotearoa was fast looming on my bucket list and when I saw that Escape Adventures were putting this trip together, I was on for it!  Having had 3 most amazing overseas adventures with Escape Adventures I knew that they would provide the most fantastic experience. All I had to do was get to the start, get on my bike and pedal while Escape took care transporting our stuff, organizing food and accommodation. Escape’s support crew were brilliant, so willing to help and support everyone, prepared and provided outstanding meals and snacks in abundance. All in all a absolutely fantastic way of riding some of our fabulous trails, seeing remote and beautiful New Zealand with like minded Kiwis and to achieve a personal goal at the same time. I just loved it!  Riding the length of our country - Aotearoa.

Best ride ever!!

    Wendy Norwood, 20/01/2021 11:54am

I've long wanted to do the Tour Aotearoa but haven't been able to do it the standard way ... so how happy was I when Escape Adventures decided to do it! I think I was probably one of the first to sign up for the inaugural tour in 2020. If you've done a trip with these guys before you'll know how good they are - if you haven't then this is your chance. Great guides, great organising, great baking - thanks Mandy. I loved every minute, even the challenging bits. So many highlights. Just cycling the length of the South Island and experiencing our beautiful country by bike was truly amazing.

Every day is a new adventure!

    Karen Savage, New Zealand, 11/01/2021 12:00am
I lost my traditional travel mate at 59 and the concept of cycle touring in a small group gave me confidence to travel again. I borrowed a bike, trained, and began a travel journey that changed my life. I am a very satisfied, repeat client of Escape Adventures (8 trips in 14 years; one in NZ). I love exploring tiny villages in out-of-the –way places. They demonstrate the true character of a country’s society. Briefly I become part of that village and each night I sleep in the “best hotel in town”. I follow talented, local, well informed guides while the leaders of Escape Adventures are mindful of my welfare. The follow up bus is always there should I run out of steam. Every day is a new adventure; a mystery to be revealed and an achievable challenge for the taking. We learn to “expect the unexpected”. An element of pleasant surprise is part of the Escape Adventures journey. Mandy makes preparation and administration stress free and her communications wind you up in a very positive way. Anticipating my next adventure with Escape Adventures has encouraged me to keep biking, keep fit and keep healthy. Another NZ adventure is my next plan.

Meeting Point & Ride Start: Picton

Ride Finish:
Tour Ends:

How does a 'Supported Cycle Tour' Work?



  • Daily ride information.
  • Digital navigation and cue notes.
  • Mechanical and first aid support.
  • Carry your luggage.
  • Ride sweep.
  • Sag Wagon.
  • Breakfasts, lunches, water and riding snacks (and some dinners).
  • All the logistics.
  • And all Accommodation

The Biking

  • A total distance of 1410km spread over 16 days of biking.
  • This is a 'Pedal bike-centric’ cycle tour. Riding distances and overnight stops have been designed around the needs of pedal biking. E-Bikers are welcome to join.
  • Daily riding distances have been planned to be achievable, (but not without challenge) and to allow plenty of time to explore the local towns along the way.
  • We encourage an early start so that you have time to recharge at the end of the day.
  • 31-124km riding per day on wonderfully remote and scenic riding route. Approximately 64% sealed roads / 21% quiet gravel roads and 15% cycle trails.
  • There are some big climbs, big downs, undulating coastal terrain and of course there is also some flat terrain.
  • Cycle trails have variable terrain and generally slow riding speed.
  • Dirt/gravel road biking experience will add to the enjoyment of your tour.
  • Our ‘Sag Wagon’ support is available (most of the time) should you need a break from the saddle.


The ideal bike for the tour is a hardtail mountain bike or a touring bike with off road tyres. A gravel bike is also an option - but only if you are familiar with riding one on unpaved surfaces! You will need to be able to carry up to 1.5-2L water, a jacket and snacks in a backpack, front roll or frame bag.

Escape Adventures has a small fleet of Trek X-Caliber mountain bikes available for hire in S M L & XL: $600 (subject to availability).  Be sure to let us know if you plan on hiring a bike.


Included in your tour: All breakfasts and riding snacks, most lunches and one evening meal. (Two lunches are not included).
Two lunches and most of the evening meals (as per the tour itinerary) are in places where there are dining and wining options available - therefore at your own cost and choosing. (This gives you more control over the cost of your tour AND spreads the love supporting local businesses!)We are most definitely able to cater for vegetarians and special diets. If this includes you, it is essential to advise us of this before your tour begins, so that the support vehicle can be stocked with the necessary supplies.

Typical Included Meals:

  •  Breakfasts - Fresh fruit, muesli, toast and spreads, hot drinks. 
  •  Lunches - Picnic style lunches, fresh salads, cold meats, cheese & bread.
  •  Snacks - Fresh fruit, salty snacks, home baking.


Accommodation is included for all 19 nights of the cycle tour. Our job is to explore and find the most fitting accommodation to work in with the riding route. Sometimes there is lots of choice, sometimes very little. We will be staying in a combination of motels, hotels, lodges, holiday houses and holiday park cabins. When possible these will have ensuite bathrooms, however in some cases - in holiday houses and holiday park cabins it will be necessary to share bathrooms.

Accommodation is on a share twin basis. If you’re traveling alone, we’ll pair you to twin-share with another biker. If you do not wish to share a single supplement is available. *Single room options may be limited in some locations.


This cycle tour includes rides of 31-124km per day. Please do read about the daily riding distances taking note of the riding terrain in the itinerary below and prepare accordingly. The more prepared you are the more you will enjoy your adventure! Preparing for your cycle tour should involve:
- riding on gravel, unpaved terrain with some hills. 

- 3-4 times a week with rides of 40-80km in length.   

Itinerary: Picton to Bluff

Day 1:  Arrive in Picton.  Meet with your tour leaders & fellow bikers at 5pm for your pre-departure meeting and first meal together.

Day 2: We get our wheels turning on the stunning Queen Charlotte drive.  A shorter riding day offers us time to explore the coastal settlements along the way.  45km

Day 3:  Rich in history the Maungatapu begins gently climbing up through  regenerating bush.  But gentle doesn’t last very long and soon becomes a steep, rocky 4x4 track that will have you negotiating baby head size boulders on the climb and descent. A wee bit of pushing will get you through the worst. Luckily the decent finishes with a smooth valley ride into Nelson City with a swim on the way!  61km.  Note: The 4x4 section is steep and rough and unsupported. Option is to transfer around by vehicle and rejoin after this section.

Day 4:  If yesterday was too exciting for you… today should settle your nerves. We meander out of Nelson on a friendly cycle trail and quiet country roads all the way to St Arnaud.  99km

Day 5:  We stretch our legs today clocking up some kilometers on quiet country roads.  We pass through Lake Rotoroa, some gorgeous native bush and lots of fords. 75km

Day 6:  Good rural farming country meets native bush on lovely quiet little used roads. We pop over Maruia Saddle at 500m, then its a lovely up and over piece of road - rich in bush and birdlife to Reefton.  123km

Day 7:  It’s gently descending all the way to Greymouth.  Pretty much a rest day!  82km

Day 8: Rest day in Greymouth, explore the nearby historical mining towns!

Day 9:  We don our plaid and join the West Coast Wilderness Trail and gently climb to what can only be described as a West Coast icon.  What goes up must come down and this afternoon we do… We enjoy a stunning ride from Cowboy Paradise down to Hokitika via the Lake Kaniere trails.  101km

Day 10:  We absorb the West Coast pace of life on he most recent part of the West Coast Wilderness trail. Coastal cycle trail, secondary roads and finally highway, we enjoy a smorgasbord of farmland, stunning bush and lakes. 124km

Day 11:  Get your hill legs out… its back on our bikes we ride into glacier country.  We set out early to allow time for optional glacial viewing activities for those who wish.  50km

Day 12:  We continue riding south on sealed roads to enjoy this rugged wild west coast coastal section of the beautiful West Coast.  120km

Day 13:  Click into your low gears or crank up your battery we’re going over… Up we go - up and over the Southern Alps. Take it slowly - because there is some great scenery to see!  78km

Day 14:  We ride from Lake Wanaka to Lake Hawea and back to Lake Wanaka.  It sounds like a circle… but it’s not.  It’s quite hilly and can be windy but if we’re in luck the resident nor’wester will blow us to Wanaka with the last part on a fun riverside cycle trail.  75km

Day 15: Rest Day in Wanaka. Central Otago scenery, abundant shopping and dining options or a relaxing walk by the lake!

Day 16:  The Crown Range road is the highest main road in NZ at 1076m and today we ride over it!  We finish the day on the cycle trail into Queenstown.  87km

Day 17:  We begin the day with a 45min boat trip across Lake Wakatipu.  Today is BIG, big scenery, big day, big climb, big down and hopefully a big southland feed!  103km

Day 18: We make a beeline for Invercargill today, quiet country roads through rolling farmland.   87km

Day 19:  Did someone day something about cake?  Maybe champagne would be more appropriate as we celebrate a massive achievement - riding the length of New Zealand? Transfer to Invercargill for the final night of the tour.  31km

Day 20:  Our final breakfast together on the whole tour.  Stay on and explore the region or travel on to Stewart Island.  For those heading home transfer to Invercargill airport can be arranged.  Drop offs to Queenstown or Wanaka are possible.

*Actual night stops and daily distances may vary depending on accommodation availability.

Contact us for a detailed Trip Information

Tour Price: Picton to Bluff

NZD $8,950
+Bike Hire if required $600

Singles: You DON'T have to pay a single supplement!
- If you’re traveling alone, we’ll pair you to twin-share with another biker.
- If you do not wish to share that is fine too, but a single supplement is available.

Included in your tour:

  • 19 nights accommodation.
  • Meals as per tour itinerary.
  • Two Escape Adventures support crew
  • Support vehicle & bike trailer.
  • 1x boat transfer.

Tour Price does NOT include: getting to and from Picton/Invercargill, optional activities, personal equipment & some meals as per the detailed itinerary.