NZ Bikepacking: Queenstown to Christchurch

Day 1 Arriving Queenstown

After settling in to the bustling adventure destination of Queenstown we headed out for a days exploring before heading off on the bike packing epic adventure. Stunning scenery wherever we looked which raised expectations big time of what might be ahead.

The route for our day of Queenstown exploring

Day 2 Leaving Queenstown for Wanaka 77km @ 1062m

Our first stage took us through Arrowtown which is a great old mining town and a logical spot for the first coffee break before you head up and over The Crown Range. Quite a European climb with great views across the valley toward Arrowtown and beyond. Then a wonderful descent off the range and definitely stop for lunch at the Cardrona Hotel which has an historic bar and outstanding beer garden.

Mistake for the day was we did not realise there was a gravel track to Arrowtown.

Queenstown to Wanaka Route

Day 3 Wanaka to Haast 142km @ 1220m

After a great dinner in Wanaka with Romans’ friends we set out on our Queens stage which turned out to be the prettiest riding imaginable. 18km’s after leaving Wanaka we had a 35km section that first hugged lake Hawea and then after crossing The Neck we tracked Lake Wanaka and then refuelled at Makaroa. (this is the only spot with food so you must stop!!). Met a wonderful couple of bike packing brits who shared information on there NZ journey which was stored for another day. After refuelling it was a gentle and steady climb up and over Haast Pass cycling through beautiful rainforest, stopping at a couple of waterfalls and cruising with a light rain falling. A brilliant day and then stayed in Haast enjoying our first NZ pub meal.

Wanaka to Haast Route

Day 4 Haast to Fox Glacier 124km @ 994m

Once again, a very pretty start to the ride for the first half of the ride with snow capped peaks all to our right, had a quick stop at Lake Paringa and then salmon chowder at the salmon farm cafe at the 60km mark. Stop here for lunch before pushing on to the very pretty Fox Glacier.

Haast to Fox Glacier Route

Day 5 Fox Glacier to Ross 140km @ 1430m

Another very stunning day leaving Fox Glacier for Franz Josef Glacier. Coffee stop at Franz Glacier and a little gravel track to base of the glacier. very green undulating ride with a sensational lunch stop at first cafe as you come into Hari Hari. Terrific owner with delicious food. From here rolled into the old mining town of Ross with its water filled mine opposite one of the oldest pubs in NZ.

Route map to Ross

Day 6 Ross to Kumara 103km @ 770m

This stage was about 85% gravel on the West Coast Wilderness Trail. Super pretty trail using old rail lines and tracing water races created during the gold mining days 100 years ago. Stopped for water at Cowboy Paradise and chatted to the owner who is developing a stop for cyclists. There is accomodation here if an alternative stop to Kumara is preferred. Awesome views from his new balcony. For us it was off to Kumara for another great pub meal.

Route Map to Kumara

Day 7 Kumara to Bealey 83km @ 1230m

Today was the day we headed east toward Christchurch over Arthurs Pass. After leaving the Otira Stagecoach Hotel which is a simple lunch stop with a pretty fascinating hotel with all sorts of collectibles and historic photos. Definitely stop here before taking on Arthurs Pass with its challenging kilometre or so of plus 20% pinches in it. After cresting the top we spent the night at the Bealey Hotel. Stop for a night here as it is remote and gorgeous.

Route map Kumara to Bealey

Day 8 Bealey to Christchurch 135km @ 996m

Our final day leaving Bealey started in rain. This hotel is a must as the location and views are stunning, meals are sensational with their own Aussie pastry chef. Burger is brilliant as is the apple strudel. Leaving Bealey we had a tail wind all the way to Christchurch which was a welcome assist on ur final day of this awesome NZ route.

Route map Bealey to Christchurch

Wangaratta to Walhalla Victoria

Day 1 Wangaratta to Bright

Head to Wangaratta by train from Melbourne or get a lift from a friend. Stage 1 is an easy 90 km rail trail from Wangaratta to Bright. A very pretty rolling old rail trail that passes through tobacco farms and some interesting old farms with car wrecks.

Route map to Bright

Day 2 Bright to Dargo

This is the Queen Stage of the trip with 115km and 2200m of climbing. Had a good breakfast in Bright (leaving by 8.30am) and morning coffee at Harrietville Bakery before the climb up to Hotham. The turnoff to Dargo is 10km from the Hotham summit and be prepared for a bumpy 4 hour section from the turnoff which includes around 45km of gravel. Last 10km or so is bitumen and a very nice descent into town. Great old pub to have a recovery beer and traditional “parmy” for the night.

Route map to Dargo

Day 3 Dargo to Heyfield

This 120km stage leaves the alpine high country behind as you cycle into the edges of Gippsland. Very pretty rolling hills across the spine area and progressively heading to farmland via some quiet backroad routes. Stay at the very basic 1930’s Heyfield hotel and share a beer with some local stockmen in town for cattle market day. Another “parmy” for dinner…just for comparison.

Route map to Heyfield

Day 4 Heyfield to Walhalla

A short 55km stage from Gippsland farmland to the beautiful restored old gold mine town of Walhalla. This section includes about 50% gravel which has some steep pinches and a few gnarly, rocky sections that need to be taken cautiously. Very little traffic other than some enduro motorcycle riders and the local water truck. A very pretty downhill cruise for the last 10km into Walhalla.

Route map to Walhalla

Day 5 Walhalla Loop

This was the full day and second night spent in Walhalla. Great historic town to explore. Planned a 55km loop via Thomsons dam which is Victorias largest dam. Worst 25 km is a very quiet gravel road which is a 4wd track only. Slow going but very pretty section before finding the dam.

Back to Melbourne from here the following day with help from  friends and a car. If not available then cycle toward Gippsland and catch the train!

Walhalla Loop

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