Alps 2 Ocean (One Picture Per Day)

Other Sections:

Part 1Tour Aotearoa – North Island

Part 2Tour Aotearoa – South Island

Part 3Alps 2 Ocean – Bonus Section ← You are here

After cycling from Auckland to Bluff, I still had some time left in New Zealand so I traveled around a bit not only by bike but also by cars and busses! This bonus section continues my one picture per day series through the rest of my time in New Zealand after finishing the Tour Aotearoa.

Day 33

The day after reaching Bluff was probably the worst weather of the trip. It was just above freezing temperatures, winds were strong, and it was raining and hailing. I wanted to travel back to Queenstown or Te Anau by bus to get a tour to Milford Sound the next day, but there wasn’t any availability. Cycling would take more than a full day, so in order to maximize my time left in the country I tried hitchhiking!

After about 25 minutes of waiting, someone who just finished cycling the same route as I did picked me up. His wife was following behind in a car with a bike rack to drive straight to the Queenstown airport, so they loaded up my bike and took me along! I thought finding a ride with a big bike would be difficult, so I was so grateful to find a ride all the way so quickly. Up in Queenstown the weather was much nicer, and we could see the fresh snow the was just dropped on the mountains overnight. The locals said this kind of snow was very out of season and is more typical of weather in May.

Day 34

My good fortune continued the next day as I managed to book the very last seat on a tour to Milford Sound. This round trip tour from Queenstown is a long 13 hour day, but it’s totally worth it. The tour included some stops along the way with breathtaking scenery made even better by the fresh snow and culminated with a boat cruise down the sound.

If you ever go to New Zealand you have to go to Milford Sound, it was honestly some of the most incredible scenery I’ve seen in my life. Pictures just don’t do it justice. You can’t really imagine the scale of the place without being there. I chose this picture because for the picture of the day because it was the closest to showing that scale. The boat you see is three stories tall, but is dwarfed by the mountains that rise up to almost 2 km in height!

Day 35

After my Milford Sound tour, I hopped on another bus, this time to Lake Tekapo. This is the start of the Alps to Ocean cycle trail. At 320 km long, it’s the longest bike trail in the country. It’s also the trail that was most recommended to me by local cyclists, so I had to give it a go.

As the name suggests, this trail starts at the base of the Southern Alps and rides all the way down to the ocean. The day I arrived the wind was too crazy to cycle, so I did a short hike instead. Here I met Kyle, an American cyclist that just started an around the world cycling trip. We hiked up this mountain together and almost got blown away by the wind. The views were worth it for sure though! I tried to choose a picture that shows the strength of the wind on top of the mountain.

Day 36

Kyle stayed at the same hostel as I did the night before, and was heading in the same direction so we rode together for a while. Leaving from the blue shores of Lake Tekapo, we followed a series of canals the lead into the next lake, Lake Pukaki. From here we had the most unbelievable views of the glacier covered Mt. Cook. At 3,754 m / 12,218 ft, Mt. Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand. The bright blue waters of the glacial lakes combined with the snow covered alps in the distance made a perfect backdrop for a cycle trail. Clear skies and no wind was the icing on the cake to the perfect day!

Kyle had plans to ride directly up to Mt. Cook to do some more hiking, but unfortunately I had a time crunch. My flight out of New Zealand was just a few days away, so we parted ways as I pressed on to Omarama to ensure that I would have enough time to catch my flight.

Day 37

The Alps 2 Ocean trail really didn’t disappoint with it’s beautiful blue lakes in front of snow capped mountains views! I was so glad that I was convinced to come out to this trail. Coming from a region where the nearest real mountains are a 16 hours drive away, I will never cease to be amazed by views like this. While sitting on this beach and eating an entire roll of Oreos I realized that New Zealand had officially become my new favorite place in the world. I’ve only been home for a little bit but I already want to plan my next trip!

Day 38

Now three days deep into the Alps 2 Ocean route, the enormous Southern Alps have started to fade into the distance and the mountains have slowly turned into rolling hills. Despite the change, the number of beautiful views to stop and take in did not slow down. This lake I passed by in the morning was covered in all kinds of geese and ducks with the last view of a snow capped mountain way in the distance.

Day 39

This was the final day of the Alps 2 Ocean route as well as my last real day of cycling! My New Zealand tour was coming to an end. I cycled down the remaining 80 km / 50 mi of the cycle trail while reflecting on my time here. Unfortunately the weather was not as good on this last day, but I wasn’t about to complain about a light drizzle after having so many perfect days in a row.

These rock formations are known as the Elephant Rocks, but they are bigger than elephants for sure. They were formed originally as sea floor, but that sea floor has been pushed to the surface by plate tectonics and have eroded down to what you see today. It was an interesting little side stop along the cycle trail, but I didn’t stick around for too long before getting back to the trail.

Day 40

At the end of the Alps 2 Ocean trail is the town of Oamaru. I spent the night here originally planning to cycle to Dunedin to catch my flight the next day, but as it turns out the airport in Dunedin is quite far from town and I’d be facing a massive headwind to get there. I opted instead to book a bus there and take some time in the morning to explore Oamaru. This town was really cool and had all kinds of weird things to see. This picture is from the Steam Punk Museum. This wacky museum had a bunch of different exhibits of artifacts from a fictional future that doesn’t exist. Worth checking out if you have extra time, but I personally wouldn’t go out of my way to visit.

Day 41

And that’s a wrap! The beautiful thing about cycle touring in New Zealand is that the airports have bike boxes available to purchase. Instead of worrying about packing my bike up and booking a taxi to the airport, I just rode the 30 km to the airport from Dunedin and packed everything up right there. Combine that with all of the great cycling infrastructure and I must say that New Zealand is top notch for planning a tour! I had such a good time during my 6 weeks in the country. I met so many friendly people that helped me out in so many ways, saw the most amazing scenery I’ve ever seen, and rode the coolest bike trails I’ve ever ridden. New Zealand is paradise for cyclists, and I highly recommend it to any bicycle tourists and bikepackers looking for a place to go during the North American winter months!

Part 1Tour Aotearoa – North Island

Part 2Tour Aotearoa – South Island

Part 3Alps 2 Ocean – Bonus Section ← You are here