Around the Mountains Cycle Trail

Around the Mountains PolaroidTrail: Around the Mountains Cycle Trail
Distance: Approx. 190km
Grade*: 1 to 3
Duration: 3-4 days
Fitness: Average

Weather: The trail is almost circular so at some point you should get a tail wind! The trail starts and finishes by Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown and is surrounded by mountains. Because of the altitude, it can get cold at night, even in summer.

Overview: The Around the Mountains Trail is all on good quality cycle trail or unsealed road. Start in the picturesque village of Kingston, on the southern edge of Lake Wakatipu. From there, you cycle through the small villages and towns such as Five Rivers, Lumsden, Mossburn and past the lovely Mavora Lakes before the final 48km to Walter Peak Station to catch one of the scenic cruises, such as the 100 year old steam ship the Lady of the Lake, TSS Earnslaw, back to Queenstown.

The Around the Mountains Trail Description

The section of trail from near Mavora Lakes to Walter Peak Station (40km+) is extremely remote with no cell phone coverage. Apart from other cyclists and an occasional vehicle, you could potentially be on your own for several hours if something goes wrong. We’d recommend that you are physically fit and well prepared, carry emergency equipment and are able to complete basic bike repairs.

The trail can be ridden in either direction. If you start at Walter Peak, Station, be aware that the ride up Von Hill is long and steep, it’s a tough way to start the first day. You then end at Kingston and need to be picked up and taken back to Queenstown.

Around the Mountains Trail Map

When Riding from Kingston to Walter Peak:

Day 1.
Enjoy a lovely 40km drive from Queenstown down the side of Lake Wakatipu, stopping on the way at several of the best viewpoints before reaching Kingston, home of the Kingston Flyer Steam Train. (Unfortunately, at this time it looks like the Kingston Flyer will not be operating any more). From Kingston, you’ll cycle along purpose built cycle trail through rolling farm land on to Garston and Athol.

Day 2
You will ride through Jollies Pass on to the small village of Five Rivers, then on down the easy 15 km to Lumsden in Northern Southland, for lunch. Lumsden is a real junction town in this part of Southland, will roads venturing in from all directions. After lunch, you’ll continue on cycle trail to Mossburn.

Day 3
Today you head to the Mavora Lakes Park, a stunning region in the Wāhipounamu/ South-West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Many parts of the Lord of the Rings films were filmed there so you can imagine how beautiful it is and the photo opportunities you’ll get. From Mossburn, follow the purpose built cycle trail through farmland and alongside the Oreti River to Centre Hill. Once you get past Centre Hill, this section of trail is currently on the Mavora Lakes gravel road with alternative plans on the table for the future. The road is fairly quiet but can get busy and dusty in the summer (especially the Christmas and New Year holiday period) from the traffic driving to the lakes so we advise you to wear a Hi Viz top.

You can stop off for a break at Pretty Hut, a DOC hut about 5km from Mavora Lakes. This hut offers fantastic views to the north of the whole Mount Nicholas Valley. The only place to stay is the DOC campsite so, unless you want to cycle all 90km in one day, we suggest you book the shuttle back to Mossburn to stay the night. (The shuttle must be prebooked as it runs on demand).

Day 4
From Mavora Lakes, you carry on up the gravel road where Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Chamois and Himalayan Tahr can occasionally be spotted on the slopes of Mt Nicholas, providing an extraordinary environment to cycle through. The picturesque Von River also runs across the station providing some stunning photographic opportunities. Finish the afternoon riding the final leg of the trip along side Lake Wakatipu, on to Walter Peak Station before catching one of the boats back to Queenstown.

Want to ride this trail? For more information, click on either of our 2 tour options… 

ATM Experience ATM Clutha Canyon Combo

Read our Around the Mountains Trail Review after our very first ride when the trail was in its infancy…

For more information on this trail, visit our website Around the Mountains Cycle Tours