* Due to fluctuating exchange rates, prices may vary at the time of booking if a tour is based on a different currency from its home country currency.
For dates, availability & customisations Enquire or Book
Tours run: November - April (Tuesdays - fortnightly)
An average level of fitness. Walk 7km, Bike 15kmWell formed tracks and roads with very little incline Mild
An average level of fitness . Walk 12km, Bike, 25kmWell formed tracks and roads with average incline Moderate
Above average level of fitness. Walk 20km, Bike 45kmFormed tracks and roads with average to steep inclines at times Challenging
Above average level of fitness Walk 20+km, Bike 50+kmPartially formed tracks and roads with some steep inclines and possibly some easy river crossings
The Hanmer Cycle Trail is an exciting four-day guided cycle experience that takes you from the stunning Waipara Valley wine region of North Canterbury to the South Island's alpine village, Hanmer Springs, (well known for its thermal hot pools).
Over the next four days, you will enjoy spectacular views of the picturesque Balmoral Forest, Pahau Plains and Hanmer Springs whilst being looked after and entertained by your knowledgeable and friendly guide.
The overall cycling distance is 170kms. Cycles are available for hire.Itinerary & Map
Tours run: November - April (Tuesdays - fortnightly)
We can customise tours to suit.
We can help you prepare and evaluate your fitness.
You will enjoy a scenic and informative drive to the North Canterbury region of Waipara, which is one of the fastest growing wine regions in New Zealand.
You will pedal through the quiet and peaceful North Canterbury rural landscape, with rolling fields and interesting geological formations.
You finish your day with a long cool drink at the historic Hurunui Hotel one of the country’s oldest licensed establishments, having held its licence continuously since 1st July 1860. From the hotel you are taken to the town of Culverden which is in the rural heart of the North Canterbury farming community. You will spend the night dining and relaxing.
After breakfast, you start your cycle journey through the Balmoral Forest, which was planted along the banks of the Hurunui River by the State Forest Service between 1920 and 1927. You will be on a quiet, flat road riding towards the Pahau Plains, crossing a unique geological area of ancient river flats.
There is a wide range of scenic views to admire - particularly the beautiful backdrop of the Hurunui high country mountain ranges that stretch out in front of you.
After lunch, you make your way onto the Amuri Plains and under Mt Palm until you arrive at the majestic Waiau River. It is then just a short pedal to your accommodation for the evening, the historic Waiau Hotel. The hotel is set in a beautiful and peaceful valley, and has great ambience and character. You will relax with fabulous local cuisine and perhaps a well deserved beverage or two.
Today you cycle along a pleasant country road with the Amuri Range on your right and the Waiau River on your left. You will be surrounded by rolling green pastures and stunning views as you pass the magnificent high country properties of the region's pioneering families.
You stop for a picnic lunch before arriving at your destination of Hanmer Springs in the mid-afternoon. You will be able to have a welcome soak in the award-winning Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools before enjoying an evening meal with your group.
Your trail continues this morning after breakfast. You have the option to explore several local mountain bike tracks before the group departs from Hanmer in the late morning.
You will then travel to Waipara where you will visit a local vineyard and have the opportunity to taste a range of award-winning wines.
Then it is all aboard and back to Christchurch, your final destination of the tour.
We have cycles for hire and recommend you use them as they are tried and true in the areas we operate. All of our cycles are fully maintained and serviced before they leave. Included in the cost of your cycle hire is a cycle helmet and safety vest.
You may use your own cycle, but please ensure it is well maintained and fully serviced before your tour starts.
You will enjoy great local cuisine; continental breakfasts and hearty packed lunches during the day, and either restaurant meals or wholesome home-cooked fare prepared by your host/hostess in the evenings.
If you have any dietary issues or food allergies, we are happy to cater for these, please advise the office of details when you make your booking.
Alcohol is not included in the tour cost, but is available for purchase most nights or you are welcome to bring a small amount with you for personal consumption if you prefer.
Our guides are very experienced, friendly walkers and bikers who love to share their knowledge of New Zealand’s flora and fauna and local history. They all hold current first aid certificates, passenger driving licences and are the very best people to ensure your experience will be one to remember.
To ensure you get the very best out of your journey with the least of fuss, we provide you with a calico kit bag full of useful goodies.
Tuatara Tours transports all your luggage for the duration of the tour.
All you carry is a small day pack with your personal gear, drink and lunch.
We do the Rest
You may bring your own bike or we can hire you one for the duration of the trip.
For your own safety there are a few things that you must bring yourself:
Other things we recommend you bring are:
To ensure maximum safety for all, our guides are certified first aiders and fully qualified drivers. Tuatara Tours operate under a Safety and Risk Management Plan which is regularly audited and approved by a qualified and independent auditor.
On the Hanmer Cycle Trail we provide you with a comprehensive field and history summary of the area.
Routes were discovered from the upper Clarence River onto the Hanmer Plain in 1850 to bring sheep from Marlborough to Canterbury.
At the same time other routes over the Southern Alps were being explored. Leonard Harper and his Maori guide travelled Harper Pass in 1857 and this route was subsequently used by diggers heading to the West Coast goldfields.
By the 1900s, small townships had developed as rural service centres but even in their heyday, few of these towns had more than 1000 inhabitants.
After the First World War, country people began driving to Rangiora, Ashburton or Christchurch to shop. Some villages disappeared, leaving only a church or hall. Country schools, hospitals, banks and post offices closed, and hotels became taverns.
A few settlements grew because they were within commuting range of Christchurch. Hanmer became popular for holiday homes and retirement,and as a tourist destination, with many travelling to take advantage of it's therapeutic mineral hot springs. It was it's thermal pools that saved the town from experiencing the rural decline of many surrounding villages.
Flora: Much of Canterbury was covered by tall forests. Matai and Kahikatea trees flourished in fertile, damp sites, while totara dominated stony soils.
Beech forest covered the hills. In the higher altitude forests there was mainly celery pine, mountain totara and cedar. Growing above the forest line in sub alpine areas were small-leafed shrubs, broadleaf, and dracophyllum.
Maori lit fires and destroyed the forests. In their place grew tussock grasslands. Matagouri, manuka, kowhai, wild Spaniard and kanuka thrived after the fires.
On the arrival of the Europeans there was less than a tenth of the area was forested. Timber was cut or burnt to create pasture, further reducing forests. High country farmer’s lit fires to promote pasture growth for sheep
On the plains introduced grasses which totally dominated native grassland. Other introduced trees were planted.
Today, a small amount of original vegetation, mainly beech forest, survives in the alpine zone and in the foothills.
Fauna: The Hanmer Springs and wider North Canterbury area contains excellent examples of both native New Zealand wildlife and introduced species. Many native birds, for example the kiwi, kea, kaka, yellowhead and more, can be found in the region. There are also game animals and birds, fish and the wild horses on the St James Station, making the region a popular tourist, hunter, angler and nature-lover’s paradise.
Our national icon, the kiwi (great-spotted kiwi, or in Maori ‘roroa’) can be found here, particularly in the Lake Sumner Forest Park area. According to the Department of Conservation (DOC), the Lake Sumner Forest Park has the richest forest bird diversity in Canterbury.
Bats or pekapeka may also be found in the Lake Sumner Forest Park area. The bat is the only native New Zealand land mammal.
DOC has made extensive steps to control introduced species in an endeavour to preserve the native species of flora and fauna. Along with their programme encouraging recreational hunting, they have initiated commercial ventures to cull and exterminate pests.
Big game hunters enjoy the abundance of game that the area supplies – chamois abound in the upper regions, red stags just above the timberline and forests, and wild boar in the valleys and bush-clad slopes. Despite being regular victims of roadkill, possums range over most of the country causing havoc to native vegetation.
It is a different kind of introduced species that is providing a major attraction on the St James Station, between Hanmer and the Lewis Pass. Wild horses roam the environs of the station in the Ada Valley, to the delight of passing trampers on the St James Walkway.
Today the area is rich in farming of all types, but it is dairying that has become the main economy driver in the region since 2000.
Tourism is a growing industry with the thermal pools in Hanmer and skiing on local fields over winter both bringing many tourists to the area.