Mesopotamia Walk & Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail
4 Days Walking & 5 Days Biking
Experience soaring landscapes, snow capped mountain ranges and wide open tussock covered tundras. Ride and walk from the mountains to the sea.
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Day 1 Christchurch to Mesopotamia Station
8 km of Walking
After meeting your fellow walkers and bikers and your guide, you depart Christchurch and enjoy a scenic drive out across the Canterbury Plains to Mesopotamia High Country Station, situated at the headwaters of the mighty Rangitata River.
The drive takes approximately 2 hours and on arrival at Mesopotamia High Country Station you will collect your packed lunch and your walking gear and head out for today’s walk, a journey across “The Brabazon”, one of the large blocks of farmland on the Mesopotamia property.
Your walk takes you up and back into the hills behind the Mesopotamia Homestead, with stunning views back down the Rangitata River Valley, over the surrounding mountain ranges and on to the Southern Alps in the distance. You will enjoy your picnic lunch beside one of the many small streams or on a comfortable tussock cushion as you take in the view.
After lunch, you continue to explore Mesopotamia Station. Keep your eyes peeled for a variety of small sub alpine plants, birds and butterflies, and if luck is on your side, a sighting of a deer in the wild.
Returning late afternoon to the cottages, you will have time to freshen up before a hearty home cooked dinner prepared by your hostess and a relaxing evening in front of the fire with your fellow walkers.
Day 2 Mesopotamia Station
16 km of Walking
After breakfast we head out to continue exploring Mesopotamia Station. Today’s walk concentrates on the trails around the homestead, and along the top terraces of the station, with a backdrop of the majestic “Two Thumbs’ mountain range of the Southern Alps. From here you can admire the views that attracted the writer Samuel Butler to the region, and which was the inspiration for his satirical novel “Erewhon”.
Mesopotamia Station covers an area of 25,000 acres and is home to over 11,000 merino sheep, 3,000 farmed deer and 500 beef cattle. The circular route today will take you from your accommodation, through the game park where you are likely to see magnificent fallow deer, red deer, chamois, thar and elk, and back to the cottages mid-afternoon, where you can relax until dinner. For those keen to explore further, the farm outbuildings, the local school house and the site of Butler’s house all make for interesting historical landmarks.
You will again be accommodated in the cottages of the Mesopotamia Station.
Day 3 Mesopotamia, Peel Forest, Mt Somers
9 km of Walking
After breakfast we take a short walk to the final resting place of Dr Andrew Sinclair, botanist and Colonial Secretary to the New Zealand Government. Dr Sinclair was travelling with his good friend, the geologist Julius Von Haast, when he was swept away and drowned in the flooded Rangitata River, beside which he now lies.
Mid-morning we prepare to leave Mesopotamia Station and drive to Peel Forest, where you will walk the trails of the Peel Forest Scenic Reserve. Many of the original settlers of the region are buried in the small stone church that the original owner of Mt Peel Station, J.B A Acland, gifted to the community.
We make a short stop at the church on our journey through to Peel Forest this morning.
Your walk today takes you on a journey through the Reserve, with its canopy of towering podocarps, rich in bird life. The Reserve has 500 hectares of virgin native forest, with several totara trees said to be around 1000 years old. Its mild moist climate is also ideal for ferns and around 36% of all native ferns grown in New Zealand are found in this area. You will be refreshed by the sound of birdsong and the fresh, cool air of the forest.
This evening we relax and dine at a comfortable country lodge and chalets in Mt Somers
Day 4 Mt Somers, Hakatere, Mt Somers
16 km of Walking
Today is our last day in the High Country, and our longest day of walking. After an early breakfast in your chalet, we journey by coach to the head of Lake Clearwater, travelling up the northern side of the Rangitata River Valley. Originally Butler’s Mesopotamia Station stretched over both sides of the river and today we explore the area at the top of the river, referred to more commonly these days as Middle Earth. Our walk takes us out from Lake Clearwater, up into a tussock covered mountain valley to the shoreline of Mystery Lake, where we picnic beside the lake. Keep your eyes peeled for brown trout, the lake is a well-kept secret for local fisher folk.
Returning from Mystery Lake we follow the ridgeline down above the Potts River, with amazing views of the valley below, a fantastic panorama back over Mesopotamia Station and the area we have travelled over the last 4 days.
This evening you relax and dine again at the comfortable country lodge and chalets in Mt Somers.
Day 5 Mt Somers to Lake Pukaki Info Centre
This morning you drive from Mt Somers to the iconic Mackenzie Country, a rugged mountain valley basin, past two turquoise alpine lakes: Tekapo and Pukaki where you will. start your cycling from Braemar Station, a large sheep farm on the shores of Lake Pukaki.
You’re on the edge of the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park, with close-up views of New Zealand’s highest mountain.
You’ll follow the Lake Pukaki shoreline on a new purpose-built track, finishing at the Lake Pukaki Information Centre. It’s flat and mostly downhill, through tussock grasslands with beautiful lake and mountain views.
Day 6 Lake Pukaki Info Centre to Lake Ohau
This morning we’ll cycle 10 km on a flat trail to the former hydroelectric town of Twizel, now a water sports and winter sports mecca. En route: amazing views over the Mackenzie basin and the dramatic Benmore Range.
From here you’ll follow an undulating trail with short, steep sections to tonight’s destination: beautiful, glacial Lake Ohau, in the Mackenzie High Country. You’ll stay at the lovely Lake Ohau Lodge.
Tonight be sure to head outside after dinner for some of the most spectacular star gazing on earth.
The Mackenzie Basin has recently been named an international dark sky reserve, as its night skies are amongst the world’s cleanest, driest and darkest.
Day 7 Lake Ohau to Otematata
An undulating path today, with some short, steep sections. We’ll follow a newly built off road trail traversing the lower slopes of the Ruataniwha Conservation Park,enjoying views back over the Benmore Range. F
rom here you climb to the high point on the trail, then it’s a steady downhill through the Quailburn, a historic sheep-farming area where early musterers lived a harsh life with many hardships.
Next, we’ll follow State Highway 8 passing through Omarama township, at the southern end of the Mackenzie Basin , for the final stretch to the village of Otematata, set between two hydro dam lakes.
With today’s cycling completed, it’s on board your coach for a short journey back to Omarama and your night’s accommodation.
Tonight, relax with a cold drink at your hotel, or perhaps try the local outdoor hot tubs for a relaxing night’s sleep.
Day 8 Otematata to Duntroon
We’ll leave tiny Otematata behind with a short, steep climb and follow the Benmore Dam, past the power station. We’ll skirt the shores of pretty Lake Aviemore and follow the Waitaki River to Kurow in the Waitaki Valley.
After lunch, it’s off to Duntroon, another quiet inland country town that harbours big surprises: geological formations that interest researchers worldwide, and fossils of sea creatures which lived here millions of years ago, including two extinct penguin species.
Nearby are fossilised whale bones, and Maori rock drawings, hundreds of years old. There may be time to visit the excellent Vanished World Museum. We return to Kurow where we stay the night.
Day 9 Duntroon to Oamaru
Today, it’s into the home stretch through the North Otago countryside to historic Oamaru.
At your guides discretion there are 2 routes to choose from. If you don’t feel up to a ride that is over rolling hills on the trail proper, we can offer a ride on an easier route directly to the small town of Windsor where we pick up the trail again and ride to the completion of the trail in Oamaru.
Both routes pass unusual limestone plateaux or ‘tables’, including the unusual Elephant Rocks, well-known as one of the locations used in filming the movie “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Our route takes us through the Awamoko Valley to Ngapara (Maori for ‘the tables’) and tiny Enfield.
Our journey ends in Oamaru, the largest town in the district. We’ll cycle right up to the heart of Oamaru: the picturesque harbour in the middle of its remarkably preserved Victorian precinct, featuring beautiful 19th century buildings carved in the local white Oamaru stone.
We’ve made it… we’ve cycled almost 300 km and walked approximately 40 km from the high country to the sea! After a small celebration, we’ll drive you back to Christchurch, or you may wish to continue your adventures from Oamaru.