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Mesopotamia Walk and Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail - Walk/Cycle - 9 Days

Start:ChristchurchTours run:November - April (On demand)
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moderate grade
Duration:9 days/8 nights
NZ $3,995.00


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Mesopotamia Walk & Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail - 9 Days

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.

The Mesopotamia High Country Walk is an awe-inspiring four day fully guided walking tour, which includes Mesopotamia High Country Station and the spectacular Peel Forest Scenic Reserve.

You will be captivated by the grandeur of soaring landscapes, snow-capped mountain ranges and wide open tussock-covered tundra.

Be inspired by stories of hardship and survival, explore the land New Zealand’s pioneers fought to tame, and enjoy the peace and isolation of one of this country’s most iconic high country farms- the true Middle Earth  

Explore the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, which makes some of the South Island’s most dramatic scenery accessible to cyclists.

There’s nearly 300 km of cycling from the tussocky alpine Mackenzie Country with its turquoise lakes, through rural towns to the Pacific Ocean in historic Oamaru.

Your fully guided tour starts and ends in the South Island’s largest city: Christchurch, with all accommodation, meals, and support vehicles provided. 




Book now for Next Season!


2018 / 2019

We can build a tour especially for your group, please enquire for dates available.

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Dates and Availability?

Tours run:November - April (On demand)
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We can customise tours to suit.





Itinerary & Map

For dates, availability & customisations Enquire

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Mesopotamia Walk & Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail - 9 Days

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.



Click on map to enlarge


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

30.4 km

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              

49.6 km

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

65 km

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

71 km

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. 

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Book now for Next Season!


2018 / 2019

We can build a tour especially for your group, please enquire for dates available.

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Franz Josef download-520


What's Included

For dates, availability & customisations Enquire


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  Mesopotamia Walk & Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail - 9 Days

  4 Days Walking & 5 Days Biking

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and history of the famous West Coast with 4 easy days of walking followed by 4 days of magical cycling


  • Nights 1 & 2: Farm Cottages on Mesopotamia Station.Originally housing farm workers, the cottages now                           host hunters, tramping parties and family groups. Each cottage has 3 bedrooms, a                                         communal lounge and kitchen, and a shared bathroom. Basic but comfortable high country                           accommodation in keeping with the location and feel of the tour.
  • Night 3 & 4: Private stand-alone studio chalets with ensuite bathrooms, in a quiet rural setting. Restaurant
  •                     and bar on site.
  • Night 5: Comfortable Country Hotel, large private rooms with ensuite bathrooms and tea/ coffee making
  •              facilities.
  • Night 6: Lakeside Alpine Lodge. Private rooms with queen and single bed, ensuite bathrooms. 
  • Night 7: Comfortable Country Hotel, large private rooms with ensuite bathrooms and tea/ coffee making     
  •               facilities.
  • Night 8: Comfortable accommodation in a historic setting. Double twin rooms with ensuite. 

Double or twin share.If single room accommodation is requested, an additional fee per person is payable to cover this requirement for the duration of the tour.
Single Supplement for this tour is: NZD$870 per person

Bike Hire


Bike Hire                   NZD$190
Electric Bike Hire      NZD$450



qc18tYou 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 for nights 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 &8 but is available for purchase with your evening meal. We supply beer and wine on nights 1 and 2 at Mesopotamia Station.


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

Tour Kit Bag - Exclusive to Tuatara Tours 


To ensure you get the very best out of your journey with the least of fuss, we provide you with a kit bag full of useful goodies.

Your Tour Kit Bag Contains the Following
Contents may vary from time to time!
  • Tuatara Tours cap
  • Tuatara Tours cup
  • Tuatara Tours drink bottle
  • Tuatara Tours hand sanitiser
  • Tuatara Tours tissues
  • Tuatara Tours lip balm
  • Tuatara Tours brochures
  • Field & History Guide of the area
  • Bag of Tuatara scroggin
Contents may vary from time to time!  
This will be given to you at the start of your tour.


An experienced guide

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.

All transport


Access and Concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation


NZ Goods and Service Tax (GST)


Safety and Risk Management

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.


Book now for Next Season!


2018 / 2019

We can build a tour especially for your group, please enquire for dates available.

btn enquire

Franz Josef download-520



For dates, availability & customisations Enquire


Book now for Next Season!


2018 / 2019

We can build a tour especially for your group, please enquire for dates available.

btn enquire

Franz Josef download-520



For dates, availability & customisations Enquire

Qualmark smallGold-423

Mesopotamia Walk & Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail - 9 Days

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.




Mesopotamia high country station is located in the headwaters of the Rangitata River. The station was named by Samuel Butler from the Greek words mesos and potamos, meaning ‘the land between two rivers’, originally describing the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (in modern Iraq).

Mesopotamia Tour  HistorySamuel Butler – Mesopotamia’s founder and most famous owner, set out from England aboard the Roman Emperor in early 1860. He came with the intention of increasing his capital by sheep farming, but by the time he reached Lyttelton all the known sheep country in Canterbury had been taken up.

In effect, he could either buy the goodwill of a sheep station at the current rate of £100 per 1000 acres, or try to find unoccupied land which could be taken up at a cost of £1 per 1000 acres.

He purchased a good horse and travelled to the headwaters of the Rakaia and the Waimakariri without success. He then explored Forest Creek, a tributary of the Rangitata River. Here were some 5000 acres of unclaimed country. In May he added another 5000 acres of unoccupied land on the southern slopes of the Sinclair Range. He now owned the nucleus of his Mesopotamia Station.

In October 1860 he moved to the present Mesopotamia homestead site where he built a sod and a cob cottage and lived there for the next three and a half years. He carted up a piano in a bullock dray, and with his books and pictures he created a small oasis of comfort and civilisation in this remote corner of Canterbury.

‘I went up my mountain in a fog, and then got above the mist; going higher and higher, I would look down upon a sea of whiteness, through which would be thrust innumerable mountain-tops that looked like islands. I am there now, as I write, I fancy that I can see the downs, the huts, the plain and the river bed – that torrent pathway of desolation, with its distant roar of water, oh wonderful! Wonderful! So lonely and so solemn, with the sad grey clouds above and no sounds save a lost lamb bleating upon the mountain-side, as though its little heart were breaking.’

Samuel Butler, Erewhon


Mesopotamia Tour  HistoryFallow deer MesopotamiaRed deer Mesopotamia
                                              From the past!                         Fallow deer                                Red deer

Mesopotamia Station Today

Mesopotamia is surrounded by the majestic Two Thumbs mountain range of the Southern Alps and the huge braided Rangitata River.

Wildlife in MesopotamiaThe surrounding area provided the backdrop to many scenes from the Lord of the Rings movie.

Mesopotamia Station is a family-run and traditionally farmed, working sheep, deer and cattle farm, now diversifying into other high country ventures, including hunting for Thar, Deer, Chamois, and Red Stag.It is about 457 metres (1800 ft) above sea level rising to 2660 metres (7500 ft). Its size is just over 25,000 acres and currently has 11,000 merino sheep, 3000 deer and 500 cattle. Tourism and hunting concession areas cover some 75,000 acres.


Exclusive Mesopotamia Merino wool garments

Mesopotamia owners have developed a selected range of 100% pure Merino garments for use in the town merino wool  Mesopotamiaor out on the hills. The garments were designed by the farm staff.

Both the design and the colours are specifically chosen to reflect the New Zealand high country – black and deep forest green.



Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail


According to Maori legend, Aoraki and his three brothers were voyaging around Papatuanuku (the Earth Mother) when disaster struck and they became stranded on a reef. The brothers climbed up on top of their canoe and after some time, the freezing Southern winds froze them, turning them into stone. Their waka (canoe), became what we know today as the South Island, and was called Te Waka o Aoraki - the Canoe of Aoraki. Aoraki, the tallest of the four brothers is now seen as the majestic Aoraki Mount Cook, while his brothers became three other peaks of the Southern Alps.

Up until the mid 19th century, large parties of Maori used to come to the Mackenzie Basin for three to four months of each year to forage for food and trade.

The area was known for its many weka, NZ quail, fernroot, hinerata (a small berry-eating mouse which lived in beech forest) and eels. Raupo roots were also used for food. Snowgrass was used for thatching huts. Flint was mined at a quarry in the Upper Waitaki Basin.

thar West Coast Cycles Trail Tours
West Coast Wildlife Tours
Mt Cook Lily
West Coast aoraki Tours
Aoraki Mt Cook

Flora and Fauna

Flora: Historically, riverbeds were scattered with low-lying native plants such as lichens, mat species and tufty herbs. When European settlers introduced species such as willow, gorse, sweet brier, broom and lupins, braided river conditions changed rapidly.

By the 19th century, glaciation and Maori fires had severely reduced South Canterbury’s forest cover. The only significant areas of podocarp forest – totara, kahikatea and matai – were at Arowhenua and along the foothills of the interior ranges. Other remnants comprised kowhai, matipo and similar species. There were small areas of beech and mountain totara forest at Aoraki/Mt Cook and along the Ben Ohau Range.

By the mid-19th century most of the area was covered by flax, fern, scrub and tussock. Cabbage trees were abundant. Early pastoralists burned tussock to promote edible shoots, or re-sowed their land in exotic grasses. Most native vegetation has now been superseded by introduced species. The largest remaining remnant of native forest is at Peel Forest near Geraldine.

The progressive development of the Waitaki Hydro-Electric Power Scheme has also brought about extensive changes to the braided rivers and adjoining wetlands, mostly due to the formation of four lakes and expansion of two natural lakes.

Graham’s buttercup, Haast’s hebe and a parahebe (found at up to 3,000 metres on exposed rocks in Aoraki Mt Cook National Park) are the only flowering plants growing in New Zealand that can survive at this height.

Fauna: The hunting for food by Maori and the introduction of exotic mammals such as cats, stoats, ferrets and weasels, has decimated bird numbers and variety however a number of rare and protected birds such as kea, the New Zealand falcon, rock wrens, black stilt, wrybills, and black–fronted terns can still be observed.

Introduced deer, thar, and chamois are found here and are hunted recreationally.

Rabbits and possums are major pests.

Trout and salmon abound in the rivers, canals and tarns.

Some wetlands have been used as sites to release endangered wildlife reared in captivity. ‘Kakï’, or ‘Black Stilt’ (Himantopus novaezelandiae), is a native wading bird only found in New Zealand. It is regarded by Maori as a taonga species – a living treasure. Once common throughout New Zealand, Kakï is now restricted to the braided rivers and wetlands of the Mackenzie Basin. A colony of 80 black-fronted tern nesting in the new Ruataniwha Wetland has been another notable success. The birds nesting in the fenced wetlands have a much higher breeding survival rate - over 90 per cent. Birds nesting outside the fences typically have less than a 40 per cent survival rate.

Himalayan chukor have been released in the grasslands and are often seen on the higher areas.

Long and short tussock skinks and geckos are still relatively common.


The area today is the biggest provider of hydro electric power in NZ and employs a large number of the resident population.

Tourism is also a major industry with the Mt Cook National Park being to the forefront as one of New Zealand's most well known tourist destinations.

Farming is still a major contributor to the local economy


Book now for Next Season!


2018 / 2019

We can build a tour especially for your group, please enquire for dates available.

btn enquire

Franz Josef download-520


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