Sampling the Alps 2 Ocean Bike Trail

Our journey through the Waitaki Valley is bringing us to Lake Ohau – a stunning turquoise lake with panoramic mountain views. Dramatic cloud formations fill the sky. Tony from Cycle Journeys has picked us up from the Omarama Top 10 Holiday Park to take us for a sampling of the acclaimed 300km Alps 2 Ocean. We have a feeling today is going to be one hell of a halfway point for our 365 days doing 365 activities!

With a trailer full of electric mountain bikes, we pull up at the start of our Alps 2 Ocean day ride. We start near the Lake Ohau Lodge along the shores of the totally underrated Lake Ohau. (Why don’t we hear about this lake more often?!) It might be a one-way trail that we are doing, but Tony joins us for the first half of the journey, then will turn back, get the truck, and pick us up from the end of the trail. Sorted!

A rooty start to a bike ride

The bikes come with a handy bag on the back, so once we have distributed all the weight of our cameras, popped our helmets on, (it’s illegal in New Zealand to ride without a helmet), we carry our bikes up the few stairs starting on the Parsons Creek Track. This is just a short and sneaky side track to get onto the Alps 2 Ocean trail, however, it is not the most e-bike friendly. Nevertheless, pushing the bikes made heavy by our gear plus a battery up a few stairs is the most challenging thing about the ride today. As expected from the e-bikes, the rest is going to be a breeze!

Along with Tony’s instructions on how to use the e-bikes, it doesn’t take long to get used to the different power settings to help you along with your peddling. What’s more, we put the “mountain bike” aspect of the bikes straight to the test over a good stretch of tree roots. (However, it is a pretty poor and hilarious initial attempt of biking uphill over tree roots). Yep, it feels like these bikes can get over anything! We are good to go.

Cycling through the sub-alpine terrain Cycling through the sub-alpine terrain
From open landscape to forest! From open landscape to forest!
Stopping at beautiful rivers along the way Stopping at beautiful rivers along the way
Riding through the beech forest Riding through the beech forest

Epic views and e-bikes

Once we meet up with the slightly more smooth Alps 2 Ocean trail, we are treated to an open sub-alpine landscape revealing awesome views over Lake Ohau. Almost the entire way, we have the lake in sight, changing every time we look over our shoulder with beams of sunlight revealing bright blue sections of water. The gusty wind creates small white breaks in the lake that can be seen all the way up the mountainside we are currently powering up. Well, we say powering up, but the amount of power we are putting into the bike ride is amplified by the electric bikes. These bikes make the Alps 2 Ocean experience however you want it to be. (Admittedly, we can’t help but keep putting it to the highest setting just because we can). Plus, it’s great for people like us who aren’t exactly mountain-biking experts, but still want to utilise awesome trails like this!

Steady climbs through changing landscape

The steady gradient takes us through areas of shrubs with tiny flowers and spiky tussock into short sections of beech forest. Each forest section holds a surprise of small streams or much larger cascading falls or openings in the trees to reveal the epic scenery once again. Thankfully, there are bridges to get over these streams, but that can’t be said for all the streams on this stretch of the Alps 2 Ocean’s trail!

A quick stop at a beautiful cascading river

It’s all downhill from here

The halfway point of our ride is marked by a sign showing we are at an altitude of 900m! This is also where Tony leaves us and the downhill fun begins! The upper section of the downhill is a loose rocky trail which is enough to shake the arm fat off you, but completely manageable. We just let gravity do it’s thing, feel the wind in our hair, and take in the view of the open landscape.

Then we come across the first of about four small stream crossings. We just go for it, completely splashing our legs on the way through. Each crossing gets longer and a tiny bit deeper but, hell, it’s a lot of fun. Who doesn’t love a bit of splishy splashy in the water?

Coffee ahead!

The single track rocky trail turns into a smooth 4×4 track where we can pick up more speed. The easy-to-see signposts lead us toward a woolshed where we then notice signs for coffee! Conveniently enough, this is our pick-up point with Tony, so there’s nothing left to do than soak in the sun (wearing sunscreen, of course!) and have a drink.

The downhill fun begins! The downhill fun begins!
Mini stream action! Mini stream action!
Finishing the cycle trail with a rewarding coffee and dog hugs Finishing the cycle trail with a rewarding coffee and dog hugs

Sun, hot chocolate and a cocker spaniel

Neil, our middle-of-nowhere barista, makes us some mean latte with hazelnut and hot chocolate and even takes the time to sit down and have a chat with us while we wait for Tony. Entertainment is provided with a super friendly black cocker spaniel, Emma, who can’t resist a good pat. (And we can’t resist playing with Emma!)

This is what New Zealand is all about

Tony shows up in no time so we can all enjoy the drinks together, the company, and the impressive scenery we are currently sitting amongst. It’s that moment when we have stopped peddling and we get to sit down and think that we realise what awesome of a 183-day gap year anniversary (or whatever you want to call it) it has been. This is what New Zealand is all about: having maximum outdoor fun in one of the world’s most beautiful countries!

Last night in Omarama

We say goodbye to Neil and Emma, then Tony drives us back to the Omarama Holiday Park for an evening of sitting in the sun, spraying off the sandflies, and playing a few games. We even have a few hot beverages with the incredibly friendly owners of the holiday park. (Today is all about hot beverages!)

Who knows what tomorrow will be all about as we begin the second half of New Zealand’s Biggest Gap Year?! We hit the road to Ranfurly, visiting the Clay Cliffs before we leave and possibly doing some curling, yes, that’s right, CURLING in Ranfurly! This trip just gets crazier and crazier. Join us then!

Laura and Robin

Winding through the incredible landscape of the Alps 2 Ocean bike trail
Winding through the incredible landscape of the Alps 2 Ocean bike trail Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

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