NZ Lifestyle Magazine Group


There are trails around the Mackenzie region's lakes and canals to make the quad muscles of cyclists twitch with delight. The one with the most ardent devotees is the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail — several sections of which thread through the Mackenzie before concluding at Oamaru. It was described as “the jewel in the crown of New Zealand's great rides” by travel-savvy Terry Stevens in his recently published book, Wish You Were Here: Stories Behind 50 of the World's Greatest Destinations. Mackenzie local Jason Menard is another Alps 2 Ocean fan: “It's a great way to experience the diversity of New Zealand in less than a week. Several times a day, you enter new terrain with ever-changing scenery. One constant during the ride is the journey of water that the trail follows. It starts from the ocean on the western side, dropping moisture on Aoraki/Mt Cook, turning into snow and ice, flowing into grey braided rivers, into turquoise lakes, then into hydro canals, dams, more lakes and rivers, and finally back to the ocean on the eastern side.” He's also convinced that the Tekapo-to-Twizel section is the most rewarding. However, this may well be due to the celebratory/ obligatory beer with which he punctuates that journey at Twizel's MOW bar. Starting at section 1, north of Aoraki/Mt Cook Village, requires a short helicopter flight (gorgeous but at one's own expense) across the Tasman River to a spot fetchingly called Rotten Tommy before continuing to Braemar Road (35km). Section 2 leads from there to Twizel (42km). Many opt for the alternative route from Lake Tekapo to Twizel instead (54km), which hugs the Lake Pūkaki shoreline before passing through the expansive grasslands of the Pūkaki Flats. has the full rundown. When looking for local Mackenzie cycle tips, it isn't possible to go past someone who has cycled “across the roof of the world”. That's what Mike Bacchus once did with his brother Alex — and on a tandem bike, if you please (their 13,000km journey through 12 countries is chronicled in a book by Alex titled A Tandem Challenge). Mike and his wife, Anna, share a serious cycling affliction. When they were looking to purchase land upon which to build a lodge, the top requirement was that it had to hug a cycle trail. They heard a whisper of the Mackenzie Country's Alps 2 Ocean plans and went sleuthing for a cycle-close perch (and, oh, did they find a cracker. This makes them the perfect sorts to offer local cycling recommendations. “The Dusky Trail is a great ride and is used as the track for the bike section of the Meridian Twizel Hard Labour Weekend — but it's no cruise in the park,” says Mike. “It's real mountainbiking with steep hills, river crossings, some rough tracks and the chance to get lost. But you're rewarded with spectacular views, flowing downhills and a great adventure. For something a bit cruisier, we love biking into Twizel, either along the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail or beside the hydro canals for flat, tar-sealed backcountry roads.”