The “Northern Solstice” trip is Adventure South’s finale for the year. I guess “Northern” as covers the northern part of the South Island but not sure about the “Solstice” when it’s happening in April. I hope it’s to help rustle up some summer solstice weather in late Autumn!
The route is from Christchurch to West Coast, Abel Tasman, Nelson, Picton, Kaikoura & back to Christchurch. There are few “bumps” in that route including the Southern Alps (approx. route image) but not all of the 1000km is cycling (thankfully).
It's comfortable cycle touring supported by bus, staying in Motels/Lodges. In the notes you may notice the occasional mention of restaurants, wineries, lunches, wines tastings and between them there are frequent stops help ward off starvation
Add a great bunch of people, awesome guides and you have the recipe for great fun. I only hope it doesn’t snow…
This will be my fourth trip with Adventure South and will complete nearly all the South Island. I’ve driven parts of this route in 2004 on the way south to join another Adventure South adventure, The West Coast Escape, but the section of the coast up to Westport will be all new to me.
- Sun. April 2 – Christchurch > Greymouth
- Board the Tranz Alpine express train in Christchurch, heading up into the foothills and into the Southern Alps.
- At Arthurs Pass for the bold we have a stunning descent via the Aqueduct [hope they mean viaduct or perhaps expecting lots of rain!) and the upper gorge road to Jacksons and inland to Lake Brunner.
- The ride out of Lake Brunner and down to Greymouth beside the Grey River - is a must!
- Mon. April 3 – Greymouth > Punakaiki
- This day just has to be one of the best coastal rides in the country - well at least according to Bas and we know he wouldn't fib! It’s possible to wax lyrical but we will let the ride do the talking! Suffice to say that over the entire 50kms we haven't found a bad section yet.
- Arrive into Punakaiki early and just hang out with some great local walks.
- Tues. April 4 – Punakaiki > Westport
- But wait - there's more. Onwards with the coastal ride heading to Westport this time. This day has a few uphills and we will warn you about any serious grinds.
- For the strong rider the 60 kms will pass fine and again we have time to explore the dramatic Cape Foulwind before heading to probably the best restaurant location in NZ for tonight's meal.
- Wed. April 5 – Westport > Nelson
- The Buller River rises up in the Nelson Lakes and flows out to the sea at Westport. Today we have three awesome rides that take us up the Buller river and over into the Nelson Plains.
- Two rides are magnificent backcountry rides that Bas has hunted out and combine these with the beautiful wineries that surround the city of Nelson - as well as its many arts and crafts shops.
- Thurs. April 6 – Abel Tasman/Nelson (Kayak, No biking)
- The nearby Abel Tasman national park is a gem and by now the crowds have gone leaving us some beautiful beaches to explore.
- As a special we walk into the Torrent Bay/Ancorage area with the many golden sandy beaches below, to then meet our yacht for an amazing sailing experience.
- Anyone who might want to try their hand at some sea kayaking, we offer an optional sea kayaking trip!
- Another night at Nelson is no hardship and the day away from the bike an enjoyable interlude.
- Fri. April 7 – Nelson > Kaikoura
- Nearby are the wineries of Blenheim as well as the coastal Queens Charlotte drive. The coach trip across to Havelock is beautiful and at the look out we set up for the 37 kms ride through to Picton.
- Once there its a short drive over to St Clair winery and a lengthy lunch and tasting. Finally under the command from Bas its onwards and then a beautiful coastal ride as we travel southward to Kaikoura where we stay for the night.
- Sat. April 8 – Kaikoura > Christchurch
- I’m doing the famous Whale watch at Kaikoura
- Then its southwards, heading to Christchurch with a final great ride and a farewell meal on the outskirts of Christchurch. Sleep the sleep of the just tonight.