RLT 9 Gravel Dreams on the Alps 2 Ocean Trail, New Zealand
Are you for real?
Yup! Imagine 100 percent genuine Kiwi goodness on a 190-mile (306 km) trail that is virtually gravel bike heaven.
Thinking of embarking on your next glorious adventure and indulging your love with the great outdoors, all while hanging out in one of the most beautiful places in the Southern Hemisphere? Then set your sights on New Zealand’s South Island Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.
When plans started coming together for a long holiday on the South Island, I committed myself to bring along the RLT 9 RDO despite the extra effort of dragging a bike bag through the airports and the additional baggage fee. Truthfully, I only had the bike for six weeks before flying out to NZ and a bit nervous putting it on a plane. However, using my personal gravel bike was more than ideal for the multi-terrain adventure that awaited.
Cycle tour extraordinaire
Starting from Aoraki/Mount Cook and finishing in the coastal town of Oamaru, the Alps 2 Ocean (A2O) Cycle Trail is New Zealand's longest continuous bicycle path. With a healthy combination of loose slate, packed gravel and some short sections on sealed roads, a gravel bike is the optimal ride of choice. Based on standardized criteria, parts of the A2O trail have been designated either Grade 2 (Easy) or Grade 3 (Intermediate). What I liked was that most of the trail was off-road, with only a few short on-road sections.
The crisp, clear air introduced us to the unique atmosphere of New Zealand we had heard so much about. The grand landscape of the Southern Alps, rolling hills and lush farmland in NZ are perfect for exploring on two wheels. All around us were snowcapped peaks, glacier-blue lakes, astounding river valleys, and verdant pastures occupied by grass-fed cows and care-free sheep.
More than a pretty place to visit
New Zealand is an exceptional destination, not only for its grandeur but also due to the truly welcoming and down-to-earth locals we met during our time on the island. Everywhere we turned, we were met with smiles, friendly banter and a monumental dose of NZ hospitality. From restaurant workers to retail clerks to any random person you meet walking about, I discovered you can always count on how friendly everyone is in kiwi-land.
The lure of all those mountains, valleys and farmland in NZ are perfect for exploring on an adventure bike. The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is just one of the NZCT 22 Great Rides.
Cycling isn’t the only way of experiencing the magnificence of New Zealand. The South Island has a growing reputation as one of the best outdoor sports destinations in the world in part due to its diverse landscape. Moreover, you can indulge in other adventure sports such as skiing, snowboarding, downhill or cross-country mountain biking, bungy jumping, zip lining or a jet boat ride on the Shotover River.
What's your next gravelventure?
Text and images courtesy of world traveler (and loyal Ninerd) Derek Mau
You can follow Derek’s gravel adventures and more on Instagram