Activities

What to See and Do

At 190km long and passing through numerous isolated small towns and some of the cleanest rivers in New Zealand, the region around the ‘Around the Mountains Cycle Trail’ is pretty special. It’s an outdoor lovers dream with some surprises thrown in for good measure…

1. Fishing

1. Fishing

With clear water and few people, the rivers alongside the Around the Mountains cycle trail are a fisherman’s heaven. The following rivers are the most well known:

Mataura River

The Mataura, for good reasons, is New Zealand’s most fished brown trout river. It is a large long river with hundreds of places that provide excellent trout fishing. Many locals use worms to fish for Mataura trout but visitors prefer fly fishing.

Orate River

The Oreti is a large clear river with good stocks of brown trout along its entire length. The middle reaches, near the towns of Winton, Dipton and Lumsden, contain large numbers of back waters and smaller fish, on average, but in the upper reaches the trout are larger. The Mossburn Bridge provides a good access point.

Fishing Licence Information

Fishing in the Southern Lakes is permitted all year round but the season for the Mararoa River is 1st October to 30th April. All anglers must have a current season’s fishing licence. There are many different types of fishing licences that cover the Around the Mountains trail so pick the licence that best suits your personal circumstances. You can buy a fishing license online. Remember that overseas visitors planning to fish for more than a couple of days, must buy a Non-Resident Licence.

2. Hunting

2. Hunting

Fish & Game NZ regulates game bird hunting throughout New Zealand. The regulations are amended each year to suit changing sporting and environmental conditions and each region has its own set of regulations working in conjunction with the national regulations.

The Eyre Mountains Conservation Park covers rugged, mountainous country of beech forest and alpine tussock interspersed with long narrow river valleys and a great variety of flora and fauna. Red and fallow deer are widespread and a good number of chamois can be found in the higher northern area of the park and can occasionally be seen from the cycle trail. Permits are required to hunt with dogs in the Eyre Mountains/Taka Rā Haka Conservation Park. Dogs must be registered and are not permitted in huts.

3. Farm Tours

3. Farm Tours

Walter Peak Farm Tours

Walter Peak Station is situated on the side of the picturesque Lake Wakatipu’s south-western shores. The Farm Tour itself is a wonderful, interactive experience for the whole family, with something to keep everyone entertained and happy. You get a walking tour of the farmyard to see the holding pens, where you can help feed the sheep and deer, and even get up close to the Scottish Highland Cattle. Then you get to stroll through the lakeside gardens to the charming Colonel’s Homestead for morning or afternoon tea, depending on the time of day you visit. Afterwards, you watch the farm dogs rounding up sheep from the hill paddocks, and see the farmer shear a sheep. This tour is usually incorporated with the TSS Earnslaw to cruise to/from Queenstown.

The Castle Hill Lodge Southland Farm Experience

Castle Hill Lodge offers and exclusive package to visitors, giving them the opportunity to experience for themselves the superb southern hospitality and sensational Northern Southland scenery.

The Lodge is nestled among the hills near the small town of Garston, in ten acres of its own grounds, surrounded by farm land as far as the eye can see. Experience some of the ‘real’ New Zealand while visiting a working farm.

4. Welcome Rock MTB & Walking Trails

Welcome Rock Trails is a private trail on private land that is suitable for mountain bikers or hikers. They also have the option of overnighting in one of their back country huts. The main trail is a single track, cross country mountain biking/hiking trail. Incredibly, 21kms of the 27km trail is hand built, literally with pick and shovel.

The trail is located on one of NZ’s longest historic water races (water races were channels cut across a hillside bringing water from streams to places where gold was mined).’The Roaring Lion Trail’ follows the historic Roaring Lion water race from 867m at its lowest point to 1152m at the highest point.

With tight corners and a fair amount of exposure at times, this trail is not for beginner mountain bikers or those who don’t like heights. Expect to take anywhere between 2 and 6 hours depending on your fitness, riding style and the amount of photo stops you’re likely to enjoy.

For more information or to book, see WelcomeRock.co.nz

5. Water Sports

With numerous lakes and rivers in this region, there are plenty of opportunities for all different types of watersports, from water skiing to kayaking. Queenstown is the place to rent gear and there are several companies offering tours. Check out our friends at NZShred for their stand up paddle board tours, for example. Several of the accommodation providers by the lakes along the trails also offer kayaks or SUPs to people that stay with them.

6. Scenic Flights

From glacier snow landings to flights over Milford Sound, there are a multitude of helicopter or plane scenic flight options in this region. If you want to see the Around the Mountains cycle trail from the air, our pick is the Eyre Mountains ‘Backyard’ special by our local operator Nokamai Helicopters. The Backyard flies you over Lake Wakatipu with steep bush covered peaks with Queenstown as a backdrop before heading over the Eyre Mountains. The return flight takes you back through the Remarkable Mountain range with unparalleled views of rugged snowy peaks and mountain tarns.

7. Walking Tracks

The Kingston Te Kere Haka Track winds along the lake front from the Te Kere Haka Reserve, offering great views of Lake Wakatipu and the Hector Mountains. The first 30 minutes of the track are within the reserve boundary. Private land lies beyond, access permission must be obtained from Allendale Station to continue further.

The Kingston Shirt Tail Track starts at the Te Kere Haka reserve carpark. It follows the Shirt Tail Stream up to the bushline for a spectacular view of Lake Wakatipu and Kingston township. The track up to the waterfall is well marked. Beyond here the track through the trees and rocks is very steep, unmarked and not maintained. Through the winter it is often icy and very slippery to take care. It features red beech forest and subalpine scrublands.

The Eyre Mountains/Taka Rā Haka Conservation Park provides unique opportunities for visitors to enjoy a backcountry experience in a remote setting. The area is isolated and, for the most part, the walks are physically demanding. There are limited but challenging climbing opportunities including Eyre Peak at1969 m, and Jane Peak at 2022 m, the highest in Southland outside Fiordland National Park and there are good camping opportunities throughout the park, although campers must be self-sufficient. There are several beech clearings near hut sites suitable for pitching tents, as well as opportunities to camp in open valleys. The park covers 65,160 ha of existing public conservation land and includes the headwaters of the Upper Mataura and Oreti Rivers that eventually flow into Foveaux Strait.

Mavora Lakes. If you’re looking for day walks from the Mavora Lakes camping ground, try either the South Mavora Lake Walking Track (2.5 hours) or the track to the Kiwiburn Hut (4 hrs). More info…

For the more adventurous it more time, try the Mavora Greenstone Walkway. This is a 50 km, four day tramping trip, linking the Mavora Lakes Camping Area with the Greenstone Track. It passes through open valley tussock land and beech forested hill country. More info…

With all the ways in this region, check the weather, go prepared and make sure you leave your intentions with a responsible person.

8. Local Produce

With clean rivers, low population numbers and huge areas of both conservation  and farmland, this area produces some wonderful local produce. Check out some of our favourites, the Hunny Shop at Garston (hunnyshop.co.nz) and all the local wild and farmed venison.

9. Railway History

The Kingston Flyer

The Kingston Flyer is a vintage steam train at Kingston, the southern end of Lake Wakatipu and the start of the Around the Mountains Cycle  Trail. It used a 14km stretch of track between Kingston and Fairlight. The rails are the originals laid in 1878 but many of the 19,360 sleepers have been replaced over time. The Kingston Flyer became a tourist in the summer months and was also used frequently in the production of movies and commercials. The company ran into financial difficulties and in 2009 went into receivership. New Zealand businessman David Bryce purchased the operation in August 2011 and got the Flyer operating again. Unfortunately, in December 2012 the Kingston Flyer was again taken offline, due to the discovery of leaks in AB 778’s boiler and owner David Bryce’s ongoing health problems. The train is not operating at this time and the business is once again up for sale.

Lumsden

Lumsden used to be the major railway junction in the region with lines departing to all four points of the compass. The Kingston Branch from Invercargill ran north-south through the town, while to the west was the Mossburn Branch and to the east was the Waimea Plains Railway that connected with the Main South Line in Gore. In 1971, most of the Waimea Plains Railway closed. The railway station is now preserved as a tourist information centre that has some interesting interpretation about the area.

10. Food and Shopping

Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view!) there are few shopping opportunities along the cycle trail but enough cafes and eateries to keep most cyclists happy.

  1. Kingston has a small shop selling food essentials and some tourist items and the local post shop. This is combined with a restaurant, cafe and bar.
  2. Garston has an antique store, the hotel, a great caravan cafe and the Hunny Shop
  3. Athol has Stu’s fishing shop and 2 cafes
  4. 5 Rivers has a large cafe and tourist shop
  5. Lumsden has the most options with cafes, a supermarket, a tourist information centre, a butcher and evening meals at the Lumsden Hotel and Route 66. The fuel station also sells basics.
  6. Mossburn has 2 cafes, one of which is sells a range of unusual items, and a fuel station selling basics. The small supermarket recently closed.
  7. The are no shops between Mossburn and Walter Peak Station so carry everything you need.

11. Fuel Stations

If you need to fill up a vehicle along the cycle trail, you can buy fuel at the following places:
Kingston (card facilities only, no cash)
Lumsden
Mossburn