Road Cycling Around Wanaka

Quiet roads, great coffee stops – riding with your mates doesn’t get any better

With quiet, scenic roads and a variety of spectacular landscapes from rolling hills, fast flats and high mountain passes to climb, the Wanaka region is paradise for road cyclists. 

With access to some of NZ’s best road riding the town is home to more than its fair share of Olympic and international athletes who train here year-round. During the summer, evening bunch rides offer a great chance to stretch your legs and ride with the locals. 

It’s an unwritten roadie rule that any ride begins - and ends - with coffee, and Wanaka’s lycra-friendly lakefront cafes have the fuel to get you going. 

Check out our great road rides around Wanaka:

Treble Cone Return 

45kms, 90mins – 2hours return

This is a classic, must-do Wanaka ride that follows the shoreline of the lake and offers spectacular lake and mountain views. The rolling terrain makes for great road riding, with several fast flats which are irresistible for testing your sprinting legs.

From the lakefront in Wanaka head West and follow Mount Aspiring Road, past Glendhu Bay and its iconic view of Mount Aspiring, until you reach Treble Cone ski area turn off and the sealed road becomes gravel (approx. 22kms). Turn around here and head back along the same road for coffee in Wanaka! 

Treble Cone Retirn2

Lake Hawea Loop 

50kms, 2hours return

Generally, a flat or gently undulating ride, the 50km loop from Wanaka to Lake Hawea and back via Wanaka Airport is mostly on quiet, rural roads and includes great views of Lake Hawea.

From Wanaka head east out of town on SH84, past Puzzling World and then take SH6 towards the West Coast & Hawea. Continue SH6, over Maungawera Hill (more of a bump than a hill) and turn right over the dam when you reach Lake Hawea. Follow the lakefront and turn left onto Cemetery Road; then right onto Gladstone Road which continues to become Kane Road. Cross the Clutha River over the iconic Red Bridge, right onto Short Cut Road and then right again onto SH6 for the ride back into Wanaka.

The prevailing NW wind can make the final 10km home stretch from Wanaka Airport an extra challenge for the legs, particularly in the spring evenings. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you)!

Wanaka Hawea Loop

The Neck 

80km, 2.5 – 3 hours return

This must be one of the most spectacular road bike rides in New Zealand and offers epic lake and mountain scenery. The road sidles along the shore of Lake Hawea for much of the ride and the terrain is generally rolling with only one climb of any note - up to the Lake Hawea viewpoint. 

Follow SH6 from Wanaka towards the West Coast, hugging the shoreline of Lake Hawea until you reach The Neck, a narrow isthmus which separates Lakes Wanaka and Hawea. Turn around here for an 80km return ride from Wanaka, or continue to Makarora and even Haast Pass for even more spectacular scenery and views of Mt Aspiring National Park (the road does get hillier from The Neck onwards).

This is a ride best done in the morning before the prevailing NW wind picks up, but it can be a speedy tailwind on the way home! 

Wanaka The Neck Makarora Haast Pass

Tarras & Ardgour Road Loop 

95km, 3-4 hours return

A fast, mostly flat ride through the Upper Clutha River valley which offers diverse views ranging from the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps to the golden hills of Central Otago.

Departing Wanaka, follow SH6 east past Wanaka Airport before turning left onto SH8A which is signposted to Christchurch and Mt Cook. Continue on SH8A, crossing the Clutha River at Red Bridge, and turning right on SH8A just after the bridge. A fast, mostly flat section of road brings you to the intersection with SH8. Turn left to Tarras (1km) if you need a coffee, or turn right if you want to keep riding. If you’ve turned right, stay on SH8 for a few kilometres until you cross a one lane bridge and then turn onto Ardgour Road. This is a superb section of quiet, rural road and will loop around to bring you out at Tarras and the second chance for a coffee! Return to Wanaka via the same route, or if you want to put some more miles into your legs, you can head South from Tarras towards Cromwell for a lap of Lake Dunstan.

Wanaka to Ardgour Loop

Crown Range Summit 

90km, 3-4 hours return

A classic hill climb over New Zealand’s highest road – the Crown Range mountain pass between Wanaka and Queenstown - with a ‘must do’ stop for a coffee or beer at the iconic Cardrona Hotel.

Leaving Wanaka lakefront, simply follow the Cardrona Valley Road south for 45kms until you reach the lookout at the top!...

Wanaka to Cardrona is 25kms of false flat through farmland which eases you into the more challenging part of the climb, but which only starts to get steep in the last 5kms before the summit which is at 1,121m altitude. From the top, enjoy the downhill all the way back to Wanaka, or if you feel like some more punishment, head down the other side of the hill for coffee in Arrowtown and then back up the shorter, but much steeper switchbacks to the top again. 

Wanaka to Crown Range Wanaka