Braemar Station to Twizel
Section 2 – Braemar Station to Twizel
Section 2 of the A2O starts with a couple of hours riding along a public gravel road. Although this road is very quiet, please be attentive to traffic. This road section requires a little more effort compared with Section 1, as the terrain undulates, (that’s ‘kiwi’ for having small hills!). Peter Jackson recently filmed a part of the up coming Hobbit movie along this area of Lake Pukaki shore line, so once the movie screens, see if you can spot the location used. After the gravel road section, you finally reach the sealed road. Marvel at the government ‘Think Big’ hydroelectric project as you pass under massive penstock pipes, large enough to drive a double decker bus through. The road takes you to the southern end of Lake Pukaki and onto the new dedicated scenic smooth trail to the Lake Pukaki Information Kiosk with information on the local Hydro systems. This is also where you’ll find the first toilets on the trail. From here, it’s all downhill cycling across the Mackenzie Basin on to Twizel.
Twizel, the town that was never meant to be, is the gateway to the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. Whatever has been said about the town in the past, it is now a thriving community and the largest town you will visit along the Alps 2 Ocean journey until you reach Oamaru. Twizel has a full range of accommodation, supermarkets, restaurants and cafes where you can stock up on all your supplies, have a great night out or just relax with a drink and yarn to the friendly locals.
As there is only 1 toilet on this section, we would still advise you to carry a Poo Pot, but be warned, there are very few places to hide behind! (So we also recommend a SheeWee or equivalent for the ladies!). Once you leave the Lake Pukaki Kiosk, you are riding for miles over flat tundra, this is possibly the driest and hottest area of NZ, so be sure to take plenty of water. We would not recommend using untreated lake water as drinking water.
What To See & Do
- Take a LOTR tour at Twizel to the largest cast and crew set of any film site in the southern hemisphere. These tours to the Plennor Fields are short, very informative and highly recommended in Ian Brodie’s filmsite location books, along with featuring in Lonely Planet NZ Guide and Trip Advisor as a must do while in Twizel.
- Visit the Kaki/ Black Stilt hide as a great example of the work the Department of Conservation (DOC) do to ensure the survival of bird species and what’s involved in conservation work around the braided rivers you will be seeing on route. A great educational visit for the whole family.
- Visit the public library inside the local school, it has an extensive range of books to read about the hydro history, a major feature of the Waitaki Valley you will ride.
- Watch the rowers training or racing on Lake Ruataniwha, one of New Zealands main rowing venues.
- Please note, the Regal Cinema has closed.
Where to Stay
Twizel is the largest town along the Alps 2 Ocean Trail until you reach your destination of Oamaru and the Pacific Ocean. Twizel has lots a accommodation of all types including 2 camp grounds, 3 backpackers, many motels, BnB’s, holidays homes, a large hotel and the only 5 star Qualmark Lodge. BUT, even with all this accommodation, there are times of the year when everything is fully booked, not only in Twizel, but the surrounding towns. In particular, the accommodation is usually fully booked during the rowing regattas and major public holidays. These are our main accommodation providers: