Connecting the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail with Invercargill, this route mostly follows quiet country roads along with reasonably quiet southern highways.
From the Around the Mountains, riders can start this route in either Mossburn or Lumsden.
At the southern end, Invercargill is the gateway to Rakiura/Stewart Island, and the Catlins – part of the Southern Scenic road-touring route.
Several small towns en route offer food, accommodation and portals into predominantly pastoral history.
Note that as this Heartland Ride is part of the 3000km Cape Reinga to Bluff route known as Tour Aotearoa, you are likely to meet weather-beaten tour riders on their final day of riding the length of the country.
This route can be started from either Mossburn or Lumsden, two towns on the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail.
From Mossburn, head east on the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail, which runs beside SH94.
After 13km, turn right off the cycle trail, cross the highway and ride south on Dipton–Castlerock Road. Follow the NZCT signs south, turning right at West Dipton down George Street, then left onto South Hillend–Dipton Road.
At the 54km mark from Mossburn, turn right onto Hundred Line Road and shortly after, left onto Riverside Road.
When you reach Highway 96, turn left and cross the Oreti River, then turn right on to Winton-Substation Road. A few minutes later, turn left onto Gerrard Road and ride into the centre of Winton, where there are plenty of shops.
From Winton, ride back out of town on Meldrum Street, and after 600 metres, turn left onto the Winton Walkway to follow a gravel path around the edge of town. Then follow Price Road, Substation Road, Calder Road, Nelson Road, Lochiel-Branxholme Road, Young Road and Ryal Bush-Wallacetown road to Wallacetown.
There are a few shops at Wallacetown, and public toilets in the garage on your left as you enter town (only open when the garage is open).
From Wallacetown, carefully follow SH99 for 3.5km before turning right down Steel Road. Turn left at West Plains Road, and right at Gloucester Street. After entering the fringe of Invercargill, turn left along Bay Road, and then at the main road (SH6) turn right onto the signposted cycle path that crosses the Waihopai River.
At the southern end of the Waihopai River Bridge you can turn right onto a gravel path that skirts around the edge of Invercargill. There are several options for branching off this path and heading into town. The last one is at Stead Street, which becomes Tweed Street.
The surface of this trail is 95% sealed road, and 5% gravel road or gravel path. Most of the roads are very quiet, however, riders should expect to encounter other traffic at any time.
There is a 3.5km section on SH99 which has much higher traffic volumes than other sections of the route. Riders should ride in the shoulder to the left of the edge line where possible and take care at intersections.
FITNESS & SKILLS
The Southland Traverse is rated Grade 4 (advanced). The route is mostly flat but due to the distance and road conditions it is recommended for fit cyclists with experience riding on the road.
TYPE OF BIKE
Although the route mainly follows sealed roads, the rougher gravel sections mean a touring bike or mountain bike with wide road tyres or knobbly tyres are most suitable. E-bikes, with sufficient battery capacity, are also acceptable. Riders should ideally have basic mechanical skills and carry a tool kit.
MAPS & NAVIGATION
This trail is well signposted with NZCT signage. However, carrying a map will ensure against wrong turns, help time your ride, and identify points of interest.
The trail can be ridden year round. In winter the weather can be bitterly cold in Southland, with snowfall not uncommon.
FOOD & ACCOMMODATION
There is accommodation and food available at either of the starting points, Mossburn/Lumsden, and at the convenient intervals of Camp Taringatura (40km), Winton (67km), Wallacetown (90km), and Invercargill (104km).
GETTING HERE & AROUND
This route shadows and often intersects the popular Southern Scenic Route, a memorable road trip taking in Te Anau, Invercargill and the Catlins. Nationwide Intercity buses service this route, as do smaller local bus operators throughout the region.
Mobile phone coverage is available throughout the route.
Public toilets are located in townships along the route.