Cycle New Zealand: Otago Rail Trail

It’s almost like New Zealand was made for cycling. This is a land known for its natural beauty, welcoming people and delicious wine, and this cycling trip just happens to take in the best of it. Kick things off in the outdoor paradise of Queenstown, then cycle the famous Central Otago Rail Trail through small gold-mining towns like Alexandra, Omakau, Wedderburn and Hyde. Meander through the open plains with pristine rivers, enjoy some proper South Island hospitality at local taverns, and rediscover the joy of pedalling through one of the most gorgeous areas in the entire country.

Calender 4 days

Difficulty: Moderate

From £965.00 P/P

Highlights large icon

Itinerary

  • Cycle the spectacular Otago Central Rail Trail, the oldest rail trail in the country and voted 'New Zealand's Favourite Ride' for the past two years.
  • Ring along flat, traffic-free paths alongside some of the South Island's most stunning scenery.
  • Begin your journey in Queenstown, an outdoor paradise set among the stunning Southern Alps of New Zealand.
  • Experience firsthand the famous hospitality of New Zealanders on a trail built specifically to cater to cyclists.
  • Cycle in the company of an experienced guide as they share their unique perspective of this fascinating region.
  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll directly support our Intrepid Foundation partner, World Bicycle Relief. Donations provide school kids, health workers, and farmers in far-out areas with bicycles that provide access to education, healthcare, and income.

Kia-ora! Welcome to Queenstown, New Zealand. If you have time before or after the tour in the country’s adventure capital, there’s simply no end to the line-up of optional activities including bungee-jumping, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, helicopter rides, jet boating and paragliding. There are also plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to keep you entertained.

This cycling trip kicks off with a pick-up at 8 am. After the meeting, you’ll jump in a private vehicle and follow the Kawarau River to nearby Clyde (85kms, approximately 1.5 hour), where you’ll be fitted with your bike to start your cycling adventure along the Otago Rail Trail, which has been voted NZ’s ‘Favourite Ride’ for the past two years. The trail runs for 152 kilometres/95 miles in total and was originally used to transport supplies to and from the Gold Fields, then later to transport goods and livestock. It fell into disrepair but was refurbished into a rail trail at the start of the new millennium and is now arguably the best way to explore the area and contribute to the local economy. You’ll begin by cycling past vineyards, over an old wooden trestle bridge and along the Clutha River Track for around 13 kilometres before arriving in Alexandra via the historic bridge. Take a short rest in this delightful gold rush-era town, then cycle toward Galloway Station and though Chatto Creek, up Tiger Hill then cruise downhill to your overnight accommodation in Omakau/ Ophir. Perhaps join the locals for dinner and a locally-brewed Dark Horse beer or cider at the renowned Commercial Hotel before settling in for a well-earned sleep.

For those looking for a little more riding we highly recommend a side trip to Ophir (4kms/2miles return from Omakau). Once a thriving Goldfields hub, its well-preserved historical buildings and one of the last surviving suspension bridges in Central Otago (Dan O’Connell Bridge) are well worth the extra effort.

The highlight of today’s cycle is the beautiful Poolburn Gorge section of the trail, which features two tunnels and two viaducts. You’ll then ride through the Ida Valley farmlands, pedalling past Idaburn Dam, one of New Zealand’s few outdoor curling sites, and visiting the Hayes Historic Engineering Works before stopping at Oturehua Tavern for lunch. After lunch, you’ll continue north to the Golden Progress Mine and up to the highest point of the trail before stopping for the night at Wedderburn. In the evening, enjoy a traditional, farm-style meal at the Wedderburn Tavern (not included) and rest those legs.

A short but good day today – just 23 kilometres in total – though it’s mostly downhill from Wedderburn to Ranfurly, Otago’s Art Deco capital. Enjoy morning tea and have a look around this small yet eclectic town, then cross the Maniototo Plains. Here you are further from the sea than elsewhere in New Zealand and it shows in the scenery and the near-empty roads – this is Lord of the Rings territory, and the flat plains give way to snow-capped mountains on the horizon.

Today you’ll cycle approximately 55 kilometres with stunning views of the Rock and Pillar Ranges. Starting your day riding alongside the Taieri River, the fourth-longest in New Zealand and one of today’s highlights. Cross the historic Capburn Bridge and Price’s Creek Viaduct and continue your way downhill, passing through more tunnels (including the famous Daisybank tunnel) then pausing at the Hyde Railway Disaster Memorial, which commemorates the fatal 1943 derailment of a passenger train. Enjoy a morning snack en route before arriving in Middlemarch and the end of the cycling part of your adventure. Take a while to grab lunch at one of the local eateries or load up at Maggies Ice Cream shop before transferring by vehicle (approx. 3 hrs) back to Queenstown, where your trip finishes on arrival.

Route large icon

Route overview

Accommodation on the Otago Rail Trail can be booked out months in advance so there may be occasions where we stay in nearby locations to those advertised.

This itinerary does not have a full-time support vehicle constantly following the group. Your luggage is always transported for you (by vehicle) between accommodations.

Due to the relatively small distances cycled on this trip, we have a single leader that rides with the group.

What’s included

  • Guided bike ride - Otago Rail Trail
  • Otago Rail Trail - 4 days Otago Central Rail Trail bike hire
  • Transfer to Queenstown
Whats included

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