Cycle 150km on the Otago Rail Trail through beautiful ‘big sky’ country, Central Otago’s ‘timeless land’, on the iconic and original NZ cycle trail.
The Otago Rail Trail passes through many small communities, some dating back to the 1860s, allowing you to experience a huge amount of history of one of NZ’s special places, and one that will exceed your expectations time and again. Many of the 4th/5th generation farming families still live locally and enjoy conversing with those cycling the trail. Enjoy exploring the original stone pubs and meet the locals famous for their ‘Southern hospitality’.
The Otago Rail Trail rates as among the easiest of all the cycle trails in New Zealand, and is a good trail to start with if you are new to cycling. The 150km cycle trail is a disused railway corridor originally built for steam trains so the gradient is a very gentle incline and as such the Otago Central Rail Trail is rated easy to negotiate with no steep hills or obstacles.
Our support vehicle is available at all times throughout the cycle tour. Refer to our Level of Difficulty gradings for more information.
Otago Rail Trail Tour Highlights
- Cycle the 150km Otago Rail Trail
- Enjoy the scenery and meeting the people of Central Otago
- Feel the warmth of the famous ‘southern hospitality’
- Explore the historic gold mining town of St Bathans
- Meet the Duncan family and visit their high country farm
- Visit Hayes Engineering Works
- Complete your journey in style on the Taieri Gorge Train
Day 1 Christchurch/Queenstown/Dunedin – Clyde
The Otago Rail Trail cycle tour gets underway as we depart Christchurch for the scenic drive south through the Mackenzie Country to Central Otago via the inland route that passes by Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki, and over the Lindis Pass to Clyde. Alternatively there is the option of meeting the tour in Clyde in the afternoon from Queenstown or Dunedin, which we can organise for you. In the late afternoon get used to your bike and the terrain with a short cycle ride along the lovely Clutha River. Settle into our accommodation in the charming historic precinct of Clyde.
Cycle Distance: 5km
Day 2 Clyde – Ophir
Begin cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail, biking from Clyde to Ophir (40km). Highlights of today’s cycle ride include the wooden trestle Muttontown Viaduct, the Old Tucker Hill gold diggings, lunch at the historic Chatto Creek Tavern, views of the Dunstan Mountains and Raggedy Range and spotting brown trout in the Manuherikia River. We stay in the charming historic town of Ophir at Blacks Hotel. In the afternoon we make a side trip in our support vehicle to the historic gold-mining town of St Bathan’s, with a mandatory stop at the Vulcan Hotel!
Cycle Distance: 40km
Day 3 Ophir – Wedderburn
Cycle from Ophir to Wedderburn on the Otago bike trail (43km). Highlights of today’s bike ride on the rail trail include the engineering marvel that is the Poolburn Gorge Viaduct and tunnels, and the vast wide open Ida Valley (made famous by the painter Grahame Sydney), the Idaburn dam (famous for its winter curling) and a visit to Hayes Engineering Works. Explore Gilchrists Store in Oturehua and a meal in the tavern. On arrival at the wee town of Wedderburn, relax and enjoy the views from the porch of our lovely cottages nestled under the Hawkdun Range at our accommodation at Wedderburn Cottages. This afternoon there is an opportunity to meet and enjoy afternoon tea with our hosts, the Duncan family, 5th generation farmers, and tour their high country station and learn about the rural farming lifestyle. Eat out at the Wedderburn Tavern. (B/L/D)
Cycle Distance: 43km
Day 4 Wedderburn – Waipiata
Bike from Wedderburn to Hyde (46km) on the cycleway. Highlights of today’s bike ride include crossing the Maniototo Plains, visiting the rural art deco town of Ranfurly, following the Taieri River as it snakes around the Rock and Pillar Range, and crossing the unaltered stone bridge over Cap Burn, the 32m high Price’s Creek Viaduct and 152m long tunnel, to Hyde. We stay the night in Waipiata township at Tussock Lodge & the Waipiata Country Hotel and enjoy a celebratory meal in the Waipiata Country Hotel. (B/L/D)
Cycle Distance: 46km
Day 5 Waipiata – Christchurch/Dunedin/Queenstown
Bike from Hyde to the end of the Otago Central Rail Trail at Middlemarch (27km). Highlights of the final days cycle ride include views of the Rock and Pillar and Taieri Ranges, the Hyde Railway Disaster memorial, and dropping down into the Strath Taieri Plain, an area used in the filming of the Hobbit Trilogies. In the afternoon we make our way back to Christchurch arriving at around 6pm. Alternatively opt to end your journey in Dunedin in true style by taking the historic Taieri Gorge Railway to Dunedin, or catch a shuttle back to Clyde or Queenstown (arriving at 6:15pm).
Cycle Distance: 27km
13 Oct 2019
10 Nov 2019
8 Dec 2019
19 Jan 2020
2 Feb 2020
16 Feb 2020
1 Mar 2020
22 Mar 2020
26 Apr 2020
What’s included in the tour package?
- 4 nights twinshare en-suite accommodation
- 4 evening meals; 3 lunches; 4 breakfasts (indicated by B/L/D in the itinerary)
- fruit, snacks & morning teas on the trail
- the services of a tour leader who provides vehicle support & information
- cycle repair support
- side trips to St Bathans and Naseby
- Duncan Family farm tour at Wedderburn
- all transport from/to Christchurch
- Goods & Services Tax of 15%
Not included in the tour package:
- lunch on Days 1/5
- wine; beer; espresso coffees
- single accommodation supplement ($300)
- bike hire ($190) or e-bike hire ($450)
- Taieri Gorge Train to Dunedin (from $81-$97)
- transfers to Queenstown/Dunedin to Clyde on Day 1 ($35/$20 approx)
- transfers from Middlemarch to Clyde/Queenstown on Day 5 ($55/$115)
Our Guiding Team
Customer Service/Tour Leader (Founder and Managing Director)
Hilary is at the helm of 'mission control', and is often the person who answers your call or email, although is now spending more time out and about on tours. After travelling the world for several years and working in tourism on her big 'OE', Hilary came home and fell in love with NZ once again and in particular, the South Island. With a love of the outdoors and marketing background she teamed up with her mother to form 'PureTrails'. Hilary enjoys photography, cycling, walking, gardening, and being a mum to Josie & Sullivan.
Tour Leader (since 2019 and previously 2006 - 2013)
Sue has recently rejoined the PureTrails team having guided many walking and cycling trips for PureTrails between 2006 - 2013. Now fully retired from the family farm on the Canterbury Plains, Sue is kept busy by two active grandkids. Sue along with husband Brian enjoy exploring the many South Island cycle trails with a large contingent of friends each year. Sue looks forward to hosting trips on the Otago Rail Trail once again.
Tour Leader (since 2011)
John has a background in human resources and has worked for mining companies in NZ, Australia & Papua New Guinea in the health and safety field, as well as a stint as a commissioned officer in the NZ territorial army. Nowadays John has semi retired to a lifestyle block near Rangiora where he aims to breed highland cattle with his wife Julie. Outside of work John has always been a bit of an adventurer, sportsman and philosopher, enjoying mountain biking, tramping, swimming and playing bagpipes.