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, providing lots of opportunities to explore the history of the area. 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
- Try your hand at the ancient sport of curling in Naseby
- 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. We stay in the charming historic precinct of Clyde in the beautifully restored Dunstan House – an historic hotel, and eat out at a local restaurant.
Cycle Distance: 5km
Day 2 Clyde – Ophir
Begin cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail, biking from Clyde to Ophir (37km). 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: 37km
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
This morning we make a side trip in our support vehicle to the town of Naseby where you can opt to try your hand at the ancient sport of curling on the new indoor purpose built ice facility. 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 Motels 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.
Cycle Distance: 27km
17 Sep 2017
8 Oct 2017
22 Oct 2017
5 Nov 2017
19 Nov 2017
3 Dec 2017
10 Dec 2017
31 Dec 2017
7 Jan 2018
28 Jan 2018
11 Feb 2018
25 Feb 2018
11 Mar 2018
18 Mar 2018
25 Mar 2018
8 Apr 2018
22 Apr 2018
13 May 2018
What’s included in the tour package?
- 4 nights twinshare 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)
- optional curling ($30 approx)
- Taieri Gorge Train to Dunedin ($77 approx)
- transfers to Queenstown/Dunedin to Clyde on Day 1 ($35/$20)
- transfers from Middlemarch to Clyde/Queenstown on Day 5 ($55/$115)
Our Guiding Team
Tour Leader (since 2008)
Joyce grew up in the tiny South Canterbury settlement of Burkes Pass. She worked in the beautiful alpine environment of the Mackenzie Basin in various pursuits, including in the post office as a Telephone Exchange Operator. It was here that Joyce was inspired to become a water colour artist. Nowadays Joyce is busy tending her garden, cycling around the quiet rural roads of Russells Flat in mid Canterbury, tutoring water colour, cooking, tramping, and travelling extensively abroad with husband John.
Tour Leader (since 2017)
Kevin has recently retired to Ohoka, Christchurch, after working 35 years as an IT manager in the Education and Local Government sectors. Both Kevin and wife Karen are passionate about the outdoors and have participated in most North and South Island cycling events. Kevin is a keen sportsperson, a doting grandfather (aka Pop) and has recently rekindled his love for acrylic landscape painting. Kevin joins the team after having completed two PureTrails tours with friends (as a customer!) and looks forward to introducing visitors to spectacular South Island vistas and rewarding cycling adventures.
Tour Leader (since 2014)
Terry joins Pure Trails with a wealth of bicycle knowhow driven by a lifelong passion of cycling. As Mountainbike Captain of the North Canterbury Cycling club, Terry is regularly out and about organising club rides for riders of all levels, and has competed in events across NZ and Australia. Terry has spent 30+ years as an Airport Firefighter with the Christchurch Airport Fire Service, and prior to that gained an apprenticeship as a Certified Automotive Machinist. When not out cycling Terry also enjoys tramping and the outdoors.
Customer Service/Operations/Logistics (Founder and Managing Director)
Hilary is at the helm of 'mission control', and is the person who answers your call or email. 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 in the 'PureTrails'. Hilary enjoys photography, cycling, thai cooking, and being a mum to Josie & Sullivan.