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.
Rug up warm and ride the Otago Rail Trail during winter and be rewarded with Central Otago’s stunning winter wonderland scenery. Stay in cosy lodgings and relax in pubs with roaring fires. 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. Come prepared for the cold conditions and prepare to be blown away by the raw but stunningly beautiful Central Otago winter wonderland. Refer to our Level of Difficulty gradings for more information.
Otago Rail Trail Tour Highlights
- Cycle the 150km Otago Rail Trail
- Enjoy the raw winter 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 or ice skating
- 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. Settle into our accommodation in the charming historic precinct of Clyde, and eat out at a local restaurant.
Cycle Distance: 0km
Day 2 Clyde – Ophir
We start the day with bike fittings and a short ride around the village to familiarise ourselves with the bikes. Begin the Otago Central Rail Trail, cycling from Clyde to Ophir (40km). Highlights of today’s ride include the wooden trestle Muttontown Viaduct, the Old Tucker Hill gold diggings, lunch in the historic Chatto Creek Tavern, views of the Dunstan Mountains and Raggedy Range, spotting brown trout in the Manuherikia River, and staying at the charming historic town of Ophir at Blacks Hotel. Snuggle up to the fire at Blacks Hotel and enjoy a night of great food and a warm atmosphere.
Cycle Distance: 40km
Day 3 Ophir – Wedderburn
Cycle from Ophir to Wedderburn on the Otago bike trail (42km). 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), a visit to the original general store, Gilchrists, at Oturehua, and the wee town of Wedderburn at the top of the rail trail. Relax and enjoy the views from the porch of our cosy cottages nestled under the Hawkdun Range at our accommodation at Wedderburn Cottages. Eat at the Wedderburn Tavern. (B/L/D)
Cycle Distance: 42km
Day 4 Wedderburn
Today we have a rest day off the trail to explore some of the other points of interest in the Maniototo area. This morning there is an opportunity to meet and enjoy morning tea with our hosts, the Duncan family – 5th generation farmers, and tour their high country station and learn about the farming lifestyle (pending group numbers). We then make our way to the historic gold-mining town of St Bathan’s to view the stunning Blue Lake, with a mandatory stop at the Vulcan Hotel! Finally we visit Naseby, 2000ft above worry level, where you can opt to try your hand at the ancient sport of curling on an indoor purpose built ice facility. Alternatively there is the option to ice skate or try the daring ice luge (in season). We head back to Wedderburn to our cosy cottages and a meal in the tavern.
Cycle Distance: 0km
Day 5 Wedderburn – Waipiata
Cycle from Wedderburn to Hyde (45km) 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: 45km
Day 5 Waipiata – Christchurch/Dunedin
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 (pending timetable availability).
Cycle Distance: 27km
19 Aug 2018
19 May 2019
16 Jun 2019
14 Jul 2019
What’s included in the tour package?
- 5 nights twinshare accommodation
- 5 evening meals; 4 lunches; 5 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 1/6
- wine; beer; espresso coffees
- single accommodation supplement ($350)
- bike hire ($190) or e-bike hire ($450)
- optional curling ($35 approx) or ice skating (in season)
- Taieri Gorge Train to Dunedin ($78 approx)* pending availability
- transfers to Queenstown/Dunedin to Clyde on Day 1 ($35/$20)
Our Guiding Team
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.
Tour Leader/Operations Support (since 2008; Director)
John grew up in the town of Wanganui, where in his school days, he helped build the famed 'Wanganui High School Tramping Club Hut' on Mount Ruapehu. John retired from a career as a Property Valuer and Agricultural consultant where he practised for many years in Western Australia and Tauranga. John has travelled, walked and cycled extensively abroad and now enjoys introducing our visitors to favourite parts of NZ. Other hobbies include cycling, bridge, gardening & horse racing (don't get him started on the latter!)