The much anticipated Lake Dunstan Trail linking Cromwell with Clyde in Central Otago is now open! We rode the trail shortly after it opened in early May and can report that it is every bit as stunning and dramatic as it was predicted to be, if not more so. The carefully crafted boardwalks cantilevered above the calm waters of Lake Dunstan, the extensive schist stone culverts and impressive suspension bridge will take your breath away. All set in a raw landscape of schist rock and tussock with extensive elevated views up and down the valley. It was slightly longer than we had anticipated (44km) with several significant zig zag climbs, so we would definitely recommend ebikes on this trail for maximum enjoyment.
You can ride this new trail as part of our ‘Central Otago Trail’ tour where we have allowed a full day for this 44km ride so there is no rush to get through or keep up with a group. We also ride the Gibbston Valley Trail, Hawea River Trail, Wanaka Outlet Track, Roxburgh Gorge Trail and Clutha Gold Trail on this fantastic 6 day trip. Central Otago has really become the hub of trail cycling in the South!
We recently hosted children’s book author and illustrator Mike Howell on an Around the Mountains Trail trip. A former art teacher at Motueka High School, Mike enjoys getting out and about in the outdoors and is always gleaning new story ideas from what he sees in nature. Co-authored with his son Clayson, titles such as “Grandad and The Three Greedy Goats”, “The Three Greedy Pigs and The Big Friendly Pig Dog”, “The Tale of the Two Tough Toms”, and “Taniwhasaurus” gives you an idea of Mike’s sense of humour and his unique kiwi take traditional children’s stories. A great addition to any child’s bookshelf.
If you are looking for Christmas gift ideas for kids or grandkids, check out Mike’s beautiful books at The Copy Press.
Have you cycled the Otago Rail Trail yet? This trail passes through numerous small farming communities in Central Otago on an otherwise vast open landscape of tussock and schist rock plains, cattle and sheep stations, and willow lined streams in fertile valleys, all surrounded by an alluring mountainous backdrop.
Described as a ‘timeless land’, the scenery will keep you mesmerised as you cycle the 152km trail. The Otago Rail Trail follows a former railway corridor built in the late 1800s/early 1900s, and so the history associated with the railway line weaves the stories of our pioneering ancestors through each kilometer of the trail, really bringing the whole region to life like no other trail.
Thanks to Barbara Hoy for these photos taken on our Otago Rail Trail CLASSIC tour last week!
PureTrailsNZ operate two different trips on the Otago Central Rail Trail:
Otago Rail Trail CLASSIC
5 days – Ride the trail at a relaxed pace, explore the historic gold mining town of St Bathan’s and meet the rural farming communities on an informative farm tour.
Otago Rail Trail RELAXED
6 days – Cycle the trail at a relaxed pace, and discover more of this region including a have-a-go curling session, a farm tour and country garden visit with Devonshire tea at the delightful Clachanburn Gardens.
Last week we were privileged to host 3 generations of the Davies family from Wellington our our West Coast Wilderness Trail & Beyond tour.
Cycling is a great adventure to do as a family group. Cycling brings a challenge and sense of achievement for both young and old, and fantastic memories are formed for life. Our supported tours take the hassle out of all the logistics, and give you the assurance of our support vehicle with you throughout the entire trip should any members of your group need a rest.
If you have a group of 8 – 15 people (no age limits!) we can host you on a private departure on any trail during the October January or April school holidays. Contact us to discuss your next family adventure.
On December 19 the long awaited ‘Sailors Cutting to Benmore Dam’ section of Alps to Ocean trail will be open to the public! The new 16km of trail will be a real highlight as it snakes around the bays of Lake Benmore, before climbing towards Bemore Dam. This section will be included in our EPIC Alps to Ocean Trail trips from January!
Our thoughts go out to the Ohau Community who have been devastated by the huge fire in early October. A number of people we have worked with over the years have lost their homes and we wish them all the best in the rebuild. Fortunately the Alps 2 Ocean Trail suffered minimal damage and the trail is now open again between Twizel & Omarama.
Is this cycle trail on your bucket list? The Alps 2 Ocean Trail offers an astounding array of scenery over its 310km span. From Aoraki Mt Cook and the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps to the surreal turquoise blue glacial lakes, to the vast open tussocky plains of the Mackenzie Basin, to the fertile river terraces of the Waitaki Valley, to the limestone rock pocked green farmland of North Otago, culminating in the delightful Victorian Precinct of Oamaru beside the Pacific Ocean.
PureTrailsNZ operate two different trips on the A2O Trail:
Alps to Ocean Trail EPIC
For cycling purists looking for a challenge, the full ‘EPIC’ trail is 310km of cycling over 5 days including all the gnarly bumpy bits and challenging climbs. You will sleep well at the end of each day!
Alps to Ocean Trail EASY
Or for those who know their limits and seek enjoyment over endurance, the ‘EASY’ trail is 200km of cycling over 5 days with the trickier bits omitted and more time to check out some of the local off-trail sights!
The Canterbury back country area – the vast braided river headwaters and alpine tarns – is often overlooked by tourists but contains some hidden gems and very scenic cycling routes well worth exploring. Join our next Canterbury Backcountry Trail trip on November 16 – 20 2021 to see it for yourself.
While many of our lives have come to a bit of a standstill since covid-19, you can rest assured the contractors tasked with building more cycle trails across the South Island have been very busy. Here is a rundown of what is currently happening:
Alps 2 Ocean Trail
The long awaited Sailors Cutting to Benmore Dam section is now under construction! The new trail follows a route which will take it through Bog Roy Station from Sailors Cutting around the shores of the Ahuriri Arm of Lake Benmore, over the saddle with its views out across the lake, and then descend and finish at the Benmore Dam. It means cyclists will no longer have to negotiate the traffic on the Otematata Saddle stretch of SH83. A highlight of the new approx 16km stretch will not only be the views across lake but a bridge to connect two bluffs that will carry cyclists and walkers 10m above the water. It is hoped the new section would be open to the public before Christmas 2020.
This new section will be included in our Alps to Ocean EPIC tour itinerary.
Lake Dunstan Trail
There is some amazing things going on in the Cromwell Gorge at the moment. Seemingly inaccessible land is being tamed by a new trail, the Lake Dunstan Trail, which will be absolutely stunning to ride. Check out the rock stacking and the detailed digger work to create the right grade track below the 4WD track; whilst still protecting the plants and minimising the visual impact. All on track to be completed by January 2021.
You can ride new Lake Dunstan Trail on our Central Otago Trail tour, along with the Roxburgh Gorge, Clutha Gold, Gibbston Valley and Hawea River Trails.
Kawatiri Coastal Trail
The Kawatiri Coastal Trail is a 55km grade 2 cycling and walking heritage trail between Charleston and Westport in the northern West Coast. It is over-endowed with spectacular wild coastal views, a great variety of sub-tropical native plant groups plus wildlife including Seals, Penguins, Weka and Kiwi, set into highly interesting geology and stunning landforms. The trail from Westport to Charleston is under contruction and is expected to be completed in December 2021. It will be a fantastic ride to do in conjunction with the West Coast Wilderness Trail.
We will be including the Kawatiri Coastal Trail in our West Coast Wilderness & Beyond tour as the various sections open.
It seems the number of people riding ebikes these days has ‘gone through the roof’. I am constantly asked “Do I need an ebike to ride this trail?” from people I would consider not to need an ebike, but have developed a FOBLB or ‘fear of being left behind’.
These are perfectly capable and fit cyclists, but because their friends and cycling companions are now on ebikes they are worried they will be holding up the rest of the group on their standard non-motorised bike.
My only question at the moment relates to types of bikes. Do you know how things normally work out when some people are on ebikes and others on ordinary bikes? I don’t have any experience of biking with ebikers. I’m 67—not super speedy. I can see that all other bikers bar Richard and me are on ebikes for this trip. Look forward to your thoughts.”
Here is my advice:
On our tours we always encourage everyone to ride at their own pace rather than in a tight group. People on ebikes are not always the fastest – a lot of it depends on how much time people spend getting themselves organised, and how much interest they have in stopping and reading all the information panels along the way. The distances on the Otago Rail Trail are very achievable so if some people get to the end half an hour or more behind the others it is not the end of the world…
Ebikes can be a type of ‘insurance’ even if you are a experienced and fit rider, in the event of bad weather and headwinds etc. You will know your friends capabilities and where you fit within that, so can make an assessment on what is right for you.
If you are happy on normal bikes I would stick with that – and be prepared for the fact that you may be a little bit behind, but that is not really a problem and you will get to enjoy the scenery and history of the trail at your own pace.
I hope that information helps.”
Don’t get FOBLB’d, ride for your own enjoyment, at your own pace!