Jump in the saddle and follow the Central Otago Rail Trail through an unforgettable landscape

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.


Start
Queenstown, New Zealand
Finish
Queenstown, New Zealand
Destination
New Zealand
Style
Original
Theme
Active Adventures, Cycling
Code
PHXC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • 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 for cyclists.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations and working with new partners can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’. For Cycling trips these changes are usually around finding even better roads to ride on, which can alter the distance/time we spend riding on a day to day basis, but can sometimes even extend to accommodation or included activities if needed.

  • 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. Your leader will inform you at the initial group meeting is this is the case on your departure.

  • Unlike most Intrepid Cycling trips this itinerary does not have a full time support vehicle constantly following the group. As well as the short cycling distances making it unnecessary, no vehicles are allowed to drive along the rail trail itself. 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. There may be times when the leader asks one of the group to act as a back marker.

Itinerary

Kia-ora! Welcome to Queenstown, New Zealand. This cycling trip kicks off with a pick-up at 9 am. After the meeting you’ll jump in a private vehicle to nearby Clyde (approximately 1 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 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 at the renowned Commercial Hotel before settling in for a well-earned sleep.
Accommodation
  • Hotel/Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Guided bike ride - Otago Rail Trail
  • 3 days Bicycle Hire
Optional Activities
  • Jet boating - NZD135
  • Queenstown - Skyline Gondola from - AUD33
  • Bungy Jumping - NZD205
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Today's riding distance is approximately 45 kilometres, mostly flat. It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance and emergency contact details at this time. If you are going to be late please let your booking agent or hotel reception know. Please check the 'Joining Point' section of our notes to confirm where the welcome meeting will take place. 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.
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 trail before stopping for the night at Wedderburn. You may wish to take an optional trip to Naseby so you can try your hand at curling and take a look around the old gold mining town. In the evening, perhaps enjoy a traditional, farm-style meal at the Weddernburn Tavern and rest those legs.
Optional Activities
  • Naseby Indoor Curling Rink - NZD40
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today's riding distance is approximately 42 kilometres, mostly flat.
A short but good day today – just 23 kilometres in total – though it's mostly downhill from Weddernburn 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.

Finish your ride in Waipiata. Home to around 4000 diggers during the goldrush this once bustling town has faded into a sleepy backwater perfect for simply relaxing, perhaps over a well-earned brew at the one pub in town. For those looking to extend todays cycling – and add a ‘real’ climb - there is the option to continue up to the historic Hamiltons Cemetery (approx. 18kms return), the perfect place to look out over the Maniototo.
Accommodation
  • Hotel/Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today's riding distance is approximately 23 kilometres, mostly flat/downhill. You have the option of adding an extra 18kms (and 245m of climbing) to Hamilton Cemetery.
Due to the limited accommodation options in Waipiata we may stay in a nearby location on certain departures.
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, 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 into 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.
Included Activities
  • Transfer to Queenstown
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today's riding distance is approximately 53 kilometres, mostly flat/downhill. Please note that no accommodation is included in Queenstown tonight. For those wanting to continue on to Dunedin rather than return to Queenstown, you can experience what the trail was originally built for as you take the Taieri Gorge Tourist Train to Dunedin on the original Otago Central Railway (not included).

Note: As at 1 September 2020 the train from Middlemarch to Dunedin is suspended. A bus shuttle is still available. Please check their website for further details.

Please note we do not currently offer pre/post trip accommodation in Queenstown.

Meals

3 breakfasts

Transport

Bicycle, minivan (e-bike available, subject to availability)

Accommodation

Hotel/Guesthouse (3 nights)

Included activities

  • Guided bike ride - Otago Rail Trail
  • 3 days Bicycle Hire
  • Transfer to Queenstown

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Cycle New Zealand: Otago Rail Trail trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. This trip starts at 9am and finishes on arrival back to Queenstown on Day 4 (approx 5pm)
2. Please note we do not currently offer pre/post trip accommodation in Queenstown.
3. To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.
4. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group.
5. This trip does not have a support vehicle but your luggage is transported for you from accommodation to accommodation each day.
6. Our riding is done mostly on a well graded and maintained gravel cycle path, so there are no technical cycling skills required.
7. As accommodation on this trip is multi-share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same sex. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. If you’d prefer not to share, a single room supplement is available at an additional charge. Please ask your travel consultant for more details.
8. An e-bike option (at additional cost) may be available on this trip. We have limited numbers of these bikes available and they are an 'on request' basis only. A request does not guarantee an e-bike, only a confirmed booking. Please ask your agent for more details at the time of booking.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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