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.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Queenstown, New Zealand
Finish
Queenstown, New Zealand
Destination
New Zealand
Style
Original
Theme
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 to 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’.

  • 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 if 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 backmarker.

Itinerary

Kia-ora! Welcome to Queenstown, New Zealand. 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.

This cycling trip kicks off with a pick-up at 9 am. After the meeting, you’ll jump in a private vehicle and follow the Kawarau River to nearby Clyde (85kms, approximately 1.5 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/95 miles 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 and a locally-brewed Dark Horse beer or cider at the renowned Commercial Hotel before settling in for a well-earned sleep.

For those looking for a little more riding we highly recommend a side trip to Ophir (4kms/2miles return from Omakau). Once a thriving Goldfields hub, its well-preserved historical buildings and one of the last surviving suspension bridges in Central Otago (Dan O’Connell Bridge) are well worth the extra effort.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (shared facilities) (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 37 kilometres/23 miles, mostly flat. 
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 the 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 Wedderburn 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/26 miles, mostly flat.
A short but good day today – just 23 kilometres in total – though it's mostly downhill from Wedderburn 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 2000 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 today's 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.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today's riding distance is approximately 21 kilometres/13 miles, mostly 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.

Some rooms may have shared facilities.
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, passing through more tunnels (including the famous Daisybank tunnel) then 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 in 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/33 miles, 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).

The transfer from Middlemarch to Queenstown/Clyde departs at 2pm.

Please note that as of 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. An e-bike option (at additional cost) may be available on this trip. We have limited numbers of these bikes available and they are on 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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