Jump in the saddle and follow the Central Otago Rail Trail through this beautiful landscape.

Is there a better country to cycle through than New Zealand? 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 Queenstown, the adventure capital of the country and perhaps the world, 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 Southern 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
Dunedin, New Zealand
Destination
New Zealand
Style
Original
Theme
Cycling
Code
POXC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 14
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Cycle the spectacular Otago Central Rail Trail, the oldest rail trail in New Zealand and voted 'New Zealand's Favourite Ride' for the past two years. 

  • Ring along flat, traffic-free paths aslongside some of the South Island's most stunning scenery.

  • Begin your journey in Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand and arguably the world.

  • Experience firsthand the famous hospitality of New Zealanders on a trail built specifically to cater for cyclists.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This a new trip for 2019. While we have thoroughly researched every detail of the itinerary, and are working with a local supplier with over 10 years experience riding this exact route, we sometimes find it's necessary to make small changes after the first few trips have run. Changes are always based on feedback from past travellers and our ground staff. 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.

  • 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. The vehicle will remain on the roads but remain close by as a safety precaution. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group. Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back marker.

  • 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. Known as 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 welcome meeting at 6 pm then the the evening is free for you to do as you wish before settling into your accommodation for night.

Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the welcome meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Optional Activities
  • Paragliding NZ - NZD200
  • River Rafting - NZD220
  • Bungy Jumping - NZD135
  • Jet boating - NZD135
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Explore the area by bike and boat during today's adventure on the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, featuring some amazing cycling and a jet boat ride on the Clutha River from Doctors Point to Shingle Creek. The Gorge Trail is a tad more challenging than the Otago Rail Trail so prepare for a few climbs and descent, but any extra effort is well worth the scenery and views. The adventure starts in Clyde, an hour out of Queenstown, where you'll be fitted with your bike then transferred to the starting point at Roxburgh Hydro Dam. From here, the group will start cycling back to Clyde along the trail. Aside from the views, the area also has a rich goldmining history – Clyde was actually New Zealand's most populous town at the height of gold fever. Cycle 12 kilometres to Shingle Creek, where you'll be picked up by jet boat and transferred to Doctors Point, then continue a further 10 kilometres to arrive back in Clyde. 
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you'll start riding on the spectacular Otago Central Rail Trail, which has been voted NZ's Favourite Ride for the past two years. The trail runs for 152 km 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 in 2000, and is now – in our humble opinion – the best way to explore the area and contribute to the local economy. You'll begin the day in Clyde and cycle past vineyards, over an old wooden trestle bridge and along the Clutha River Centennial Track for a distance of 16 kilometres before arriving in Alexandra. The rest of the day is at your leisure – check out the gold rush-era town or perhaps visit one of the wineries in the surrounding area.
Included Activities
  • Jet boat - Roxburgh
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Enjoy breakfast in Alexandra then cycle toward Galloway Station, which was once a busy station but all that remains now is the ladies' waiting room. You'll stop here for morning tea, and your leader will brew a cup of tea to complement some old-fashioned home baking, before continuing to Chatto Creek Tavern for lunch. This historic stone building still serves as a pub and though Chatto Creek has a tiny, tiny population, visitors come from all over to check out the Best Country Hotel of 2013. After lunch, cycle up Tiger Hill then cruise downhill to your overnight acommodation in Omakau. The total cycling distance for the day is approximately 28 kilometres, and after arriving in town there's the option to visit the historic gold mining towns of St Bathan's and Ophir before an evening dinner at the Commercial Hotel. And don't worry, you'll take a bus to the mining towns, not your bike.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Set off for a longer ride of 42 kilometres. The highlight of today's cycle is the beautiful Poolburn Gorge section of the trail featuring 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 Wedderbrun. Here, your leader will take you on a trip to Naseby so you can try your hand at curling and take a look around the old gold mining town. In the evening, enjoy a traditional, farm-style meal at the Weddernburn Tavern and rest those legs.



Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Another long day today – 43 kilometres in total – though it's mostly downhill from Weddernburn to Ranfurly, Otago's Art Deco capital. Enjoy morning tea here, then cross the Manioto Plains towards the Waipiata Tavern for lunch. This is Lord of the Rings territory, and the flat plains give way to snow-capped mountains on the horizon. Continue after lunch and pedal 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 on your way to Hyde, where you'll be picked up and transferred back to Waipiata for the evening. 
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Transfer back to Hyde for your final day on the trail. Today you'll cycle approximately 29 kilometres with stunning views of the Rock and Pillar Ranges. It's slightly downhill, and you'll stop at the Hyde Railway Disaster Memorial, which commemorates the fatal 1943 derailment of a passenger train. Enjoy a morning snack en route before experiencing what the trail was originally built for as you take the Taieri Gorge Tourist Train to Dunedin on the original Otago Central Railway (approximately 64 km). Arrive in Dunedin around 2.30 pm, where you'll overnight. This beautiful city is the second-largest on the South Island, and is a UNESCO City of Literature. It's home to the country's oldest university, the University of Otago, and students make up a relatively high percentage of the population. Perhaps enjoy a farewell dinner with your group and check out some of the city's lively bars. Transport back to Queenstown by bus can also be arranged if required.
Included Activities
  • Taieri Gorge Tourist Train
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your South Island adventure comes to an end today and there are no activities planned. That being said, Dunedin is a beautiful city and it's well worth either sticking around a little longer or heading back to Queenstown for a serious adrenaline fix.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

6 breakfasts

Transport

Bicycle, minivan, train (e-bike available)

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights)

Included activities

  • Jet boat - Roxburgh
  • Taieri Gorge Tourist Train

Dates & availability

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Important notes

To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.
On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed). Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back marker.
With the exception of the Roxburgh Gorge Trail on Day 2 our riding is done mostly on a well graded and maintained gravel cycle path, so there are no technical cycling skills required.
There’s the possibility of a few hiccups along the way – a puncture here and there – but there’s no doubt this is an incredibly rewarding adventure.
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.
If you feel like doing all the riding but with less effort we have the option of hiring an electric bike (e-bike) on this trip.

Essential trip information

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