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5 Day Otago Rail Trail Classic - Guided

Total Cycling Distance 196 kms

Days
5

Pricing From
$1795

Difficulty

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Overview

Bike Otago Central Rail Trail, New Zealand. Step back in time to New Zealands rural past and join us on this cycle delight. The route follows the old Maniototo rail line from Clyde in central Otago to Middlemarch. Our Otago Central Rail Trail cycling tour ends with one of the world's great train trips as we travel on the spectacular Taieri Gorge railway into Dunedin.

The Otago Central Rail Trail trip is not just about the cycling but rather exploring the many small towns and abandoned gold diggings and meeting local inhabitants on the Otago Rail Trail. Along the way we will even try our hand at the ancient art of curling (bowls on ice).

Trip Highlights

  • Cycle the dedicated cycle trails of NZ's original great ride
  • Take in the dramatic landscapes, valleys and gorges
  • Admire the hand-built viaducts and tunnels along the trail
  • Take a journey on the famous Taieri Gorge Railway
  • Explore the old gold mining township of Clyde
  • Experience the local 'southern hospitality' of Central Otago
  • Try your hand at 'curling' in Naseby (optional)

"Top notch organization with terrific people. The scenery on the rail trail was magnificent and the bikes were great quality." Patty McCrary, USA.

Tour Grading:  Moderate      

This trip is ideal for Recreational Cyclists. All tours can be adapted by the guides for stronger cyclists wanting to cover more ground.

Bridge between Lauder and Ophir

Bridge between Lauder and Ophir on the Otago Central Rail Trail

Oturehua General Store and Coffee Shop

Oturehua General Store and Coffee Shop

Oturehua Otago Central Rail Trail

Cyclists cross old bridge near Oturehua

Cyclists near Oturehua

Cyclists near Oturehua

Cyclists near Oturehua

Cyclists near Oturehua

Cyclists near Oturehua

Cyclists near Oturehua

Group of Cyclists at Galloway

Group of Cyclists at Galloway

Indoor curling rink at Naseby

Indoor curling rink at Naseby

Blue Lake near St Bathans

Reflections in Blue Lake near St Bathans in autumn

Otago Central Rail Trail

Peak hour in the South Island of New Zealand

Otago Central Rail Trail

Cycling near a hydro canal near Tekapo in South Canterbury, New Zealand

Otago Central Rail Trail

Bike tour guide instructing cyclists near Tekapo in South Canterbury, New...

Taieri Gorge Railway

Taieri Gorge Railway

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Christchurch to Clyde22km road cycling

Your adventure begins with the drive across the picturesque Canterbury Plains. After pausing for refreshments at the sweet country town of Geraldine, we’ll continue through rolling farmland to reach Fairlie where we’ll stop for lunch. The scenic journey over Burke’s Pass is a fitting introduction to the famous Mackenzie Country, where Lake Tekapo soon appears as a bright, blue jewel.

Hopping on our bikes, we’ll warm up with an easy ride along peaceful hydro-canals lined with epic panoramas of the Southern Alps. Driving over the stunning Lindis Pass to reach Central Otago, we’ll arrive in Clyde.

Enjoy a relaxing stroll around the old town or get back on the bike for a short ride along the mighty Clutha–Mata-au River before we meet up for our first group dinner.

Cycling distance: 22km/14 miles; optional additional riding in the afternoon

Meals: D

Day 2Clyde to Lauder44km Rail Trail Ride

Leaving Clyde via the historic railway line, we’ll track across rural plains encircled by dramatic mountain ranges. Beyond the tiny settlement of Chatto Creek, the trail climbs gently before levelling off to reach our lunch stop, Omakau. We’ll then hop on the bus for the short detour to must-see Ophir township and the Raggedy Range lookout for a bird’s eye view of region.

Back on the bikes, it’s another 9km of easy riding to reach Lauder. Late afternoon we’ll drive to St Bathans for a walk around the surreal Blue Lake formed during the 1800s gold days.

Enjoy a game of pool or banter at the Lauder pub before we tuck into a well-earned dinner.

Cycling distance: 44km/27 miles

Meals: B,D

Day 3Lauder to Ranfurly 47km Rail Trail Ride

Today’s ride features the trip’s first tunnels and bridges as we trace the pretty Poolburn Gorge and head into the Idaburn Valley. We’ll stop at Hayes Engineering Works, a delightfully rustic heritage site, and Oturehua’s old-fashioned grocery store.

After lunch, it’s a gentle climb to the rail trail’s highpoint, then a downhill roll to Ranfurly with its striking art deco architecture. Late afternoon, we’ll take the short drive to Naseby, a cute forestry town famous for its indoor curling rink.

Here’s your chance to try ‘bowls on ice’ – it’s very addictive! Naseby is also terrific for a stroll or a sup at the old pub, both nice ways to wind down before we return to Ranfurly for dinner.

Cycling distance 47km/29 miles

Meals: B,D

Day 4Ranfurly to Dunedin59km Rail Trail Ride

Today combines the trip’s biggest daily distance with some of its most fun riding. The trail tracks towards Waipiata, then follows the edge of an old lake before entering the Taieri Gorge with yet more bridges and tunnels. It’s a flowing downhill run to the historic Hotel Hyde, a picturesque spot for a breather.

From here, the final 27km takes in the poignant 1943 Hyde rail disaster memorial, then wends across rolling plains towards the trail’s end at Middlemarch.

After a well-earned café break, we’ll board the heritage Taieri Gorge Railway for the spectacular journey through to Dunedin where we‘ll celebrate our trip with a final group dinner.

Cycling distance: 59km/37 miles

Meals: B,D

Day 5Dunedin to Christchurch24-40km Coastal Rides

After breakfast, it’s a fond farewell to fellow riders leaving us in Dunedin. For the rest of us, it’s off to Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street.

After a short but sharp walk up and down again, we’ll continue driving north to admire the Moeraki Boulders. Further north, we’ll get back in the saddle for a final ride along the coast, through rural countryside to reach Oamaru. There, wander around the portside park and historic Victorian Precinct to enjoy boutique shopping, dining, and photo ops galore.

After lunch we continue driving northwards across the Canterbury Plains, and on to Christchurch for a central city drop-off around 6pm.

Cycling distance: 24–40km/15–24 miles

Meals: B

Cost per person

October 2020 - April 2021

  • Twin: NZ$1,795
  • Single Supplement: NZ$495

Bike Rental: NZ$170
E-Bike Rental: NZ$400

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Christchurch to Clyde22km road cycling

Your adventure begins with the drive across the picturesque Canterbury Plains. After pausing for refreshments at the sweet country town of Geraldine, we’ll continue through rolling farmland to reach Fairlie where we’ll stop for lunch. The scenic journey over Burke’s Pass is a fitting introduction to the famous Mackenzie Country, where Lake Tekapo soon appears as a bright, blue jewel.

Hopping on our bikes, we’ll warm up with an easy ride along peaceful hydro-canals lined with epic panoramas of the Southern Alps. Driving over the stunning Lindis Pass to reach Central Otago, we’ll arrive in Clyde.

Enjoy a relaxing stroll around the old town or get back on the bike for a short ride along the mighty Clutha–Mata-au River before we meet up for our first group dinner.

Cycling distance: 22km/14 miles; optional additional riding in the afternoon

Meals: D

Day 2Clyde to Lauder44km Rail Trail Ride

Leaving Clyde via the historic railway line, we’ll track across rural plains encircled by dramatic mountain ranges. Beyond the tiny settlement of Chatto Creek, the trail climbs gently before levelling off to reach our lunch stop, Omakau. We’ll then hop on the bus for the short detour to must-see Ophir township and the Raggedy Range lookout for a bird’s eye view of region.

Back on the bikes, it’s another 9km of easy riding to reach Lauder. Late afternoon we’ll drive to St Bathans for a walk around the surreal Blue Lake formed during the 1800s gold days.

Enjoy a game of pool or banter at the Lauder pub before we tuck into a well-earned dinner.

Cycling distance: 44km/27 miles

Meals: B,D

Day 3Lauder to Ranfurly 47km Rail Trail Ride

Today’s ride features the trip’s first tunnels and bridges as we trace the pretty Poolburn Gorge and head into the Idaburn Valley. We’ll stop at Hayes Engineering Works, a delightfully rustic heritage site, and Oturehua’s old-fashioned grocery store.

After lunch, it’s a gentle climb to the rail trail’s highpoint, then a downhill roll to Ranfurly with its striking art deco architecture. Late afternoon, we’ll take the short drive to Naseby, a cute forestry town famous for its indoor curling rink.

Here’s your chance to try ‘bowls on ice’ – it’s very addictive! Naseby is also terrific for a stroll or a sup at the old pub, both nice ways to wind down before we return to Ranfurly for dinner.

Cycling distance 47km/29 miles

Meals: B,D

Day 4Ranfurly to Dunedin59km Rail Trail Ride

Today combines the trip’s biggest daily distance with some of its most fun riding. The trail tracks towards Waipiata, then follows the edge of an old lake before entering the Taieri Gorge with yet more bridges and tunnels. It’s a flowing downhill run to the historic Hotel Hyde, a picturesque spot for a breather.

From here, the final 27km takes in the poignant 1943 Hyde rail disaster memorial, then wends across rolling plains towards the trail’s end at Middlemarch.

After a well-earned café break, we’ll board the heritage Taieri Gorge Railway for the spectacular journey through to Dunedin where we‘ll celebrate our trip with a final group dinner.

Cycling distance: 59km/37 miles

Meals: B,D

Day 5Dunedin to Christchurch24-40km Coastal Rides

After breakfast, it’s a fond farewell to fellow riders leaving us in Dunedin. For the rest of us, it’s off to Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street.

After a short but sharp walk up and down again, we’ll continue driving north to admire the Moeraki Boulders. Further north, we’ll get back in the saddle for a final ride along the coast, through rural countryside to reach Oamaru. There, wander around the portside park and historic Victorian Precinct to enjoy boutique shopping, dining, and photo ops galore.

After lunch we continue driving northwards across the Canterbury Plains, and on to Christchurch for a central city drop-off around 6pm.

Cycling distance: 24–40km/15–24 miles

Meals: B

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