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4 Day Otago Rail Trail Winter Tour

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Description

Some pretty spectacular scenery surrounds you when you take on the Otago Rail Trail biking adventure. This trip takes you from either Queenstown or Clyde in a round trip on fairly easy bike trails. You can enjoy the comraderie of your fellow bikers and chat away while you take in the delightful winter backdrop.

You will be exploring towns and visiting a high country farm, where you enjoy devonshire tea with the family. There will be tunnels and railbridges to navigate, a ride through the Taieri Gorge, and a fun downhill run to amp up the muscles.
At the end of each day cycling you can discuss your days highlights over dinner and a few wines, most likely in front of a roaring fire or two, and get a good nights rest in the quiet country setting.

Inclusions

  • Start from Queenstown or Clyde 
  • No luggage to carry or accommodaton worrries 
  • Soak up the stunning views of the snow capped mountains
  • Take optional trips to the historic gold mining village of St Bathans and visit the Blue Lake 
  • Tour a high country family run farm in Wedderburn followed by devonshire teas 
  • Visit the art deco town of Ranfurly 
  • Experience an entertaining game of indoor curling in Naseby 
  • Cycle through the spectacular Taieri Gorge and visit the famous Hyde train disaster of 1943 
  • Twin share accommodation in small hotels and lodges with single supplements available 
  • Enjoy plenty of hot meals and roaring fires along the way 
  • Price includes bike rental (from our quality fleet of hybrid bikes with suspension and front bags)

Other Information

Duration

  • ​4 days of fully supported cycle riding on 150km of Rail Trail

Departure

  • ​Please click on the Price and Dates.

F.A.Q’s – Otago Rail Trail Cycle Tour

 
The Otago Central Rail Trail is 150km (93miles) of riding. On our Classic tour we spend 3 days actually cycling on the trail and on the Explorer 4 days on the trail. The first and last day of each tour is getting to and from Christchurch.  However we break up each day with some extra cycling.  On the way to Clyde we get in a ride along the stunning Tekapo canals with spectaular views of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps.  On the way back from Dunedin to Christchurch we cycle on the quiet coastal road to the historic quarter of Oamaru – flanked by farms on one side and the ocean on the other. The Otago Central Railway was originally constructed to transport supplies to and from the Goldrush. The line began development near Dunedin in 1879 and reached Middlemarch in 1891. The stretch that is now the Otago Central Rail Trail from Clyde to Middlemarch took another 16 years before it’s completion in 1907. In the end there was a total of 97 bridges and 13 tunnels. In the late 1980’s the railway line was used less and less as road transportation became more popular. It wasn’t until 1994 that the Department of Conservation redeveloped the trail for cyclists, walkers and horse riders. The track was re-graveled and 68 bridges were redecked.
 
What is the cycling terrain like?
The cycling terrain is classified as ‘easy’, however occasionally we have people find it bumpier then expected. The rail trail itself is hard packed gravel; our bikes have front suspension to make the riding more comfortable.
Are there any hills?
As the Rail Trail follows an old railway line there aren’t any big hills on the trail. Any incline is gradual with the maximum gradient being 2%.
 
How fit do I need to be?
This is an active holiday so you need to be fit and in good health. Fitness is difficult to define. However as a general rule you should be able to comfortably cycle for up to 3 – 4 hours a day, on some uneven ground and with some uphill. If you don’t do a lot of physical activity we would recommend you set yourself a programme starting with short cycles of say half an hour a day and gradually building up to 3 – 4 longer cycles each week, including some uphill. The secret is to start slowly, and increase your exercise gradually. Just remember the fitter you are the more enjoyable your trip will be. With the Rail Trail the one part of the body that generally hurts the most first is the bottom! If you haven’t been on a bike for a while it can take your bottom a few days just to get in the rhythm of being on a bike on a gravel road so the more practice you can get in at home the more fun you will find the riding!
 
Is there an age limit?
There’s no age limit on the trail! If you’re willing to give it a go then we’d love to have you along. If you have young kids who you’d like to bring along let us know and we can discuss options.
 
How many in the group?
We have a minimum of 4 and maximum of 14 on our standard tours. If you have a group that would like to come on the trail, let us know and we can always look at customising an itinerary especially for your group.
 
How does the tour start and finish?
On the first day of the tour we pick you up from a central Christchurch accommodation provider. We generally pick up around 7am. Once we’ve collected all clients we bring everyone back to our depot in Waltham for a bike fitting. After the bike fitting it’s on the road as we head out of Christchurch! 
 
Can I start the tour from Queenstown or Clyde?
If you would prefer to start the tour with us from Queenstown/Clyde we are happy to help arrange a shuttle for you. The cost of the shuttle is NZ$30, if you are bringing your own bike on the shuttle it is an extra NZ$10. The shuttle departs Queenstown at 3pm arriving into Clyde around 4:30pm. 
 
What time do we finish in Christchurch?
At the end of the tour we aim to be back into Christchruch around 6:00 – 6:30 pm. We then drop you off at a central accommodation provider of your choice. If you want to catch a domestic flight home on the last day we would recommend booking a flight for after 7.00pm. We can then drop you off at the airport as we return to town.
 
Can I finish the tour in Dunedin?
If you would like to finish the tour in Dunedin that’s not a problem, just let us know so we can inform your guide. It is also possible to leave the tour at any point along the coast travelling back from Dunedin to Christchurch, just let us know.
 
What sort of bikes do you use and how much is bike rental?
Bike rental for the Rail trail is NZ$150 pp for the Classic tour (NZ$180 pp for the Otago Rail Trail Explorer). However you are welcome to bring your own bike.  If you bring your own bike please ensure it is well maintained & that you carry spare tubes/pump etc. (A light cable lock is also handy.) If you are using our bikes we need your height details at the time of booking which allows us to fit your bike to you correctly.
We use a 27 speed hybrid cycle with high quality componentary & comfortable saddles. There is the option of either a ‘standard’ trek hybrid or you can also have a low stem, step through bike.
 
Do your bikes have carrier bags & water bottles?
As part of our cycle safety policy our bikes have side flags which create more cycle space on the road and bright rear reflectors. We believe in “Be Safe – Be Seen”.  Note – we supply helmets, saddles & pedals on our bicycles but you may wish to bring your own for your personal preference. Our bikes also have front and rear bike bags if you wish to use them. Each bike will also have a water bottle – these are refillable bottles and can be taken with you at the end of your tour. We use them to help cut down the 1.5 million tonnes of plastic waste per year that sales of bottled water generates in New Zealand.
 
Are meals included?
When you are on a cycling trip meals are of great importance. Basically don’t come if you want to lose weight! Our guides love to show off the variety of New Zealand foods and in the course of your trip you will get plenty of it! We dine at friendly restaurants each evening enjoying Central Otago’s hearty meals. On all of our cycling tours the support van will have a continual supply of water, fresh fruit and snacks.   On the Rail Trail Classic tour four breakfasts and four dinners are included. On the Rail Trail Explorer five breakfasts and five dinners are included. Lunches are not included and can be purchased along the trail.
 
Do you cater for special dietary needs?
On booking we do ask about dietary needs so this is your chance to tell us about your food intake.  Vegetarians and lactose intolerant diets are easily accommodated. Probably our biggest complaint has been that despite the exercise our clients have still put on weight. Wine, soft drinks, mineral water and other alcoholic beverages are not included in the cost of the tour. At dinner you will be responsible for your own drinks. A coffee or tea after the dinner is included for those that would like one.
 
Whats the accommodation like?
On the Rail Trail we stay at historic pubs, hotels and even an old school house! On the first two nights of the Rail Trail Classic tour, the rooms have shared facilities. On the last two nights of the tour everyone has their own ensuite. (last three for the Rail Trail Explorer tour).
 
Can I upgrade to an ensuited room for every night?
If you would like ensuited rooms every night of the tour, please just let us know and we will check availability and cost. It is generally no more then NZ$130 per twin/double/single to have ensuited rooms for the first two nights of the tour. 
 
Trips are organised and priced on a twin/double share basis.  Single supplement accommodation is available at an extra price, NZ $325 for Rail Trail Classic and NZ $419 for Rail Trail Explorer. If you book as a single and request a room mate we will arrange for you to share with a person of the same sex. If we cannot match you up with another person on the tour, you will get a room to yourself at no extra cost. Please note: although every endeavor is made to stay at the accommodation detailed in the itinerary, due to seasonal shortages occasionally, we need to use other accommodation of a similar standard.

Queenstown to Omakau - Omakau to Wedderburn Tavern - Wedderburn Tavern to Naseby - Naseby to Queenstown

DAY1

Queenstown to Omakau

We will pick you up from your pre tour accommodation in Queenstown at 8am, before driving via the scenic Kawarau & Cromwell Gorges to the start of the trail in Clyde. Its time to be fitted to your bike and for a safety briefing before we hit the trail! The first section through to Alexandra is just enough to get the legs warm before we stop for lunch. Then it’s back on the bike and through to Omakau & its welcoming historic pub, our home for the night. For those that feel like a bit more action we will take a side trip to the historic village of Ophir. Back to Omakau for a hot meal and a wine or two before a good nights rest.

(D)
Rail Trail riding:
37 kms 

 
DAY2

Omakau to Wedderburn Tavern

With a leisurely start to the day we wait until the morning chill has gone before cycling. Today we ride through the first two tunnels of the trip and over two rail bridges – and we cross Latitude 45 Degrees South twice! We will cycle through the Ida Valley passing the Ida Burn Dam (if its cold enough and the dam has frozen you may just be lucky enough to see people curling), before we enjoy a downhill cruise to Wedderburn and our accommodation for the night. Once in Wedderburn you can relax in your cottage and soak up the stunning views of snow capped mountains or you can join us on another side trip to the historic gold mining village of St Bathans and the Blue Lake. At the end of a busy day its just a matter of popping down to the cosy Wedderburn Tavern for a tasty hot dinner.

(B, L)
Rail Trail Ride:
 42km 

 
DAY3

Wedderburn Tavern to Naseby

We start the morning off the bike as we take a tour of Wedderburn farm. It’s a 5000 hectare high country family run farm. After the tour its time for some Devonshire tea at the homestead and then back to the bikes. What better way to start the days cycling than downhill! 13.5km will roll by pretty quickly when taking in the surrounding snow covered mountains and before you know it, it will be time to stop for lunch in the art deco town of Ranfurly. This section of the trail offers the first views of the vast Maniototo Winter Otago Central Rail Trail Plain which is surrounded by the Mt Ida, Rough Ridge, Hawkdun and Rock and Pillar Ranges, as well as the Kakanui Mountains. After warming up with lunch its back on the bikes and the last 18km for the day and to our accommodation in Kokonga. After the day’s cycling another evening option is for some indoor curling in Naseby – the only rink of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere!

 (B, D)
Rail Trail Ride:
 31.5km

DAY4

Naseby to Queenstown

The last day of the tour & the finish is in sight! After starting out from Kokonga we cycle 14.5km through the beautiful Taieri Gorge to Hyde and our lunch stop. Then its back on the bike and on the home stretch, only 27.5km until Middlemarch and the end of the trail. When cycling out of Hyde you will pass the scene of the famous Hyde rail disaster of 1943 and then out onto the rolling plains slowly descending into Middlemarch. After celebrating riding 150km and warming up with a hot drink we load the bikes up and drive back through to Queenstown. Once in Queenstown we will drop you off at your central accommodation provider, at approx 5pm.

(B)
Rail Trail Ride: 42 kms

The Winter Rail Trail is run on demand, please contact us to discuss your next winter break!

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