Otago Rail Trail Cyclists Said....
"We will be back to do more. We enjoyed it so much and met some wonderful people along the way"
Dianna and Michael, NSW, November 2014
“Well organised and we enjoyed the knowledge that we were well supported all along the trail”
Julie and Richard, NSW , March 2014
“FUN,FUN,FUN just loved the whole trip”
Grahame and Pauline, Nelson, March 2014
“All very glad to have done it , a real sense of achievement”
Jan and Paul, Dianne and Ross, Auckland April 2013
The Otago Central Rail Trail
Journey Into The Past!
The Otago Central Rail Trail runs for 150kms between Clyde and Middlemarch (close to Dunedin), passing through the towns of Clyde, Alexandra, Chatto Creek, Omakau, Lauder, Oturehua, Wedderburn, Ranfurly, Waipiata and Hyde. It is regarded as one of the best Pacific cycle tours available.
The heritage of the old railway line has been preserved, with the retention of viaducts and bridges, and some of the old Railway Stations.
Day 1: Christchurch to Clyde
We depart from Christchurch at 8:30am for the drive south, via the inland route through to Lake Tekapo………. where we cycle along the emerald blue canals to Lake Pukaki (with a brief visit to the Mt Cook Salmon Farm).
We bike alongside the canal to Lake Pukaki, where we stop for lunch and then have a relaxing ride to the bottom end of the Lake - where we can pause and take in the magnificent views of Mt Cook. We then board the bus to drive through the Mackenzie Country, cross the Lindis Pass, then descend down past Cromwell and travel alongside the scenic river gorge to Clyde.
This is a fantastic day, as you enjoy the huge scenery that makes the area so famous. It is majestic country that the artist Grahame Sydney loves to paint.
We eat out at a restaurant in Clyde, and stay in the beautifully restored historic Dunstan House that night.
Day 2: Clyde to Lauder - 44km
The actual Rail Trail ride starts today. We leave Clyde, crossing the flat rural countryside until Chatto Creek….. where we stop for lunch. The trail then starts to rise before levelling off at Omakau, where we briefly leave the trail and take a short ride around the quaint township of Ophir.
In the afternoon we make a side trip in the bus to the historic gold-mining town of St Bathan's, and walk around the beautiful Blue Lake…… with a mandatory stop at the Vulcan Hotel!
The highlights of today are the wooden trestle Muttontown Viaduct; the Old Tucker Hill gold diggings; views of the Dunstan Mountains and Raggedy Range; and (hopefully) sighting brown trout in the Manuherikia River.
At the end of the day we drive back to Lauder, for a relaxing drink at the pub before dinner.
Our accommodation tonight is at the charming (converted) historic Lauder Store.
Day 3: Lauder to Ranfurly - 35km
On the third day we cycle through two tunnels and over two rail bridges. Below us at the time are a willow tree edged gorge and welcoming river pools. We finally emerge into the scenic Idaburn valley, and then have a last easy climb up to the summit of the trail. We then enjoy the descent down to the art deco township of Ranfurly
The highlights of today include the engineering marvel of the Poolburn Gorge Viaduct and tunnels; the vast wide open Ida Valley (made famous by the artist Grahame Sydney); the Idaburn dam (known for its winter curling); and a trip to Hayes Engineering Works (Hayes invented the wire strainer, pulley block and cattle stop at the beginning of the 20th century); and visiting the town of Wedderburn.
We also drive to Naseby, which is a small forestry township, and play a game of curling (if you can imagine bowls on ice then you are on the right track….they have the only dedicated curling rink in the Southern Hemisphere). We continue on to the famous Kyeburn gold diggings and the historic Dansy’s Pass Inn……… where we dine and stay at the end of the day.
Day 4: Ranfurly to Hyde - 46km
We head off from the Dansey’s Pass Inn to the Real Dog Equipment Company, to see the famous Antarctic huskies and Alaskan malamutes in action…… before starting the ride for the day (which has some of the best riding of the trip). We follow the trail from Waipiata to the edge of an old lake, before entering the Taieri Gorge. The trail then crosses through further tunnels and bridges……… before a fast downhill to the lovely cafe at the old hotel at Hyde.
The highlights of today's cycle include crossing the vast Maniototo Plains; following the Taieri River as it snakes around the Rock and Pillar Range; crossing the stone bridge over Cap Burn; and experiencing the 32 metre high Price's Creek Viaduct, and the 152 metre long tunnel.
In the afternoon we may, depending on weather and visibility, have time to visit the Macraes gold mine, at the top of the Taieri Ridge.
Our accommodation is at the Hyde Cafe and Accommodation.
Day 5: Hyde to Middlemarch - 27km (all downhill!)
The highlight of the final day’s ride includes views of the Rock and Pillar and Taieri Ranges; the Hyde Railway Disaster memorial; and dropping down into the Strath Taieri Plain.
We end at Middlemarch – which is a small farming town that is well known for the Easter singles Ball. Girls travel there to meet eligible rugged young Southern Men who come down to the ball from their hill country stations.
In the afternoon we make our way back to Christchurch, arriving at around 6pm. Alternatively you can catch a shuttle back to Clyde or Queenstown, or extend your holiday with a ride on the historic Taieri Gorge Railway (additional cost) and finish in Dunedin.
This is a fantastic trip, particularly for novice cyclists who want to experience the wonderful scenery and pioneering history of Central Otago.
Dates For Next Summer
- January: 9, 23
- February: 19
- March: 20
- April: 18 (full) 22
Please enquire for other dates for your group