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Otago Rail Trail

Journey Into The Past

The Otago Central Rail Trail is ideal for cyclists who wish to see some spectacular Central Otago scenery, at an easy pace, on flat (gravelled) terrain. Trains typically travel through hills, around hills but (if it can be avoided) not uphill (the maximum gradient is 2%).

The idea of the Rail Trail was promoted by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC), and The Otago Rail Trail Trust, formed specifically to help create this family-oriented recreational facility. The Trail is a public reserve, and motorised vehicles are not permitted. Therefore walkers and cyclists have no traffic concerns as they traverse the level surface.




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Have you seen our Ladies Only Otago Rail Trail E Bike Tour

Tour Type

Cycling Tour


5 days / 4 nights




Book now for Next Season!

Please contact us for dates available for next summer

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Tour Itinerary

Price: NZ$1,750

Day 1

Christchurch to Clyde

1 hour

Dunstan House

We depart from Christchurch for the drive south, via the inland route through to Lake Tekapo and on to Twizel where we stop for lunch and then have a relaxing ride to ensure that our bikes are the correct fit.

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


Lauder Store Accommodation

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


Dansy's Pass Inn

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 Clyde


Ranfurly Motel

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.

Tonight we return to Ranfurly where we stay for the night.

Day 5

Hyde to Middlemarch



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.

What's included?


  • Day 1: A charming turn of the century hotel converted into bed and breakfast accommodation in either ensuite or shared facility rooms.Guest lounge and dining room.
  • Day 2: The original local store, renovated to provide modern bed and breakfast accommodation. Private rooms with shared bathrooms, communal kitchen and lounge area.
  • Day 3: An historic stage coach inn, rooms are simply furnished, with ensuite bathrooms. Hotel has guest lounge with large open fire, bar and restaurant.
  • Day Four: A modern motel with ensuite bathrooms.

Double or twin share. If single room accommodation is requested, an additional fee per person is payable to cover this requirement for the duration of the walk.


Bike Hire

We have bicycles for hire and recommend you use them as they are tried and true in the areas we operate. All of our cycles are fully maintained and serviced before they leave. Included in the cost of your cycle hire is a cycle helmet and safety vest You may use your own cycle, but please ensure it is well maintained and fully serviced before your tour starts.

Bike Hire                      NZD$190
Electric Bike Hire      NZD$450



You will enjoy great local cuisine; continental breakfasts and hearty packed lunches during the day, and either restaurant meals or wholesome home-cooked fare prepared by your host/hostess in the evenings.If you have any dietary issues or food allergies, we are happy to cater for these, please advise the office of details when you make your booking. All meals are included in your tour cost except your evening meal on night Five. Wine and other beverages are available to be purchased during dinners.



Tuatara Tours transports all your luggage for the duration of the tour.
All you carry is a small day pack with your personal gear, drink and lunch. We do the rest.


Tour Kit Bag – Exclusive to Tuatara Tours

To ensure you get the very best out of your journey with the least of fuss, we provide you with a kit bag full of useful goodies.

This will be given to you at the start of your tour.


An experienced guide

Our guides are very experienced, friendly walkers and bikers who love to share their knowledge of New Zealand’s flora and fauna and local history. They all hold current first aid certificates, passenger driving licences and are the very best people to ensure your experience will be one to remember.


All transport


Access and Concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation


NZ Goods and Service Tax (GST)


Safety and Risk Management

To ensure maximum safety for all, our guides are certified first aiders and fully qualified drivers. Tuatara Tours operate under a Safety and Risk Management Plan which is regularly audited and approved by a qualified and independent auditor.

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