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Otago Rail Trail

Journey Into The Past

The Otago Rail Trail is an iconic New Zealand cycle trail, one of the first established in the country and a must-do for all keen cyclists.

A great entry level experience for those new to multi day rides, we include plenty of fun side trips  to enhance your adventure.

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 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.



See Our Hire Bikes





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

Tour Type

Cycling Tour


5 days / 4 nights




Thinking ahead? Dates for 2022 2023 now available, book now!

Available dates as below:

  • Saturday 22 October 2022-Ladies E Bike tour-please enquire
  • Monday 7 November 2022-4 places left
  • Sunday 13 November 2022-FULL
  • Monday 28 November 2022-FULL
  • Sunday 4 December 2022-last 6 spaces
  • Monday 12 December 2022-FULL
  • Monday 2 January 2023-available
  • Monday 16 January 2023-available
  • Monday 13 February 2023-available
  • Friday 17 February 2023-FULL
  • Monday 20 February 2023-FULL
  • Sunday 5 March 2023-please enquire
  • Monday 13 March 2023-FULL
  • Sunday 19 March 2023-FULL
  • Saturday 25 March 2023-last 6 places
  • Monday 3 April 2023-last 4 places
  • Monday 10 April 2023-available
  • Monday 17 April 2023-available

Do you have another date in mind?
We can build a tour especially for your group, please enquire for group tours of 10 or more cyclists.

Tour Itinerary

Price: NZ$1,995

Day 1

Christchurch to Clyde - Driving day - no biking

Dunstan House Clyde

We depart from Christchurch for the drive south at approximately 8:30 to 9am travelling via the inland route through to Lake Tekapo and on to Twizel where we stop for lunch. 

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.

Tonight we eat out at a restaurant in Clyde

Day 2

Clyde to Lauder


Lauder School B&B

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.

Dinner tonight is at a local cafe – BYO so you are welcome to bring some wine to enjoy with your meal.

Day 3

Lauder to Ranfurly


Local hotel/ motel

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). 

Day 4

Ranfurly to Hyde


Local hotel/ motel

In the morning we follow the trail to Waipiata and along 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 end of todays cycling 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.

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. ( The shuttle is at your own cost ).

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?


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 tour.

  • Night 1: Local hotel/motel with ensuite facilities
  • Night 2: B&B/Guest house with ensuite facilities or private bathroom
  • Night 3: Local hotel/motel with ensuite facilities
  • Night 3: Local hotel/motel with ensuite facilities

Bike Hire

We have bikes for hire and recommend you use them as they are tried and true in the areas we operate.

All of our bikes 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 bike, but please ensure it is well maintained and fully serviced before your tour starts.


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.

Alcohol is not included in the tour cost, but is available for purchase most nights.


Tuatara Tours transports all your luggage for the duration of the tour.

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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