Otago Rail Trail Classic

tours / Cycling

Otago Rail Trail Classic information and booking

  • Duration
    5 days
  • Group size
  • Difficulty
Check prices & availability

Schedule Details

  • 4 nights hotel/motel


  • Cycle the historic Rail Trail
  • Spectacular views of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps
  • Explore the old gold mining town of Clyde
  • Cycle through tunnels and over rail bridges
  • Try your hand at 'curling' - bowls on ice!
  • Take a journey on the famous Taieri Gorge Train

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

Voted #2 'Must Do Adventure' in the most recent edition of Lonely Planet's New Zealand guide book, this adventure will have you cycling back in time to New Zealand's rural past along a trail that has been specifically converted for walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders - with no motor vehicles allowed! The trail follows the old Central Otago branch railway line from Clyde to Middlemarch, passing through many towns along the way. This trip is not just about the cycling but rather exploring the many small towns and abandoned gold diggings as well as meeting the locals. Along the way you can even try your hand at the ancient art of curling (bowls on ice). You can choose to start the trip in either Christchurch or Clyde and finish either back in Christchurch or Dunedin. The adventure culminates with us enjoying one of the world's great train trips on the spectacular Taieri Gorge Railway into Dunedin. This adventure is fully supported leaving you with no concerns about accommodation or luggage.

What's included

  • All breakfasts (excluding day 1) and 4 dinners
  • Taieri gorge train trip
  • Accommodation as detailed based on a twin share basis with shared bathroom facilities
  • Access and concession fees paid to the department of conservation
  • New zealand goods and service tax (gst)
  • Otago central rail trail passport which contributes funds to the rail trail trust


Day 1 Christchurch to Clyde
Important: The night before your tour is to depart your guide will call your pre tour accommodation to advise what time (approx 7:15am) they will collect you the following morning. (Please make sure you have given us information as to where you are staying). If you are not around when your guide calls they will leave a message at reception – it's really important that you check with reception if you have not heard from your guide directly. If for any reason you have not heard from your guide by the morning of the tour please call us in the NZ office on 0800 00 11 66 (from within NZ). Once at our depot, we conduct a quick check of your bike or we’ll fit you on one of our fleet of rental bikes. We then load the bike trailer and aim to depart by 8am. We’ll pick up lunch along the way in Geraldine before we start our cycle programme with a quiet ride alongside the Tekapo canal system with spectacular views of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps. Crossing over the Lindis Pass we descend down to Cromwell and travel alongside the scenic river gorge before arriving at the railhead at Clyde. The rest of the afternoon will be free to explore this old gold mining town or there are other cycling options that your guide can advise you on. In the evening we have our first group dinner. Road Cycling - 22kms/14 miles
Day 2 Clyde to Lauder
The Rail Trail riding starts today as we leave town across the flat rural countryside. From Chatto Creek the trail starts to rise before leveling off to Omakau where we stop for lunch. We then take a drive around the quaint township of Ophir and to the top of the Raggedy Range to get a bird’s eye view of the trail and the path that it takes. After lunch the remaining 9kms flow under the wheels until we arrive at Lauder. Late afternoon we will take a drive to the historic gold mining village, St. Bathans for a walk around the beautiful Blue Lake. This evening it is time for a relaxing beer and a game of pool at the local pub before dinner. Rail Trail Ride - 44 kms/27 miles
Day 3 Lauder to Ranfurly
Today we ride through the first two tunnels and two rail bridges on the trip. With the willow tree edged gorge below the trail and the welcoming pools beckoning we finally emerge into the scenic Idaburn valley. One last short easy climb takes us to the summit of the trail and the beginning of the downhill descent that take us to the art deco township of Ranfurly. We ride on to our accommodation before wandering downtown for lunch at a local café. You’ll have some free time in the afternoon to relax, stroll around Ranfurly or catch up on some washing! Around 4:30pm we drive out to Naseby – a small foresting township, just off the trail. Here you have the option of joining us in playing curling; if you can imagine bowls on ice then you are on the right track – it's a lot of fun and is at the only dedicated curling rink in the Southern Hemisphere. If curling isn’t your thing then you can still come out to Naseby with us and enjoy a relaxing pint at the iconic Royal Hotel, walk around town or in the forest plantation. After the afternoons activities we head back to Ranfurly for dinner and our nights accommodation. Rail Trail Ride – 47 kms/29 miles
Day 4 Ranfurly to Dunedin
It’s out of bed and back onto the bikes for our longest ride today, but it is some of the best riding on the trip. From Waipiata the trail follows the edge of the old lake before entering the Taieri Gorge. The trail crosses through further tunnels and bridges before a fast downhill to the lovely café at the old hotel at Hyde. From here a final 27kms takes us past the scene of the famous Hyde rail disaster of 1943 and then out onto the rolling plains slowly descending into Middlemarch. This is the end of the trail and time for a celebratory drink at the ‘Kissing Gate Café’. However the day is not yet finished and if time allows we will visit the local “Stone Sheep Yards” before boarding the famous Taieri Express for a spectacular ride through the gorge described as one of the world's great train journeys. The journey is included in your tour cost. We travel into Dunedin, the Edinburgh of the south. Our dinner tonight is in the form of a group celebration at a classic Italian restaurant to acknowledge the 150kms of Rail Trail riding. Rail Trail Ride - 59 kms/37 miles
Day 5 Dunedin to Christchurch
We can ride some more today as we head north to Oamaru, leaving behind those who wish to finish in Dunedin. Before we depart Dunedin though, our first stop is Baldwin Street, reputedly the “steepest street in the world”, for a short but challenging early morning stroll! Then depending on time, the weather and what the group wants to do we will pop into the famous Fluer’s café in the picturesque Moreaki Village for a coffee. Or onto Moeraki Boulders – we might even be able to do both! From here we commence the final quiet 24km coastal ride, along the cliff tops and past farms, that takes us into Oamaru. Here in the old warehouse quarter the early buildings are being restored creating a fascinating opportunity to explore the past as you relax at a local cafe. Back on the road again we drive across the Canterbury Plains to Christchurch where we will deliver you to your chosen accommodation. Trip concludes on arrival (approx 6:00 pm). Coastal Rides - approx 24kms/15 miles