Heard of the Central Otago Rail Trail, but never had the privilege of riding it? Well now is your chance - come and explore it with the local experts, and the best bit - don't concern yourself with any of the logistical details. We've got you covered.
(Trip start - Queenstown, trip end - Queenstown).
- All guiding services: Two experienced New Zealand guides per trip. Having two guides allows for much greater flexibility, meaning you're able to go at your own pace.
- All meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days, except where indicated on the itinerary (day 1 excludes breakfast, and day 4 excludes dinner).
- All transport: Airport transfers on the first & last days. When you're not travelling under your own steam, there will be comfortable air-conditioned vans to stretch your legs.
- All accommodations: A range of hotels, lodges, chalets, inns, sheep stations and backcountry huts.
- All activities: All biking, plus a winery visit for tasting. On this trip we've refined the subtle art of adventure travel, allowing you to discover the South Island under pedal power and in style!
Visit Cromwell, bike Clyde to Alexandra
Another world awaits you as you arrive into Queenstown. The rugged peaks of the Remarkables Mountains rise sharply out of the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wakatipu with Cecil Peak and Ben Lomond dominating the rest of the vista. We’ll kick things off by following the course of the Kawarau River to Cromwell, an historical gold-mining town now known for its stone fruits and rich red wines. There we’ll taste, tour and immerse ourselves in the winemaking process, explore the intriguing buildings and eat lunch here together. After lunch we’ll continue onto Clyde, where we’ll fit our bikes and begin our journey on the Central Otago Rail Trail! Our first afternoon ride will take us through to Alexandra, with a short, warm-up on the bikes in the heart of the Maniototo region in Central Otago, before spending the night in Clyde; it's up to you whether you choose to cycle back to Clyde or jump on the bus to our accommodation tonight.
Clyde Lodgings (Lunch, Dinner)
Biking Distance: 8km (5 miles)
Bike Alexandra to Oturehua
This morning we’ll continue our journey, picking up where we left off in Alexandra. The trail here follows an old train line built in the early 1900s. The tracks were retired and removed in 1990 and now the Central Otago Rail Trail is one of the most iconic cycling trails in New Zealand. We’ll cross numerous bridges and viaducts, winding our way along the smooth track past Raggedy Range and Rough Ridge. The Poolburn Gorge is a favourite spot, not to mention stunning views and the chance of spying a NZ native falcon, Karearea, the world’s fastest diving bird of prey. We’ll find a nice spot for a picnic lunch in Lauder, before continuing along the trail. We have a gradual climb through the Ida Valley, and once at the summit of the trail at Oturehua, we’ll hop off and drive the rest of the way to Ranfurly, a small town famous for its Art Deco architecture and warm and welcoming community, where we’ll spend the next two nights.
Hawkdun Lodge Ranfurly (All meals)
Biking Distance: 59km (36.6 miles)
Bike Oturehua to Kokonga
After breakfast we’ll jump back on the bikes to experience another iconic ride, beginning at Oturehea, today the trail will take us across the ‘big sky’ country of the Maniototo Plains. We’ll pass by Wedderburn, set at the base of the Hawkdun and Mt Ida Ranges, and home to an outdoor curling dam before enjoying a cooked lunch at Ranfurly. From here we’ll follow the trail south, crossing the Taieri river at Waipiata on the famous iron bridge, or locally known as the Green Bridge, built in 1896. Make sure to get a photo taken beside the Waipiata Man at the Station site, he’s made from railway scrap metal! Our bike ride today will finish at Kokonga, where trail skirts around the sunken depression that was once the freshwater Lake Taieri – until goldminers sent their sluicing's downriver, the lake silted up and it was eventually drained. Our final night will be spent back in Ranfurly, swapping stories of the last few days together.
Hawkdun Lodge Ranfurly (All meals)
Biking Distance: 43.5km (27 miles)
Bike Kokonga to Middlemarch, depart for home
Today is our last day on two wheels, so we’ll make it extra special with a ride that’ll knock your socks off! We’ll set off from Kokonga, after a short drive from Ranfurly, with the beautiful Upper Taieri Gorge awaiting us. We’ll pass by Macrae's Flat, where a fully operational Gold Mine still runs, and the Rock & Pillar range, one of Otago's most distinctive upland features dominated by impressive schist tors or rocky pillars. A gently rolling and flat landscape takes us to the end of the road, Middlemarch, where the distinctive landscape of New Zealand’s only inland salt-lake caught a movie-maker’s eye, so keep an eye out for Hobbits! We’ll enjoy a celebratory lunch as we sit outside and reflect on what we’ve just conquered, before heading back to Queenstown, arriving in time for evening flights. This is the end of your ‘Kaewa’ trip, and we’ll leave you refreshed and invigorated from the good food, exercise, rest, and great times you’ll have had with us in the South!
Biking Distance: 41.5km (25.8 miles)