Your guide will collect the group and you will have a tour briefing and then a bike fitting. Then it’s time to explore the newly established Queenstown trails. You’ll cycle from the historic township of Arrowtown through to rugged Gibbston Valley, passing the famous Kawarau Gorge bungy bridge. You will stop for lunch in 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 meander along some alternative cycle trails. In the evening you will enjoy sampling some local boutique wines at a vineyard in Clyde.
Today you will start the Otago Central Rail Trail ride, as you leave town across flat rural countryside. From Chatto Creek the trail starts to rise, before leveling off to Omakau where you will stop for lunch. You will 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 surrounding region. After lunch, the remaining 9kms flow under the wheels until we arrive at Lauder. Late afternoon you will be driven 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.
Your cycle ride today takes you through the first two tunnels and two rail bridges on the trip. With the willow tree-edged gorge below the trail and welcoming pools beckoning you finally emerge into the scenic Idaburn valley. Here you stop for a visit to the Hayes Engineering works, where some of New Zealand’s first industrial farm equipment was invented. The stop is also perfectly located to fuel up with a hearty lunch at their cafe before our afternoon ride.
One last short easy climb will take you to the highest point of the trail and the beginning of the downhill descent that takes you to the art deco township of Ranfurly. You’ll have some free time in the afternoon to relax, stroll around Ranfurly or catch up on some washing. Around 4:30pm you will be driven out to Naseby, a small foresting township, just off the trail. Here we have the option of trying our skills at curling: bowls on ice. This is a lot of fun and is the only dedicated curling rink in the Southern Hemisphere. If curling doesn’t appeal, a relaxing pint at the iconic Royal Hotel, or a walk around the village or in the forest plantation are alternatives. After the afternoons activities we head back to Ranfurly for dinner and overnight.
Today is your longest ride, but it is some of the best cycling on the trip. From Waipiata, the trail follows the edge of the old lake before entering the Taieri Gorge. The trail crosses through tunnels and across bridges before a fast downhill to the old hotel at Hyde. From here, a final 27kms takes you out onto the rolling plains slowly descending into Middlemarch. This is the end of the trail and time for a celebratory drink at a local cafe. However, the day is not yet finished as you board the famous Taieri Express for a spectacular train ride through the gorge to Dunedin, the Edinburgh of New Zealand.
This morning you will visit Baldwin Street, reputedly the “steepest street in the world”, for a short but challenging early morning stroll. Then you’ll begin the drive northwards, stopping enroute to visit the Moeraki Boulders. Shortly afterwards you enjoy a final quiet coastal ride, past farms that takes you into Oamaru. You can wander around the old Victorian Precinct where the historic buildings have been restored creating a fascinating opportunity to explore the past and relax at local cafes.
After an incredible trip it’s time to say goodbye and continue with your homeward travel. Alternatively, you can book on to another of our New Zealand trips to extend your stay.
If you’re looking for bucket list rides, epic scenery and the world’s playground, then you’ve found it in New Zealand. The country is littered with old railways converted into cycle trails taking you into the heart of the country. Crystal clear lakes reflect the towering snow capped mountains, suspension bridges snake their way through golden forests and on either side of the island, you can ride along the shore of New Zealand’s crisp blue waters.