COVID may have derailed our 2020 adventure plan, but that's okay...
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Our Rail Trail Adventure starts in the city of the south - Dunedin. Surrounded by dramatic hills and at the foot of a long, beautiful harbour, it is known as the Edinburgh of New Zealand.
We've a day to explore Dunedin, starting with a guided tour in the remote hills and beaches of the Otago Peninsula. Experience stunning views and rewarding encounters with rare wildlife like New Zealand fur seals, sea lions, and sometimes the majestic Yellow-Eyed Penguin.
Departing from the historic Dunedin Railway Station, the Taieri Gorge Railway takes us on a picturesque journey into the spectacular Central Otago Hinterland and up the rugged Otago Coast, north of Dunedin to Middlemarch. This is your chance to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Middlemarch is the start of the Otago Central Rail Trail - the 152km trail follows an old railway line through beautiful, big-sky country. Taking in New Zealand's southern-most wine region, friendly towns, country pubs, and peaceful golden-hued landscapes. As we pedal our way along the trail, there will be plenty of time to rest the legs, indulge in the local pinot noir and even have a go at the winter olympic sport of curling.
Our ride finishes in the town of Clyde, from here we shall shuttle to Queenstown - the adventure capital of NZ. This is our final night together and the perfect opportunity to celebrate our achievements and new found friendships.
DAY 1 - Arrive in dunedin (Sept 29)
We will meet in the heart of Dunedin city at our hotel accommodation. It's best to arrive in the afternoon as check-in time is from 2pm onwards. Please note transport from the airport is not included (approx. $20 for an airport shuttle).
Depending on your arrival time, the group has options to stretch the legs and wander around the town, or simply relax - take in the city views from your balcony and have a wine! We will head out for dinner in Dunedin.*
We will be collected from our accommodation the following morning to explore the most scenic areas of the Otago Peninsula.
*Meals: Lunch/Dinner at groups own cost.
day 2 - explore dunedin & otago peninsula
Wake up, it's time to get excited! ...the Otago Peninsula awaits us. Ensure your day packs are ready - as we will be collected pronto from our hotel for a half-day coastal walk.
Look forward to panoramic seaside views, rolling sand dunes and a walk along a beautiful beach where rewarding encounters with rare wildlife like New Zealand fur seals, sea lions, and sometimes the majestic Yellow-Eyed Penguin can be experienced. Refuel with refreshments along the way in a private beach hut.
The afternoon is free for you to further explore Dunedin!
Ready to walk on? ...join your adventure leader in finding all 28 vibrant and whimsical artworks dotted throughout the central city, around corners, down alleyways and boldly painted upon the sides of buildings. This is street art at it's best.
Otherwise feel free to shop, hop a bus to the sandy beaches and cafes of St Clair, or if beer and chocolate are more your thing, you may wish to visit Cadbury World or Speight's Brewery.
*Meals: Includes breakfast & private beach hut refreshments. Lunch, dinner + snacks at groups own cost.
DAY 3 - TAIERI GORGE RAILWAY + CYCLE TO HYDE
After breakfast, we'll check-out of our accommodation and walk to Dunedin's dramatic railway station. Our 9.30am departure from the station marks the start of our Rail Trail Adventure, with a scenic train trip inland through the rugged Taieri Gorge to Pukerangi.
Travel in the comfort on an award winning train service as you experience the amazing variety of landscapes from city, farmland forests to the wild terrain of the River Gorge.
The Rail Trail Shuttle will transport us from Pukerangi to Cycle Surgery, Middlemarch. Here we'll be professionally fitted onto our purpose built Rail Trail bikes for optimum comfort. Pack your panniers with your bare essentials - Cycle Surgery will kindly transport the bulk of our luggage to our accommodation in Hyde.
Now it's time for the real adventure to begin... we've 29km (approx. 3hrs) to cycle to Hyde. But before we venture, we'll make sure every one has a picnic lunch to be enjoyed on the Rail Trail.
Hyde School Accommodation & Eatery is a modern complex made up of a beautiful restored 1869 School House and 5 beautifully appointed en-suited units. We're booked into The Eatery for a fabulous dinner made from the garden and locally sourced Otago fare.
*Meals: Includes breakfast, dinner + cycling snacks. Lunch at groups own cost. Bike hire: includes helmet, a 750ml drink bottle holder & puncture repair kit.
DAY 4 - CYCLE (HYDE to RANFURLY) + CURLING
Following our continental breakfast at The Hyde School, we continue cycling to Ranfurly (32km) via the small township of Waipiata.
Hyde to Waipiata is one of the most popular sections of the Rail Trail, with the first tunnel, the Prices Creek Viaduct and the picturesque Upper Taieri Gorge to cycle beside.
We will be picked up from Ranfurly at 3.30pm and transported to the Maniototo Indoor Curling Rink for ‘Have A Go’ session of the ancient sport of curling on ice. Later we’ll enjoy a BBQ dinner at our Ranfurly accommodation, Hawkdun Lodge.
*Meals: Includes breakfast & BBQ dinner + cycling snacks. Lunch at groups own cost.
day 5 - CYCLE (RANFURLY to OTUREHUA)
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before leaving Hawkdun Lodge to cycle through the heart of the Maniototo, surrounded by farmland and mountain ranges via Wedderburn.
Today is our shortest day on the bike, but an exciting one as we will reach the highest point on the Rail Trail - 618 metres above sea level. It’s downhill from here ladies!!
Tonights accommodation, Inverlair Lodge is situated just metres from the Central Otago Rail Trail, with magnificent mountain views. The outdoor spa is a welcome sight at the end of a days cycling.
We’re booked into The Oturehua Hotel for an evening meal at 6.30pm.
*Meals: Includes breakfast + cycling snacks. Lunch, dinner at groups own cost.
day 6 - cycle (OTUREHUA to OMAKAU)
From Oturehua we’ll begin cycling down the long Ida Valley, you may think the long stretches of Rail Trail are never going to end - but they do and you will eventually enter the Poolburn Gorge - this is one of the most spectacular sections on the Rail Trail.
Please note that there is no food or refreshment stops between Oturehua and Lauder (2hr 20min cycle) - please carry plenty of snacks and drinking water today. It’s highly recommended we lunch at The Stationside Cafe, Lauder.
From Lauder it’s a short 45min cycle to Mandy’s Accommodation. Stay & relax, or there’s option to visit the quaint little town of Ophir.
*Meals: Includes breakfast + cycling snacks. Lunch, dinner at groups own cost.
day 7 - cycle (OMAKAU to CLYDE) + QUEENSTOWN
We’ve a big final day on the bike, with plenty of worthy stops along the way - including the historic Chatto Creek Tavern for lunch and award-winning wineries. The Hinton Estate Vineyard Tasting and Sales Room is right on the Rail Trail ...very handy.
We finish the Otago Central Rail Trail at the Clyde Rail Head - CONGRATULATIONS! From here we’ll cycle just a little further (2km) into the township of Clyde before bidding farewell to our bicycles.
We will be picked up from outside The Merchant Café in Clyde at 3.30pm and transported by bus to Queenstown for our final night together.
*Meals: Includes breakfast + cycling snacks. Lunch, dinner, wine tasting at groups own cost.
DAY 8 - DEPART QUEENSTOWN (OCT 6)
Today concludes your awesome Rail Trail Adventure with Kate Auld PT. Big hugs and high fives! Check-out of our Pinewood Lodge accommodation by 10am.
You’re on your own today. The next chapter is up to you ...extend your stay a little and make the most of the NSW long weekend in Queenstown. Or make your way to the airport for the journey home.
7 nights accommodation
$ 2,940 AUD
NON-REFUNDABLE DEPOSIT (included in full/early-bird pricing)
$ 550 AUD
*All prices include GST where applicable.
You need to be reasonably fit and enthusiastic. Coastal Walk involves some uneven terrain. The Rail Trail is one of the easiest New Zealand Cycle Trails (Grade 1) with a smooth, wide surface and almost entirely flat gradient with the occasional long incline. We will be doing roughly 3hrs of cycling per day whilst on the trail.
Kate Auld PT definitely recommends dusting off the exercise/push bike to re-acquaint your muscles with sitting on a bike before embarking on this adventure.
>> I'M NOT VERY FIT, CAN I DO THIS?
Absolutely! We encourage you to get walking and cycling now. It's a great goal to have and we want you to feel as comfortable on the trip as possible.
For the cycling component, Bottom Conditioning is super important! We highly recommend you dust off the exercise/push bike to re-acquaint your butt muscles with the seat.
>> DO I NEED TO BE A CYCLIST TO COME ON THIS TRIP?
Short answer: No. Just be your adventurous-self.
Remember our Adventure Leader, Kate will be with you 24/7 to help you go the distance. PLUS we've 24/7 support from the awesome cycle hire crew.
We've got your back ...you can do this!