Is the Otago Central Rail Trail part of the New Zealand
Cycle Trails Network (Nga Haerenga)
You bet it is! The phenomenal success of the Otago Central Rail
Trail and the growth it brought to Central Otago has been one the
inspirations for the national cycleway concept and it will remain
the benchmark trail for the Great Rides of New Zealand.
How do I get to Off The Rails?
We depart from Queenstown or Clyde. Our driver/guides will collect
you from these destinations. Queenstown has easy access by air or
road and we can recommend accommodation should you wish to stay a
day or two before or after your Otago Central Rail Trail
Who can do the Rail Trail?
All ages and stages can enjoy OFF THE RAILS' tours if they can
ride a bike, but we don't recommend it for children under 5 years
of age. There are some hill climbs, but nothing steeper than 1:50
which is the most which could be asked of a steam train. And our
driver/guides are available at all times to assist if legs get
How long is the Rail Trail?
The Otago Central Rail Trail is a little over 150km from the start
at Clyde to the end at Middlemarch.Link to our map. We offer two excusions -
two nights/three days and three nights/four days.
What do I need to bring?
We provide bikes, panniers, helmets. You need to bring
light clothing and trainers suitable for spending a day on a bike,
waterproof/windproof jacket, woolen or polyprop top in case there
is a sudden change of weather.
Clothes for exploring and going out in the evening - nothing too
smart. We also recommend sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat. Also
cameras are a must.
We will send you a detailed list on booking.
Do we stay at different locations along the
OFF THE RAILS has superior qualmark accredited accommodation in
the hub of the Rail Trail - Ranfurly. We refer to this as
'home base' accommodation. You can unpack relax and enjoy your
stay in your own room for the duration of your holiday. We will
take you to experience the many iconic restaurants and cafes around
the Maniototo in the evening - all just a short transfer from
We have young children - can we do the Off The Rails
Absolutely - we provide half bikes ideal for little legs, which
attach to your mountain bike. However, we do think the long days
are likely to be too tiring for children under 5 years unless they
are very stoic! It is a fabulous holiday for families and our
guides ensure everyone is comfortable and happy.
What will we see?
When you cycle the Otago Central Rail Trail, you get to experience
a landscape most visitors don't see. The historic railway line (now
minus its rails) takes you over weathered bridges, past historic
gold diggings and into villages little touched by today's hustle
Can groups do the Rail Trail?
Absolutely - it's a fabulous holiday for groups of two to fourteen
(twin share accommodation). Get two or three families together,
your share group or book club and we will arrange an exclusive
booking for you.
What kind of bike will I have?
We have AVANTI brand bikes with front suspension,
in a range of sizes to fit everyone. These are designed for trail
riding. They are a 'step thru' design that makes getting on and off
easier. They aslo have a slightly more upright seating position
which is ideal for sightseeing.
We also offer electric bikes for those who need a little help or
just want that extra comfort factor.
For 'traditionalists' we still have standard high bar
Because this cycleway has such a gentle gradient, you won't need
many of its 24 or 27 gears. We provide special gel seats for extra
comfort. We also have kids' tow bikes; you attach it to your bike
seat's stem and your child pedals as well. Or they can have their
own bike; you choose.
What other gear do you provide?
Every bike comes with a rack on the back for our waterproof
panniers to hold anything you might want during the day. There's
also a handlebar bag for your map, camera, and water bottles. Cycle
helmet, puncture repair kit and pump are also provided.
What else do I need to bring?
- Sunscreen and hat
- Comfortable shoes for walking and light, waterproof jacket
- First aid kit
- Toilet paper
How fit do I need to be?
If you can ride a bike, you can bike the Rail Trail. Obviously,
both your bottom and your legs will thank you for getting a bit
What about those lycra bike pants?
You don't need them, but they are comfortable, especially the
If we come with family or friends, can we all stay
Of course. Groups of up to twelve can stay in our accommodation.
We can sleep six guests in our new motel style units 'Railway
Retreat' and six in our renovated villa, at Thomas Street. The
villa has a kitchen if you want to cook meals at night.
Will it be crowded?
No way. Even in midsummer, the Rail Trail's limited accommodation
and remoteness ensures that there is plenty of room (150 km) to
spread out and enjoy the solitude.
Is there cell phone coverage?
Yes, nearly everywhere. If you do get a blank spot, you should be
only half an hour's ride from coverage. But you can always pretend
you were out of reach...
What other food do I need?
We provide you with a filling continental breakfast and you can
help yourself to snacks from the fruit bowl. You might want to
carry some food to fuel yourself en route, and pubs and country
stores can be found along the trail.
Will I have any hills to grind up?
Because this used to be a railway track, there are no serious
hills. In fact, the steepest incline on the Otago Central Rail
Trail is one in 50. That means you probably won't even have a
chance to try out your bike's lowest gear.
What is the weather like?
As the famous Kiwi song says, you can have four seasons in one
day. But usually, summer weather is warm and dry (20-30degrees
Celsius or more), winter is cold (10 degrees either side of zero)
while autumn (10-25 degrees Celsius) and spring (15-25 degrees
Celsius) can be anything in between. Summer evenings can be cool,
so bring a warm jersey
What if I also want to visit Queenstown?
OFF THE RAILS' standard trips start and end in Queenstown, so this
is the ideal way to mix resort time with time out.
Do we have to start at Queenstown?
No, you do not. Off The Rails will arrange your itinerary
to suit you. If you have a group that wants to start in Dunedin
just let us know.
How long should I take to do the trail?
This depends of how fast you want to go, how fit you are
and how much time you want for other things like sightseeing.
Our 4 day/3 nights is ideal. The longest day of cycling is 48km
and that's early in the trip. The last two days have less, which is
good as you may be getting tired by then! Find out
The 3 day/2 night tour has a day of 60km. If you are a regular
cyclist this is not likely to be a problem. Find out
What if I want to take a day off cycling and do
No problem at all. We will happily negotiate a deal that
allows you to do this. You can either organise it yourself or ask
us to put a package together for you and your group. I recommend
the full day wine tour!
what to do page for some ideas.