Otago Rail Trail Itinerary Guide

Cycle over the grand Poolburn Viaduct | Lachlan Gardiner
Cycle over the grand Poolburn Viaduct | Lachlan Gardiner

Central Otago has so much to offer when it comes to cycle trails, we just couldn't fit it all into one trip! Whether you start your trip from Queentown or Christchurch, or add in the the river side trails of the Clutha Gold and Roxburgh Gorge, here's a guide to our 5 Otago Rail Trail itineraries so you can pick the one best suited for you.

1. Otago Rail Trail Classic

Cycling across viaducts on our Otago Rail Trail adventure is a real highlight | Colin Monteath

Start: Christchurch | Finish: Christchurch | Duration: 5 Days

As our original and longest running NZ Cycle Trails trip, we like to say we've tailored our Otago Rail Trail Classic to perfection. 

Starting and finishing in Christchurch, you'll cycle all 152km of the Otago Central Rail Trail from start to finish. 

Our support vehicle is not only there for resting your legs, but will get you to all of the hidden gems along the trail including St Bathan's Blue Lake, and the gold mining townships of Ophir and Naseby that are hard to get to by bike alone. You'll also experience a spectacular train ride through the Taieri Gorge to Dunedin and the option to compete in curling.

To warm up the legs we enjoy stunning rides on the Tekapo Canal system on the way down from Christchurch and then along the rugged Kakanui Coast on the return drive to Christchurch. These additional rides set this trip apart from the rest. With an average daily cycling distance of 40km over 5 days, this introductory level trip has all the makings of an an unforgettable cycling holiday. 

View the full itinerary as well as dates and prices here.

2. Queenstown Otago Rail Trail

Riding the Queenstown Trails

Start: Queenstown | Finish: Christchurch | Duration: 5 Days

The 5-day Queenstown Otago Rail Trail is a fantastic alternative to the 'classic', combining two of the South Island's most popular cycle trails; the Queenstown Trails, and the entire Otago Central Rail Trail.

One of the biggest draw-cards to this trip is the Queenstown start, meaning you have the chance to extend your holiday and explore the adventure capital of NZ before your ride (see our 24 hour guide to Queenstown here). 

A wine tasting at one of our favourite boutique wineries tops this trip off along with an added road ride on the quiet rural roads of the Kakanui Coast - a highlight of the trip for many! With an average cycling distance of 40km per day, this trip is achievable for introductory cyclists.

View the full trip itinerary as well as dates and pricing here. 

3. Otago Rail Trail and Clutha Gold Cycle

The jet boat transfers on the Clutha River are a highlight on the Clutha Gold Cycle Trail | Ross MacKay

Start: Queenstown | Finish: Queenstown | Duration 5 Days

You could describe our Otago Rail Trail and Clutha Gold Cycle as the 'full monty' of our rail trail collection. Tick 3 full cycle trails off your list by cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail, Clutha Gold and Roxburgh Gorge Trail all in one trip! The addition of a cruisy jet boat transfer on the Clutha River will allow you to get up and close to the old mining huts and rock-shelters scattered along the schist rock walls of the river.

This trip has an average cycling distance of 45km over 5 days, so we do recommend getting in some extra km's in when training. The grade of the trails is introductory so overall it's the ideal trip for anyone wanting to explore every inch of Central Otago. For those who have already cycled the Otago Rail Trail... who knows it could be the perfect excuse to come back!

View the full trip itinerary as well as dates and pricing here.


4. Otago Rail Trail Express

Otago Central Rail Trail |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

Start: Queenstown | Finish: Queenstown | Duration 3 Days

If your short for time, our 3 day Otago Rail Trail Express is the perfect itinerary. It still includes all the juicy good bits like curling and a visit to St Bathans, but without the added driving time to/from Christchurch and heads straight to Queenstown from Middlemarch instead of visiting Dunedin.

You'll spend the same amount of time on the trail as you do on the Classic, with an average of 40km cycling each day.

View the full trip itinerary as well as dates and pricing here.


5. E-Bike Otago Central Rail Trail

Bike fleet | Electric bike |  <i>Lachlan Gardiner</i>

Start: Queenstown | Finish: Christchurch | Duration 5 Days

Our E-Bike Otago Central Rail Trail is the same itinerary as our Classic, but only for e-bikes. We designed this to bring together like-minded e-bikers but don't worry e-bikes are still allowed on our other itineraries!

View the full trip itinerary as well as dates and pricing here.


All of our Otago Central Rail Trail itineraries are fully supported and include accommodation, a support vehicle, experienced guides, most meals, and side trips to St Bathans, Naseby and Ophir. E-bikes are available for hire on all three itineraries.

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