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Cycle New Zealand South Island

New Zealand

Cycle New Zealand South Island

Start: Queenstown
End: Dunedin

Pedalling through one of the most gorgeous areas in the entire country.

LocationNew Zealand
Duration8 days
Start / EndQueenstown / Dunedin
Tour operatorIntrepid Travel

New Zealand

Cycle New Zealand South Island

8 days·Intrepid Travel
Start: Queenstown
End: Dunedin


Is there a better country to cycle through than New Zealand? This is a land known for its natural beauty, welcoming people and delicious wine, and this cycling trip just happens to take in the best of it. Kick things off in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the country and perhaps the world, then cycle the famous Central Otago Rail Trail through small gold-mining towns like Alexandra, Omakau...

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Day 1Queenstown
Kia-ora! Welcome to Queenstown, New Zealand. Known as the country's adventure capital, there's simply no end to the line up of optional activities including bungee-jumping, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, helicopter rides, jet boating and paragliding. There are also plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to keep you entertained. This cycling trip kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm then the the evening is free for you to do as you wish before settling into your accommodation for night. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the welcome meeting will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Day 2Roxburgh Gorge Trail/Clyde
Explore the area by bike and boat during today's adventure on the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, featuring some amazing cycling and a jet boat ride on the Clutha River from Doctors Point to Shingle Creek. The Gorge Trail is a tad more challenging than the Otago Rail Trail so prepare for a few climbs and descent, but any extra effort is well worth the scenery and views. The adventure starts in Clyde, an hour out of Queenstown, where you'll be fitted with your bike then transferred to the starting point at Roxburgh Hydro Dam. From here, the group will start cycling back to Clyde along the trail. Aside from the views, the area also has a rich goldmining history – Clyde was actually New Zealand's most populous town at the height of gold fever. Cycle 12 kilometres to Shingle Creek, where you'll be picked up by jet boat and transferred to Doctors Point, then continue a further 10 kilometres to arrive back in Clyde. 
Day 3Otago Rail Trail - Clyde to Alexandra
Today you'll start riding on the spectacular Otago Central Rail Trail, which has been voted NZ's Favourite Ride for the past two years. The trail runs for 152 km in total and was originally used to transport supplies to and from the Gold Fields, then later to transport goods and livestock. It fell into disrepair but was refurbished into a rail trail in 2000, and is now – in our humble opinion – the best way to explore the area and contribute to the local economy. You'll begin the day in Clyde and cycle past vineyards, over an old wooden trestle bridge and along the Clutha River Centennial Track for a distance of 16 kilometres before arriving in Alexandra. The rest of the day is at your leisure – check out the gold rush-era town or perhaps visit one of the wineries in the surrounding area.
Day 4Otago Rail Trail - Alexandra to Omakau
Enjoy breakfast in Alexandra then cycle toward Galloway Station, which was once a busy station but all that remains now is the ladies' waiting room. You'll stop here for morning tea, and your leader will brew a cup of tea to complement some old-fashioned home baking, before continuing to Chatto Creek Tavern for lunch. This historic stone building still serves as a pub and though Chatto Creek has a tiny, tiny population, visitors come from all over to check out the Best Country Hotel of 2013. After lunch, cycle up Tiger Hill then cruise downhill to your overnight acommodation in Omakau. The total cycling distance for the day is approximately 28 kilometres, and after arriving in town there's the option to visit the historic gold mining towns of St Bathan's and Ophir before an evening dinner at the Commercial Hotel. And don't worry, you'll take a bus to the mining towns, not your bike.
Day 5Otago Rail Trail - Omakau to Wedderburn
Set off for a longer ride of 42 kilometres. The highlight of today's cycle is the beautiful Poolburn Gorge section of the trail featuring two tunnels and two viaducts. You'll then ride through the Ida Valley farmlands, pedalling past Idaburn Dam, one of New Zealand's few outdoor curling sites, and visiting the Hayes Historic Engineering Works before stopping at Oturehua Tavern for lunch. After lunch you'll continue north to the Golden Progress Mine and up to the highest point of trail before stopping for the night at Wedderbrun. Here, your leader will take you on a trip to Naseby so you can try your hand at curling and take a look around the old gold mining town. In the evening, enjoy a traditional, farm-style meal at the Weddernburn Tavern and rest those legs.
Day 6Otago Rail Trail - Wedderburn to Hyde
Another long day today – 43 kilometres in total – though it's mostly downhill from Weddernburn to Ranfurly, Otago's Art Deco capital. Enjoy morning tea here, then cross the Manioto Plains towards the Waipiata Tavern for lunch. This is Lord of the Rings territory, and the flat plains give way to snow-capped mountains on the horizon. Continue after lunch and pedal alongside the Taieri River, the fourth-longest in New Zealand and one of today's highlights. Cross the historic Capburn Bridge and Price's Creek Viaduct on your way to Hyde, where you'll be picked up and transferred back to Waipiata for the evening. 
Day 7Otago Rail Trail - Hyde to Middlemarch/Dunedin
Transfer back to Hyde for your final day on the trail. Today you'll cycle approximately 29 kilometres with stunning views of the Rock and Pillar Ranges. It's slightly downhill, and you'll stop at the Hyde Railway Disaster Memorial, which commemorates the fatal 1943 derailment of a passenger train. Enjoy a morning snack en route before experiencing what the trail was originally built for as you take the Taieri Gorge Tourist Train to Dunedin on the original Otago Central Railway (approximately 64 km). Arrive in Dunedin around 2.30 pm, where you'll overnight. This beautiful city is the second-largest on the South Island, and is a UNESCO City of Literature. It's home to the country's oldest university, the University of Otago, and students make up a relatively high percentage of the population. Perhaps enjoy a farewell dinner with your group and check out some of the city's lively bars. Transport back to Queenstown by bus can also be arranged if required.
Day 8Dunedin
Your South Island adventure comes to an end today and there are no activities planned. That being said, Dunedin is a beautiful city and it's well worth either sticking around a little longer or heading back to Queenstown for a serious adrenaline fix.

More info

Trip title

Cycle New Zealand South Island

Trip code



Validity: 01 Jan 2019 to 31 Dec 2019


Is there a better country to cycle through than New Zealand? This is a land known for its natural beauty, welcoming people and delicious wine, and this cycling trip just happens to take in the best of it. Kick things off in Queenstown, the adventure capital of the country and perhaps the world, then cycle the famous Central Otago Rail Trail through small gold-mining towns like Alexandra, Omakau, W... Read more




Active Adventures,Cycling


Bicycle,minivan,train (e-bike available)

Physical Rating


Physical preparation

This is an active trip, requiring a reasonable level of physical fitness. While there is flexibility in the distance you can elect to cycle each day, the cycling on this trip can be challenging at times, with the heat and terrain adding to the physical effort. It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. As a general rule, the more preparation you can do fo... Read more

Joining point

Earnslaw Lodge

Joining point description

This small and comfortable hotel is conveniently located near the shores of Lake Wakatipu and is within 10 mins walk of most of Queenstown's main sights. The hotel is smoke free, has free wifi in the lobby and has breakfast available. The front desk is open daily from 7 AM - 8 PM. If you are planning to arrive after 8 PM please contact the property in advance.

Joining point instructions

The hotel is located approx. 7kms (10-15 mins drive) from Queenstown Airport. To get from the airport to central Queenstown costs approx. NZD $25. Shuttle services are also available - see for further details. Public transport from the airport is also available and easy to use - see Read more

Finish point

97 Moray Motel

Finish point description

Conveniently located in the heart of Dunedin, just 1 minute walk from St Paul's Cathedral, this small non-smoking 40 room hotel is clean and comfortable and includes WiFi in the rooms as well as the public areas. Check out time is 10am.

Finish point instructions

If you are leaving by train Dunedin railways station is a 10 min walk (approx. 800 metres) from the hotel. Dunedin International Airport is located approx. 28kms (30 min drive) - taxis and shuttle bus services are available.

Important information

To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group, and another that drives the support vehicle (acting as a back marker where needed). Where the vehicle cannot travel directly with the cyclists (e.g. a cyclists-only path) your leader will assign a person from the group to act as a back... Read more

Group leader

All Intrepid cycling group trips are accompanied by one of our cycling leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other g... Read more


We take safety seriously on all our trips, but cycling tours deserve a few special considerations. HELMETS: Helmets are compulsory and we do not allow anyone to ride without one (including our own staff!). You can bring your own, or purchase one that meets international safety standards on the ground. Your leader can assist with this. FOOTWEAR For safety reasons we strongly recommend that you w... Read more


Wireless (wi-fi) is common across accommodation in New Zealand. Some properties may charge a fee for use.  Cafe's and pubs across NZ may have wi-fi for a fee, with those in more tourist area's offering it for free. Shopping centre's, airports and other public spaces offer limited free wi-fi access.   If you are spending longer in New Zealand, it might be a good idea to purchase a local SIM card ... Read more


Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with ... Read more

Why we love it

Cycle the spectacular Otago Central Rail Trail, the oldest rail trail in New Zealand and voted 'New Zealand's Favourite Ride' for the past two years. 

Is this trip right for you

This a new trip for 2019. While we have thoroughly researched every detail of the itinerary, and are working with a local supplier with over 10 years experience riding this exact route, we sometimes find it's necessary to make small changes after the first few trips have run. Changes are always based on feedback from past travellers and our ground staff. For Cycling trips these changes are usually... Read more


Our trips require a level of independence and physical endurance. Before embarking on one of our trips, it is important to consider your physical and mental health and your suitability for the trip. It is recommended that you consult with your doctor about your current health and the possible implications of doing the trip. We also ask that you advise us of any mental or physical conditions you h... Read more

Food and dietary requirements

New Zealand is renowned for its fresh air and clean waters. Fresh food, including dairy (amazing cheese and milk), produce, seafood and meat - especially lamb. From high end restaurants and gastro pubs and cafe's to local restaurants and suburban dairies there is plenty of choice for all budgets. Wine is also done extremely well in NZ and not just sav blanc, but excellent pinot's and cool clima... Read more

Money matters

SPENDING MONEY: When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so ... Read more

What to take

Packing for a cycling tour isn’t that different from any other adventure. But if you want to be comfortable and warm, here are a few bike-specific tips. • Helmet – these are compulsory, but if you don’t have your own you can sometimes purchase an approved and well-fitted one at the start of the trip (our leaders can assist you with this). There are some destinations where you are unable to pur... Read more

Climate and seasonal

The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south. January and February are the warmest months, and July is the coldest month of the year. Check the Met Service website for forecasts prior to travel. Christchurch: Summer From December to February, sunshine and high temperatures come to Christchurch Average Summer High Temperature – 22c (72F) Average Summer Low Temperature – 12c (... Read more

A couple of rules

Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol... Read more


Emergency contact

For general contact details please use the following page: While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local re... Read more

Responsible travel

We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller. Read more

The Intrepid Foundation

Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed mo... Read more

Transport notes

On this trip we use ‘hybrid’-style bikes that have been manufactured specifically for the Otago Rail Trail, by local New Zealand Bike manufacturer Avanti Cycles. The bikes come in 2 versions – standard (for men and taller women) or ‘low-step’ (which feature a low top tube to make getting onto the bike easier, especially for shorter people. Both style bikes feature front suspension, flat handlebars... Read more

Travel insurance

Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and th... Read more

Your fellow travellers

As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit... Read more

Itinerary disclaimer

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weat... Read more


Hotel (7 nights)
€2,055per person
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