Cycle New Zealand: Otago Rail Trail

Trip Code: PHXC

Why we love it

Cycle the spectacular Otago Central Rail Trail, the oldest rail trail in the country and voted 'New Zealand's Favourite Ride' for the past two years., Ring along flat, traffic-free paths alongside some of the South Island's most stunning scenery., Begin your journey in Queenstown, an outdoor paradise set among the stunning Southern Alps of New Zealand., Experience firsthand the famous hospitality of New Zealanders on a trail built specifically to cater to cyclists., Cycle in the company of an experienced guide as they share their unique perspective of this fascinating region.

Is this trip right for me?

Accommodation on the Otago Rail Trail can be booked out months in advance so there may be occasions where we stay in nearby locations to those advertised.

This itinerary does not have a full-time support vehicle constantly following the group. Your luggage is always transported for you (by vehicle) between accommodations.

Due to the relatively small distances cycled on this trip, we have a single leader that rides with the group.

Important information

1. This trip starts at 8am and finishes on arrival back to Queenstown on Day 4 (approx 5pm)
2. To complete this trip it is important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle.
3. Bicycle helmets are compulsory on this trip. Please bring your own helmet.
4. On this trip we have a single leader that rides with the group.
5. This trip does not have a support vehicle but your luggage is transported for you from accommodation to accommodation each day.
6. Luggage is limited to 1 bag per client, no heavier than 15kgs.
7. Our riding is done mostly on a well-graded and maintained gravel cycle path, so there are no technical cycling skills required.
8. An e-bike option (at additional cost) may be available on this trip. We have limited numbers of these bikes available and they are on an 'on request' basis only - it is important to advise us o your height at the time of request.. A request does not guarantee an e-bike, only a confirmed booking. Please ask your agent for more details at the time of booking.
9. If you are bringing your own bike please advise us at the time of booking so we can ensure the correct 'on-ground' transport arrangements.
10. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 1 (Guesthouse) and Day 2 (Cottage) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.

What to bring/pack

LUGGAGE LIMIT
Please keep your luggage size and weight to a minimum. One small soft-sided bag plus a day pack (no more than 15 kg in total per person) is essential due to limited space for luggage in our vehicles. We recommend against bringing hard/externally framed suitcases as they are difficult to store in the vehicle and can damage equipment and other travellers' belongings., 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 purchase or hire appropriate helmets locally so you will need to bring your own - please check the 'Important Notes' section to see if this is the case.

• Padded bike shorts
• Quick-dry jerseys – you can definitely get away with a few cotton t-shirts but having a few light and breathable jerseys will make your cycling a lot more comfortable, especially in warmer/humid climates.
• Quick-dry socks
• Cycling gloves – not essential but recommended as padded cycle gloves will make your riding more comfortable and can help protect you in case of a fall.
• Rain gear – pack a light poncho in case the weather turns when you’re out on the road
• Light breathable waterproof/windproof – especially useful for those early mornings or downhill sections when the wind-chill becomes a factor.
• Water bottle – we don't provide bottles but all our bikes have one bottle holder fitted (and a second one can be fitted if required). Please bring a cycling-specific water bottle as other types will fall out of the holders. A Camelbak will make drinking on-the-go easier.
• Sunglasses – well fitted sports sunglasses help protect against dust, insects and (of course) the sun
• Day pack – our support vehicle will carry your main bag, but a day pack for snacks and clothes is a good idea.
• Suncream – please bring a high protection factor (e.g. SPF 50) sunscreen as long days in the saddle can really expose you to the sun
• Shoes – normal sports shoes can be worn on all of our trips however you may want to consider a flat shoe with a relatively stiff sole as it makes pedalling a lot more efficient. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own cycling-specific shoes however we recommended 'mountain bike' style shoes that have grip on the sole rather than road bike' shoes as you will still be walking around while on the rides (cafe/photo/toilet stops, etc.). For safety reasons we require that you wear shoes that completely cover the toes while riding.
• Saddles – are saddles are standard, unisex models –less experienced cyclists may choose to bring your own gel seat cover for added comfort. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring your own saddle – our leader will assist in fitting it to your bike
• Pedals – all bikes come with flat pedals. Regular cyclists are welcome to bring their own pedals – our leader will assist in fitting them to your bike

As space in our support vehicle/transport can be limited we request that you bring only a small luggage bag with you rather than larger bags or suitcases., BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE
If you would like to bring your own bike please see the 'Transport' section of your Essential Trip Information., ESSENTIALS:
Layers! New Zealand has relaxed attitudes to standards of dress however there are a few practical considerations. New Zealand has a temperate climate but be prepared for colder temperatures (occasionally snow) even in summer months. Bring a waterproof jacket. The sunshine in New Zealand is harsh and a sunhat and sunglasses are a must.
Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through forest/grass-lands. A pair of jandals is good for the beach/shower.
Sun protection - hat, sunscreen, sunglasses
Water bottle. We recommend at least 2x 1 litre capacity bottes. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
RECOMMENDED:
A Warm jacket and woollen hat are advisable for the colder months. Check the temperature at your destination before you travel.
Personal medical kit. A larger kit will be on hand with your leader, but we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent.
Camera with spare batteries.
OPTIONAL:
Sleep sheet. If you are travelling during the hot season you may wish to pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter what the weather.
Ear plugs
A good book, journal and music player for longer drives.
LUGGAGE LIMIT:
Pack only your bare essentials. Due to limited space and strictly enforced road laws regarding weight limits, Intrepid travellers can carry a maximum of 20 kg. Please limit your luggage to one small to medium sized soft bag or backpack and a small daypack, which can be carried inside the vehicle. Intrepid cannot guarantee to carry overweight or oversized luggage. Please store bulky items at your pre tour accommodation. It may be necessary to freight excess luggage at your own expense.
VALUABLES:
Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
BATTERIES/POWER:
Batteries may be recharged from hotel room wall sockets. Australian devices can be plugged into the wall in NZ.
MORE!
If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list.
https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list, WATER BOTTLE
Please bring your own water bottle to refill along the way. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided on some of our vehicles and at some of our accommodation. Your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination, if it is you can simply refill with tap water. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

Physical rating

3

PHYSICAL PREPARATION
There are regular rest breaks each day, however it is important to note that you will be riding over multiple and consecutive days in a climate and terrain that may be unfamiliar. While it can be tempting to start out riding as hard and fast as you can (we get it!) we recommend taking it easy on the first few days while your body gets used to the rides and the climate.

As a general rule, the more preparation you can do for this type of trip, the more you will enjoy it. Prepare for the trip by doing aerobic type exercises before travelling - jogging or swimming are some options, though cycling is best. If possible take some extended day rides before travelling, or spend time on exercise bikes in the gym. The more your muscles (and bottom) are prepared for the riding on this trip the more you will be able to enjoy the wonderful countryside and people you meet while riding. Note that an enthusiasm for bike riding and adventure is essential!

It is also important that you are both confident and competent in riding a bicycle, both solo and in a group environment.

CYCLING DISTANCES:
The information listed in the itinerary is a guide to the approximate distances and terrain cycled each day. However, this may vary depending on the physical capabilities of the group, and changes to local conditions. For safety reasons we only cycle during daylight hours, so there may be some early morning starts. We take regular rest breaks throughout cycling days.

This is one of Intrepid's least physically demanding cycling itineraries, and is suitable for anyone that can comfortably ride a bike. The trail runs for 152kms/95 miles in total and daily distances are comparatively short (averaging 40km per day with the longest day just 55 km) and the terrain is relatively flat (due to the trail being a former train line)

Joining your group

Steamer Wharf / Crowne Plaza Bus Stop, Stop ID: 12, Te Araroa Trail / Beach Street, Queenstown, 9300, NEW ZEALAND

Joining instructions

Finishing your trip

Steamer Wharf / Crowne Plaza Bus Stop, Stop ID: 12, Te Araroa Trail / Beach Street, Queenstown, 9300, NEW ZEALAND

Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 3

Lunches included: 

Dinners included: 

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 climate red's.

Vegetarians and Vegans are well catered for in New Zealand and most restaurants and cafe's will have a good selection of vegetarian meals. Gluten and Lactose free diets are also well catered for. 

Tap water is safe and delicious in cities and towns. Further out of town its best to check with your guide if in doubt. Please bring a reusable bottle and drink tap water where you can. You'll use less plastic, saving both the environment and money.

New Zealand has strict laws regarding arriving with fruit and veg into the country. Please pay attention to signs when arriving internationally.

Please budget approximately $15 per lunch, and $20 - $40 for each dinner, perhaps a little more if you intend to also enjoy a glass of wine or beer with your meal.

Climate & seasonal information

The average New Zealand temperature decreases as you travel south.
January and February are the warmest months. July is the coldest month of the year. Check the Met Service website for forecasts prior to travel.
We don't run trips on the South Island during winter due to potential road closures and poor weather.
NZ can experience four seasons in a day, best to be prepared.

Christchurch:
Summer
Average High – 22c (72F)
Average Low – 12c (54F)

Autumn
Average High – 18c (64F)
Average Low – 8c (46F)

Spring.
Average High – 17c (63F)
Average Low – 7c (45F)

FLEXIBLE ITINERARY:
Our routes have been carefully chosen to include the best night stops and highlights. However, as road conditions, weather, local restrictions and group input may vary, no two trips will ever be the same. With the help of your tour leader and fellow travellers you may modify certain nightstops and highlights to give a truly unique experience!

In case of emergency

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 representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time.

For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the number below.

Intrepid's Local Operator: +64 9 520 5593

Accommodations

While we endeavour to stay in the same accommodation on each departure of this trip there are times when we may use alternate accommodation in different locations. We will always ensure that while the location may the slightly different the standard will remain the same.

Transportation

On this trip we use Trek Roscoe 7’s, perfect for the trail. All bikes come with a bottle holder, Vaude drop down panniers, puncture resistant tires, ergonomic hand grips, a wireless cycle computer and plush padded seats plus a dual density gel seat cover. The bikes have front suspension, hydraulic disc brakes and high spec Shimano components. These bikes come in a range of sizes – please provide your height at time of booking so that we can reserve the perfect sized bike for you.

Unlike most Intrepid Cycling trips this itinerary does not have a full time support vehicle following the group. As well as the short distances making it unnecessary no vehicles are allowed to drive along the rail trail itself. Your luggage is transferred between accommodations for you, and a private minivan is used on the transport legs from Queenstown to Clyde, and from Middlemarch to Queenstown.

RENTAL E-BIKES
This trip includes an option of a motorised electric bicycle (e-bike) featuring an electric assist motor up to 25kph, at an additional cost. Please inquire at time of booking. It is important that you advise us of your height at the time of request so we can secure the correct sized bike.

BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE
While we’re confident in the quality and suitability of the bikes we include, we do recognise that sometimes you just need the comfort of your own bike to enjoy the ride. If you are thinking of bringing your own bike on this trip, please advise us at time of booking and take note of the below information. If you do choose to bring your own bike, please note that we will not being carrying a spare bike for you.

SUITABLE TYPE OF BIKE
Although the surfaces of the roads we travel on are generally good there are occasionally gravel or potholed sections of road/track. As such, we recommend a 'mountain' or 'hybrid' style bike with plenty of gear selections for easy cruising. For more details on the type of roads we’ll be riding on see the ‘Physical Rating’ section of your Essential Trip Information. Please contact your booking agent if you have any questions about the suitability of your bike.

OUR BIKES
We use Cannondale Quick 6 ‘hybrid’ bikes on this trip. These bikes are a hybrid/fitness bike-style with an alloy frame, flat bars, rim brakes, a fixed front fork and 21 gears. For more specific information please see https://www.cannondale.com/en-us/bikes/active/fitness/quick/quick-6

We usually cannot accept tandem bikes on our trips as they are often too large for our transport. In some destinations we can make an exception. Please ask your booking agent if you are interested in bringing a tandem bike.

BEFORE THE TRIP
We recommend that you have a full service of your bike performed by a trained mechanic to help minimise any issues you may have during the trip. Please also ensure that you have specific and adequate cover for loss, damage or theft for your bike under your travel, home and contents or specialist insurance policy.

DURING THE TRIP
Your bike will be transported in the same way as our included bikes, usually in the support vehicle or on the bike trailer. While we endeavour to take the best care we can, you should recognise that transported bikes do get the occasional bump or scratch along the way. The same applies when we take other forms of transport, such as a train, where we are unable to pack the bikes ourselves. Your bike will be secured in the same way as our included bikes. This can occasionally be outside the vehicle (where the bikes are locked together).

In order to reach our destination, it is necessary for us to travel via various modes of transportation, including planes and trains. Any extra costs involved with transporting personal bikes are your responsibility. This includes (but is not limited to) additional transport costs and customs/import fees.

While our mechanics can usually assist with minor repairs, you are responsible for the safety and upkeep of your own bicycle. This includes conducting regular safety checks of your bike during the trip and cleaning your bike. In addition, any parts that require replacing are your responsibility. Most destinations have access to only limited spares along the way and access to bike shops can be days apart. Therefore, please ensure you bring any spare parts that you may require (especially specialist parts).

TRANSPORTING YOUR BIKE TO/FROM THE DESTINATION
Your preferred airline should have no problem carrying your bike, but many will charge an extra fee. Contact them before departing to discuss their arrangements for transporting bikes.

A well-padded bike box (obtainable from a bike shop) is usually the best method of plane transportation. We recommend that you accompany your bicycle on the flight. Unaccompanied bicycles have been known to spend some extra days in the hands of customs authorities.

Many taxis are not large enough to transport a bike box/bag so you may be delayed waiting for a suitably sized vehicle.

INCLUDED OR HIRE BIKES: CONDITIONS OF USE
You must not mistreat the bicycle and must return it in the same condition as when you received it (excepting ordinary wear and tear). You should immediately inform the supplier in the case of breakdown or loss. The provider is entitled to charge for any damage caused to the bicycle during the period of hire. You must also make sure that the bicycle is secured when not in use. If the equipment is lost or stolen you may be liable for the replacement value of the bicycle. The bicycle remains the property of the supplier and you may not sell, rent out or part possession with the bicycle. You must not use the bicycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


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