The Central Otago Rail Trail

Central Otago is regarded as one of the harshest and most beautiful environments in New Zealand. A combination of hot summers, cold winters and low rainfall results in a dry, rocky and unforgiving countryside. Rolling hills are dusted with thyme, river valleys are lined with beautiful poplar trees, and the countryside is littered with the green pastures of New Zealand’s largest alpine sheep stations.

Central Tunnel

Gold mining boomed throughout the region in the late 1800’s, and a supporting railway line was built between Alexandra and Dunedin. Servicing the industry for 83 years, this line was finally decommissioned in 1990. When the trains shut down and the tracks were lifted, the perfect cycleway was uncovered, and it soon became New Zealand’s first ‘Great Ride’.

The 152 kilometre (94 miles), dual direction trail quickly became a must-do for Kiwis and international visitors alike. Along the way you’ll pass by old mining villages, meet an array of locals, and you’ll have front row seats to the most stunning high country stations. The trail can be ridden all year round, but if you travel in the autumn (March, April and May) you’ll be a witness to a spectacular colour display. As the poplar trees lose their leaves, they create a kaleidoscope of colour and on a background of riverbeds, rolling barren hills and green crops, the scene is set for incredible photography.

Central Otago Autumn

The trail is grade 1 (the easiest) and there aren’t too many steep climbs, although some inclines are quite long and it does help to have a ‘reasonable’ level of base fitness. If you have any concerns, just give us a call and we’ll chat about your options.

If you’re joining us on our ‘Weka’ cycle trip, we’ll bike the section of cycleway between Lauder and Ranfurly, and you'll be fully vehicle assisted along the way. Crossing numerous bridges and viaducts, winding our way along the smooth track past Raggedy Range and Rough Ridge, this section of trail is definitely one of the most visually stimulating sections of the New Zealand Cycleway. Tonight we'll kick back in the legendary Hawkdun Lodge (feel free to make the most of the hot tub to loosen up those legs) while we prepare for another epic day in the saddle, biking the Alps to Ocean cycleway!

  • New Zealand Biking Adventure - Weka

    14 Days  | 

    South Island  | 

    US$5599 + tax

    ACTIVE 3 - 4
    • ACTIVE 1

      What's The Rush?

      I’m not a triathlete, but I’m in decent shape and I’m not looking to experience a place just through a bus window. I’m happy to slow down on the trail, soak it in and breathe in the fresh air.


    • ACTIVE 2

      Leg Stretcher

      Sure, I own some hiking boots, they’re even worn in, but they don’t go on long trips. I like my creature comforts and I like to give a range of activities a go.


    • ACTIVE 3

      Earn Your Lunch

      I stay active on vacation so that I can eat and drink what I like without feeling guilty. I season my trips with a little fresh exercise.


    • ACTIVE 4

      Challenge Accepted

      I’ll let my trusty guides sweat the small things, so I can focus on my goal. Getting to the top, reaching the end, achieving my dreams! Sure, it’ll be tough, but the views will be worth it.


    • ACTIVE 5

      The Ultimate

      I’ve put in the hard yards and now I get to reap the rewards. I’m a seasoned adventurer, not afraid to get my boots wet.


    • Read more about the Active Range

    4.51 out of 5 (from 317 reviews)

    Specifically designed for biking enthusiasts, this 14 day trip explores the very best off-road cycling trails, with a few iconic hikes thrown in for good measure.

Trip Reviews

  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16218 reviews)

    Perfect Trip for anyone who loves Nature!

    If you enjoy being outdoors and like to challenge yourself this trip is for you. I wasn't an avid hiker before signing up for the Rimu trip but after reading the itinerary I knew I couldn't pass up this amazing opportunity. You never know what you are capable of until you try and that is how I feel after climbing up to the Angelus Hut and hiking to Mueller ridge. I had never climbed a mountain before (since there are no mountains where I live) but the views are more than worth the climb.
    This trip is the best way to see all that the South Island has to offer, it is the perfect balance between adventure, relaxation, self-exploration, and cultural immersion. Anyone can go to New Zealand and rent a car and go hiking, biking, and Kayaking; however, they will miss out on the best parts of traveling to a new place and that is the knowledge and culture that only someone who lives there would know. The guides (Tory and Vanessa) were awesome! Tory is an amazing cook, and Ness was great at making jokes and keeping the atmosphere cheery during the longer drives. I loved listening to the guides tell us about the Maori people and the local legends or folklore. I actually thought Ness was lying to me when she would tell me that the views get better after being left speechless by the scenery, but every day was better than the previous!
    I have to mention the FOOD!!! The food alone is enough for me to sign up for this trip again. When I travel I don’t always know what the local food is or would be but with this trip the guides cook you all sorts of local food and all the food is fresh and delicious. If you don’t like something they will make sure to accommodate you.
    Ness and Tory made you feel like this was a trip among friends and family, not strangers. I will come back to New Zealand again!
    Brian Heinz Review Image
    – Wisconsin, United States
    Rimu, May 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16218 reviews)

    Tui Adventure

    This trip was all I had hoped for and then some. I expected beautiful scenery and exciting activities, but I did not expect the personal touch from our guides. One of the group members mentioned chips and salsa... that night we had chips and salsa to go with our appetizers. They knew I love birds, so I was introduced to every bird possible - along with descriptions of the birds’ personalities and habits. There seemed to be no end to Dani and Emma’s knowledge about New Zealand and that made a huge impact on our trip! We all felt like family by the end of the week, and for a person traveling alone, that is a wonderful gift!
    Janet Slover Review Image
    – Texas, United States
    Tui, March 2018
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16218 reviews)

    Chris Darcy review of Rimu Trip

    The term trip of a lifetime gets used far too frequently. This was one. The South Island of New Zealand is likely the most beautiful place on earth, pound for pound. Nowhere else can you find so much beautiful landscape, diverse landscapes and microclimates packed into such a small area, which can be travelled in such a short amount of time while still doing it justice. Our guides, Holly and Claire, were fantastic - wonderful dispositions, knowledgeable, tireless and attentive - and made the trip special. And Kiwis are some of the nicest folks on earth (after Canadians of course) - we didn't have a single negative experience the whole time we were there. If you've been thinking of going to New Zealand don't wait - you can't do better than this trip - just make sure you take extra memory cards for your camera.
    Chris Darcy Review Image
    – Ontario, Canada
    Rimu, November 2016
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16218 reviews)

    Kauri

    I combined the Kauri trip, last 5 days, with the Tui trip on the South Island. I did not have enough time to do the full 11-day trip. I am really happy with my decision to do the last 5 days. Crossing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing was an amazing experience! I loved everything about this trip... Andy and Jo were absolutely awesome!
    Andrea King Review Image
    – Connecticut, United States
    Kauri, March 2017
  •   4.53 out of 5 (from 16218 reviews)

    Tui

    We had a truly great time. Our guides, Koru and Liana were the best. They made the trip so much fun, especially in the light of the unpredictable New Zealand weather! And Lynette was always right there to help us along every step of the way. I brought home memories of a lifetime, and discovered that Kiwis are absolutely the friendliest people on earth. The Tui Trip was a great introductory tour, but now I want to come back again and spend more time hiking and exploring the South Island.

    Many thanks to the whole Active Adventures team. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

    - Mick
    Mick Owens Review Image
    – Florida, United States
    Tui, December 2016

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Why travel with Active Adventures?

Above all, we aim to be amazing hosts. We're proud of our kiwi roots, and our professional, warm and relaxed style of running trips around the world is unforgettable.

We're VERY picky about who we select to work in our team, and we have people from all over the world lining up to guide our trips. So we get to hire the absolute BEST in the business.

As soon as you get off the plane, we've got all the details of your vacation covered – top notch meals, comfortable transport & accommodation, amazing guides and INCREDIBLE service.

Whether you’re new to adventure travel, or you’ve never travelled in a group before, you’ll find yourself arriving home positively different from when you left.

With our small groups (no more than 14), you'll get to know our team, your fellow travellers, and have the flexibility and freedom to do as much (or as little!) as you like.

It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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