Jude and friends enjoying the Rail Trail | Jude Webber
Traveller Story: Jude and friends cycle the Rail Trail
We are a group of 14 who initially went to Queenstown to celebrate some of our 50th birthdays. While there we decided to book a small bike trip through Trail Journeys to bike the Bannockburn Inlet trail. We were initially apprehensive as many of us hadn't ridden a bike in such a long time, hence us choosing a smaller trail to have a go on!
Well, we were all hooked after that trail - so we decided then and there to come back and book the Otago Rail Trail as we had all heard so many great things about it!
We absolutely loved biking as a group. Was so nice to share the beautiful countryside with friends as we biked.
Highlights along the Otago Rail Trail
The scenery was beautiful, there were no dull moments at all. We absolutely loved the views from the top of the trail by the 'Rail Trail post'.
The tunnels and Viaducts were true standouts for us too, as when biking you can take in all the views as well as take the time to appreciate the workmanship and all the hard labour to build these amazing structure back in the day.
Particularly, the Oturehua to Poolburn section, cycling through the tunnels and gorge, as well as biking over the Poolburn Viaduct in Ida Valley.
It was lovely to be on the Rail Trail and see where the train travelled - some of the passes would have been an incredibly tight squeeze for the train we thought! Also, if you get the opportunity to bike the extra side trail from the start of the trip in Clyde do it, as it was well worth it biking alongside the river to Alexandra.
Self-guided was such a great way to see it at our own pace and not from the road, it was great to be out there and amongst it all.
Towns and Accommodation
We really loved our stops in Chatto Creek and at Hayes Engineering. It was great to have places along the way to stop at for morning teas/lunches. Hayes Engineering was a great piece of local history too. The guys in our group especially enjoyed that stop!
Our most favourite stay was at Wedderburn Cottages. They were just perfect and comfortable, the scenery was stunning - especially the sunrise in the morning! We also had a great night at the local pub - Wedderburn Tavern.
We also enjoyed an outing to have a go at Curling - which was so much fun! Trail Journeys organised a van for us all to be picked up so we could go as it was a bit far on our bikes. We would highly recommend this to add onto your trip - we all learnt a new sport that we didn't really know much about at all.
Food and Drinks
Could not fault anywhere that we stayed. All food and wines were delicious. We especially loved staying at the Waipiata Hotel - could not fault their hospitality or their food.
Was it a challenging ride?
We were surprised by how much distance we actually biked over the 3 days! It was such a great sense of achievement! It wasn’t challenging at all.
The only 'tough' part was heading up the 'hill' (was more like a gradual incline) to the top where the 'Highest Point' marker is because we had a really strong head wind that day and were biking into it.
However having an E-bike saved us and we all made it up no problems at all. Each day was a good distance and not too tiring or hard on us at all.
One of our group members is our group organiser and she dealt with John from Trail Journeys to make sure we were all booked and sorted. In terms of preparing for cycling some of us went out and bought our own bikes and started biking to practice! Some of the other group members go to the gym and have a good level of fitness, but they found the biking wasn't a challenge at all. We all felt we were really well prepared, nobody struggled (we are all in our 50's).
What is it like travelling with Trail Journeys?
Absolutely top notch service. We couldn't have asked for any better. John has been amazing to work with. He has now organised our group for our third trip coming up in January, we can't wait to get out on the trails again!
Advice for other travellers
Definitely do it! It's a great trip for all ages and stages of fitness. There was no time pressure - we had the day to take our time to get from one place to the next. If you are biking in the summer like us it was very hot, so we found wearing a long sleeved light cotton overshirt over our biking singlet was great to stop any sunburn.
- Jude Webber on the 4-day Otago Rail Trail self-guided cycling trip.