E-Bike: Classic Otago Rail Trail and Southern Lakes 2020

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E-Bike: Classic Otago Rail Trail and Southern Lakes

E-Bike: Classic Otago Rail Trail & Southern Lakes 2020

8 Day / 7 Night tour: Christchurch – Lake Tekapo –  Twizel – Lake Ohau – Lake Hawea –  Lake Wanaka – Clyde  – Clutha River – Ophir – Naseby – Kokonga – Dunedin


This tour features the world famous Otago Rail Trail in Central Otago and other wonderful cycle trails alongside splendid South Island Lakes from Tekapo to Clyde.   We begin our adventure cycling past mountain lakes on the Alps2ocean cycle route, following canal roads and cycle trails.  We then travel further south in the Lake District and cycle the trail between Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka before moving on to Clyde where we cycle beside the Clutha River and begin the Otago Rail Trail.   The tour leaves from Christchurch and ends in Dunedin.


Tour at a Glance


$3,950 per person, share twin

$1,040 single supplement

Tour Date:

28 Nov – 5 Dec, 2020 WAIT LIST


Introductory to Moderate

Remember E-Bikes take the strain and pain. 🙂

Tour Leader:


• 7 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 7 evening meals
• Accommodation as listed in the itinerary
• Curling at Naseby
• E-Bike rental and helmet
• Private transport for you, your luggage and the E-Bikes
• Services of Tours Direct Tour Leader, Helen Tait
• Cycle guide & technical support, Brian Farrant (with over 30 years experience as cycle tour guide)


• Bring your own E-Bike (price adjusted accordingly)
• Domestic airfares

Tour Itinerary

Flexibility is our motto: The quoted cycling distances for each day are based on the day maps which you will be given, and represent the expected riding. An individual can adjust the cycling according to their needs and weather conditions on the day.

Sat 28 NovChristchurch (D)

Arrive in Christchurch. In the morning Helen Tait, your Tours Direct Tour Leader, will offer an optional walking tour of central Christchurch, departing at 10.00am from Orari Bed & Breakfast Hotel, Cnr Gloucester and Montreal Streets. The tour will cover post earthquake plans and developments, and will include Turanga, the award-winning central library, the new Convention Centre, Margaret Mahy Playground, the dramatic architecture of the city’s new retail area, including the Riverside Markets, earthquake memorials, the restored Arts Centre, and will conclude at “Quake City”, the earthquake museum, close to your accommodation.
We will meet the full group at 2.00pm at your accommodation, the Orari Bed and Breakfast Hotel, for bike fittings followed by a short ride around Hagley Park.
The accommodation is very close to the shopping and cultural heart of Christchurch, with the Art Gallery literally at your doorstep. The Christchurch Arts Centre, museum and botanical gardens are all less than 5 minutes walk.
Dinner at 5th Street Christchurch
Accommodation at Orari Bed and Breakfast.

Sun 29 NovChristchurch – Twizel (B,L,D) 54 km

We depart Christchurch early at 8.00am by minibus, take a short break in the attractive township of Geraldine, and arrive at our destination at Lake Tekapo, site of the much photographed lakeside chapel and dog sculpture, by late morning. We begin our cycling at Tekapo township, the start of the Alps2Ocean cycle trail. We will pick out the highlights of the trail, past beautiful Lake Tekapo, with spectacular views towards Mt Cook, and stopping for a picnic lunch on the trail where the road crosses the canals. We’ll then continue on a slightly downhill ride along the Ohau hydro canal, to the country town of Twizel. Dinner at Shawtys Restaurant, Twizel
Accommodation at Colonial Motel, Twizel

Mon 30 Nov Twizel – Lake Ohau (B,L,D) 48 km

We cycle from Twizel to Lake Ohau Lodge picking out another highlight stretch of the Alps2Ocean trail. We follow the road out of Twizel and then cycle canal roads for the first 18 km to Lake Ohau. A gravel cycle trail takes us around the beauty of the lake foreshore, with the last 10 km back on the road to Lake Ohau Lodge. Dinner at the very comfortable Lodge, enjoying excellent lake and mountain views.
Accommodation at Lake Ohau Lodge

Tue 1 DecLake Ohau – Clyde (B,D) 18 km

We spend today in the dramatic Upper Clutha area, following the mighty Clutha River from its origin in Lake Hawea to Lake Wanaka, another of the splendid southern lakes, then on down past Lake Dunstan and the town of Cromwell. After our van transfer to Hawea, we cycle the pleasantly undulating bike path from Lake Hawea through to Lake Wanaka. Following a late lunch in Wanaka, where there are plenty of options for a café lunch or a picnic with a lake view, we drive through to Dunstan House at Clyde for the night, passing through the dramatic Cromwell Gorge and the Clyde High Dam, one of Rob Muldoon’s “think big” projects. We can enjoy a walk through the beautifully preserved historic township before dinner at The Old Post Office.
Accommodation at Dunstan House

Wed 2 DecClyde – Ophir (B,D) 43km

Today we have two options, the longer (40 km) starting at Alexandra and cycling on a lovely riverside track on the west bank of the Clutha River back to Clyde (12km). After a short ascent on the north bank, we get an impressive view of the river from an historic bridge, then it’s through town to our much anticipated start on the Otago Rail Trail, and the first stamp in your passport.
The second option (31 km) is a shorter version of option 1, for those who would like a leisurely start to the day, and the chance for a further stroll in historic Clyde and starts from our accommodation at Clyde. It’s only 17km to Chatto Creek where we will stop for lunch. Have a look at the tiny Post Office, and the hotel will be open by then for lunch and drinks. Your support van will be waiting if you need it. The 12 km trail to Omakau climbs gradually and in the warmth of the afternoon takes longer than you’d expect. We stay at Pitches Store in the quiet historic town 2km from Omakau which missed out on the railway 100 years ago but certainly isn’t missing on the charm of lovely rolling countryside.
Dinner will be at the Store.
Accommodation at Pitches Store

Thu 3 DecOphir – Naseby (B,D) 42 km

In the morning we head back to the rail trail at Omakau, and eastward to the settlement of Lauder (9 km), before entering one of the most scenic sections of the trail. We climb gradually above the Poolburn gorge, through two tunnels, and over the Poolburn viaduct with its striking schist stone piers. Descend into the Ida Valley, famous for ice skating and curling in the winter. Just after passing the skating rink and before reaching Oturehua, look out for the windmill of the Hayes Engineering workshop on your left, and take the turn-off to this fascinating example of the history of the area run by the Historic Places Trust. Enjoy lunch at Hayes Engineering café and take time to wander through the restored workshops and dwellings of the settlement, before heading off to climb another hill before the downhill to Wedderburn where we load our bikes onto the van for our transfer to Naseby for the night. At 6pm we’ll wrap up warmly to learn the art of curling at New Zealand’s only indoor curling rink, and then the chance to have fun, having a go ourselves at sliding the stones down the ice.
Accommodation and dining at Naseby Trail Lodge.

Fri 4 DecNaseby – Kokonga (B,D) 46km

In the morning we are in the van and back to Wedderburn, made famous by Grahame Sydney’s watercolor. We have a lovely relaxed day downhill all the way today, first to Ranfurly with its Art Deco architecture for morning tea and then across the expanse of the Maniototo Plain to Waipiata for lunch at the local tavern. After passing the remnant of Taieri Lake we enter the Upper Taieri River Gorge and travel down the gentle green valley to Kokanga.
If we get to Kokanga early, and the weather conditions are in our favour, we will cycle to Hyde, or Middlemarch for the last stamp in your souvenir passport and the end of the trail. Once again the trail passes through tunnels and over dramatic high bridges. The wide open plain of the Strath Taieri opens up as we leave Hyde with the Rock and Pillar Range towering high above us out to the west and gradually descend into Middlemarch. Transfer back to Kokonga for the night.
Accommodation and dinner at Kokonga Lodge

Sat 5 DecKokonga – Dunedin (B) 27 km

Depending on our success in cycling through to the end of the rail trail the previous day, we will have lunch at Middlemarch (after cycling from Kokanga to Middlemarch) and congratulate ourselves on completing this deservedly famous trail. Time permitting, we will visit the historic stone sheep yards and/or the salt lake, at Middlemarch.
We the transfer through to Dunedin airport, where the tour ends at 2.00pm (book flights for departure after 4.00pm) or you can be dropped off at 3.00pm at your Dunedin hotel if you have decided to stay on. A free transfer back to Christchurch is available if you prefer.

Your Tour Leader: Helen Tait

Helen lives in Christchurch and is a keen skier, cyclist and tramper. She has led tours for Tours Direct for over 10 years, and loves sharing her enthusiasm for a wide range of places and cultures.   She specially likes to share walking and cycling tours, at a relaxed pace suited to travellers for whom this might be a first.   She has worked as a cycling guide in New Zealand, taking visitors and locals on high profile trails such as Alps to Ocean and the Otago Rail Trail, as well as some hidden gems, and she led the first cycle tour for Tours Direct, along the picturesque Danube.   She is a convert to E-biking and now finds she no longer needs excuses to avoid biking up to her hillside home.

Helen on her E-Bike. Note Daisy, her dog in the basket.

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