Enjoy our story of the John whanau (Mum, Dad, 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl) riding the Central Otago Rail Trail over 5 days in the South Island of  New Zealand

 

Supporting you and your family to SMILE when you ride.

When we make the effort and take the time to go on a biking adventure with the family we want it to be an enjoyable experience. To help plan your adventure read about the John whanau experience riding the 151km Central Otago Rail Trail with kids attached.

A couple of websites for additional information are the Otago Rail Trail and the Otago Central Rail Trail .

Where is it?

The Trail is located in the amazing Central Otago region of the South Island of New Zealand. The direction you ride in will determine your start and finish point, Starting or Finishing in Middlemarch or Clyde.

The ride and is it doable for you?

The Otago Rail Trail is 151km in length. It a gentle incline up to the highest point and then a gentle incline down. The trains chugged their way up and then down and so can you on your bike. There are a variety of places to stay on the way and so you can choose the distances you ride each day by determining how many days you want to ride the trail in. The guide books say 2-3 days, but with kids attached we decided to do the trail over 5 days of riding,

Car Shuttle – We had Grandma providing car support throughout this trip. So we only every carried day gear.

Highlights – It was great to get the perspective of Greymouth from the top of the stop bank, see the Greymouth bar, and the activity of the river.

DAY ONE – 27.5km Middlemarch to Hyde is it doable?

We traveled in the morning from Dunedin to Middlemarch on the Taieri Gorge Railway. We cycled to Dunedin Railway station then hopped on the train that travels through to Middlemarch

Biking – We didn’t start the trail until the afternoon because we took the train to Middlemarch in the morning. This did make it a long day for the kids. Definitely getting up early and getting through most of our riding in the morning was the best way to manage the kids energy and enthusiasm for biking

Accommodation – stayed overnight at the Hyde Hotel .

DAY TWO – Hyde to Ranfurly.32km – is it doable?

Biking – Hyde tp Ranfurly 32km.

Accommodation –We rented a house/batch for the night. We were thankful for the fire as it snowed that night.

 

DAY THREE – Ranfurly to Oturehua. 25.5km – is it doable?

Biking –  We passed through the high point today …so we know it is ‘downhill’ from here.

Accommodation –we stayed in B&B accommodation

DAY FOUR -Oturehua to Omakau. 29km.- is it doable?

Biking – Oturehua to Omakau. 29km

Accommodation  – We rented a house/bach for the night.

 

DAY FIVE – Omakau to Clyde. 37km – is it doable?

Biking – This was a longer distance day but the biking time was about the same as previous days as the ride was predomanintly downhill or flat.

One of the many tunnels you ride through.

The highest point.

Riding the trail day 5.

The end of teh trail for us.

What skills will you need to do this ride? This track is predominantly loose gravel trail. It s an easy gradual uphill or downhill riding. The trail was slower going than we had planned for. We found we only rode the trail at about 10km/hour with kids attached and the loose gravel also slowed our progress

What level of fitness will you need to do this ride? You can complete the ride over as many days as you like and therefore determine how many kilometres you ride in a day.

How could the weather effect the success of your journey?  Wind can be quite a factor on this trail. We choose to only do about 30km a day so that we could make sure the kids wouldn’t be exposed in bad weather for too long if the weather was not great. We rode this in December and we did have snow in Ranfurly and it was cold. Be prepared for all weather no matter when you ride this trail.

Riding with Kids Attached or Towed? This is a trail that you can enjoy with kids attached or towed. We had our 4 year old boy on a half bike and our 2 year old girl on a rear bike seat. A bike trailer would have given us more flexibility on the distances we could ride each day.

If kids are riding their own bike. Having a tow rope – the towhee is certainly a great thing to have as an option in times of need. If they are tired, they need assistance through weather ( wind, rain or cold)

Be safe and comfortable when riding the Otago Rail Trail with Kids Attached

Enjoy our mulltiday bikepath riding pages that introduce gear and stories to get you ready to ride

Throughout this trail there is reasonable support with riding some small towns Ranfurly and Alexandra however there are times of remoteness so being prepared is important. Use our stories for multiday biking to help support you to be prepared to ride the Central Otago Rail Trail.

Enjoy the experience and have fun

There were many highlights enjoyed along the way. These are the things that my 4 year old talked about during and after the ride.

  • The train to Middlemarch goes chuggedy chuggedy up the gorge tucked in tight against the hill and we got to go over lots of bridges and through lots of tunnels. It was my first train ride and I was amazed where this train managed to go.
  • On the cycle ride there were lots of tunnels along the way. I had my very own torch to help light the way. And a horn on my trailer bike that I liked to push to let people know we were coming. The noise was quite different in the tunnels.
  •  The scenery was wonderful sometimes we followed a river, there was often big open spaces, hills and a lot of brown a bit different to where I live.
  • You may notice I am not often in the photos as I am very keen to be the photographer. We found Nelson Rd on the way which I thought was quite funny because I am from Nelson.
  • Sometimes it was windy and it even snowed. I know, in December, luckily the place we were staying in had a great fire and the snow on the hills the next morning looked great. We were well prepared with lots of warm clothes and wooly hats, socks and gloves.
  • Reaching the high point is pretty cool, you get to take a photo and you know it is downhill after that.
  • You can get a small book called a passport and you get to collect stamps from the Railway Stations along the way and I loved doing that.

Central Otago Rail Trail with stamps.

Sam and Hollie favourite thing to stamp their passports at each of the stations

I found Nelson Road…funny.

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