Ohau to Omarama
SECTION 4 – OHAU TO OMARAMA
Technical Difficulty: Grade 3
Fitness Required: Intermediate
Trail Overview: This section includes the longest climb, the longest downhill and the highest point on the trail. The surface is a mix or shingle cycle trail, gravel and sealed road, has amazing views, especially at Tarn Brae.
Starting from the drive into Lake Ohau Lodge, the A2O Cycle trail traverses the lower slopes of the Ruataniwha Conservation Park, with stunning views back across the Mackenzie Basin, where you’ve come from, and where you’re going. The first 6km is fairly easy cycling up to Freehold Creek, 600m above sea level. From here the track narrows and it’s a steady climb to Tarn Brae, the high point on the trail at 900m.
Please be aware that there are several ‘false summits’ where the trail appears to reach the high point, Be prepared for them so you won’t be disappointed. This is one of the paces on the trail where you’re able to fill your water bottles from the streams that flow down from the mountains. The trail also flows through sections of old beech forest with several places suitable for stopping for a snack and photo opportunity.
Once at the high point it is a highly enjoyable flowing descent down cycle trail and then grass to the historic woolshed at the top of Quailburn Road. The last few kms are slightly uphill so save some energy. There is a Toilet by the woolshed. Although you are able to enter the woolshed to read the information boards, be careful as the building is in a very poor state of repair. Follow all warning signs and, if in doubt, don’t enter.
Follow the gravel Quailburn Road towards Omarama. This road is mainly downhill until you read the sealed portion. After a few kms, you’ll see a yellow sign to the Clay Cliffs. These are a fantastic side trip and well worth it, but, only if you have the energy, it’s an extra 14km round trip and the final few kms to the cliffs are uphill. You’ve been warned!
Where Quailburn Road meets the highway, follow the off-road trail to the right through the Ahuriri Camp Ground. Cross over the Ahuriri river on the road bridge before rejoining the off-road trail into Omarama. In our option, you should finish the trail at the Omarama Hot Tubs so that you can rest your tired limbs in your own private hot tub.
The only toilet on this section is at the Quailburn Woolshed, so you still need to carry a Poo Pot and keep this environment clean and green.
I was very worried about how I was going to survive the 300km ride on a different bike seat without destroying some of my anatomy, however the bikes were totally appropriate for the trail we were doing & the guide reassured us, adjusted & tweaked until all of us were comfortable in the saddle.
The whole trip was fantastic and I especially enjoyed the mountain bike tracks around the edges of the lakes. Thanks Sara and Vernon, We had the best time and we were very lucky to spend time in such a spectacular environment.
I was blown away by the scenery and organisation of your trip. All I can say is thank you and congratulations!
Fantastic attention to detail. Different experience/adventure every day. I have dietary restrictions which are a pain in the neck. This was handled brilliantly and without fuss. Very authentic Kiwi experience.
I could not fault (the guide's) commitment, energy, knowledge, good humor and patience and evenhandedness and attention to each individual. I would imagine that we all felt absolutely attended to, as I did.
Great scenery. great company. great organisation.
The accommodation and food was excellent, much better than anticipated in comparison with previous rides.
I thought it was a good mix of wine tours, cycling, resting, exploring, hot tubs, shopping, food, information, walks and talks. Don't change a single thing.
We came to this tour from word of mouth and we've been to Central Otago many times before so we knew how great the environment and scenery would be, but the efforts made with accommodation and meals was much more than we expected. I loved the cycle tour and we're determined to come back and try out your new tours.
Every dietary need was offered...absolutely wonderful food.
Fresh healthy and hearty meals. plenty of choices.
My favourite parts of the trip? Impossible to answer, so many wonderful aspects to the experience. Wineries were enjoyable, distances each day were manageable, bikes were excellent, food and accommodation were exceptional.
Excellent food; excellent variety; all needs cared for including snacks en route.
I didn't expect so many extras to be included plus the freedom to order any meal off the menu at the evening cafe's. The food was exceptional. All the accommodation was first class, and the different types added to the experience. Each day was an adventure and I cannot think of any aspect that I could possibly recommend a change.
This trip surpassed expectations by quite a margin.
Thank you again for a truly memorable experience... you provided the greatest and most enjoyable service we have experienced in a very long time.
Both Vernon and Sara are very professional, nothing was too much trouble.
...riding in the middle of nowhere was a beautiful experience ... Thank you for making our honeymoon a truly amazing experience. We loved every day of it and did not want it to end. We will be back!
A really enjoyable morning MTB ride with a very professional outfit.
Accommodation exceeded my expectations, especially the last night which just blew my mind.
The bikes, the scenery and the accommodation and food exceeded my expectations. I have done very little mountain bike riding and was even a little apprehensive about it. As it turned out, I loved the bikes and my confidence on them soared. I could have taken my bike home with me!
Change nothing…you don't need to do more!
The guide's explanations and information added to the enjoyment of the ride. It was great when we had a guide to support the slower cyclist so that the rest could go at their own pace.
Your guides were excellent, couldn’t have asked for anything better. Loved everything about the trip. Wonderful value for money. My thanks to you all.
Big thanks to you for a great trip and especially to the guide who with his sound knowledge and advice I was able to cycle a good chunk of the track despite not being able to walk! Thanks so much we really had a great time. Everything was good, keep doing what you are already doing well :)
I loved that everyone had the option of following their choices to ride through their challenges, or not, without judgement or pressure.
The cycle tour was better than my expectations. Honestly I can't think of anything you could do better.
Totally amazed by the food. Can't give a top choice as each night was special and different. Breakfasts, lunches and snacks all superb. I ate far too much.
I was concerned about the price at first... now I would rate it as absolute value for money… it was much better value than we possibly imagined.
Thank you so much for the wonderful trip we have had and the photo – was just the ”icing on the cake!”
We thought the whole operation was marvelous. (The guide) was incredible, and everything was so well organised. Great variety each day in the cycling and different places we stayed each night added variety.
I've been on lots of guided tours all around the world incl TDF, Vietnam, Greece, Turkey, UK and you have surpassed everything I have experienced in the past.
(The guide) went the extra mile and encouraged me without being patronising.His knowledge and love of the area was tops and we missed him when the trip was over and we had to look at places without his explanations. He was the perfect guide.
You guys are awesome. Thanks again for a wonderful experience...we appreciate all of the things you guys did to make this pretty special.
I loved your selection of interesting and sometimes spectacular accommodation and eating locations. You adapted according to changing weather and cyclist abilities with quiet grace and thought for the group.
The evening meals were fantastic. The guide was very accommodating, knowledgable about the area and their enthusiasm was inspiring. This was our first cycle tour, we had so much fun & the scenery was spectacular! Thanks to the guide for accommodating our little side trips … and gliding. It was an AWESOME cycle trail.
Enjoyed every day and thought the guides and accommodation were very good. The tour was better than I thought. Food was very good and I thought the tour was well balanced but particularly enjoyed unique accommodations where food was provided on site.
I did a few gulps at the price - shortly into the trip it was obvious that we were Definitely receiving Value For money. Worth every cent.
Thoroughly enjoyable day out, May 2014. Really nice riding...it was quite cool in May with dusting of snow on neighbouring hills - which made for gorgeous photos.
Professional ,informative & well organised tour still adding a personal touch making the trip a memorable one. Ability to adapt to any situation maintaining group dynamics and moral. Well done an outstanding team!
Food was fantastic and better than we expected. Thoroughly enjoyed the variety of accommodation.
How would I rate the cycle tour? It exceeded expectations. We were very well supported with excellent guides who were Very attentive and co-operative. Accommodation exceeded expectations.
Every meal we had, without exception was excellent... the best breakfasts, the lunches were always in the most perfect spots, dinners ... well YUM! Great variety, tasty fresh ingredients ... nice.
NON-RIDER. I didn’t actually ride, I was worried about the comfort of the bus but it was great. Excellent food and most of it was New Zealand made which was great. Loved the exclusive accommodations. Very nice. (The guides were) very informative and were very knowledgeable. I felt very safe being driven around by them. Bus very comfortable and plenty of room.
All accommodation was very good. All food was excellent. The guide's home cooked meals/breakfasts were great. Meals out delicious. Also liked the fact that when we ate out we could have what we liked without restrictions. We suggested it could be marketed as a gourmet tour!
All meals were excellent Always looked forward to eating! It was great to stay in a range of different accommodation. a job well done finding the variety of places. nice to have some meals at the accommodation as well and not have too go out.
The best recommendation I can give about the bikes is that I have purchased a new bike the same as those used on the trip. Unfortunately it hasn't come with the excellent van and trailer we became used to on the trail - we were spoilt rotten with such good quality, well maintained equipment.
We managed to bike almost 200kms and still come home a bit heavier! So nice to have healthy fresh food, good coffee and a different dinner experience each night. Food was fantastic!
Nothing was a problem. The welfare, safety, experience and comfort of the group was paramount. We were so well looked after. Thank you!
Lunches were perfect - sandwiches, make your own and plenty of choices. Healthy - good balance. Breakfast was excellent - the cooked breakfasts were a great 'base' for a day's biking. Evening meals were good to amazing.
I was totally inexperienced but thoroughly enjoyed tho whole day...Our guide exuded passion for the region and was full of information regarding flora and fauna and history... giving me helpful tips enabling me to complete the ride with growing confidence!!!
All accommodation was very good and some outstanding.
Awesome scenery, wonderful service, and helibiking was "fabulous" to quote daughter Odette!
C/O Not A Rail Trail PO Box 2716,
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