You want a bike vacation, but you don’t want to go at your own pace and you don’t want to spend a lot.
Fortunately for you, options abound in the active travel and adventure travel worlds. But it sounds like your best option would be a self-guided tour. Self-guided tours have the double benefit of allowing for a great deal of independence as well as a reduced price. Whether it has any downsides depends on your travel preferences. If you like to sit back and let guides run the show, then guided tours may not be for you. But if you have an independent streak and/or an economical streak, then you’ll want to look into either self-guided or hosted tours.
One company that offers self-guided tours of New Zealand’s Otago Rail Trail can be found at the Otago Rail Trail Planner website. Rebecca and Noel Matthews of Mt. Ida Adventure Tours offer both fully guided and self-guided tours of the famous New Zealand rail-trail. Both their fully guided and self guided options are reasonably priced, but if you want to save around $400 and go at your own pace, then you’ll want to choose the self-guided option.
Keep in mind, even with most self-guided tours (including those offered on the Rail Trail Planner website, you still get a lot of helpful amenities. For example, on the Personalised Self-Guided Rail Trail Package, you still get airport transfers, lodging, breakfasts, bus transfer, bike hire (rental) and bag transfer. For an extra $40, you even get to experience the sport of curling.
So as you can see, even if you choose a self-guided tour, you’re not left to fend for yourself. You still get all the basic services you need for an enjoyable tour. And since the tour is on a major rail trail, the chances of you getting lost are pretty darned slim. It’s basically a choice between whether you want a tour company to hold your hand or offer a helping hand.
We’d love to hear if you’ve ever had any experiences with self-guided tours, fully guided tours, or the Otago Rail Trail. And hey, if the folks from the Otago Rail Trail Planner site happen to read this, we’d love to hear from you, too.