The compacted gravel pathway is easy to cycle or walk on – as it was made for a train, there are no really steep hills and it is wide enough for cyclists to pass each other comfortably.
Track Width and Surface
The track is not sealed, but most of it is compacted and hard. Paths are 2-way, which means that you can be sociable and ride alongside a friend most of the time. There are some narrow cattle-stop grates, and “chicanes” (s-shaped safety gateways) before a road crossing, but the minimum width on all barriers is 900mm. This means that the track should be accessible to most wheelchairs and hand-bikes – though the chicanes will require some manoeuvrability to get around if you are towing a child trailer, etc. When there is a gate (e.g. the road crossing near Daisybank) it will not be locked, but needs to be closed behind you.
As the track was originally built for a steam train, the gradient is an easy one. Overall the elevation climbs from 200 m – 618 m at Wedderburn (the highest peak of the trail). Tiger Hill, between Chatto Creek and Omakau, may have some cyclists pushing their bikes for a short time, but the incline is only 1:50 (or a 2% rise in elevation). However, a tail wind or a head wind in any place can make a huge difference in the amount of effort required.
The trail is suitable for all ages, but you need to be reasonably fit and competent on a bike. Most cyclists allow three to four days to complete the trip – if cycling at 10 kmh and covering 35-40 km a day. Four hours a day on a saddle is enough for most recreational cyclists and allows time to relax with friends and explore further afield. Most walkers (if covering 25 km per day at a speed of 4-6 kph) allow at least six days for the whole trip. The time taken depends on your reason for doing the Trail – whether you want a relaxing holiday – or you are into fitness/endurance training. The fastest time to complete the Trail in the February duathlon is now under six hours! Children of all ages can also enjoy the trail. Children’s bikes are available for hire, also child tow-alongs, baby seats, and child trailers.