The Brice Family Cycle Trail Adventure

  • Wednesday Jun 5 2024

Alice Brice is a mum from Timaru who loves to inspire and help other families go adventuring. She is a list lover, so reach out to her on Instagram @aliceinthehills if you want a list about their food, menu or packing. She tried to keep the husband happy and do the trail on a budget, so they prepared their own meals. However they did enjoy a meal out at the Naseby Pub and hot chips with their dinner at Middlemarch, along with a couple of ice creams! They did the trail over 5 days in late April 2024. 

 6 and 8 year old's first multi day ride

The Brice children at the tunnel near Tiroiti and Hyde/

This was mum’s big idea …. But could our 6 (on a 24 inch bike) and 8 year old (on a 27.5 inch bike) actually do the Otago Central Rail Trail AND enjoy it?!?! 

We booked our accommodation through a local operator (bike hire tour planning business). They also booked our curling session and were great to work with. They emailed us lots of information about the trail and briefed us before we started. 

We bought the kids rail trail passports from the Operator too. The kids loved these (and some money went to the trail from buying them)! Each train station had a sticker that you stuck to the appropriate station in the book.

We decided to “car hop”. The routine became that my husband would drive to the lunch break and bike back to us. Then I would drive to the accommodation and then bike back to the family…. Worked really well until there was a strong headwind for the parent biking back haha! 

It was ideal as we cooked up lunch at the truck (cost saving / some days there were no food options) and we had all our stuff with us. Also if a kid was struggling we had the option to drive them! 

The night before we stayed at Alexandra Campground (cabin). 

Day 1 Clyde to Omakau 37+ km 6.5 hour day 

Brice children at the Railhead near Clyde, a popular start or finish of a rail trail adventure.

Stayed at Omakau Domain Campground (cabin)

This was our longest day, starting at the Clyde Railway station in Clyde. I recommend starting at the trail start to save the little legs. We ended up leaving the truck at Galloway and Chatto Creek Tavern (3 hops). Unfortunately my husband and I both had heavy colds and the kids were getting tired. When we stopped for a drink at the Tavern we told the kids we would just drive the last 12 km. It was the “steepest section” on the trail (not that steep as trains don’t like hills) and we were all tired. Miss 8 got quite upset she wasn’t going to do the whole trail, so my husband sucked it up and biked it with her. We had bungee cords from Mitre 10 (with a hook at each end) and we towed the kids when things got tough. In the last 12 km my husband towed her for two 1km stints! 

Day 2 Omakau to Oturehua 30 km 6 hour day

Stayed at Crows Nest (bunkrooms)

The Brice family near Manuherekia No 1 Bridge in Poolburn Gorge

Cycling in Poolburn Gorge

Poolburn Gorge Viaduct

My husband drove to Thurlow Road car park. FYI he went on Thurlow Road through farmland and opened 3 gates … but was a legit road. This section was beautiful with Poolburn Gorge. There were 2 tunnels. We forgot our torches but were able to walk through them fine! In fact the shorter one we rode slowly through!! 

Mr 6 struggled after lunch (Miss 8 was a slow starter so they kind of tag teamed). My husband towed him most of the way home. I joined them and towed Miss 8 for a bit on the long straight they were doing, then they biked into Oturehua on their own steam from the Curling pond. 

Day 3 Oturehua to Ranfurly 26 km 3 hour day  

Stayed at Naseby Holiday Park (cabin)

We had booked Curling for 3pm and were worried about time, so we got on the trail early. However, we finished before midday! It worked well as we ended up going on the luge before curling! We highly recommend both Naseby activities!!!! It was nice to have a bike free afternoon in the middle of the week!

Back to the ride - we biked up to the high point of the trail. My husband joined us a km before the top so we towed the kids to the top. Then it was downhill fun!!!!! We had a sweet tailwind and we were all yahooing during the downhill goodness!

We had to slam the brakes on to look at Saturn!!! I had no idea about the planets!!! Such a great learning tool.

The sun is in Ranfurly then all the planets are to scale in distance and size from the sun!!! Incredible!!!

Day 4 Ranfurly to Hyde 34 km 4 hours 

Stayed at Mitchell’s Bed and Breakfast in Middlemarch. There is limited accommodation in Hyde especially with kids! It was nice to splash out with sheets and a washing machine, on the last night!! It was a 20 min drive from Hyde.

We had a wind warning on day 4!! We had to educate the kids on what to do in gusts and side winds!!!! Fortunately most of the wind was a tailwind but they also had a few learning moments! We got help to get the truck which meant that I was able to bike the whole trail and my husband joined us from Kokonga to help keep the kids safe from the wind. We didn’t bother biking back into this wind!! 

There was another tunnel which was also fine without a torch. 

Day 5 Hyde to Middlemarch 27 km 4 hours

Hyde Railway Station on the Otago Central Rail Trail

It was a 5 degree start today with snow on the Rock and Pillar Range!! Thankfully we took ski or thermal gloves just in case and we all had a thin merino hat on under our helmets. It didn’t take long for layers to come off. This section is a bit blah compared to the rest but it was the home straight! 

The Brice family at the Middlemarch Gate - the start or finish of the Otago Central Rail Trail

I was so impressed with the kids!!!! There were highs and there were lows! But they coped so well. Taught them about Type 2 fun!! They both wore bike pants - 1 had some second hand Ground Effect ones. The other had Go Ride underpant shorts (Nelson business). You put whatever you want overtop of these, although one day Miss 8 was too hot and didn’t have anything else so she just wore them on their own and it was fine. 

Another top tip is to buy the Otago Central Rail Trail Easy Guide Book by Brian and Diane Miller. It is $15 well spent!!!! It told you things to look at, where the planets are, the km etc!!!! 

Miss 8 isn’t a big fan of biking but she really wants to do the Wilderness Trail next year!!! She really valued the quality family time. Her claim to fame is she is the only one of us that rode the whole trail! 

I highly recommend this as a family adventure. Such a great way to connect with your kids and they get to challenge themselves. We all learnt that the kids are capable of more than we / they realise!!! Special thank you to the Otago Central Rail Trail Charitable Trust for your amazing work!!

The Otago Central Rail Trail Trust thanks Alice & her whānau for sharing their adventure on the Otago Central Rail Trail.  If you have a story you'd like to share please get in touch -

Click on the links below to access Alices:

Gear list 
Food plan

To connect with our bike friendly Tour Planners see the full listing on the Official Trail Website

More about the Interplanetary cycle experience along the trail