About Around the Mountains Cycle Tours




Not a Rail Trail is one of the Premier Cycle Trail Tour companies in New Zealand. The management team, Sara Leadbetter and Vernon Reid, are experienced tourism operators who were originally based in Twizel, operating helibike and mountain bike tours around the Mt Cook, Twizel and Ohau areas since 2008. With the success of their tours along the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, both the directors made the decision to move Queenstown to focus on growing the cycle tour business. Now, with the opening of the Around the Mountains cycle trail, Not a Rail Trail has relocated to the Kingston Homestead Cycle Trail Accommodation at the start of the Around the Mountains trail.


We run fully supported and fully inclusive cycle tours from Queenstown. We’re all from a tourism background, love exploring and sharing this amazing country with others and, we love mountain biking. When we set up our tours, we had a single, crystal clear vision, to be the best tour company operating on each cycle trail accessed from Queenstown. Best to us was having the best service, showcasing the best examples of local food, finding the best accommodation to give a local character and, most importantly providing the best overall experience of the trail. In a nutshell:

“We don’t just show you where to ride, we provide you with a complete experience that allows you to love each trail as much as we do”

As well as the Around the Mountains and Queenstown Cycle Trails, we have regular tour experiences on:

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

The West Coast Wilderness Trail

The Roxburgh Gorge Trail

The Clutha Gold Trail


Not a Rail Trail will help you explore the Cycle Trails easily accessible from Queenstown. So, what makes us different and why do customers rave about what we do and come back for more?

Much of our ethos comes back to why Vernon and I originally started the company, we loved riding in this amazing country and we wanted to share that experience with all visitors to the area. We didn’t want just to show people where to ride, we wanted to give them a complete experience that allowed them to love the area as much as we did. And so, our first ‘experience’ cycle trail tour, the A2O Experience, was born. Pat Hope from Australia, a recent rider on our A2O Experience, reinforced that we are achieving this goal when she gave us the greatest feedback:

“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…”

And that’s exactly what we wanted to achieve and will continue to achieve on every Cycle Trail you ride with us, not just a bike ride but a complete cycle trail tour experience…


For those of you who don’t know why we chose that highly contentious name, let us explain…

A Rail Trail follows an old railway line. Railway lines are, obviously, built to allow the train to travel effectively, so the trails are pretty straight and flat.

The new cycle trails being built around New Zealand are not built solely on railway lines. They’re an eclectic mix of existing walking paths, roads, purpose built cycle trails and, occasionally, sections of old railway line. The variety is huge and they generally follow the lay of the land with only a few restrictions. If a customer books to ride one of these new cycle trails thinking it’s going to be as easy as the Otago Rail Trail, as we’ve found on numerous occasions, they’re in for a shock.

In our early years on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, it became a joke that customers would call it the Alps 2 Ocean (A2O) Rail trail and we’d spend the entire tour saying, “it’s a cycle trail, it’s Not a Rail Trail!”.

All the cycle trails we use from Queenstown have sections with corners where you actually need to have some basic bike skills, they are in some remote locations where you may even need to cross a stream or river, and, shock horror, they have hills.

After our first 2 seasons running cycle tours on the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail, past Otago Rail Trail customers were often expecting easy straight and flat trails with frequent pubs and cafes. As a consequence, they were sometimes scarily unprepared for what and where they were going to ride so we jokingly came up with the name ‘Not a Rail Trail’. It seemed the easiest way of making it clear that these trails are something different so it stuck. And it worked, current clients have very different expectations and are far better prepared.

There are plenty of cycle companies who organise trips on every trail going. As mountain bikers who love to share our wonderful trails with mountain bikers of all abilities, we prefer not to ride on Rail Trails, they’re too straight, flat and boring! So, unless you insist, if you can ride a bike and are of average fitness and above we’ll help you explore any Cycle Trail from Queenstown, so long as it’s ‘Not A Rail Trail’…

Contact Us for more information on our Cycle Trail Tours