Aussies snap up iconic NZ cycle trails operator

World Expeditions Travel Group has also become a shareholder in Trail Journeys Nelson. Image: Trail Journeys

A leading Australian adventure travel specialist has acquired iconic central Otago Rail Trail cycling tour operator, Trail Journeys.

World Expeditions Travel Group has taken a majority shareholding in the circa 15-year old company, founded by Neville Grubb, in a move designed to cement its position as a major player in the NZ cycle scene.

The deal also sees World Expeditions Travel Group become a shareholder in Trail Journeys Nelson, which offers guided and self-guided cycling tours from its bases in Nelson, Mapua and Kaiteriteri.

The purchase by the privately owned company for an undisclosed sum follows its 2011 acquisition of Christchurch-based Adventure South, which runs fully-supported, guided cycling holidays mainly in the South Island.

Trail Journeys has a fleet of more than 400 bikes for hire, and provides passengers’ luggage transfer, accommodation and transfer service, as well as storage services on the Otago Central Rail Trail, the Roxburgh Gorge Trail and on the Clutha Gold Trail.

It has bases in Clyde and Middlemarch, at either end of New Zealand’s famous Otago Central Rail Trail.

World Expeditions chief executive, Sue Badyari, said: “Trail Journeys is the ideal complement to our well-established cycle brand, Adventure South, which runs fully-supported, guided cycling holidays primarily on the South Island, from its base in Christchurch.”

“New Zealand is a highly desirable destination for active travellers seeking an immersive experience,” Badyari said.

“We are very excited to be offering a fun, affordable product to people keen to see the country’s stunning natural landscape via its network of cycle trails, enjoying quality accommodation, great food and wine along the way.”

“Trail Journeys’ current owners are the pioneers of self-guided options along these routes and they share a great synergy with World Expeditions in standards and philosophies,” Badyari added.

While it will be business as usual on the ground for Trail Journeys, the acquisition will give it access to World Expeditions’ marketing network managed through its offices in Auckland, London and Ottawa in addition to its four Australian offices.

The World Expeditions Travel Group offers a range of guided and self-guided walking and cycling itineraries all across the globe, through brands including World Expeditions, UTracks, Great Canadian Trials, Tasmanian Expeditions and Australian Walking Holidays.

The deal is the latest investment by an Australian company in New Zealand’s booming tourism sector.

In August, Brisbane-based private equity firm Blue Sky led a consortium of investors to take a circa 40% stake in Queenstown’s Active Adventures. And in June, Australia’s Experience Co (formerly know as Skydive the Beach) bought sections at Pukaki Airport near Twizel to expand its New Zealand operations.

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