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Operators along the 152km trail say they are having one of the busiest Christmas-New Year periods for many years.
Waipiata Country Hotel owner Mark Button said after a slow start to the summer the holiday period had been the busiest he had seen on the trail for at least six years.
''We've been operating on the trail with accommodation for six years and have owned the pub for three years and this would be the busiest we have been for this time of year.''
There seemed to be a lot more New Zealand families on the trail, Mr Button said.
''There hasn't been the quite the same number of Aussies but a lot of Kiwi families, which is good. Fantastic weather also helped boost numbers.''
The Clyde-based bike hire and transport company Trail Journeys is getting its share of the Christmas boom. Co-owner Neville Grubb said business had been very busy for the past week or so.
After a slow start to the season it was good to see a lot of people on the trail, he said.
''It was flat out yesterday and it looks like it's going to be that way again today.''
Mr Grubb had also noticed a lot more families biking.
''It's traditionally the time of year we do see more families on the trail together but this year there seems to be a few more.''
At the Oturehua Railway Hotel, owner Grahame Jones said he was ''up to my eyeballs'' in cyclists and walkers.
''It's been the biggest Christmas in the nine years we've been here and our biggest issue is finding enough supplies to feed everyone.''
The fine weather had played a part in the increase, Mr Jones said.
''We haven't had the wind like we usually do, which is the toughest part of the rail trail.''
Australians made up a large number of the visitors stopping at the tavern, he said.
Figures from the Otago Central Rail Trail Charitable Trust showed about 14,800 people completed the trail last year, up from about 13,400 the previous year.