Otago Central Rail Trail
Otago Central Rail Trail New Zealand : Central Otago Rail Trail Information The Otago Central Rail Trail is New Zealand’s first rail trail, and Original Great Ride. The trail is open all year, it’s entirely off-road with no traffic, and is a truly amazing experience enjoyed by thousands. In fact, in a vote of nearly 10,000 kiwis, the Otago Central Rail Trail was voted New Zealand’s Favourite Place to Cycle.
About the Rail Trail
The Otago Central Rail Trail, (also known as the Central Otago Rail Trail), follows the old Central Otago branch railway line from Clyde to Middlemarch and is accessible all year round. The trail provides 150 kilometres of rail trail, and is a public reserve specifically created for mountain bikers, walkers and horse riders (motorised vehicles are not permitted on the trail).
The Otago Central Rail Trail passes through the towns of Clyde, Alexandra, Chatto Creek, Omakau, Lauder, Oturehua, Wedderburn, Ranfurly, Waipiata, Hyde and Middlemarch before finishing in Dunedin.
Cycling or Walking the Rail Trail
Otago Central Rail Trail New Zealand : Central Otago Rail Trail Information
The rail trail winds through spectacular scenery including mountain ranges, hills and gorges, the Maniototo plain, old gold mining towns and ends in the fruit growing areas of Central Otago. Viaducts, bridges and some of the old Railway Stations have been preserved and can also be viewed along the trail.
Generally approximately 4 hours a day cycling is best, so allow about 4 days to cycle the trail. If you are walking it, then allow a good few more days.
The hills along the trail are not steep, making it accessible to most ages and those with a reasonable degree of fitness.
The trail is part of Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail.
Officially opened in July 2015, a new underpass situated at the head of the rail trail terminus next to Springvale Rd, allows safe passage beneath State Highway 8 to Albert Dr in Clyde township. This means that the rail trail now is now officially entirely off-road, with no traffic, helping to ensure it is safe for young and old alike.
Visit the Department of Conservation website to find out more about cycling or walking the Otago Central Rail Trail.
History of the Otago Central Rail Trail
The Otago Central Railway was built over 16 years, and operated for some 85 years. The railway linked Dunedin, then New Zealand’s largest city, to the country’s major goldfields. It also transported wool bales and livestock.
In 1980 the section of the railway between Clyde and Cromwell was closed, and now lies beneath Lake Dunstan. In 1990 the section of the line between Clyde and Middlemarch was closed.
The section of the railway between Middlemarch and Wingatui was saved by a trust set up in Dunedin, and is now known as the Taieri Gorge Railway. The Taieri Gorge Railway comprises 60 kilometres of the Otago Central Railway, and is also a popular tourist attraction.
Between 1994 and 2000, the Otago Central Railway was transformed into the Otago Central Rail Trail. The 68 bridges along the trail were re-decked, equipped with handrails and the surfaces made more suitable for cyclists and walkers. The Otago Central Rail Trail was first opened in February 2000 and at 150 kilometres is the longest rail trail in New Zealand. It is also New Zealand’s original rail trail.
Development and enhancement of the rail trail has not stopped. The Department of Conservation continues to maintain, develop and enhance the experience for users of the Otago Central Rail Trail.
Rail Trail Events
Each year since 2000, the legendary Otago Central Rail Trail Duathlon is held on the Otago Central Rail Trail. Run and cycle the 150 kilometres of track and help support the maintenance and development of this unique recreational facility.
Find out more www.railtrailduathlon.com.
Off Trail Tours
Off Trail Tours (four-wheel guided Tour company) in Central Otago’s heartland will lead you to discover rugged golden tussock landscapes and spectacular mountain vistas.
Tours include, Curling tours to Naseby with options of museum tours. Gold panning and low land tussock tours.
Informative guided tours of St Bathans and the Blue Lake.
Rail Trail Accommodation
Mandy’s accommodation caters for groups, couples and individuals and is ideal for your Central Otago rail trail accommodation. We provide safe bike storage facilities and can assist with pickups and dropoffs.