New Zealand’s Original Great Ride! The Otago Central Rail Trail follows the route of the former Otago Central branch railway line for 152km. Travel from Clyde to Middlemarch through the heartland of Central Otago. With no steep hills and lots of scenic stops, most people complete the ride over 4 – 5 days.
The Otago Central Rail Trail was New Zealand’s first Rail Trail and opened in 2000. This 152km long trail follows the former route of the Otago Central Railway. The former railway line was ideal for New Zealand’s first off-road cycle-way and was a great success from the moment it opened.
Click here for downloadable map of the Otago Central Rail Trail
In 1993 the Department of Conservation (DOC) bought the corridor for a recreational reserve. The Otago Central Rail Trail Trust was then formed in 1994 to partner with the DOC. This helped to raise funds to initially open the Trail. The trail build included the removal of ballast, decking the former railway bridges, improving the culverts and also adding handrails.
The Otago Central Rail Trail officially opened fully in 2000 and the teamwork between the Trust and DOC has continued since. While DOC undertakes the maintenance, the Trust upgrades the Trail facilities, such as toilets, information boards and shelters, as well as funding trail resurfacing. The success of this innovative project inspired the New Zealand Government in 2010 to set up the New Zealand Cycle Trails, and support the development of similar trails around the country.
We recommend that you arrive in Clyde (population 1,000) the morning or afternoon before your trip. Here you can relax, unwind and explore this delightful historic town. The small but eclectic retail precinct has art galleries, homeware stores, specialist food stores and an artisan ice cream shop. The range of restaurants is second to none with several choices of places to eat. Choose from casual fine dining to an outstanding local takeaway. Visit the Clyde Museum and Herb Factory, enjoy one of the short walks or visit local artists in residence.
We can also fit your bikes on arrival to Clyde, so they are ready for you the next morning. Alternatively you can add an extra day’s hire and explore the local vineyards by bike. Stay the night in Clyde, so you are raring to go the next morning (after a hearty breakfast).
Below are 4 options for itineraries, each showing the average time on your bike each day:
Day 1: Cycle Clyde to Omakau or cycle to and stay off-trail at Ophir
Day 2: Cycle to Oturehua
Day 3: Cycle to Ranfurly, Waipata or stay off trail at Naseby
Day 4: Cycle to Hyde
Day 5: Cycle to Middlemarch
Click here to see our 5 day Otago Central Rail Trail self-guided tour package
Day 1: Queenstown to Alexandra
Day 2: Alexandra to Omakau
Day 3: Omakau to Oturehua
Day 4: Oturehua to Kokonga
Day 5: Kokonga to Middlemarch
Day 1: Cycle Clyde to Omakau, Ophir or Lauder
Day 2: Cycle to Wedderburn, Ranfurly or stay off trail at Naseby
Day 3: Cycle to Kokonga or Hyde
Day 4: Cycle to Middlemarch
Click here to see our 4 day Otago Central Rail Trail self-guided tour package
Day 1: Cycle Clyde to Lauder
Day 2: Cycle to Waipiata
Day 3: Cycle to Middlemarch
Click here to see our 3 day Otago Central Rail Trail self-guided tour package
Day 1: Cycle Wedderburn to Lauder
Day 2: Cycle Lauder to Clyde
Click here to see our 2 day Otago Central Rail Trail self-guided tour package
Click here to see our Fully Supported Tour options