Named after the original railway line, built between 1891 and 1907, the Otago Central Rail Trail, New Zealand’s original ‘Great Ride’, was first opened to the public in 2000.
Steeped in history, the Rail Trail offers a 150 kilometre scenic and historic journey into the Central Otago heartland. This is big sky country where cyclists will traverse ever-changing mountainous, dry and rocky landscapes, high country sheep stations, spectacular river gorges, tunnels, viaducts and more.
There are over 20 townships located on and off the trail to explore, with opportunities to meet the pioneer-spirited locals and to take detours and side trips to unique places such as old abandoned gold diggings left over from the gold rush and the country’s only international curling rink.
The Otago Central Rail Trail is also a testament to human endeavour. The detailed workmanship of the stone bridges and tunnel facings along the trail have stood the test of time and the mountains still bear scars of the races, built back in the 1860s to bring water to the long gone gold mines.
The Central Otago climate is characterised by hot summers, cold winters and low rainfall. As the seasons change, the landscape is dominated by a stunning kaleidoscope of browns, golds and reds.
The Otago Central Rail Trail was established in 1994 and officially opened in 2000 by the Governor General Sir Michael Hardie Boys. In 2012 it became part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail.