Photo copyright: Miles Holden

Otago Central Rail Trail

RIDING THE TRAIL

If you’re planning to ride the entire Otago Central Rail Trail you can start your ride in either Middlemarch or Clyde.

The trail is 100% gravel (a bit rough in places) is well-signposted and free maps are readily available. For $10 you can buy a special Rail Trail Passport and have it stamped at towns along the way, to prove you rode the entire trail.

You should allow at least four full days to bike the trail – more if you want to do some exploring off the trail.

If you’re after a shorter ride, there are numerous townships located along the trail to start or end your ride.

Access to the Otago Central Rail Trail is free.

Clyde to Alexandra, (Grade 1 Easiest) 8km

Make sure you visit the historic Clyde township before you start at the railhead for the trail. This section is flat and a good way to get settled in the saddle. The main feature is the wooden Muttontown Viaduct.

The trail is a couple of kilometres from the retail and service part of Alexandra so if you need to shop there do allow time. Alexandra is the largest town on the trail and is fully serviced.

Alexandra to Chatto Creek, (Grade 1 Easiest) 17km

Heading north, this section follows the Manuherikia River which flows south to join the mighty Clutha.

The trail traverses the farming area of Galloway and is completed at New Zealand’s best small hotel (2013) at Chatto Creek, which also has New Zealand’s smallest operating post office.

Chatto Creek to Omakau, (Grade 1 Easiest) 12km

Ride up Tiger Hill on a sweeping rise crossing the state highway twice. Enjoy the views and the ganger shed information boards along the way. Then you have a straight descent into Omakau, a town with most services.

A side trip to historic Ophir and the 1880 suspension bridge is worth the additional few kilometres.

Omakau to Lauder, (Grade 1 Easiest) 7km

Past newly established dairy farms and more intense irrigation, Lauder has accommodation, a hotel and a café. It also has a NIWA weather base.

Lauder to Oturehua, (Grade 1 Easiest) 21km

There is a gentle rise north into the Poolburn Gorge with its two tunnels. Then it is a straight ride up the Ida Valley past historic Hayes Engineering. This is a popular day trip section of the trail.

Oturehua boasts Gilchrists general store, which is still set out as it was 100 years ago, and a hotel.

Oturehua to Wedderburn, (Grade 1 Easiest) 12km

Immediately you are offered a diversion to Golden Progress Mine where there are gold-mining remains and a stamper battery.

Then it is a slow climb out of the Ida Valley to the highest point of the trail before you start swinging east into the Maniototo. Wedderburn has pub food and accommodation. A popular diversion is to St Bathans.

Wedderburn to Ranfurly, (Grade 1 Easiest) 14km

Easy riding east across the open Maniototo Plain to the second biggest service town on the trail. Consider a diversion to Naseby to try indoor curling or mountain bike tracks.

Ranfurly to Waipiata, (Grade 1 Easiest) 8km

Easy downhill ride to small rural township with hotel and some accommodation. Great fly fishing available in the Taieri River.

Waipiata to Kokonga to Tiroiti to Hyde, (Grade 1 Easiest) 24km

The trail now leaves the Maniototo through the upper Taieri Gorge, following the river. Kokonga and Tiroiti have accommodation available and some nice picnic sites.

Flat, easy riding with a viaduct and tunnel makes this section a perfect one-day taste-tester. Hyde has accommodation and fuel.

Hyde to Middlemarch, (Grade 1 Easiest) 28km

An easy downhill ride south, unless a southerly is blowing, into the Strath Taieri valley. The Rock and Pillar Range is on your right.

The end of the trail is also the terminus for the Taieri Gorge Railway. A walk around New Zealand’s only inland salt lake to the south of the valley is a nice time-filler.

Getting There

The Otago Central Rail Trail begins/ends in Middlemarch and Clyde.

Getting to the Otago Central Rail Trail can be an experience in itself.

  • From Dunedin, you can take a two and a half hour train trip travelling the historic Taieri Gorge Railway to start your ride at Middlemarch.
  • It is one hour drive from Queenstown through spectacular scenery and vineyard country to Clyde, if you want to start your ride there.

Shuttle transport is also available enabling you to begin or end your cycle journey almost anywhere along the trail.

Visitor Information

Trail Partner

Inspiration, News and Updates

We asked Jim Robinson from Motu Trails to talk to us about all things biking and Opotiki.  Modest as ever, Jim said it pushed his comfort zone a little, feeling happier behind the page not on it.  We’re thrilled to have gleaned a few snippets and look forward to the next chapter as this exciting Trail goes from str...

 

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A huge congratulations is in order for the Old Ghost Road which has become one of nine trails in the World to be taken into the International Mountain Bicycling Association's (IMBA) stable of 'EPIC Rides'. Nine new trails and rides have been added to the list of demanding, mostly singletrack experiences in remote, b...
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Work will start in the next couple of weeks on the repainting of the Capburn Bridge on the Otago Central Rail Trail.  As part of this work the bridge will be scaffolded and wrapped to contain waste paint as it is removed from the structure.  Due to the scale of containment required the bridge will be closed for the d...

 

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TRAIL SAFETY UPDATES:  Otago Central Rail Trail DATE: 26 July 2017 KOKONGA WASHOUT TEMPORARY TRACK IN PLACE Further to the Trail Safety Update for Kokonga near the 107 km marker, the Department of Conservation (DOC) have put a temporary route around the washout. It is possible to ride around the washout as a temp...

 

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Christchurch has been named NZ’s Favourite Place to Ride, taking out the inaugural Top Town Award in the NZ Transport Agency’s annual Favourite Places to Ride competition. The Award was determined by the city or town that received the most nominations across three of the Favourite Places to Ride categories - Ur...

 

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Have you ridden The Otago Central Rail Trail? The Trail Trust is currently raising funds to buy the iconic Hyde Railway Station and its rolling stock. There’s just $10,000 of a whopping $125,000 to go by the end of June to ensure this super little heritage building remains exactly where it is! A number of support...

 

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Congratulations to the Otago Central Rail Trail, who have been announced Supreme Winner of the Bike Wise NZ’s Favourite Places to Cycle Competition. The annual competition is all about getting Kiwis to identify, share and celebrate their favourite places to cycle throughout our beautiful country. These places ca...

 

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The Otago Central Rail Trail are inviting everyone to get their gears on and celebrate Fashion on the Rail Trail during iD Dunedin Fashion Week March 12-20th and be in to WIN a daily prize. All you have to do to enter is wear a frock, or go funky, freaky, or functional, whatever you decide for your fashion ride alon...

 

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OTAGO CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL DUATHLON Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th February 2016 152 Km Clyde Railhead to Middlemarch DAY 1: 90kms Clyde Railhead to Ranfurly Railway Station - Start time 9.30am DAY 2: 60km Ranfurly Station to Middlemarch Railway Station - Start time 9.30am INDIVIDUAL: Men/Women Open and Vet...

 

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** TRAIL UPDATE ** Work begins today on the Otago Central Rail Trail to realign the trail where it crosses SH87 near Daisybank. The trail is open, and works should be complete by early next week. Cyclists & walkers please ride with extra caution in this area. Thank you. Click here for further details for...

 

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This summer, Bike Wise asked Kiwis to nominate and vote for their favourite places to cycle. After receiving thousands of votes, New Zealand has spoken! The top spot was taken out by The Redwoods in Rotorua. Areas from around New Zealand competed against each other in four categories with the winners decided by popu...

 

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Otago Central Rail Trail
I spent 5 days biking the Otago Rail Trail with friends and we had a blast. We were sad to be getting off our bikes at the end, despite not being very fit to start with. Since then, I’ve been recommending the trail to everyone I know. JEFF MILLER – Travel Agent, Mondo Travel