/Otago
Otago 2017-09-17T15:13:47+00:00

Otago Central Rail Trail

Submerge yourself in colours

Show me!

Otago Central Rail Trail

Submerge yourself in colours

Show me!

Otago Central Rail Trail

Submerge yourself in colours

Show me!

intro

Colourful

Otago Central Rail Trail is the oldest en most colourful cycle trail in New Zealand. Brown, yellow, green, red and golden shades vary under ever-changing skies. You cycle along former railroad tracks through a rocky landscap with vast plains, river gorges, viaducts and tunnels. A variable trail in the footsteps of gold diggers.

We love to share our own experiences and tips! Don’t expect extended touristic information, there are others who are much better in doing so. We do tell you where to find further information about the NZ Cycle Trails, like websites and apps. We focus primarily on photos. And we add a personal touch by summarising our personal trail experience in a short story! No doubt this will help you to get a good idea of the Otago Central Rail Trail and what to expect. Enjoy reading!

Neat old railway station to take a break and have that tasty lunch!

General info

New Zealand Cycle Trails consist of 5 grades:

1. very easy
2. easy
3. intermediate
4. advanced
5. expert

We learned that grade 1, 2 and 3 is suitable for touring bikes. Take some steep climbs in account. Grade 4 and 5 are suitable for experienced and expert mountainbikers. The adventure stuff with obstacles, a lot of curves, hill climbs and steep drop-offs. Be aware, sometimes a cycle trail consists of several grades. Motu Trails is a good example: Dunes Trail is very easy, while the Pakihi Track is advanced.

(advertorial)

Practical stuff:

Thinking of giving the Otago Central Rail Trail a go yourself? We made all arrangements with Trail Journeys. We found the staff very friendly, helpful and knowledgable. They set us up in no time with all we needed. Itinerary planning, bike hire, luggage transfers, accommodation and transport were all perfectly arranged. You can find them in Clyde, right at the start of the trail. You can click the logo to visit their website.

General info

New Zealand Cycle Trails consist of 5 grades:

1. very easy
2. easy
3. intermediate
4. advanced
5. expert

We learned that grade 1, 2 and 3 is suitable for touring bikes. Take some steep climbs in account. Grade 4 and 5 are suitable for experienced and expert mountainbikers. The adventure stuff with obstacles, a lot of curves, hill climbs and steep drop-offs. Be aware, sometimes a cycle trail consists of several grades. Motu Trails is a good example: Dunes Trail is very easy, while the Pakihi Track is advanced.

(advertorial)

Practical stuff:

Thinking of giving the Otago Central Rail Trail a go yourself? We made all arrangements with Trail Journeys. We found the staff very friendly, helpful and knowledgable. They set us up in no time with all we needed. Itinerary planning, bike hire, luggage transfers, accommodation and transport were all perfectly arranged. You can find them in Clyde, right at the start of the trail. You can click the logo to visit their website.

General info

New Zealand Cycle Trails consist of 5 grades:

1. very easy
2. easy
3. intermediate
4. advanced
5. expert

We learned that grade 1, 2 and 3 is suitable for touring bikes. Take some steep climbs in account. Grade 4 and 5 are suitable for experienced and expert mountainbikers. The adventure stuff with obstacles, a lot of curves, hill climbs and steep drop-offs. Be aware, sometimes a cycle trail consists of several grades. Motu Trails is a good example: Dunes Trail is very easy, while the Pakihi Track is advanced.

(advertorial)

Practical stuff:

Thinking of giving the Otago Central Rail Trail a go yourself? We made all arrangements with Trail Journeys. We found the staff very friendly, helpful and knowledgable. They set us up in no time with all we needed. Itinerary planning, bike hire, luggage transfers, accommodation and transport were all perfectly arranged. You can find them in Clyde, right at the start of the trail. You can click the logo to visit their website.

Nutshell

Otago Central Rail Trail in a nutshell

Where?
Otago Central Rail Trail starts in Clyde. An authentic little village an hours drive from Queenstown. You can park your (rental)car at the bicycle rental company. They are also willing to help you with the bookings of your accommodatie, bicycle rental and good information.

When?
You can ride the Trail whole year round. Otago has a land climate, meaning that summers are warm and winters cold. Still, the winter months are a good period to head out. Nights might be cold, but days often bright and sunny. As a bonus, it will be nice and quiet on the trail. Visit the Real Journeys office, they are able to tell you all you need to know about the trail.

Tip!
Head out in autumn. The time when Otago displays its finest colours. Otago is famous for its gorgeous autumn palette!

This is where you’ll find the Otago Central Rail Trail!

Route
Former railroad track between Clyde and Middlemarch. Over 97 bridges, viaducts and 3 tunnels.

Distance
152 km

Grade
Easy, mostly flat

Number of days
2 to 5 days, depending on your time, your shape and on what you like to see on your way.

Accommodation
Lots of hotels, homesteads and B&B. Camping is also possible, but free camping is not allowed.

Transport
Shuttle-busses to and from start and finish point. You have to organise this! No worries, there are several companies who’ll gladly transport you!

Our tip
Extend your trip with a ride on the famous Taieri Gorge steam train to Dunedin

More information

Where?
Otago Central Rail Trail starts in Clyde. An authentic little village an hours drive from Queenstown. You can park your (rental)car at the bicycle rental company. They are also willing to help you with the bookings of your accommodatie, bicycle rental and good information.

When?
You can ride the Trail whole year round. Otago has a land climate, meaning that summers are warm and winters cold. Still, the winter months are a good period to head out. Nights might be cold, but days often bright and sunny. As a bonus, it will be nice and quiet on the trail. Visit the Real Journeys office, they are able to tell you all you need to know about the trail.

Tip!
Head out in autumn. The time when Otago displays its finest colours. Otago is famous for its gorgeous autumn palette!

This is where you’ll find the Otago Central Rail Trail!

Route
Former railroad track between Clyde and Middlemarch. Over 97 bridges, viaducts and 3 tunnels.

Distance
152 km

Grade
Easy, mostly flat

Number of days
2 to 5 days, depending on your time, your shape and on what you like to see on your way.

Accommodation
Lots of hotels, homesteads and B&B. Camping is also possible, but free camping is not allowed.

Transport
Shuttle-busses to and from start and finish point. You have to organise this! No worries, there are several companies who’ll gladly transport you!

Our tip
Extend your trip with a ride on the famous Taieri Gorge steam train to Dunedin

More information

4 Photos

152 kilometer over an old railway line right through the heart of the unspoild southern island.

Central Otago is famous for it’s ‘big sky’. Sometimes bright blue or with wonderful clouds, deep red at sunset and always moving.

The trail passes 97 impressive bridges and viaducts, sometimes over deep river ravines and always with awesome vistas.

Mount your bike and follow in the footsteps of the ancient gold seekers and adventurers.

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood

New Zealand’s very own Wild West

Maybe it was the sound of the gravel shooting in all directions from under our MTB wheels. It could also easily have been the landscape that made us think of those great American western movies that triggered it. Fact was, we were expecting to bump into Clint and his buddies any second. Wearing a worn down Cowboy hood, a shining revolver on each hip, sitting on his faithful black stallion. Completely ignoring us of course, on our 21 shifts two-wheelers.

But we also feel like real cowboys for a moment. It is the landscape that evokes it. The land of the big skies, as the Kiwis tend to call it. No forests, high mountains or cities to block the views. A continuously changing dry and rocky landscape with huge sheep farms, spectacular gorges, tunnels and viaducts. And always magnificent skies. Sometimes bright blue, not much later filled with wonderful clouds, a moment later deep red or of a threatening grey.

Old gold seekers village

Shop out of the (g)old days….

Back in time
Central Otago is the wild west of New Zealand. The Otago Central Rail Trail takes you in roughly 150 kilometer right through the heart of it. It feels more like a journey 150 years back in time though. A time where men from all over the world came to these barren lands to try their luck. Hoping to find some gold and a better life. That marked the landscape. Of course the former railway, with 97 impressive bridges, viaducts en 13 tunnels of which some are more than 200 meters. But also ghost towns, abandoned gold mines and old rusty machineries.

After the railway officially closed in 1990, the government decided to transform the line to a cycling trail: the Otago Central Rail Trail. New Zealand’s first of the great rides. Right through the heart of Otago. An impressive scenery. Beautiful, unique and with tons of history. Just like Clint Eastwood, really!

A little rest at an old railway station

Curious spectators

One of the old railway bridges

Photos 

Pros and Cons

  1. No traffic; only cyclists, hikers and horseback riders
  2. Plenty to see and do en route like historic places out of the gold seekers days
  3. Hospitality and easygoing are invented here! A perfect place to unwind and relax
  4. Extend your trip with a ride by steam train to Dunedin via the famous Taieri Gorge

Hospitality and easy going are invented here!

  1. The straight parts can get a bit monotonously
  2. It’s a populair trail, so plan ahead, especially in high peak season!
  3. The sun can be ruthless, so bring your sunscreen, hat and sunnies

The straight stretches can become monotonic sometimes

Don’t forget to bring your flashlight, some of the old railway tunnels are 200 meters long

What is there to do in the surroundings?

Time to spare? Here some nearby suggestions!

What is there to do in the surroundings?

Time to spare? Here some nearby suggestions!

Dunedin. Piece of Scotland in New Zealand. One of the few cities in the country with so many old buildings. Lively student culture.

Vibrant and happening: Queenstown. Adrenaline capitol of, at least, New Zealand. Paragliding, rafting, mountain biking, parachute jumps, one can do it all down there.

 

The official promo-video of the Otago Central Rail Trail. Anticipation!

Like to read more?

More information? Check out our blog!

912, 2017

Going wild in Central Otago

Going Wild in Central Otago  A magnificent vast, rough and untouched landscape ‘Did you say you guys are from The Netherlands? That is the country where everybody loves to cycle, isn’t it?’ Ehr yes…. ‘Then you really have to give the Otago Central Rail Trail a go. You’ll love it!’ More than once we had this conversation

1911, 2017

Know before you go

Do you have a plan? We love to explore New Zealand by bike. It takes you to some beautiful remote places. No traffic, no people and no internet. Just you, your bike and overwhelming nature. And because of that you need a plan! It doesn’t take much to turn a short trip into an ‘unexpected night out’ in the

2204, 2017

Pakihi Track: Not for wimps

Not for wimps From easy to average and ending with expert level. Sounds logical we thought. The Motu trails have a neat structure in difficulty level, but, as always, the sting is in de tail! We doubted for a long time if we also wanted to cycle the Pakihi Track: a mountain bike trail for the advanced mountain biker. One

205, 2017

Cycling rules in New Zealand

Cycling rules in New Zealand What are the rules concerning cycling in New Zealand? We summed up the most important ones for you. 1. Left side of the road For those coming from a right hand side country…. Pay attention, but you’ll get used to it. Take extra care at roundabouts! 2. Helmet mandatory Also a bit of getting

Great! Take me there!

More information? Check out our blog!

Great! Take me there!

Planning on going cycling in New Zealand? Make sure to ride the oldest and most famous one of the country. The trail which started it all and has put cycling in New Zealand on the map.

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