94 miles
5,893 ft
-5,768 ft
2,052 ft
High Point


  • Riding Area
    South Island
  • Difficulty Rating
  • Trail Type
    Rail Trail
  • Bike Type
  • Trail Usage
    Biking Primary
  • Direction
    Both Directions
  • Climb Difficulty
  • Physical Rating
  • Global Ranking
    #16140 in Mountain Biking
  • Local Popularity
    100 in Mountain Biking
  • Year Opened

This is an easy 2-3 days ride with a wide variety of accommodation options along the way, and has become New Zealand's most popular cycling holiday destinations due to its accessibility to all. It can also be done in a single day for those wanting something a bit more testing.

Below is the blurb from the NZ Cycle Trails Website:

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.

Access Info

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.

The most popular starting point is in Clyde or Alexandra.

Local Trail Association
More Stats for Otago Central Rail Trail bike trail
  • Altitude change
    125 ft
  • Altitude min
    453 ft
  • Altitude start
    541 ft
  • Altitude end
    666 ft
  • Grade
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    32 miles
  • Distance down
    37 miles
  • Distance flat
    24 miles
  • Avg reverse time
  • view trail stats
Avg: 4.5 (2 votes)

view (3)
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
Trail Difficulties
  • Access Road/Trail
  • White
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Black
  • Double Black Diamond

Trail Report Status
  • Clear / Green
  • Minor Issue / Yellow
  • Significant Issue / Amber
  • Closed or Major Issue / Red

  • Land Owner Overlay
  • Wilderness (typically no bikes in USA)
  • BLM (public)
  • USFS (Wildlife sanctuaries darker than usfs)
  • State land
  • Indigenous
  • Military
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
  • Map Markers
  • trail Trail Head
  • photo Photo
  • place Directory Listing
  • region Riding Area
  • Parking Parking
  • Viewpoint Viewpoint
  • Information Information
  • Warning Warning
  • Directions Directions
  • Water Fountain/Source Water Fountain/Source
  • Sight Sight
  • Restrooms Restrooms
  • Gate Gate
  • Camping Camping
  • Trail Sign Trail Sign
  • Table or Bench Table or Bench
  • Other Other
Directions to otago-central-rail-trail trailhead (-45.194100, 169.335140)
update trails status or condition

Otago Central... Trail Reports

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more »
156 |
Apr 2, 2016 @ 12:05am
Apr 2, 2016
Otago Central Rail Trail
168 |
Apr 2, 2016 @ 12:05am
Apr 2, 2016
Otago Central Rail Trail
187 |
Apr 2, 2016 @ 12:04am
Apr 2, 2016
Otago Central Rail Trail
169 |
Dec 14, 2015 @ 1:46pm
Dec 14, 2015
Otago Central Rail Trail

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