93.8 miles
3,078 ft
-2,953 ft
Avg time


  • Activities
    • Mountain Bike
    • E-Bike
    • Hike
    • Trail Running
  • Riding Area
  • Difficulty Rating
  • Hiking SAC Scale
    T1 Hiking
  • Trail Type
    Rail Trail
  • Bike Type
    XC, Gravel
  • Direction
    Both Directions
  • Climb Difficulty
  • Physical Rating
  • Trail Visibility
    Always easy to follow
  • Family Friendly
  • Dogs Allowed
  • eBike Allowed
    Yes up to Class 1
  • TTFs on Trail
  • Global Ranking
    #16140 in Mountain Biking
  • Local Popularity
    35 in Mountain Biking [+]
    • 5 in Trail Running
    • 5 in Hiking
  • 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.

Traditionally Indigenous Territory
More Stats for Otago Central Rail Trail mountain bike trail trail
  • Altitude change
    122 ft
  • Altitude min
    482 ft
  • Altitude max
    2,070 ft
  • Altitude start
    551 ft
  • Altitude end
    673 ft
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    35 miles
  • Distance down
    39 miles
  • Distance flat
    20 miles
  • Avg time
  • Avg reverse time
  • view trail stats
on Jan 15, 2019
Avg: 4.5 (4 votes)

view (11)
Trail Conditions
  • Unknown
  • Snow Groomed
  • Snow Packed
  • Snow Covered
  • Freeze/thaw Cycle
  • Icy
  • Prevalent Mud
  • Wet
  • Variable
  • Ideal
  • Dry
  • Very Dry
Trail Ridden Direction
Trailforks scans users ridelogs to determine the most popular direction each trail is ridden. A good flowing trail network will have most trails flowing in a single direction according to their intension.
The colour categories are based on what percentage of riders are riding a trail in its intended direction.
  • > 96%
  • > 90%
  • > 80%
  • > 70%
  • > 50%
  • < 50%
Trail Last Ridden
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  • < 2 days
  • < 1 week
  • < 2 weeks
  • < 1 month
  • < 6 months
  • > 6 months
Trail Ridden Direction
The intended direction a trail should be ridden.
  • Downhill Only
  • Downhill Primary
  • Both Directions
  • Uphill Primary
  • Uphill Only
  • One Direction
Contribute Details
Colors indicate trail is missing specified detail.
  • Description
  • Photos
  • Description & Photos
  • Videos
Trail Popularity ?
Trailforks scans ridelogs to determine which trails are ridden the most in the last 9 months. Trails are compared with nearby trails in the same city region with a possible 25 colour shades. Think of this as a heatmap, more rides = more kinetic energy = warmer colors.
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Max Vehicle Width

Radar Time
      Directions to otago-central-rail-trail trailhead (-45.194100, 169.335140)
      update trails status or condition

      Otago Central... Trail Reports

      Jan 15, 2019 @ 11:42pm
      Jan 15, 2019
      Quite a lot of areas under repair: small slips, washouts and minor erosion (trail braiding, small ruts developing). First time in 5 rides of whole...
      view all reports »

      Recent Ridelog Activity on Trail

      Past Week
      • 0 rides
      6 Months
      • 2 rides
      • 87 miles avg distance
      • 6 rides


      more »
      4 |
      May 28, 2021 @ 4:29pm
      May 28, 2021
      4 |
      May 28, 2021 @ 4:29pm
      May 28, 2021
      6 |
      May 28, 2021 @ 4:29pm
      May 28, 2021
      32 |
      Oct 25, 2019 @ 8:32pm
      Oct 25, 2019

      1 Review & Comments

      • + 0
      Karrather (Oct 28, 2019 at 11:48)
       Very flat open ridding, track can be a little sticky after rain. The wind can be a big problem or advantage as the route is very exposed .

      Post a Comment


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