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.
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 mountain bike trail
Altitude change125 ft
Altitude min453 ft
Altitude start541 ft
Altitude end666 ft
Distance climb27.4 miles
Distance down29.8 miles
Distance flat36.4 miles
Avg reverse time08:14:20
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