Central Otago Rail Trail
The Otago Rail Trail makes a connection between a number of small communities rich with stories and heritage in central New Zealand
The Otago Central Rail Trail is a 150-kilometre walking, cycling and horse riding track in the South Island of New Zealand.
New Zealand's Original Great Ride offers some of the best cycling in New Zealand. Open all year round- ride without traffic, under Central Otago’s big skies surrounded by amazing landscapes and steeped in "Southern Hospitality".
- Cyclists riding the whole trail can start from either end, with shorter trips easily created via various access points along the way. A host of operators make for easy logistics ranging from shuttle transport and luggage transfers, to multi-day independent and guided tours including all accommodation and meals.
There’s so much to see and do on or near the trail, from poking around old gold diggings to visiting New Zealand’s only international curling rink. So it will pay to factor in plenty of free time. This is a journey to savour and best enjoyed as slow as your itinerary will allow.
Fitness Level & Skills
This is one of the easiest Great Rides, suitable for riders of all ages and abilities; it’s a terrific choice for family groups, and older or rusty riders. It has a smooth, wide surface with some loose gravel in places. There are no especially steep climbs but some inclines are very long, making a degree of fitness desirable.
While the trail is easy, it is long. How far you will travel in one day depends on your level of fitness. When cycling the average speed for most of us is 10km per hour, many people allow 3–5 days. The average walking pace is 4–6km per hour, allow at least 6 days.
Best time of Year
The trail can be ridden at any time of year, with each season coloured with a striking palette. Summer temperatures can reach 35 degrees, making a hat and sunscreen essential along with plenty of water. The weather is generally favourable in Autumn, and in Spring when a warm westerly is common.
Temperatures reach freezing in winter, when some sections may be slower going due to snow cover. The pay off is solitude and simply stunning scenes of snowcapped ranges, plus opportunities for curling, ice skating and skiing (the nearest ski field being Coronet Peak, just over an hour’s drive from Clyde).
Note that many trail-related businesses are closed during the low season, mid May to the beginning of September.
Regardless of the season, temperatures can fluctuate drastically during the course of a day, so be sure to carry clothing to suit a range of temperatures. Be sure also to check the forecast, and ask locals about making the most of prevailing wind directions – they can make a big difference in this wide, open country.