Otago Central Rail Trail

The original “Great Ride” in New Zealand, this trail established the concept of routing an easy biking trail along a disused railway line. It's rightfully a very popular adventure through spectacular Otago scenery, with tunnels and viaducts smoothing out dry, rocky hills and deep gorges. Lots of lovely accommodation and eating options along the way, as well as transportation for your luggage (and you too if required! shortcuts are possible) make this ride a breeze. It’s great for kids too!

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Activity in brief

152 km
1 - 5 days
Start - End:
Clyde - Middlemarch
Shuttle Bus

Terrain: An easy trail. Wide and smooth gravel track with mostly gentle gradients

Accommodation: Lodges and B&Bs

Nearest Town: Clyde, Alexandra

Activity Overview

The original Otago Central Railway was built to connect the South Island city of Dunedin to the gold fields of the central Otago region. It required a huge degree of human effort to construct the bridges and tunnels that cross this dry, rugged landscape, and after 16 years of toil the line was completed in 1907. Eventually, with improving roads and the gold rush in the distant past, the line was closed in 1990 and the tracks removed.

This left a smooth, and mostly flat, path that crosses an epic country of plains and rivers, gorges, tunnels and rolling hills all under a huge (mostly!) blue sky. Historic reminders of the gold mining days are scattered along the way and you will pass though interesting little towns and villages with plenty of places to stop for lunch. Each night will be spent in relaxed comfort with modern, clean, ensuite accommodation already organised for you – it's really a perfect cycling trip.

We also arrange your transportation when you have finished the trail and if you'd rather not haul all your stuff on the bike, then luggage transfers between your accommodation can be included too.


Personalised Itineraries

Personalise your Otago Central Rail Trail Ride:

If you want to develop your own personalised Otago Rail Trail experience we will be happy to help you organise it.

Single day rides of just the highlights are available, or complete the whole route in a time that suits you best - 2 days, 3 days, a week - whatever works for you we can make it happen.

Alternatively you may be keen to skip various sections - this is a great option if you're riding with younger children. We can sort out specialist bike hire options for younger kids too.

We can also arrange extra accommodation for before and after the ride for you plus return transportation from Queenstown to Clyde if required.

Contact us to find out more!

Include the Otago Central Rail Trail in your unique Multi-Activity Trip:

You can combine this ride with any other activity on this website to create your own unique itinerary.

When you develop your own tailor-made itinerary with us, it's fully customised with your choice of activities, accommodation and transport around New Zealand - Click here for more information about Multi-Activity Trips or Enquire Now to get started.

OR SIMPLY BOOK This ride now...
Classic Four Day Ride
  • Three nights' ensuite accommodation on trail & breakfast included.
  • All on trail transportation included.
  • Return shuttle from Queenstown or Dunedin available. 
  • Includes daily luggage transfers between accommodation.
  • Rental options for touring bikes, mountain bikes and electric bikes available.

Day One: Clyde to Omakau (37km). Start at the picturesque little town of Clyde, which is where you can also pick up your rental bikes if necessary. The trail is a mostly flat route that passes through the large town of Alexandra then north through peaceful farmland and along the Manuherikia River, past Omakau, and on to your first nights stay at Omakau.

Day Two: Omakau to Wedderburn (41.5km). Your second day sees you pass through a real highlight of the trip: Poolburn Gorge with its old viaducts and tunnels (remember to take a torch!). After emerging from the gorge you descend into the Ida Valley towards Oturehua. You then climb out of the Ida Valley and into Wedderburn for your second night on the trail.

Day Three: Wedderburn to Hyde (46km). Day three starts with an easy cruise into Ranfurly with it's interesting art deco architecture. You're then on to  another spectacular section of the trail, following the Taieri River through another gorge complete with viaduct and tunnel. With its historic buildings and accommodation Hyde is a lovely place to spend your last night on the trail.

Day Four: Hyde to Middlemarch (27km). Your final day is a short easy downhill section with more stunning scenery courtesy of the Taieri river and the Rock and Pillar Range. The Trail terminates at Middlemarch Station and this is where you will be picked up and returned to Clyde.

Pricing: Classic Four Day Ride

From NZD$640 per person including B&B accommodation, luggage transfers and transportation. 

Four Days Bike Hire: From NZD$220 for a standard touring or mountain bike OR from NZD$420 for an e-bike.

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Activity Planning

When to go

This trail can be completed year round. The summers in this part of the South Island can get very hot and dry, while the winters can be cold and even snowy.

Autumn is a popular time as the daytime temperatures are a bit cooler and the red and gold colours on the trees are spectacular.

What to bring

Bike - touring bike, mountain bike or e-bike plus helmet, panniers, spares etc.

Sneakers, light waterproof hiking shoes or biking shoes


Light waterproof jacket

Bidon (Water bottle)


Insect repellant

First-aid kit


Communication device

Accommodation on the trail

There are some fantastic accommodation options* available for every night on the trail. You can choose from a selection of Lodges, B&Bs, Motels and Luxury Boutique Accommodation. Each are clean, well appointed, family friendly and have super welcoming hosts.


Piches Store - Ophir

Pitches Store is a luxurious option offering charming boutique accommodation. Every detail of this Central Otago accommodation reflects contemporary luxury, tastefully combined with hints of its unique 130 year history. There is also an excellent restaurant onsite so you don't need to go far for dinner after your first day in the trail. Includes continental breakfast.

Nicky's Place - Omakau

Cosy B&B accommodation with ensuite rooms. Free wifi, team and coffee and E-Bike charging. Breakfast included.

Wedderburn Cottages

Wedderburn Cottages offers Rail Trail accommodation and hospitality at its best in attractive self-contained units surrounded by a working sheep and cattle farm. They are situated right on the Central Otago Rail Trail with direct access from the trail itself. Nestled under the Hawkdun Range and surrounded by stunning landscape of farmland and tussock country, Wedderburn Cottages is a great place to call it a day. Includes continental breakfast.

Kokonga Lodge

This boutique lodge is a luxury options with panoramic views over the heart of the Maniototo. It has six beautifully furnished and supremely comfortable en suite rooms along with a stylish guest area. It also has a self-contained cottage on the property.  Dinner is available here and includes a gourmet 2-course meal using fresh local produce. Deluxe Superior Room with ensuite including a continental breakfast.

Hyde School B&B

This B&B is on the site of a former School House and is situated 200m from the Otago Central Rail Trail. Situated in a peaceful country setting the ensuite bedrooms are well appointed and the original historic schoolhouse is where fantastic home cooked meals are served to the guests in a convivial group setting. 


*We cannot always guarantee accommodation will be available in these listed properties, especially during busy periods. If it's necessary to arrange alternative accommodation then we always endeavour to organise a similar quality option for you, and we always go through the details with you before you commit to your booking.


Accommodation in Central Otago

We can organise your accommodation in the wider region for before and after your bike ride if you wish. Please let us know what sort of accommodation you are looking for when you make your booking for this activity, and we can discuss the options with you.

Shuttle Bus

A shuttle bus picks you up from the end of the trail at Middlemarch and takes you back to where you started in Clyde.

You can also get a bus to transfer you from Queenstown to the start of the trail at Clyde, which then returns you back to Queenstown when you have finished, if that is most convenient for you - let us know when you make your booking and we can set this up for you.

For more flexibility you can get a shuttle to bypass certain sections if you wish to shorten your ride. If you are keen to create your own itinerary we would be happy to help - contact us and we can go through the best options for you.

Route Map
Get in touch

For more information about us or our services contact us on
+ 64 3 390 1584
or email us at [email protected]

Enquire Now