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Otago Central Rail Trail

New Zealand's Original Great Ride

This epic trail led the way for New Zealand's Great Rides. Following the old railway route from Clyde to Middlemarch, the Otago Central Rail Trail covers the heartland of Central Otago. With its epic landscapes, heritage hotspots and incredible Southern hospitality, the Otago Central Rail Trail has something for everyone.

OCRT James Jubb TCO Credit
Otage Central Rail Trail Outline Alexandra Information Centre

The Otago Central Rail Trail Sections

Clyde to Alexandra

8 kilometres

Start off the Otago Central Rail Trail at the old Clyde Railway Station. Follow the signage as it leads you under State Highway 8 to the Clyde Railhead. The trail from here is flat so it's the perfect way to ease you into the ride ahead! Head over the Muttontown Bridge and pass many wineries and vineyards as you get closer to the Alexandra township.

Alexandra to Galloway

7 kilometres

Conveniently located on the trail is Industry Lane Café, famous for its delish donuts, super scones and epic meals. Definitely stop in for a drink or bite to eat before heading out towards Galloway. You will cross over Little Valley Road Bridge and follow the Manuherikia river. There are popular swimming holes sprinkled alongside the river which are perfect for cooling down in the Central Otago heat. 

Galloway to Chatto Creek

10 kilometres

The trail gently climbs from Galloway to Chatto Creek. Galloway highlights the rurality of the area with its extensive farming history. Stop off at the Chatto Creek Country Pub for a refreshing apple cider and excellent food options. While you wait for your meal, do check out New Zealand's smallest Post Office on site!

Chatto Creek to Omakau

12 kilometres

At the end of the long straight section, there is the first Line Gang Shed. These small corrugated iron sheds were used by railway workers who maintained the track. Climbing steadily up Tiger Hill, the Otago Central Rail Trail is perfumed with thyme and alive with the photographic lupins. Once you've reached the top of Tiger Hill, it's all downhill to Omakau.

Omakau to Lauder

7 kilometres

The small town of Omakau provides you with everything you need for the rest of the ride from bike servicing to accommodation to loading up on snacks. A short and sweet ride continues up through the Matakanui Valley to Lauder.

Lauder to Auripo

10.5 kilometres

Tunnels and viaducts make this section of the Otago Central Rail Trail a popular one! The Manuherikia Bridge No.1 is a dramatic curved concrete structure - 110m long and 14m tall, which gradually ascends towards the Poolburn Gorge. Through two long tunnels and over the Poolburn Viaduct, this section offers good variety so is a fantastic one to include in day trips.

Auripo to Oturehua

12 kilometres

Through the Ida Valley, the trail leads towards Oturehua. The Ida Valley is renown for its harsh climate - both during summer and winter. In the winter months, curling and ice skating are popular on the dams in the area! The trail whizzes right past the turn off to Hayes Engineering Works and Homestead -  an incredible heritage site for the area with the inventions and engineering endeavours of Ernest Hayes. Stop off at Gilchrist Store and explore the oldest running General Store in New Zealand for a sweet treat.

Oturehua to Wedderburn

12 kilometres

Between Oturehua and Wedderburn, you will cross the 45º South Latitude markers on the trail twice - putting you halfway between the Equator and the South Pole! There's a small but worthwhile detour you can do after Reef Road which goes to a historic Golden Progress Mine. You will also reach the steepest part of the trail at 618m, making it an easy downwards slope to the teeny town of Wedderburn.   

Wedderburn to Ranfurly

13.5 kilometres

Wedderburn boasts a gorgeous historic hotel just after the half way point of the Otago Central Rail Trail making it a perfect place to stop. There is also the iconic green 'Goods Shed' that was made popular by Grahame Sydney's painting. Enjoy the most picturesque part of the country with its big blue skies, rolling rural hills and the surrounding Ida Range and Kakanui Mountain Ranges. Take a small detour to Naseby!

Ranfurly to Waipiata

7.5 kilometres

With it's Art Deco Buildings throughout the town, Ranfurly is a must-stop town to explore and restock while on the trail. Check out the old railway station and museum before you enjoy the easy downhill ride through the rural countryside to Waipiata.

Waipiata to Kokonga

10.5 kilometres

Waipiata boomed with the introduction of the railway, and continues to bustle after it was converted into a cycle trail. There are numerous places to stay here, and the Waipiata Country Hotel offers cyclists the most incredible and hearty meals, as well as cool beverages on tap! The trail continues across to Kokonga (pronounced Co-co-na), crossing over the Taieri River Rail Bridge.

Kokonga to Hyde

14.5 kilometres

Through a dramatic and rugged landscape, this 14.5 kilometre section is another popular one for day-trippers! Pass by the Red Dwarf Gangers Shed and the Tiroiti Station site before going over the Cap Burn Railway Bridge and the Prices Creek Viaduct! You will then head through a 151m long and curved tunnel called Prices Creek Tunnel, as you head down to Hyde.

Hyde to Rock & Pillar

14 kilometres

Hyde's Railway Station is a key part of the Otago Central Railway's heritage. Be sure to go inside and read the tales and check out some old railway equipment. Pass the Hyde Station is "Straw Cutting" which pays tribute to the derailment disaster that happened in 1943. Continue downhill into the Strath Taieri Valley, flanked by the Rock & Pillar Range.

Rock & Pillar to Middlemarch

13.5 kilometres

THE HOME STRETCH! The final section of the trail eases downhill through the countryside landscapes, passed Ngapuna and towards the rural town of Middlemarch. Providing for the surrounding farming community, Middlemarch offers accommodation, cycle services, food and drink, art galleries, and a fantastic museum. After 152 kilometres, you have completed the trail!

Suggested Itineraries

Otago Central Rail Trail Credit_ TCO

Half / Full Day Options

Credit: TCO

2-3 Day Options

Credit: TCO

4-5 Days Options

Extra Trail Information

Making your experience EXTRA special

St Bathan's Blue Lake
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Where to Stay

Accommodation Along the Trail

Rest and recharging is key for doing the multiday ride. With excellent Southern hospitality from Clyde right through to Middlemarch, our hosts would love to have you stay along the way! Catering the luxury lifestyles, to family-friendly or budget, there are many different accommodation options on offer!

Hidden Gems

Going Off the Beaten Track

While the Otago Central Rail Trail showcases the best that Central Otago has to offer, there are some hidden gems that are only a small detour off the trail! There are many more places and spaces to explore, so do allow a little more time to get out and about! 


Otago Central Trail Trail Passports

Not only are these passports an interactive and epic momento of the ride, they also help the Otago Central Rail Trail Trust fund on-going development and improved facilities! Collect the stamps from spots along the way and match the stickers to your journey.

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