Central Otago Rail Trail
New Zealand’s original and most iconic cycle trail is still proving as popular as ever. The Otago Rail Trail was created following the old railway lines between Clyde and Middlemarch, giving inspiration to the creation of our nationwide trail network as it is today.
The Otago rail journey was previously known as “One of the Great Train Trips in the World” and you can still experience some of history and charm of the railway by adding on a journey on the Taieri Gorge Railway to your cycling adventure.
We recommend booking a minimum of one night both at Bella Vista Queenstown and Dunedin.
6 Day Central Otago Rail Trail
Day 1: Queenstown
Day2: Queenstown to Omakau
Day 3: Oamakau to Wedderburn
Day 4: Wedderburn to Hyde
Day 5: Hyde to Dunedin
Day 6: Finishes Dunedin
Day 1: Queenstown
Start your journey by arriving into the stunning mountain scenery of Queenstown where your Queenstown accommodation is Bella Vista, located just a 5-minute walk from the centre of town and the shores of Lake Wakatipu. Leave enough time to acquaint yourself with this popular resort town, ride the gondola for spectacular views across the basin, cruise aboard the TSS Earnslaw, an historic vintage steamer known as the ‘Lady of the Lake’, or sample many of the food and wine delights of the region.
Day 2: Queenstown to Clyde (road transfer). Cycle Clyde to Omakau (37km)
Today you will be shuttled to the beginning of the Central Otago Rail Trail in Clyde, a beautifully preserved historic old gold mining town on the banks of the Clutha River. From the centre of town, follow the trail as it crosses a wooden trestle bridge, cycle past vineyards and orchards to big country town of Alexandra before heading past remnants of gold diggings, high country farms and fascinating schist outcrops. Make a stop at the charming Chatto Creek Pub before continuing on the last leg through the lower Manuherikia Valley ascending Tiger Hill and onto Omakau.
If you are feeling energetic make a detour to Ophir, another charming town dating back to the gold rush.
Day3: Omakau to Wedderburn (41.5km)
From Omakau, it’s an easy ride through 2 tunnels and over 2 bridges in the stunning Poolburn Gorge before descending into the Ida Valley. If its winter, you might spot the ancient game of curling being played on the frozen Ida Burn Dam. It’s also worth a stop at Hayes Engineering Works and Homestead to get an insight into the spirit of ‘kiwi ingenuity’ and local history.
Beyond this you come across the ‘latitude of 45 degrees south’ landmark, before climbing gently to 618m above sea level and into Wedderburn and its famous little ‘goods shed’.
Day 4: Wedderburn to Hyde (46km)
Today you cruise the Maniatoto Plains before hitting Ranfurly, a town famous for its art deco architecture. Its worth making a sidetrip to the little town of Naseby, known for its great ice-skating, heritage hotels and forested mountain bike trails.
From Ranfurly, it’s a very easy ride. Take in the expansive views as you leave the Maniatoto Plains, past the sunken hollow of the former Lake Taieri. The basalt rock of Dunedin’s Railway Station originated here.
Entering the upper Taieri Gorge, pass the old Red Dwarf ganger’s hut, the preserved iron-trussed stone bridge at Tiroiti, and the viaduct and 152m long bricked tunnel at Price’s Creek. The Strath Taieri Plain and its cone shaped hills then opens out before you. Your stop for the night is the gold mining town of Hyde, with its rustic collection of accommodation and restored railway station.
Day 5: Hyde - Middlemarch (27.5km) Cycle trail concludes. Rail or Road Transfer Middlemarch to Dunedin
Today the trail traverses the foothills of the Rock and Pillar Range with its mighty outcrops, meandering through the valley to Ngapuna farming station and ending in Middlemarch.
Here, timetable permitting, you will climb aboard the Taieri Gorge Railway for the last part of your journey. The train negotiates the gorge with ease as it travels through ten tunnels and over countless bridges and viaducts. Time for photos and quiet contemplation of a bucket list trip.
Tonight, you will rest your tired muscles in the comfort of the Bella Vista Dunedin. Dunedin sits at the head of Otago Harbour on the South Island’s southeast coast. It's known for its Scottish and Maori heritage, Victorian and Edwardian architecture, its vibrant student community and its abundance of wildlife.
Day 6: Dunedin
This morning checkout of your Dunedin accommodation or extend your stay for another couple of nights and really enjoy the sights of Dunedin and the surrounding countryside.
Please note this is a sample itinerary only providing an illustration as to how you could enjoy the Central Otago Rail trail using Bella Vista Motel accommodation in your itinerary. Please feel free to add more pre/post accommodation at either the Bella Vista Queenstown or Bella Vista Dunedin if you would like more time to enjoy the delights these iconic South Island destinations have on offer. For more detailed information on the trail, please visit www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz