OTAGO CENTRAL RAIL TRAIL

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To ride the Otago Central Rail Trail

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Otago Central Rail Trail profile

The Otago Central Rail Trail, New Zealands Original Great Ride, the trail that started them all. It’s almost become a “rite of passage” for many people,  sitting in the top 10 of the AA’s 101 things to do in New Zealand and top 10 item on just about everyone’s “bucket list” it seems.  Shebikeshebikes has been beavering away providing itineraries, bike hire, transport services and accommodation for rail trailers since 2009 and we’d love to help you put together all the bits of the puzzle so you can have an experience of a lifetime ( a really positive one ).

The “Rail Trail” has been ridden by hundreds of thousands of people and is New Zealands most well known and probably best resourced trail. It ticks all the boxes for stunning landscapes, budget to luxury accommodation options, plenty of refreshment options and it’s accessible for a broad range of people from young children to retirees and you’ll find accessible accommodation options in most townships. Although the trail is known for its cycling, every year you’ll find people walking the trail as well.

Located in Central Otago the Rail Trail has international airports close to either end with Queenstown Airport only one hour from the Clyde end and Dunedin Airport only 50 mins from the Middlemarch end.

So, in a nutshell, the Otago Central Rail Trail

  • Is surrounded by a stunning landscape
  • Has a gradient that makes it accessible to most people (and E-Bikes are now allowed on the trail for those that require some “E-ssistance”)
  • Provides an active holiday or special occasion activity that can be shared by singles, couples, groups of friends, and families of all ages
  • Is open year round
  • Has lots of services and accommodation options along the length of the trail

Quick Facts

Self Guided Tours

We offer a fully customised, free itinerary service so you can get the most out your Otago Central Rail Trail adventure. You’ll find a range of starting options provided below to give you an idea about what might suit you and what an indicative cost might be. We’ll work with you to refine things and book the accommodation and transport to suit your requirements. The itinerary you’ll received is fully itemised so you’ll know exactly what you’re paying for.

Teenager riding a bike on the Otago Central Rail Trail

Five days – Soaking it up

Shorten those days to provide time to relax and some off trail activities, or take a rest day in the middle and soak it up.

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Pushing a bike out of a tunnel on the Otago Cenral Rail Trail

Four days – In the groove

With an average of 38 km / day, and time to slot in an activity or two, you’re in the groove with this popular option.

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riding a bike on the Otago Central Rail Trail near Tiger Hill

Three days – Getting it done

Short on time and want to “tick it off”, 152 km over three days might be the solution for you. You’ll need to be fit for this one.

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Poolburn Viaduct on the Otago Central Rail Trail

Two day – Sprint

Fit, short on time or up for a challenge? This two day trip may be the option for you. Like we said, you’re going to need to be fit for this one.

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Poolburn Gorge Tunnel

One day – Day trips

If you’re short on time, have some time to fill or simply want to “have a go” then we have a range of short trip options for you. Great fun!

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Accommodation

Fortunately, the Rail Trail boasts a variety of accommodation to meet most requirements. Accommodation is broken roughly into budget, mid range and luxury options. Some townships along the trail only provide a subset of this range and we can lay out the options for you.

Omakau Domain Camping Ground - Otago Central Rail Trail

Budget

Budget options aren’t available in every township, but we’ll advise on an itinerary structure to take advantage of them. Budget accommodation does not include breakfast and own bedding may be required or hired at an additional cost, bathroom facilities are shared and cooking facilities are available. Rates are based on twin share in most cases.

Camping ground tent site

from $13 / person / night

Camping ground cabin

from $20 / person / night

Backpackers

from $50 / person / night

Omakau Bedpost Post Office - Otago Central Rail Trail

Mid Range

Mid Range accommodation includes a mix of self contained accommodation, motels and B&B type accommodation and holiday houses. A continental breakfast is included and in some cases a full cooked breakfast may also be provided. Bathrooms range from shared to en-suited depending on the property. Rates are based on twin share in all cases.

Shared bathroom

Starting from $60 / person / night

Ensuite bathroom

from $62.50 / person / night

average is @$75 / person / night

Olivers of Clyde - Smoke house

Luxury

Experience the best that Central Otago has to offer. Although luxury accommodation is not available in every town we can help structure your itinerary to make it work for you and help you with any transport options. Luxury accommodation provides en-suited accommodation, continental breakfast in all cases and full breakfast in most. All pricing is provided on a room basis for double or twin occupancy.

En-suite room
from $235 / room / night

Activities

On and around the Otago Central Rail Trail you’ll find some great activities to add that little bit extra.

Grapes

Wine Tour

A wine tour provides an excellent way to transition between Queenstown and Clyde. Central Otago is renowned for its Pinot Noir and you’ll find many other great varieties to taste.

From
$175 / person (minimum of two)

Clutha River Cruise - Otago Central Rail Trail

Clutha River Cruise

Take a cruise down the mighty Clutha / Mata-au and explore the gold mining heritage from yesteryear.

From
$95 / adult and $45 / child 

Clutha River Cruise - Roxburgh Gorge Trail

Clutha River Jet

Like the cruise but with the excitement of a jet boat! This tour takes you from Clyde through to the historic Doctors Point gold mine to explore the gold mining history.

From
$120 / adult and $65 / child

Hayes Engineering Works - Otago Central Rail Trail

Hayes Engineering Works

This Victorian workshop situated in Oturehua on the Rail Trail is a testament to Kiwi ingenuity. It was here that the Hayes wire strainer, used in wire fencing all over the world, was born. With a Cafe onsite you can combine some refreshments with some exploration. Look out for their

From
$12 / adult – primary school children are free

Curling in Naseby - Otago Central Rail Trail

Curling

Have a blast curling on the Maniototo International Curling Rink in Naseby. Your 90 min session will include a lesson and a game

From
$35 / adult and $15 / child
Note that there may be an additional charge for transport depending on where you’re staying

St Bathans Blue Lake - Otago Central Rail Trail

St Bathans

Once upon a time some industrious gold miners turned a hill into a huge hole in the ground and hence the “Blue Lake” of St Bathans was born. You can take a tour out to view the lake and haunted Vulcan Hotel. You’ll also visit the small township of Cambrians, home to famed New Zealand artist Grahame Sydney. Tours depart from Oturehua, Wedderburn and Ranfurly, bookings are essential.

From
$75/ adult (larger group concessions available)

Hawkdun Range - Otago Central Rail Trail

High Country Tours

A great option if you’ve chosen to have a rest day on the trail. High country tours are available in 1/2, 3/4 and full day formats. Experience the majestic tussock lands and rugged beauty of the high country of the Mt Ida and Hawkdun Ranges.

From
$130/ adult (larger group concessions available)

Real Dog Company Kennel Tour - Otago Central Rail Trail

Real Dog Company

Get up close and personal with some Alaskan Malamutes & the rare Canadian Eskimo Dogs with a kennel tour at the Real Dog Company near Ranfurly. Take it to the next level with a sled dog ride through the forest behind a team of these dogs.

From
Kennel tour – from $30 / person (large group concessions available)
Sled Dog Ride – from $85/ person (minimum of two)

Taieri Gorge Train - Otago Central Rail Trail

Taieri Gorge Train

What better way to finish your journey on the Otago Central Rail Trail than a train ride on the Taieri Gorge Railway, one of the worlds great train trips.

From
$61 / adult – school age children travel free with an accompanying adult