otago rail trail / new zealand

Are you one who prefers views from a bike? This might be for you.

The Otago Central Rail Trail is a 150-kilometre walking, cycling and horse riding track in the South Island of New Zealand. 


Instead of spending Easter weekend lounging around, eating marshmallows and napping, Aaron and I got to bike this so called trail! Let’s just say I didn’t know what I was getting myself in to and I am not some bike savvy person, so no training from my end (rookie). I can say it definitely was a cool way to see part of the South island over 3 days, you can extend this to 5 days but my brother thought we were Iron man fit. You’ll pass through many small towns (try 8 people for one town), meet friendly locals and also take in some insane views, you’ll even lose a few kilos while you’re at it.  


From 1879 – 1990 this was one of the Great Train Trips in the World. With the success of the 1860’s Otago gold rushes, the Provincial Council was keen to boost economic progress by helping farmers and orchardists in Central Otago get their stock and produce to market. Existing roads were rough and slow and it took 42 years before New Zealand’s longest branch railway line reached its final destination at Cromwell in 1921. Construction workers used pick, shovel and wheelbarrows, with a bit of dynamite, often in extreme weather, to build culverts, viaducts and tunnels through rocky gorges. They also had to deal with economic depressions, conditions that were much harder than expected and, on top of that, a world war, so progress was slow. Over time, road transport eventually became more viable and the railway more uneconomic. The Cromwell-Clyde track was removed in 1980, making way for the construction of the Clyde Dam and flooding by Lake Dunstan. The track from Clyde to Middlemarch was ripped up in 1991 and its future role as the Otago Central Rail Trail followed shortly after.



History aside, to get this adventure booked, I highly recommend going through  http://www.cyclesurgery.co.nz/ They specialise in Bike hire, trail tour packages with self-guided tours, accommodation, bag transfers and easy and convenient shuttles from Queenstown to Dunedin and anywhere in-between, if you don’t feel like biking a day (guilty, you can minus 52km from my biking distance). I was probably the most annoying customer/biker for Cycle Surgery, I called every day with a question and I even left my bank card, license and paw paw balm in a self serve café, a shuttle driver luckily picked these up for me, 27k away from our destination.



You can still experience the first 64 km of the original Otago Central Railway by travelling on the Taieri Gorge Railway from Dunedin to Middlemarch. We actually got to catch this train from Pukerangi (outside if Middlemarch) to Dunedin, they’re not lying about this being one of the great train trips of the world.



Go on, book it.

Need more info and want a bit of visuals?

Video here!




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