Otago Rail Trail – Bikes, Bridges, Viaducts, Culverts and Gold

Voted the “Number 5 Experience in the AA 2012 101 Must-Do’s for Kiwis,” Central Otago Rail Trail offers visitors a virtually endless array of choices. From bike tour options, to accommodations, to customized itineraries, trail visitors can plan a holiday which best-suits their group’s preferences and needs.

The Central Otago Rail Trail spans 150km, from Clyde to Middlemarch, NZ; and is normally done after an overnight stop in Queenstown or Dunedin.

Otago Rail Trail
Otago Rail Trail

Guided and Self-Planned Trips

With a plethora of tour options available on the Otago Rail Trail, visitors can choose between day trips, overnight bike rides and multi day trips; Otago Rail Trail fully guided and Otago Rail Trail self-guided or independent bike tours. Tour operators will assist overseas visitors with accommodation set-up, tour scheduling, bike rentals, day planning, transportation arrangements and anything else necessary to ensure vacationers enjoy a pleasant experience.

The Otago Rail Trail is a public reserve which is open year-round. This means it costs nothing to go onto the trail. For this reason, local New Zealanders commonly opt to make their own holiday plans, without the assistance of tour operators. Anyone who wishes to traverse the trail on his or her own may do so without making prior arrangements; however, during the winter months, some accommodation providers close. It is always a good idea to call at least a month in advance to secure a place to stay. However bringing your own bikes and equipment is not always easy. So doing an independent or self-guided bike trip is an easy and economical alternative.

Trail-goers have a variety of interesting localities to check-out during their tour of the trail—so taking it at a leisurely pace comes highly recommended. Visitors may stop along the way to delve into the area’s gold-mining history, sample local foods and explore the untamed natural environment.

Otago Rail Trail
Cycling on the Otago Rail Trail

Taieri Gorge Railway

Holiday goers coming from the Dunedin side of Otago can elect to take the scenic route, on the Taieri Gorge Railway. This train trip takes passengers on a sightseeing journey through the breath-taking Taieri River Gorge, over wrought-iron viaducts and through century-old, hand-carved tunnels.

The train leaves from Dunedin Station in downtown Dunedin, and departs daily.

Otago Central Rail Trail Tips

Anyone planning to tour the Otago Rail Trail should keep a few things in mind while planning the trip.

The bulk of Otago’s natural water sources are untreated, so visitors should bring plenty of clean drinking water. It is suggested to bring much more than is believed to be needed. It’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

Go at a pace that suits everyone. If there are children, elderly or individuals with health risks in the group, take lots of breaks and travel slowly. Buses run at various locations along the trail, so completing the entire 150km-journey is not necessary. Groups often choose to tour only a selected portion.

There are sporadic, environmentally friendly restroom facilities located alongside the trail, so bring toilet paper for your personal use.

Wear comfortable clothes and bring cold weather attire, just in case. Cold snaps can hit in Otago at any time during the year. Also, be prepared for possibly windy conditions—especially during the summer months. Many sheds have been placed along the trail for shelter.

About Richard Wolskel

Website: http://www.newzealand.com.au

Richard is a UK expat Sandgroper. As owner of Go New Zealand he has been a frequent traveller to New Zealand and the “Land of the Long White Cloud”. His love of travel has taken him to all points of the globe, and loves learning about new cultures, hiking on remote trails, meeting the locals, and experiencing life in other countries.

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