5 Central Otago cycle trails to tick off your list

Roxburgh Gorge Trail, Central Otago | David Wall
Roxburgh Gorge Trail, Central Otago | David Wall

Whether you're looking to bike solo, as a family or as a group, Central Otago has an incredible range of cycling tracks and trails for all abilities.

Located in the South Island of New Zealand, Central Otago offers stunning landscapes, over 350km of dedicated cycle trails, friendly locals, world-class wineries, spectacular heritage sites, art galleries, boutique accommodation and plenty of great restaurants and pubs all combine to create this special destination.


From the Otago Central Rail Trail to the Roxburgh Gorge, Clutha Gold, River Trail and Lake Dunstan Trail, there's plenty of cycle trails to tick off on your bike while you're in this spectacular South Island country town region.


1. Otago Central Rail Trail

The 'Rail Trail' is one of the most well-known cycle trails in New Zealand and is high up on many Kiwi's bucket lists.
As New Zealand's original Great Ride, and the trail that inspired the Nga Haerenga Cycle Trail network, the 150km Otago Central Rail Trail follows a historic railway line from Clyde to Middlemarch. Its wide compacted gravel path has a gentle 1 to 50 gradient, and is vehicle-free, making it ideal for introductory cyclists and families.
The historic trail snakes its way through ever-changing dry, rocky landscapes with spectacular river gorges, tunnels and viaducts.

Along the way you'll discover thriving rural townships, preserved gold mining settlements, as well as numerous activities such as curling in Naseby, 4WD tours, a trip to St Bathans and much more.

View our self-guided Otago Central Rail trail packages and services here.

2. Clutha Gold Cycle Trail

Packed full of gold mining history, the 73km Clutha Gold Trail follows gentle riverside pathways along the Clutha Mata-au river from Lake Roxburgh Dam to Lawrence. This bike trail is a similar grade to the Otago Central Rail Trail, making it an introductory graded that is suited for a wide range of abilities and is the perfect addition to your Central Otago active cycling holiday.

Four small townships along the trail provide a welcome place to stop and take a lunch break, with each country town offering a unique story. Along the bike trail, you'll spot river banks dotted with the ruins of miner's huts, while lush farming valleys lead to the historic Roxburgh Branch Railway Line, including the 440m long Big Hill Tunnel.

The small town of Lawrence is worth exploring with 50 protected buildings, second-hand shops and a good pub. Riders can also explore Pinders Pond, Horseshoe Bend Bridge and the Lonely Graves at Millers Flat from Roxburgh onwards.

View our self-guided Clutha Gold cycle trail packages and services here.


3. Roxburgh Gorge Trail

At 21km, the trail makes its way from Alexandra to to Lake Roxburgh Dam with an added 13km jet boat transfer on the Clutha Mata-au River in between.
The 45-minute boat transfer is a fantastic way to delve deeper into the gorge’s history. From the boat, you'll see the extensive sluicings at Doctors Point, the site of the 14 Mile electric-powered dredge and its generator plant, and many other historic sites. The jet boat can transfer your bikes too, which makes planning a lot easier.
The trail can be cycled all year round but it really comes to life during Spring and April with the hillsides covered in purple wild Thyme in Spring and the golden colours of Autumn providing a striking golden contrast against the rocky landscapes in Autumn.
View our self-guided Roxburgh Gorge cycle trail packages and services here.

3. Lake Dunstan Trail


The new trail on the block, the Lake Dunstan Trail weaves its way along the shores of Lake Dunstan from Smith’s Way to Cromwell’s Heritage Precinct. It then heads through Bannockburn’s wine country and into the remote Cromwell Gorge before finishing in the quaint township of Clyde.

Graded introductory to moderate, this breathtaking trail is the perfect length for a day ride, or you can take it slow over two days and spend time exploring Cromwell and local vineyards. For added comfort, we offer e-Bike options and baby seats.

A floating coffee boat located along the Cromwell Gorge section is a welcome fuelling station before the first big climb.  

View our self-guided Lake Dunstan Trail packages and services here.

5. Alexandra to Clyde River Track (Millennium Trail) 


Popular with locals, this sheltered trail follows the true right of the Clutha Mata-au River, joining Clyde and Alexandra. Mainly single-track with some small undulations and boardwalks, it’s a great alternative to the first section of the Otago Central Rail Trail.

This trail is also a great way to join the Lake Dunstan Trail with the Roxburgh Gorge Trail without needing to transport your bikes in between. You'll find the start/finish of this trail at the Alexandra Bridge and Clyde's Earnscleugh Bridge.

Other Central Otago cycling trails:

  • Alexandra Airport Trail (9km, Alexandra)
  • Bannockburn Sluicings (3.5km, Bannockburn)
  • Boot Hill Trails (Alexandra)
  • Butchers Point Track (8km Alexandra)
  • Cairnmuir Track (25.5km, Clyde)
  • Carricktown and Young Australian (30km, Bannockburn)
  • Flat Top Hill Trails (10km, Alexandra)
  • Hawksburn Road (25km, Clyde)
  • Naseby Forest Mountain Bike Trails (52km, Naseby)
  • Oteake Conservation Area (68km, St Bathans)
  • Thomsons Gorge Road (30km, Omakau)

If you haven't ridden all 5 yet, we hope you add these trails to your bucket list, or come back to enjoy them again. 

Talk to us about our self-guided cycling packages in Central Otago, as well as bike hire (including e-bikes), luggage transfers and transport.

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