The Otago Rail Trail has been created for cyclists, walkers and horse riders and stretches across 150km from Clyde to Dunedin, passing through a number of tiny country towns, vast open plains, mountainous terrain, gorges, old gold fields, orchards and other spectacular areas not visible from the main highways.The original rail tracks are no longer in use and the trail is not used by motorists, meaning walking groups, cyclists and horse riders do not have to worry about vehicles and can enjoy the open spaces. The trail itself is similar to being on a gravel road and can be uneven at times, but has no steep inclines and is suitable for most fitness levels, the fitter you are the more enjoyment you get, however the general consensus is if you can ride a bike, you can do the trail.
The small towns situated along the way were developed by the original train route and now are the best places to find accommodation and a good, hearty NZ country pub meal. These are also great starting and finishing points if you do not want to do the whole thing.
If you choose to take a day off the trail, Central Otago is known for its wine and is bursting with vineyards, with wine trail tours running most days through the summer. Alternatively, if travelling with a family the stunning lakes, dams and rivers are great for swimming and playing.
The Rail Trail is open throughout the year and can be accessed at any time, however it is encouraged to research the conditions before you go. December to February is peak summer with temperatures between 20-30+°, and the sun is extremely intense, sunscreen, sun hats and UV protection clothing is recommended. As this is also the summer holiday period for New Zealanders, booking in advance – particularly your accommodation is highly recommended.
For an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience, this is one to look out for.