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Central Otago four cycling & walking trails attractions and things to do

  • 3 minutes

Otago Central Rail Trail, South Island

Getting there & key facts

Dedicated cyclists have must-go list with Central Otago cycle trails at the top of the bucket list. The cycle trails are shared with walkers and even horseback riders creating a mix of interests. For walkers it is very easy to pick a short section or even loop back on a section and meander through the visually impressive scenery and sights of long ago gold mining activities.

Bullock Track overlooking Roxburgh, Otago, New Zealand
Bullock Track overlooking Roxburgh, Otago


The Roxburgh Gorge Trail is one of New Zealand’s most visually spectacular day rides. Stretching between Alexandra and Lake Roxburgh Hydro Dam the trail follows the Clutha Mata-au River. Eroded cliffs plunge into the fast flowing river, 19th century gold mining shelters built of schist and gold mining tailings are nestled among willows (magical autumn displays), native low growing plants surviving in the low rainfall climate and spring flowering scented thyme.

For more information about the Roxburgh Gorge flora and fauna check out Flora | Clutha Gold & Roxburgh Gorge Trails.

  • 11 km length (one way)
  • 5 metre wide firm gravel surface (some ascents / descends)
  • Runs parallel to Otago Central Rail Trail and Clutha Gold Trail creating choices for cyclists and walkers
  • Open year round

Cycle or walk from Alexandra to Doctors Point and then back again, or start from Lake Roxburgh Dam and head upstream to Shingle Creek and return. Experiencing the whole trail, you will enjoy a boat transfer between Doctors Point and Shingle Creek.


You will not get tired on this walk / cycle ride as you will be stopping to soak up the views and scenery.


The Clyde Gold Trail is an intermediate cycle or walking trail with easily accessible sections meaning visitors can pick and choose sections.

The Clutha Gold Trail is a stunning introduction to Central Otago and the charms of Roxburgh and Lawrence.

Open year-round, this smooth and wide, well-formed trail requires moderate fitness. For more information about the trail sections check out Clutha Gold & Roxburgh Gorge Trails.

link 11 reasons

Sunderland street in Clyde, Central Otago, New Zealand
Sunderland street in Clyde, Otago
Roxburgh Hydro Dam, Clutha River, New Zealand
Roxburgh Hydro Dam, Clutha River

Getting to the Clyde Gold Trail or Roxburgh Gorge Trail

Clyde Gold Trail and Roxburgh Gorge Trail are located on State Highway 8 between Dunedin and Alexandra. The trails cross Clutha District and Central Otago and have many access points along the trails.

  • Roxburgh Gorge Trail – start or finish the trail in Alexandra or Lake Roxburgh Village
  • Clutha Gold Trail – start or finish the trail in Lawrence or Lake Roxburgh Village
  • Both trails – start or finish the trails in Alexandra or Lawrence

Source Clutha Gold & Roxburgh Gorge Trails.


The Otago Central Rail Trail is suitable for all age groups making this a popular choice for families.




  • Wide, hard packed surface with cafes and rest stops along the way
  • 150 km in length from Clyde or Middlemarch
  • Well established visitor track with excellent tour operators assisting cyclists
  • Pre-book bikes and accommodation before starting with a pick up arranged at your finish point.
  • Check out facts and booking agents at Otago Central Rail Trail
Two young people cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail with horses grazing by the side of the track, South Island, New Zealand
Otago Central Rail Trail




Lake Dunstan, New Zealand
Lake Dunstan
  • Thrilling cantilever track over cliffs with Lake Dunstan glinting below
  • 55 km grade intermediate
  • Links towns of Clyde and Cromwell
  • Stunning Kawarau River and Clutha River views
  • Connects with Otago Rail Trail – for dedicated cyclists everywhere
  • Cromwell at the confluence of the Clutha River (incorporating Lake Dunstan) and the Kawarau Rivers. After Cromwell, known as Clutha River


Parts of the trail are in remote terrain with some challenging grade 3 sections. These sections are only suitable for confident, experienced cyclists and are not recommended for most children.

Source Lake Dunstan Trail.

Lake Dunstan, New Zealand
Lake Dunstan
Male Mountain Biker Rides over the Brow of a Hill, Central Otago, South Island New Zealand
Central Otago


Central is the clue to ease of access to the Central Otago cycle trails. Dunedin or Queenstown are less than 2 hours drive away through magical scenery and quaint kiwi towns. From coastal temperature landscapes to the semi-arid alpine folded hills of Central Otago there is a world of difference.

Either Dunedin or Queenstown are the usual points of entry to Otago. Central Otago is the place for a road trip. It is ideal country for a motorhome in the summer although winter is not recommended due to snow and icy road conditions. Remember always to check New Zealand, attractions, things to do and places to visit, the definitive travel guide – Best Bits for road driving tips and suggestions and your bucket list of what to do and see in New Zealand is aptly assisted by Amazing 12 Aotearoa New Zealand unmissable attractions – Best Bits.


Time for one road trip only while visiting New Zealand?

Touring Central Otago by road is the best way to go for the start of a memorable cycle journey.


The three touring routes stopping by sections of the Central Otago cycle trails are:

For more road trip holiday inspiration check out Central Otago inland road trip: Queenstown to Dunedin – Best Bits.

And consider linking your Central Otago road trips with The Catlins, Southern Scenic Road Trip: Wildlife Safari Road Trip, The Catlins – Best Bits and Southern Scenic Road Trip: Invercargill to Fiordland National Park.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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