Top 10 Tips for Cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail this Summer

Dec 19, 2022

The Otago Central Rail Trail Trust has produced its top 10 tips for cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail this summer. The trust is also seeking feedback from trail users and is asking everyone to complete a trail survey here.

They recommend all users download a copy of the Official Trail Map to help navigate the trail.  

The Otago Central Rail Trail opened in 2000 and is New Zealand's Original Great Ride. It offers some of the best cycling in New Zealand. The Trail is a 152-kilometre, recreational trail that follows the former Otago Central railway line between Middlemarch and Clyde.

Here are the Otago Central Rail Trail Trust's top 10 tips to help you have a wonderful time on the trail this summer: 

1. Carry plenty of water and particularly in summer - a hydration back pack and if using drink bottles we encourage you to use a refillable non plastic drink bottle.

2. Always check the weather before you start the trail. Be sure to help avoid sunburn when cycling or on the trail, use plenty of sunscreen - apply generously! 

3. Cycle or walk ideally early morning or evening, if possible, and avoid the hottest part of the day usually around 3pm to 5pm.

4. Cool off at spots along the trail with access to local rivers such as Manuherekia River. Shut all gates. Another popular spot near the river is between Kokonga and Hyde. There is easy access down to Strath Taieri River near the Daisybank picnic spot and toilet.

5. Make sure you book ahead for meals and accommodation to avoid disappointment. For peak periods along the trail - traditionally Autumn months - booking your trip 12 months ahead is not uncommon. Here are links the bike friendly dining options and accommodation on the trail. 

6. Although it’s summer be prepared for all weather. Carry wet weather gear and layers for cooler weather in the evenings.

7. Don’t forget to buy your passport $12.50 - it's a wonderful momento of your trip. They are available at all good operators along the trail and i-sites located in Alexandra and Ranfurly.

8. Allow time to see and do the many things on and around the trail. Check out our suggested must do activities here

9. You can use the Great Ride App to track your trip along the Trail or for more information about the Otago Central Rail Trail or other Great Rides around the country.

10. Don’t forget to complete the trail survey here.

Official trail map.

Download a copy of the Official Trail Map to help navigate the trail here.

Main image (Clare Toia-Bailey): Cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail.

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