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3 – 5 days Otago Central Rail Trail

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Approximate Rail Trail kilometres
Clyde to Omakau 35km
Omakau to Wedderburn 43 km
Omakau to Ranfurly 57km
Ranfurly to Middlemarch 59km

Ride it, walk it, experience it! This is New Zealand’s first Rail Trail, let it take you across old wooden trestle bridges and viaducts; past schist rock, parched hills, tussock grasses, awesome gorge scenery and spectacular mountains; through farmlands and tunnels to historic landmarks, goldfields and pioneer settlements.

The Otago Central Rail Trail (Rail Trail) is a 150km gravel path following the former Otago Central Branch railway line from Middlemarch to Clyde. Its gentle gradient has no steep hills and cycling takes 3-5 days to complete. Discover its treasures on any of its short sections.

Day One: Clyde to Omakau
The Otago Central Rail Trail (Rail Trail) starts (or ends) at the former Clyde railhead and this section runs through flat semi-rural landscape of orchards, vineyards and lifestyle blocks, schist rock and wild thyme landscapes, crosses the Manuherikia River and has views of the Dunstan Mountains and Raggedy Range.

Key points of interest include the old Tucker Hill gold diggings, Chatto Creek Tavern with New Zealand’s smallest post office and just off the Trail, near Omakau, is the historic goldfield town of Ophir.

Day Two: Omakau to Wedderburn or Ranfurly
From Lauder to Oturehua would perhaps be the most spectacular section of the Trail. This section of the Trail has several claims to fame in its historical railways engineering and spectacular gorge scenery as you pass from one valley to the next. The gorge is also home to the rare New Zealand falcon.

Key points of interest include the tunnels, the spectacular Poolburn Gorge, crossing the Poolburn Viaduct and the Wedderburn Goods Shed made famous by the artist Grahame Sydney.

Visit Hayes Engineering Works and the authentic 1930’s style Gilchrist’s Store in Oturehua.

Day Three/Four: Rest days in Naseby area
Enjoy 1-2 days of rest in the Naseby area taking in activities such as curling at Maniototo Curling International, 4WD trips into the high country or visiting picturesque historic gold mining towns. Visit the Maniototo Visitor Information Centre in the old Railway Station in Ranfurly, a Rural Art Deco town.

Day Five: Ranfurly/Naseby to Middlemarch
The Rail Trail ends (or starts) 400m north of the Middlemarch Railway Station. The trail crosses numerous small bridges and culverts over the Taieri River, through the upper Taieri Gorge to the wide spaces of the Strath Taieri plain and gently rolling landscape until you reach Middlemarch.

Key points of interest include the historic stone bridge over the Cap Burn at Tiroiti, Price’s Creek Viaduct, Price’s Creek tunnel with spectacular views of the Taieri Ridge and Rock and Pillar Range.

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