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When the Otago Central Rail Trail opened in the year 2000 it was New Zealand's first major off-road cycle touring route. The Rail Trail redeveloped an old, disused railway line as a multi-day walking and cycling trail passing through a series of small country towns. It revitalised a quiet corner of the South Island bringing huge socio-economic benefits to the small communities along the trail and became the blueprint for more cycle trails to be built across the country.

Following the success of the Rail Trail and the country's first ever "Great Ride", there are now 23 Great Rides across New Zealand with five located in the Otago region as part of a connected network which includes some of the best walking and cycling trails the country has to offer.

The Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold Trails offer spectacular journeys along the banks of the mighty Mata Au | Clutha River, through dramatic gorges and past historic old goldfields. New Zealand's latest Great Ride - the Lake Dunstan Trail - winds through the awe-inspiring Cromwell Gorge and connects to the Otago Central Rail Trail and then onto the Roxburgh Gorge Trail.

In Queenstown, the Queenstown Trails provide a network of 135km of off-road trails which meander along the shores of Lake Whakatipu connecting Queenstown to the Gibbston Valley via historic Arrowtown. 

And, whilst not technically a 'Great Ride', the new Te Aka Otākou (The Otago Vine) gives Dunedin a continuous 30km port-to-port walking and cycling route from Port Chalmers to Portobello completing a loop of the Otago Harbour. (You can download The Otago Vine map here).

The Otago Cycle Trails cater to cyclists of all levels, with well-maintained paths and support services, including bike hire, accommodation, and shuttle services. Whether you're a leisure cyclist seeking a scenic escape or a seasoned adventurer, the Otago Trails promise an unforgettable two-wheeled adventure through the heart of the lower South Island's stunning landscapes and rich history.

The Otago Trails network, also indicating trails currently under construction.


The trail network continues to grow, with new trails currently being constructed by Southern Lakes Trails through the Kawarau Gorge to connect the Queenstown Trails to the Lake Dunstan Trail. A new trail to connect Wanaka with the Lake Dunstan Trail is in development and the Dunedin Tunnels Trail between Dunedin and Mosgiel is the first step in a plan to connect with the Clutha Gold Trail. It's hoped that by 2028 (or sooner!), there will be a complete network of dedicated, off-road cycling and walking trails connecting Queenstown, Wanaka and Central Otago all the way to Dunedin on the East Coast.

All five of the Otago Great Rides are managed by charitable trusts and rely on donations for the maintenance of the trails and for undertaking other improvements. If you would like to make a donation or find out other ways in which you can support the trails please click the link below. Thank you.

Support the Trails