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The Otago Central Rail Trail is a unique recreational facility, following the former Otago Central Branch Railway for 150 kilometres from Middlemarch to Clyde.
The rail trail has been developed by DOC in partnership with the Otago Central Rail Trail Trust as a recreational facility for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
Since the closure of the railway in 1990, more than 60 bridges have been redecked and have had hand rails added to make them safe for trail users. The crushed rock ballast of the railway foundation has also been removed and replaced with gravel to improve the surface.
Today you can cycle or walk over the many bridges on the trail
The rail trail has become very popular and is used annually by many thousands of cyclists and walkers from around the globe. Most cyclists cover the 150 kilometres over three to four days and walkers can take up to a week. Many people, though, just do several sections over a period of time.
Poolburn Tunnel No.2
The Otago Rail Trail joined the New Zealand Cycle Trail Nga Haerenga in March 2012.
Things to see
- Superb examples of the stonemason's art on even the smallest bridges and culverts.
- Prices Creek tunnel and viaduct between Hyde and Tiroiti
- Winding through the beautiful Taieri Gorge with great views of the river and, in autumn, the colours of the leaves as they turn
- The art deco buildings and restored railway station at Ranfurly
- The Golden Progress mine, poppet head and other gold mining relics, a short bike ride off the trail near Oturehua.
- The schist bluffs, tunnels and viaduct of the Poolburn Gorge
- The remnants of the historic workers' camp in the Poolburn Gorge
- Country pubs in trailside towns: Waipiata, Lauder, Wedderburn and Chatto Creek
- The wild thyme and schist landscape around Alexandra
- Extensive views of Central Otago's 'Big Sky' landscape. Tor-studded ranges and hills and expansive upland basins, made famous through the paintings of Grahame Sydney the poetry of Brian Turner and the photography of Gilbert van Reenan.
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