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About the Otago Central Rail Trail

The Rail Trail connects four Central Otago plains and valleys: the Strath Taieri with the township of Middlemarch, the Maniototo with Ranfurly at the centre, Ida Valley with Oturehua and the Manuherikia area with Alexandra and Clyde. Other townships are dotted along the trail and accommodation is available in all of these.

The route chosen for the railway from Dunedin to Clyde was the most difficult and expensive of seven proposed in 1877. It took 16 years to push through the 150km of railway track from Middlemarch to Clyde. 

Work on rail trail

The magnificent viaducts and the intricate stonework in bridges and tunnels is a testament to the stonemasons, engineers and labourers who built the line. Those tough buggers often worked in extreme conditions with great hardship, especially in winter.


In 1907, the Otago Central Railway finally linked Clyde and the area's major goldfields with Dunedin, which was, at the time, New Zealand’s largest city . But by 1921, when the Otago Central Railway reached the railhead at Cromwell, the gold rush was over. 

The Railway was still a vital supply line as it transported wool bales and livestock to Dunedin's harbour docks and meatworks and it also brought mail through from Dunedin and kept Central Otago - which  was at the time - one of the country's most isolated regions. 

In the 1980s the line remained open solely to move construction materials for the Clyde dam project. And at the completion of the dam in 1990, the rail traffic in Central Otago pretty much dried up and in April of that year part of the line closed up.

The section from Middlemarch to  Dunedin became the Taieri Gorge Railway and the rest of the track bed became the Otago Central Rail Trail.


Elevation

This elevation chart will tell you the distances between all locations along the Otago Central Rail Trail as well as give you an idea of the level of effort needed when you plan where to begin the Trail. 


Distance between Towns  

(m = Metres)

(asl = Above See Level)

 

From

 

To

 

Distance

Middlemarch

(201 m asl)

Hyde

(336 m asl)

27 km

Hyde

(336 m asl)

Ranfurly

(423 m asl)

32 km

Ranfurly

(423 m asl)

Wedderburn

(540 m asl)

14 km

Wedderburn

(540 m asl)

Oturehua

(501 m asl)

11 km

Oturehua

(501 m asl)

Lauder

(333 m asl)

23 km

Lauder

(333 m asl)

Chatto Creek

(224 m asl)

19 km

Chatto Creek

(224 m asl)

Alexandra

(150 m asl)

17 km

Alexandra

(150 m asl)

Clyde

(170 m asl)

8 km

     

Total distance:

151 km

 

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