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Working in with the weather

winter on rail trail

The above statement is easier said than done. Central Otago can experience four seasons in one day; we've seen snow capped hills in the peak of Summer and hot, sunny days in the middle of Winter.

Since it opened, Autumn has been marketed as the best time of year to bike the Rail Trail; cold, crisp mornings turn into warm days and the stunning reds, oranges and yellows of the trees are breath-taking...

there's always a but... 

About 80% of people choose to bike the Rail Trail during these three short months of Autumn and it can create bottle-necks along the way. Accomodation at certain points can be at a premium as providers reach full capacity and you may find you will have to be transported 40 or more minutes to your accomodation. 

While the Autumn colours may not be there, the Rail Trail is still well worth doing at other times of the year:

Spring: late September, October and early November

The weather during Spring is often quite changeable. Spring days can be filled with fine, sunny weather and then a sudden change can bring winds, showers and even the occasional snowfall.  Temperatures range from -3 to 20 degrees Celcius.

Summer: late November, December, January, February and early March

In summer, daytime temperatures can reach the mid 30s and as It's mostly a dry heat, cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail is still comfortable. The daylight hours are longer, too.

Expect cooler nights with temperatures dropping to the low teens at times.

Winter: June, July, August and early September

Though winter days in Central Otago are often frosty and cold, the Otago Central Rail Trail is still cyclable — and stunning.  Snow-capped mountains sparkle against clear skies on these mostly-sunny days. While nights can reach below zero degrees Celcius, daytime highs are often in the mid-teens.

Autumn: early March, April and May

The colourful leaves in the orchards and vineyards are enjoyed on crisp, warm, and calm Autumn days in Central Otago.  Temperatures can reach the mid-twenties, but drop to just below 0 degrees Celcius at night, so expect frosty mornings.

For up-to-date weather forecasts in Central Otago visit

For more information on Central Otago's seasonal weather patterns

Remember that New Zealand's sun is very strong.  Be sure to wear and carry plenty of sunscreen, regardless of the season.

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