Extending Central Otago cycleways

The rail trail cycleway through Central Otago, from Middlemarch to Clyde, has been hugely successful, for cyclists, for tourists and for rural towns that had previously been struggling.

More trails have also been established, the Roxburgh Gorge trail south of Alexandra, the Clutha Gold trail And Queenstown trails.

The Government has just announced funding to supplement local funds that will link these trails, making an extensive cycleway network.

The most significant of these extensions will link the current rail trail terminal at Clyde via the Cromwell Gorge to Cromwell and on through the Kawarau Gorge to the Queenstown trail.

The Cromwell Gorge trail has been considered for some time. I was involved in a small way in checking it out about 1998 but it was then put in the too hard basket.

Stuff: Central Otago multi-million dollar cycle trail project gets financial backing

A $26.3 million project to connect Central Otago’s trail network and create 500 kilometres of continuous trail network will be a “game changer” for the region.

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key announced at a function in Bannockburn on Sunday the Government would commit around $13 million towards the project, with the Central Lakes Trust contributing $11.15m and the Otago Community Trust contributing $2m.

“The proposal to create a 536kim continuous cycle trail network by linking four existing Central Otago Great Rides – the Queenstown Trail, the Otago Central Rail Trail, the Roxburgh Gorge Trail and the Clutha Gold Trail – is the type of enhancement to the Great Rides we want to encourage.”


This also shows a proposed trail from Cromwell to Luggate and presumably on the Wanaka and while that would be worthwhile I don’t think it will be as scenic a ride as the gorges.

Once this network is complete there will be one major missing link – Middlemarch to Dunedin. I don’t know if anything has been considered there but it would be challenging, the railway line is still used and the existing road is very up and down.


Leave a comment


  1. Don W

     /  15th May 2016

    If these cycle ways are such an economic benefit, why aren’t the tourist operators investing their own money in it .? Why does it need a gov’t subsidy.?

    • Iceberg

       /  15th May 2016

      Same reason hotels, restaurants and burger joints don’t pay for private roads. Same reason you haven’t invested in a private Internet infrastructure to write your post.

  2. Iceberg

     /  15th May 2016

    There’s no doubt the Rail Trail set the standard , particularly for accessibility and quality of accommodation and food joints which grew along with it. I’d say it paved the way for the original 50 mill Key tipped into building more. It’s been a huge winner for attracting tourists. Every km, every town, every bridge, every view has a story. I’ve ridden the rail trail a few times and it’s at the easy end of the spectrum because it was once a railway line so not steep. At the other end of the spectrum is the Old Ghost Road, an astonishing back country biking experience, world class.


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