Clyde to Middlemarch

Muttontown viaduct


Sorting out public transport to Clyde can be the beginning and end of self-planning an Otago Central Rail Trail experience.

To help with this we have simplified bus services into an easy-to-follow colour coded PDF download (left of screen on desktop, scroll down when viewing on mobile).

We also hope the following helps with your decision-making.

Rather than rush off to the Otago Central Rail Trail immediately on landing at Queenstown International Airport, our advice is to spend the night in one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations.

Another reason for suggesting this, daily bus services from Queenstown to the Rail Trail head at Clyde depart at 7.45am and 9.15am. Earlier than most early bird flights have touched down.

Should you hire a vehicle in preference to bussing – Queenstown spoils you for rental vehicle choices – and you don’t fancy a night in Queenstown, we recommend making the most of your road trip to Clyde. On leaving Queenstown detour to historic Arrowtown before a leisurely cruise through the Gibbston Valley (home of AJ Hackett Bungee and numerous high profile vineyards) and into the spectacular Kawarau Gorge (Goldfields Mining Centre and Goldfields Jet) to the Cromwell Basin, heart of the Central Otago wine industry and home to Highlands Motorsport Park and National Motorsport Museum. From Cromwell, it’s 20 minutes of scenic lakeside motoring through the Cromwell Gorge to overnight in Clyde or Alexandra.

A third option to the bus or renting a vehicle is organising with your bike hire company to collect you from Queenstown Airport or Queenstown itself. This can be costly as travel to and from Clyde has to be factored in. 

Clyde station

3 Day Intinerary

Three days and 153km cycling on the Rail Trail’s gravel surface calls for reasonable cycling skills and a good degree of fitness. The availability of hire electric-assist bikes is something to consider to help make three days more achievable.

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family in waipiata

4 Day Itinerary

The Intercity bus from Queenstown drops you in Clyde at 9.15am to be greeted and briefed by a representative of your bike hire company. With this earlyish start and, of course, depending on fitness and cycling skills, it’s not overstretching to book your first night’s accommodation at Omakau/Ophir or even Lauder.

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5 Day Itinerary

‘What a Diff’rence a Day Makes’.The title of this timeless song says it all. Perhaps the most significant difference between four and five days, is being able to ride fewer kilometres each day, and that generally means less time on the saddle. Even wearing padded bike pants – recommended – it is almost certain you will experience some degree of discomfort inflicted by your bike saddle.  

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The Rail Trail Guide Book

The single most important resource when travelling the Central Otago Rail Trail

A beautifully crafted book with amazing photography by Peter Andrews showing Central Otago as it truly is, one of the most rugged, extreme and beautiful locations on the planet. Stunning scenery, amazing and important historical and current information, detailed maps, lists of accommodation, frequently asked questions, where to eat, how far between towns, etc. It’s all in here.

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