Frequently Asked Questions
Be Prepared - Check out the questions that we are most often asked......
How much does it cost?
The Otago Central Rail Trail is a Recreation Reserve managed by the Department of Conservation in partnership with the Otago Central Rail Trail Charitable Trust. It is free to ride the trail itself. The cost to you will be in accommodation and meals while you are riding the trail. We suggest you plan your trip and book accommodation.
Can I ride the Trail as an individual person or group?
Yes you can but start planning your trip and booking your accommodation as soon as you can. We suggest you start by deciding how far you want to cycle each day so that you can then focus on a place where to need to book accommodation. Our website has a 'Plan your Trip Guide' and some suggested itineraries you may wish to consider.
What level of fitness do I need?
The Trail is described as Grade 1 - Novice cyclists, families and others seeking an easy cycling experience. As the Trail was a train track there are no steep hills, but some of the long gentle climbs will require some energy but there are no sudden dips that need quick gear changes. If you are not a strong cyclist you may need to hop off your bike and push it up some slopes. Lots of older people have done the Trail, as well as younger children (past the trainer-wheel stage).
How long will it take?
The Trail is 152km long. How far you travel in one day will also depend on your level of fitness. When cycling the average speed for most of us is 10km per hour, many people allow 3 - 5 days. The average walking pace is 4 - 6km per hour, allow at least 6 days.
Is there water available along the Trail?
Take plenty of water with you, and purchase more along the way. Be sure to fill your water bottle at your place of accommodation before you start your trip each day. There are some towns along the way where water can be restricted in the summer months.
What extra gear will I need to take with me?
Bring sunscreen, first aid kit, bike repair kit and clothes for all seasons. You may also like to bring a torch for the tunnels along the way.
Will I have mobile phone coverage?
For most of the Trail you will have coverage, but there are some areas where coverage will be weak or no coverage at all.
Can I use a Drone on/along the Trail?
The Otago central Rail Trail is not open to the use of drones due to potential for risk to users which is consistent with restriction on most public conservation land. There is an ability for a permit to be granted for promotional /commercial purposes – Contact DOC - 03 440 2040
Can I use an E-bike on the Trail?
Power-assisted cycles (not exceeding 300watts) are permitted on the Trail.
Do I have to wear a bike helmet on the Trail?
Yes you need to wear a helmet. It is compulsory for all cyclists on New Zealand roads to wear cycle helmets. In legal terms the definition of a road includes a street, a motorway, a beach and a place to which the public have access whether as of right or not.
Can I ride only specific sections of the Trail?
Yes - the Trail has many entry and exit points and can be experienced as a ride from Station to Station, see the map for Station sites.
If I have one day to spend on the Trail what section should I complete?
We suggest a section that would include viaducts and tunnels. So a section that would include Prices Creek or the Poolburn Gorge. But do check out the popular itineraries section of our website for more information on one day trips.
Is freedom camping allowed along the Trail?
There is freedom camping between Tiroiti and Daisybank and a site near Waipiata as outlined on the RT brochure map. There is also various commercial campsites on route.