5 ways Exploring the Otago Central Rail Trail is great for your Mental Health & Wellbeing.

  • Monday Sep 18 2023

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in Aotearoa, New Zealand, 18-24th September and we highlight 5 key ways exploring the trail is great for your mental health & wellbeing.

The Otago Central Rail Trail , NZ's original Great Ride is a scenic recreational trail known for its stunning natural beauty and historical significance.

There are five key ways exploring the trail is great for your mental health & wellbeing.  These activity ideas are inspired by the “Five Ways to Wellbeing”, which are simple strategies proven to boost wellbeing according to the Mental Health Foundation Mental Health Awareness Week

1.     Exploring the trail can help you Take Notice (Me Aro Tonu) and practice Mindfulness.

Exploring the trail by bike, foot, or horse is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness—a simple strategy proven to boost wellbeing. It allows you to unplug, live in the moment, and appreciate the amazing surroundings.

2.     There’s opportunity to Give (Tukua) when you are exploring the trail. 

Give (Tukua) refers to actions based on kindness, altruism, or generosity. Carrying out acts of kindness boosts our happiness, life satisfaction, and overall wellbeing. 

One way to give is by supporting the work of the Otago Central Rail Trail Trust through purchasing a trail passport or making a donation. The proceeds and donations contribute to trail enhancements, ensuring it remains a Great Ride for all

3.     The Otago Central Rail Trail is a public recreational trail there to support you to Be Active (Me Kori Tonu).

Be Active (Me Kori Tonu) is widely recognised as being crucial for physical health and fitness, being active is also a powerful mood booster.

The Otago Central Rail Trail offers a 152 km recreational trail between Middlemarch and Clyde, mostly off-road and relatively flat. You can safely explore the diverse Otago landscapes, from the wide open spaces of the Maniototo to the rocky schist Poolburn Gorges and lush river valleys.

While many cycle the trail you can also walk and horse ride.  The trail supports you being active, which can not only make us feel good, it also enhances our thinking and learning abilities.

4.     The Otago Central Rail Trail provides an opportunity to Connect (Me Whakawhanaunga ) with loved ones. 

The Otago Central Rail Trail provides an opportunity to connect with loved ones, which is at the heart of our wellbeing. Connection (Me Whakawhanaunga) is the ngākau (seat of affections, heart, mind, soul) weaving us together, making us feel seen, heard, and understood.

The trail's wide and mostly off-road nature allows for side-by-side conversations, helping you connect and share the experience with friends and family. It's a perfect way to create lasting holiday memories. 

5.     There are plenty of learning (Me Ako Tonu ) opportunities when you adventure on the Otago Central Rail Trail.

Learning (Me Ako Tonu) refers to ‘exercising our mind’ it's like taking our brain to the gym, improving our thinking abilities.

The Otago Central Rail Trail has been likened to an outdoor classroom.  You can learn about:

  • Aotearoa’s history,
  • conservation,
  • solar system via the interplanetary experience,
  • geology, and about
  •  physical fitness to name a few subjects. 

Some of these opportunities have been turned into learning and plans linked back to the school curriculum!  They are viewable on the rail tales website.

In summary, the opportunity to explore or adventure on the Otago Central Rail Trail is a wonderful way to improve your mental health and wellbeing.   Whether you only have a few hours or several days there’s plenty of  opportunity to support the strategies to help you:

1.     Practice Mindfulness (Me Aro Tonu) unplug from everyday hassles so you can live in the moment

2.     Facilitate Giving (Tukua) providing you an option to give as you may wish to donate to trail enhancements by purchasing a trail passport or making a donation to the Otago Central Rail Trail Trust.

3.     Be Active (Me Kori Ton) by walking, cycling or horseriding on 152km’s of trail from Middlemarch to Clyde taking you through some stunning Otago landscape.

4.     Connect (Me Whakawhanaunga) with love ones

5.     Learn (Me Ako Tonu) about lots of different topics from the Solar System to Aotearoa’s History


To learn more about the Otago Central Rail Trail, and what there is to see & do check out some popular itineraries.

For further information on the Five Ways to Wellbeing visit Mental Health Awareness Week

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch. 

Please don't forget to like our Facebook or Instagram Page!