Maximise your South Island cycling tour by staying in one of these hubs


central otago lake dunstan
Lake Dunstan Trail in Autumn. Image credit: Will Nelson.
With five of New Zealand’s Great Rides located in Otago, it’s easy to stay at one central hub so you can relax and unpack, and then explore a different Otago cycle trail each day. Here are four great hubs for the five Great Rides, to maximise your awesome South Island cycling adventure.

Along the trails you’ll find a rich and diverse variety of trail towns and places to visit, from the vibrant nightlife and mountains of Queenstown to cosy country pubs in quiet rural towns rich in history, to the quirky vibes of Dunedin on the east coast, known for its heritage and wildlife.

1 Queenstown

Queenstown is New Zealand’s iconic home of adventure, not least for cyclists and mountain bikers. Staying either in central Queenstown or nearby Arrowtown, you can explore the 130km of track that make up the Queenstown Trail right from your hotel door. Sections of the trail can be enjoyed as short-day rides or take 3-4 days to compete the entire trail. Either way, you’re guaranteed stunning vistas of lakes, mountains, and rivers. The spectacular 55km Lake Dunstan Trail, which starts in Cromwell, just 50 minutes from Queenstown, is the latest Great Ride and has quickly become one of the most popular trails in the country, taking in a dramatic landscape via a series of impressive bridges and cantilevered boardwalks.

central otago lake dunstan trail
View of Bannockburn Vineyard from the Lake Dunstan Trail. Image credit: Will Nelson.

2 Cromwell and Clyde

The historic towns of Cromwell and Clyde mark the start/finish of the Lake Dunstan Trail and make a great base for exploring the other Central Otago trails. Find your riding legs on a day trip along the Otago Central Rail Trail starting in Clyde and then perhaps progress to the more challenging Lake Dunstan Trail. They are also an ideal base for visiting the wineries and vineyards of Central Otago, and the new Felton Road cycle trail in Bannockburn which passes multiple wineries is a perfect day trip from Cromwell.

central otago roxburgh gorge
The stunning Roxburgh Gorge Trail. Image credit: Will Nelson.

3 Alexandra

Alexandra or nearby Omakau and Ophir are the perfect hubs from which to access the Otago Central Rail Trail, as well as the Roxburgh Gorge Trail and then on to Clutha Gold Trail which follow the mighty MataAu/Clutha River. The jet boat/ water taxi on the Roxburgh Gorge Trail is a highlight of the ride, as is a stop in Roxburgh itself for lunch and perhaps one of its worldfamous pies. For more experienced mountain bikers, be sure to check out the new Matangi Station MTB park in Alexandra and the network of trails at Naseby Forest about an hour’s drive away

central otago clutha gold trail
The Clutha Gold Trail is being extended. Image credit: Will Nelson.

4 Dunedin

On Otago’s coast, Dunedin offers a new Harbour Cycleway as well as easy access to Middlemarch and the start of the Otago Central Rail Trail. A 63km extension to the Clutha Gold Trail is due to open in March 2023 and will start/finish in Waihola just south of the city.

central otago rail trail family
The Otago Central Rail Trail is 150km long.

Or why not ride the length of the trails on a multiday ride, taking in some epic landscapes and scenery. Packages including accommodation, bike hire (including e-bikes), baggage transfers and shuttles are available for all the trails from all of these trail hubs, for both day trips and multiday experiences.


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