Cycling & Mountain Biking
The mountains are much more than a backdrop to our easier cycle trails.
It’s not just our sense of humour that’s dry. We have the lowest rainfall in the country.
Alexandra, established in 1862 in the gold mining era, is nestled where the Clutha Mata-au and Manuherikia rivers meet. ‘Alex’ as it’s affectionately known by locals, is a wine and fruit growing haven and home to a community that thrives on recreation and outdoor adventure. You'll also never forget the time, with the famous 11 metre tall 'Clock on the Hill' standing watch across the township.
North west along the Clutha River sits the small and perfectly preserved goldmining town of Clyde, well known for its giant hydro dam, built during NZ's 'Think Big' era. Clyde has its roots in gold, fruit orchards and as the start (or finish) of the Otago Central Rail Trail. The towns reputation has grown thanks to its old world charm, historic buildings, boutique shops and cafes. And with world class vineyards in every direction, you can take your palate somewhere it hasn’t been before.
Through the seasons there are numerous local events in Alexandra and Clyde that celebrate community and the best of the region, from the long running Alexandra Blossom Festival, Clyde Wine & Food Festival, to racing the hills (up or down) with the Linger and Die and Revolution mountain bike races, or even a run through the vineyards.
The mountains are much more than a backdrop to our easier cycle trails.
Spend some quality time with your taste buds.Taste this place
The iconic Alexandra clock on the hill has kept the town on time since 1968.Get walking
Alexandra, Clyde and the surrounding townships are home to a diverse range of businesses, community groups, creatives, artisan producers.
Whether you need your tap fixed, want to join a gym, or wondering where you can buy local products. Our Community and Business directory will help connect you with the local options.
Alexandra is a gold mining town at its heart with its personality very much rooted farming and the outdoors. The riverside town and it’s surrounding hills have spectacular walking and cycling trails and mountain biking tracks that take you on a journey through beautiful country and old gold mining trails. For many years Alexandra has welcomed generations of campers and the tradition continues today with it being one of New Zealand's offically recognised 'Motorhome Friendly Town's.
Located at the junction of two of New Zealand's great ride cycle trails, and with a variety of single track mountain biking trails on its doorstep, a competitive BMX track and kids bike park, it would be a rare day indeed to not see cyclists in town. This place, its landscape and climate are known for inspiring people to be in the outdoors enjoying trails that are second to none.
Alexandra has a semi-continental climate with hot and dry summers and extremely cold winters. If you like extremes, you have a lot in common with our pinot noir grapes. The mineral-rich soils and climate are perfect for pinot noir vineyards and the town boasts a talented bunch of wine growers who harvest pretty epic vino. Be sure to make time for some wine tasting and a yarn at our boutique vineyards and cellar doors.
During the summer and autumn the fruit stalls are laden with fresh goodies. Fill up your picnic basket with tangy apricots, crisp apples, cherries like you’ve never tasted and peaches. The treats around here are fresh as.
For the golf nuts among you – book yourself a round on the desert like terrain and test your skills on the narrow fairways of the Alexandra Golf Club – with vistas out towards the Old Man, Hawkdun, Dunstan and Knobby Ranges.
For a heritage walk with a bit of a difference, explore the vast moonscape of the gold digging and dredge sites at the Earnscleugh Tailings – a nationally significant site as it’s the only complete record of dredging activity from 1863 – 1963
And for those keen on getting up into Central’s big skies, Alexandra has a small airport, popular with amateur aviation enthusiasts.
The town of Clyde is steeped in history and culture and would have been rammed with rowdy gold miners in the 1860s. Take your time to explore the perfectly preserved historic buildings, precinct and two museums. Enjoy a potter around the boutique shops showcasing local merino wool and yarns, art, homeware, jewellery, wine and many other delectable gifts for yourself or others.
Play a round of golf, walk the river track or start or finish your cycling trip on the Otago Central Rail Trail or Roxburgh Gorge Trail from here.
Make time to sip a Central Otago wine under big sunny skies. Although modern day Central Otago wines began production in the 1980's, a Frenchman called Jean Desire Feraud was the first to plant vines at Monte Christo near Clyde way back in the 1860's. He must have known something as although Monte Christo is nowadays a summer berry 'farm' the surrounding area is producing fabulous and complex wines that are celebrated each year at the Clyde Wine and Food Harvest Festival. Held on Easter Sunday the festival takes over the main street of town for a day of fabulous local wine, food and music.
It's hard to miss the large concrete hydro dam sitting above the town that created Lake Dunstan. The lake is a popular water playground year round for swimming, boating, rowing, kayaking, fishing and more. The lookout above Clyde provides stunning views toward Cromwell and is a popular place to capture vista's of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Omakau was an old farming town that found a new lease of life when the railway was built in 1905. Relaxed and rural, Omakau features historic buildings including the Old Stone Stable at the back of the Omakau Commercial Hotel which was originally the first homestead, built in 1898.
Hop off the bike or settle in after your fishing trip for a well-earned glass of wine or craft beer and a nosebag, or there’s a nice picnic spot at Thomson’s Creek Bridge.
Check out the grand St Peter’s catholic church on the hilltop to the north of the town. Enjoy a game of golf at the 9-hole golf course with beautiful views, or there’s a bowling green and tennis courts for the sporty.
If you’re visiting over the Christmas and New Year period, don’t miss the Omakau races – the event draws large crowds and is a superb family day out with on and off track entertainment, food, drink and lots of merriment.
Ophir is a small town but an overachiever in terms of living history. Ophir was previously known as Blacks, after Charles Black - a landowner who came good when gold was discovered in his back yard. Fun fact: the name of the town was changed to Ophir in 1875 after the biblical land where the Queen of Sheba gave gold to King Solomon.
Take a stroll down Swindon Street, admire the stone kerbing, the post and telegraph office, courthouse and jail, bakery, cottages, church and shops. The post office opened in 1886 and is New Zealand’s oldest continually operated post office. Send a postcard from here and it’ll get rubber stamped with a gold miner’s pick and shovel.
Admire the attractive schist structure and engineering of one of Central Otago’s few remaining suspension bridges that spans the Manuherikia River at Ophir. Built in 1880 and named after Daniel O’Connell, an Irish hero (the area was heavily populated by Irish Catholic immigrants at the time), the bridge was originally made from wood then rebuilt with prefabricated steel shipped out from the UK. The one-lane bridge has one end extending through solid rock.
Ophir holds the record for New Zealand’s coldest winter temperature at -21C. A great location for winter photos, fishing and picnicking when it’s not -21 degrees, of course!
Sitting at the foot of ‘Tiger Hill’ is the small settlement of Chatto Creek, with its historic hotel and New Zealand’s smallest post office taking pride of place. The original part of the old stone hotel was built in 1886 as a Cobb & Co coach stopover. Oh if these walls could talk! Over its 135 years of serving refreshments they will have heard the chatter of miners, rabbiters, railwaymen, irrigation workers, farmers and, today, friendly locals mixing with cyclists from all over the world enjoying their time on the Otago Central Rail Trail.
The views from Tiger Hill towards the soft folds of the Magdalen hills are a favourite. The way the light plays on the landscape here creates a vista that is captured by many photographers, whatever the season.