Whatever the time of year, Central Otago can provide the perfect opportunity to get out and about with the family on your bikes. With a huge variety of trails available throughout the region it can be hard to know where to ride, so we’ve put together a few of our favourite, shorter and easier rides which would be most suitable for younger people.
Cromwell and Alexandra Bike & BMX Parks
Opened in 2016 the Cromwell BMX jump park and circuit is brilliant for kids and adults alike. The tracks are of varying difficulty, from a paved learn-to-ride area with street signs and intersections up to a jump loop. It’s an amazing way to burn off energy! Access is free. Cromwell Bike Park, Achil Street Park.
In Alexandra, the Fulton Hogan Community Cycle Park is free and open 7-days and includes a cycle training track and a BMX track. The park is located on Boundary Road.
Top tip: If you’re planning to give the BMX track a go, riders should wear a good quality helmet, long pants, long sleeves, and gloves to give protection in case of crashes.
Alexandra to Clyde River Track (12km one way)
Following the Clutha River, the trail is mainly flat and is a great option for beginners and young families. It’s also pushchair friendly in most parts. There are some boardwalk sections, bridges and a few blind corners to be aware of, but it makes for a lovely family day out with plenty of cafes and options for ice cream at each end of the track. The shade of the trees makes this a good choice in the summer, and the golden leaves in autumn are magnificent – and kids of all ages just can’t resist kicking through piles of crisp dry autumn leaves!
Otago Central Rail Trail (10km+)
There are some fun and interesting sections for families to explore along the famous Otago Central Rail Trail. With easy car parking and plenty of signage you can choose a section to suit your family’s riding ability.
Check out the Daisybank to Hyde section (11.5km) through the Upper Taieri Gorge with its tunnels and bridges, or Lauder to Oturehua (22.5km) which takes in the Poolburn Gorge Viaduct and old tunnels.
Top tip: take a torch for exploring the tunnels.
Lake Dunstan Trail (Cromwell to Bannockburn, 6km)
The Lake Dunstan Trail opened in May 2021 and is a mix of grade 2 and grade 3 riding. Whilst the grade 3 sections (beyond Cornish Point towards Clyde) are not recommended for children under 12 or for less experienced cyclists, the ride from Cromwell Heritage Precinct to Bannockburn Bridge is easy with amazing vistas. From the Bannockburn Bridge you can loop back to Cromwell by a trail next to Bannockburn Road, which is perfect for a family day ride.
Clutha Gold Trail - Roxburgh to Pinders Pond (5km one way)
Meander along the easy riverside trail and enjoy a summer picnic and swim at Pinders Pond.
(Note the Clutha River is NOT recommended for swimming due to dangerous currents).
Roxburgh Gorge- Alexandra to Doctors Point (10km on way)
Best suited to fitter or more experienced cycling families, the 20km return ride along the Roxburgh Gorge from Alexandra to Doctors Point takes in awe-inspiring gorge landscapes. The track is wide and well-maintained but does include some moderate climbs and a few exposed sections which are not recommended for younger children.
Located in a privately owned pine plantation, Naseby Forest offers 52km of mountain bike tracks ranging from beginner to advanced levels and it’s a great place for kids to hone their skills and build confidence. The tracks are well marked, with maps at the Swimming Dam, the Sandpit and Wet Gully Road. Access is free.
Top tip: check that there are no track closures due to forestry work before heading off.
If you’re looking to cycle point-to-point, there are a number of local cycle tour operators in the area who can help you out with transport and shuttle services.
And should you desire a refreshment stop (or 2!) along the way, check out our our cafes page.
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