3. Otago Rail Trail

Mountain biking on New Zealand’s Otago Rail Trail is quite literally striking gold. First built when the gold rush struck the island, the 150 kilometers of ex-railway lines are designed for leisurely driving and families. Due to the primary function of the area, these trails are set on gentle, beginner-friendly slopes — similar to the six best Moab mountain bike trails for beginners.

You can choose your own adventure with a half-day, full-day or multiple days on the trail. Otago offers options by the truck load. 

mountain biking new zealand
The Otago Rail Trail is a family-friendly trail along an historic gold rush route.

Family-friendly Otago Rail Trail winds through history 

An all-star day trip starts at the Historic Hyde Station. You’ll feel like you’re starring in a western, as you journey past old wagons, through tunnels and across bridges. Add a picnic by the river and you’ve got a day to remember. Every few miles you’ll stumble upon country towns filled with bars, good food for refreshments, and rustic hotels, if you’re looking to stay. 

It’s remoteness is definitely a part of the charm. Just make sure to have a map with you, so you can hit the best spots at the best time. No matter where you start or where you’re headed, expect passing through a place where time seems to have stopped. The historic architecture and railway bridges guarantee panoramic views of the landscape.

About the author


Matt Kirke

Kiwi, mountain biker and owner of Wanaka Bike Tours and JustMTB

Matt is a born and raised Kiwi. He started riding practically after taking his first steps, being exposed to the outdoors and mountains. Today, owns Wanaka Bike Tours dealing with all things MTB — from guided tours, bike hires and shuttle drop-offs. Matt is also the co-owner of JustMTB.

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