Follow the flow and emerald glow of the country’s largest and fastest river,oozing oodles of history, the Clutha Gold Trail is a real journey of discovery.
Easily combined with the Roxburgh Gorge and Otago Central Rail Trails, this memorable journey follows the mighty Clutha Mata-au River between the rural towns of Roxburgh and Lawrence. It’s a journey brimming with distinct landscapes and attractions as well as a colourful history spanning Māori moa hunting to gold rushes and hydropower generation.
The trail continues past Pinders Pond (a popular local swimming spot) to Millers Flat, once a stop on the branch railway line to Dunedin, closed in 1968. The trail follows the old line through pretty countryside to Beaumont, with its proper pub and bridge, which is the oldest single span structure in the Southern Hemisphere, and on to Lawrence, passing such sights as a drowning gold dredge, historic Horseshoe Bend Bridge, and the Lonely Graves that commemorate the kindness of strangers.
The wobble through Spooky Big Hill Tunnel signals the start of the final sweep down to lovely Lawrence, Otago’s first gold rush town. Stroll the streets lined with Victorian gems where quirky characters, shops and cafes await.
View trail map here.
This grade 1 ride is one of the easiest New Zealand Cycle Trails, with a smooth, wide surface and almost entirely flat gradient. It is well signposted and frequently passes small settlements and farms dotted along country roads.
Riders should nevertheless be self-sufficient, carrying a map, sufficient water and food, and a basic tool kit. There are toilets dotted at convenient points.
The trail can be ridden at any time of year, with luscious fruit a summer highlight, along with vibrant green scenes in springtime and rich golds in autumn. Central Otago’s temperatures are extreme – hot and dry in summer, icy in winter. Regardless of season, it is vital to check the forecast and take appropriate clothing.
Bike It Now and Trail Journeys offer bike hire, transport and luggage transfers for rides throughout the region. Not a Rail Trail offers similar services along with guided rides. All three can tailor an itinerary combining the best of Central Otago’s trails, including transport from Christchurch and Queenstown, so visitors can make the most of their time in the saddle.
Roxburgh and Lawrence are the main bases for the trail, although there are many more options in the surrounding countryside and in Alexandra, a handy location for all the Central Otago cycle trails. Accommodation providers partnered with the trail are listed on the New Zealand Cycle Trail website. Other popular bases within two hours’ drive include Queenstown, Wanaka, Cromwell and Clyde.