Starting from pretty Alexandra, this is an extraordinary one-day adventure often combined with the Clutha Gold and Otago Central Rail Trails that connect at each end. The trail follows the mighty Clutha Mata-au River through the Roxburgh Gorge, a strange landscape of towering bluffs, old schist huts, interesting flora, and finishing at the Lake Roxburgh Hydro Dam.
The trail starts at Alexandra’s old stone bridge, which sets a flinty tone for the first section of trail which passes through the gorge’s narrow gates, flanked by bluffs almost 350 metres high in some places. Despite rocky terrain, riding is made easy via a wide, smooth trail with a few gradual climbs.
At Doctors Point, around 10 kilometres from Alexandra, the trail meets an impasse requiring a pre-arranged 12-kilometre jet boat trip to bridge the missing link. As well as delivering a speedy ride with thrilling spins, it’s a chance to see fascinating gold rush-era relics including schist huts and water races.
From Shingle Creek jetty the trail climbs gently to follow a series of river bends that offer ever-changing views of the landscape. The river slows and widens as it reaches the Roxburgh Hydro Dam, the dramatic industrial monolith that signals the endpoint of the trail.
Around 4–6 hours should be allowed for the whole trip, including the boat ride. Those wishing to avoid the boat trip can embark on two return-trip options – Alexandra to Doctors Point (20km return) or Roxburgh Dam to Shingle Point (22km) – both easy rides taking around 2–3 hours.