The Lake Dunstan Trail flaunts the best of Central Otago's natural beauty and begins from the quaint township of Clyde (or Cromwell).
The Lake Dunstan Trail is divided into four sections - each with its own spectacular and diverse scenery.
This easy trail is jam-packed with gold mining history, amazing river views and local hospitality.
- Smiths Way to Cromwell Heritage Precinct - 16kms - Grade 1
Cycle or walk alongside Lake Dunstan from Smiths Way, via Pisa Moorings, to Cromwell.
Lake Dunstan is 40kms long so take your time and enjoy the many picturesque rests stops along the way. Explore the Cromwell Heritage Precinct and step back in time in the boutique galleries, retail stores, restaurants and cafe's in the area. Did you know there was once a township where Lake Dunstan is now? Remains of it are now at the bottom of the lake.
- Cromwell Heritage Precinct to Bannockburn Inlet - 7kms - Grade 2
Following the Kawarau arm of Lake Dunstan to the Bannockburn Bridge, gaze at vistas across the lake to Bannockburn vineyards - will you stop in for a glass of world-famous Central Otago pinot noir?
It is possible to loop back to Cromwell by a trail alongside Bannockburn Road, making for a wonderful short and family-friendly day ride.
- Bannockburn Inlet to Cairnmuir Gully - 11.3kms - Grades 2-3
The trail loops around the Bannockburn Inlet which is a popular picnic area with a designated swimming area. As it continues toward Cornish Point it passes by vineyards and olive groves - with views back across to Cromwell and the Heritage Precinct.
This section includes the first of the bluff bridges, and you will cycle at the base of the stonework faces of the Cairnmuir slide, a unique feature high on the slopes above the lake. It was designed to protect the river from a major land slide, which could overwhelm the Clyde Dam, a short distance downstream.
As you go, look out for the drainage tunnels dotted along the length of the gorge. There are 13 tunnels (total 18.5km of tunnels) drilled into the hillsides of the gorge in the mid 1990’s. These tunnels are also used to mitigate against landslips into the Clutha River.
- Cairnmuir Gully to Halfway Hut - 8.4kms - Grades 2-3
This section requires the most attention and skills as there are narrow sections and more gradient.
The aptly named Cairnmuir Ladder, may look daunting but the switchbacks have been designed to a maximum of 6 degree gradient with a 3m minimum radius. This is section contains the highest point of the trail, rewarded with magnificent views which also means exposure to the weather.
The Hugo suspension bridge is in the middle of this section with a walkable steep land option for those uncomfortable on the bridge.
Toilets are at either end of this section at Cairnmuir Gully & Halfway Hut
- Halfway Hut to Dunstan Arm Rowing Club - 10.7kms - Grades 2-3
Close to Halfway Hut you will find a short switch back section with tight corners and a good climb / descent. There are plenty of picnic spots to stop at and enjoy the lakeside.
A dominant feature at the Clyde end of the trail is New Zealand’s third largest hydro-dam, the Clyde Dam. This was one of the ‘’Think Big” projects driven by the Muldoon led Government to diversify the economy and drive growth. Started construction 1977. The first power was generated in 1992.
- Dunstan Arm Rowing Club to Clyde Heritage Precinct - 3.5kms - Grade 1
This section follows the sealed road in places, and shares the Clyde road bridge before climbing up towards the Clyde Heritage Precinct.