The Otago Rail Trail- Book A Dunedin Tour With bookatour.co.nz
Updated: Nov 7, 2022
The famous Otago Gold Rush of the 1860’s caused quite the stir around the entire region, leading to many people coming to this ‘neck of the woods’ with ‘gold fever” and settling into the area in search of their riches. On one of our bookatour tours our Dunedin & Otago tour guide will give you the insight and knowledge about this region along with some fun facts.
The growth and influx into the region created great prosperity for Dunedin, Otago and it wasn’t long before great minds decided there was need for a railway line from the largest and wealthiest city in NZ - Dunedin, into the gold field region of Central Otago.
Construction started near Dunedin in a wee suburb called Wingatui in 1879 and reached as far as Middlemarch is 1891 – 12 years! The next step into Central Otago – which is what as now known as the “Rail Trail” took 16 years and was completed in 1907. The Otago Rail Trail and what locals refer to as the “ Original Great Ride” opened in 2000 to the public and follows the original railway line for 152km between Middlemarch and Clyde. In the height of this era would you believe the railway transported passengers daily in between Dunedin and Cylde with the trip taking 8 hours with a lunch stop along the way, today via car the same trip takes around 2.5 hours. After the gold rush had cooled the area became another hot spot – this time in farming and the railway was put to use mainly for carrying freight right through until the 20th century. The railway was officially closed to trains in 1990.
The Otago Rail Trail offers easy riding through ever-changing scenery. There are plenty of diverting sights both on and near the trail, including eerie tunnels, unusual bridges, abandoned gold diggings and stacks of historic buildings in styles from agrarian to art deco.
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