Otago

Explore Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail & Historical Township of Clyde

Be Active Five Ways to Wellbeing
connect

This site contains affiliate links for products and services we recommend. Read my disclaimer for more information. If you make a purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission (for which I am very grateful).

Clyde is a quiet, unassuming town full of elegance and historical charm. It’s got that old-town character aesthetic, boutique stores, orchards, vineyards and welcoming cafes, making it a delight to explore. Regardless of the season, Clyde’s charm remains ever-present, inviting visitors to explore its rich history and natural beauty.

 

The newly created Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail is the latest drawcard to the Central Otago area, with the trail following the lake through the Cromwell gorge, over viaducts with spectacular views and even a boat cafe complete with coffee and burgers!

Key Takeaways

 

 

    • The Lake Dunstan Trail is a 55km cycling journey through Central Otago, offering a scenic experience that includes local cafes, wine tasting, and historical exploration.

    • Clyde offers a variety of accommodation and eatery options.

    • Clyde provides a rich mix of historical, cultural and adventurous activities, ranging from exploring historical precincts and enjoying local cuisine, to water sports.

Image Clyde Lookout Credit: James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

Image Clyde Lookout – Credit: James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

Getting there

Clyde is located along state highway 8, which part of a popular route between Dunedin and Queenstown, making it easily accessible by rental car, bus / coach or camper. You could also arrive by air at Queenstown or Dunedin, and then take the short trip – 1 hour from QT and 2.5 hours from Dunedin.

Here is a map to help you get there.

Adventure and Family Fun

Apart from its historical and culinary attractions (below), Clyde is also a hub for adventure and family fun, with the bike trails, sport facilities, the Lake Dunstan and Clutha River for all water activities and plenty of places to explore, and the odd real-fruit ice-cream of course!

In the next section of this article we explore the two most popular bike trails in and around Clyde and provide you with an Essential Trail Information Guide to make your planning as easy-peasy as possible and give you everything you need to know for your ride.

Lake Dunstan Trail Viaduct credit Tourism Central Otago - Ross Mackay

image – Lake Dunstan Trail Viaduct – Credit Tourism Central Otago / Ross Mackay

Trail #1. Discover the Wonders of the Lake Dunstan Trail

The Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail, stretching over 55km from Cromwell to Clyde, offers an intermediate (grade 3) cycling experience. Encounter thyme covered landscapes, viaduct bridges and historical sites along the way without compromising on adventure. True Central Otago, mountain bike experience.

    Lake Dunstan Trail credit Tourism Central Otago / Ross McKay

    Image – Lake Dunstan Trail – Credit Tourism Central Otago / Ross McKay

    The Lake Dunstan Trail, a recent addition to New Zealand’s Great Rides, winds through the stunning Cromwell Gorge and, along the way, cyclists can enjoy:

     

    • Stunning vistas

    • Boat cafe offering burgers and coffee – yes, please!

    • Observing man-made landscapes

    • Learning about the rich Maori and early pioneer history of the region

    • Remote and rugged terrain, through the Cromwell Gorge, covered in thyme

    • Exposed narrow sections of track

    • Wooden boardwalks along the shores of Lake Dunstan

      Burger Afloat - Credit James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Burger Afloat cafe – Credit James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      The trail also (somewhat) connects with the Otago Central Rail Trail and Roxburgh Gorge Trail, enhancing the cycling experience for cycling adventurers, who want to go far and cycle through most of lovely Central Otago.

      Trail #2. Experience the Beautiful Central Otago Rail Trail

      Central Otago Rail Trail Credit - James Jubb/ Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Central Otago Rail Trail – Credit James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      The Central Otago Rail Trail offers a more relaxed ride suitable for cyclists of all abilities. The trail’s well-compacted gravel pathway, wide and easy to navigate, along with its avoidance of steep hills (the trains don’t like hills either!), ensures that even inexperienced cyclists can comfortably enjoy the trail. Better yet, hire an ebike!

      Lauder a Central Otago Rail Trail town  - Credit Geoff Marks

      Image – Lauder, a Central Otago Rail Trail town – Credit Geoff Marks

      • Rich in history

      • Incredible views

      • Beautiful places to stay, owned by beautiful people who serve beautiful food

      Essential Trail Information Guide

      Completing the Lake Dunstan Trail, and Central Otago Rail Trail, both require some forward planning, unless you live there! Below we have all the information required to plan your perfect trail trip.

      You can also download this information for your convenience –

      Grab yourself a free Essential Trail Information Guide to take with you

       

      Simply add your details in the boxes below to download the PDF, which can then be printed if you’d like!
      LP x

      Read our Privacy Policy

      Image - Rail Trail solo biker Credit - Mike Blewitt / Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Rail Trail solo biker Credit – Mike Blewitt / Tourism Central Otago

      Accommodation Along the Trail

      Finding the right accommodation is another important aspect of your Clyde adventure. In Clyde, and along the Rail Trail, you’ll find a range of accommodations, from luxury hotels to quaint B&Bs, that cater to every budget and preference. Some of the recommended (and often heritage listed) accommodations include:

       

      • Lake Resort Cromwell

      • The Lord Clyde

      • Kokonga Lodge

      • Olivers Central Otago

      • Dunstan House

      • Antique Lodge Motel

      Dunstan House Credit- James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Dunstan House Accomodation – Credit to James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

       

      Trail Transport Solutions

      Once you’ve decided on your trail ride and accommodation, the next step is to plan your transport. Luckily, wonderful local companies like ShebikesHebikes, Central Cycle Trail Co, Bike It Now! and Trail Journeys, provide the following services:

      • Bike hire (including ebike)

      • Transportation services to and from the start or end points of your ride

      • Trip planning services

      • Accommodation arrangement

      • Restaurant bookings

      • Comfortable bikes to enhance your cycling journey

      These services ensure a hassle-free experience for your cycling trip!

      CO Rail Trail Credit - Brian R Richards / Tourism Central Otago

      Image – CO Rail Trail Credit – Brian R Richards / Tourism Central Otago

      Family Friendly Short and Day Ride Options

      For breathtaking views and creating lasting memories, check out these wonderful cycle trails. All of these make for fantastic walks as well!

      The Hidden Highway – Clyde to Alexandra

      This is such a lovely, picturesque and fun trail to complete. It takes you from Clyde bridge to Alexandra Bridge (and back again if you’re keen!). You are sheltered by large willows which love to grow on the edge of the Clutha River, and theres alsorts that grow there – even wild asparagus! Here is a map if you’d like to know how to get there.

      Alex-Clyde Track Spring 2023 credit Geoff Marks

      Image Alex-Clyde Track (“Hidden Highway”) Spring 2023 credit Geoff Marks

      Central Otago Rail Trail to Alexandra and Back

      Tackle the first section of the beautiful Central Otago Rail Trail, from Clyde to Alexandra – and don’t forget to stop at the extremely popular Industry Lane cafe, with INCREDIBLE food, and the most enormous cheese rolls you’ve ever encountered. (Cheese roll – you’ll on find these heavenly little heartwarmers in the bottom of the South Island, cheese rolls are also known as Southern Sushi!)

      Clyde to Burton Creek Recreation Reserve

      A short and rewarding cycle from Clyde, across the iconic Clyde Bridge, past the Clyde Dam and down to a stunning, scenic and serene little recreational reserve with plenty of tree coverage, with Weatherill Creek swimming beach complete with a stunning views out to the Leaning Rock mountain peak – which also happens to be New Zealand’s most inland point!

      Trail Preservation and Sustainability, plus Eco-Friendly Practices

      Preservation of the trails and adoption of sustainable practices plays a significant role in maintaining these paths for future generations. Cyclists can contribute to the conservation of these trails and their rich heritage through support of the trail community, and adherence to eco-friendly practices. By selecting trails that contribute to nature conservation, minimising carbon footprint, and opting for environmentally friendly gear, cyclists can play a part in preserving the natural heritage of the trails.

      Tiaki - Promise to look after NZ

      Supporting the Trail Community

      The Lake Dunstan Trail is managed by the Southern Lakes Trails Trust. Visitors can support the community by making donations to this trust, which would aid in the maintenance and enhancement of the trail, and is very much appreciated.

      Explore the Clyde Heritage Precinct

      The Clyde Heritage Precinct offers a glimpse into the past. Here, you can explore historic buildings and uncover stories from a former time.

      These historical buildings have been beautifully preserved to showcase the area’s rich (literally and figuratively) history. These sites provide a reflective experience, allowing you to appreciate the architectural beauty and learn about life for the those who once called Clyde home.

      You’ll notice many old buildings are referred to as ‘Dunstan’, this is because the town was once called “The Dunstan”, in the 1850s and when the goldfields where alive and thriving in the 1860’s it became known as “Hartleys township” as he found gold here and followed many foreign travellers hoping to strike it rich. Eventually, in 1864 it was officially and finally, named Clyde. 

      Walk around Clyde, take in, explore and find: (Hint, many are in the small historic precinct)

      You can also download this information for your convenience –

      Grab yourself a free Clyde Heritage Precinct guide to take with you

      Simply add your details in the boxes below to download the PDF, and then it can be printed, if you’d like!
      LP x

      Read our Privacy Policy

      Dunstan House

      A heritage hotel and cafe with stunning architecture, stone facade and wooden wrap around verandah.

      Address: 29 Sunderland Street, Clyde

      Dunstan House Credit - Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Dunstan House, Credit – Tourism Central Otago

      Olivers + The Lord Clyde

      Olivers – a stone beauty in the heart of Clyde, across from Dunstan House. Olivers and The Lord Clyde will leave a lasting impression on you. Whether it is their luxurious accomodations, award-wining restaurant or impressive apricot-tree filled cafe garden Merchant, you are sure to find a space to relax, unwind and take in the essence of this wonderful town.

      Address: 35 Sunderland Street, Clyde

      Olivers Credit- James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Olivers Credit- James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      The Clyde Courthouse

      The well maintained building remains in fantastic condition thanks to private owners.

      Address: 7 Blyth street

      The Old Clyde Bank

      The Bank is another lively cafe in the little historic precinct, an operational heritage building, fantastic to visit.

      Address: 31 Sunderland Street, Clyde

      Hartley Arms

      Amongst it all is a unique cottage accomodation surrounded with a garden setting. Tranquil and most definitely insta worthy – a real little cutie.

      Address: 25 Sunderland Street, Clyde

      Hartley Arms Credit - James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Hartley Arms Credit – James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Various Hertiage Listed Cottages

      Addresses: 45 Sunderland St, 4 Blyth St, 76 Sunderland Street, 15 Sunderland Street

      Heritage home Clyde Credit - James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Heritage home Clyde Credit- James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Clyde Railway Station

      Built in 1907, the elegant Clyde Railway Station once serviced the trains arriving from and leaving for Dunedin via the rail trail route through Middlemarch. It is now home to bike hire company SheBikesHeBikes.

      Clyde Railway Station Credit - James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Clyde Railway Station Credit- James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Savour the Flavours of Central Otago

      Central Otago is known to be the ‘fruit bowl’ of the south. The region’s food culture is distinguished by its broad range of produce available through the months. This is thanks to not only the climate, but the many skilled and hardworking local people who work in the areas of horticulture, viticulture and winemaking, and a little sprinkle of agriculture of various forms.

      In recent years there has been exceptional growth in the restaurant and cafe scene of Central Otago, and especially in Clyde. Where you would once only find the chippy man open ’til 8pm, along with the Dam Pub (which is no longer in service), The Post Office and possibly Dunstan House on the weekends, Clyde has added a few more establishments to its portfolio and they’re pretty fantastic! Keeping in line with the towns roots, Clydes food scene has a classy and elegant, historic vibe with fine dining restaurants and cosy cafes, to alfresco afternoon tea or early evening vino, under the apricot trees.

      Image - Central Otago wine credit Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Central Otago wine – Credit Tourism Central Otago

      Olivers - Credit - Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Olivers Cafe, Bar and Restaurant – Credit – Tourism Central Otago

      Paulinas Tapas and Pizza Bar

      Recently dubbed as Clydes new “pub”, since loosing the original, Paulina’s is where the locals love to come for fantastic comfort food inspired by several world cuisines, cocktails, craft beer, local wine and fun entertainment, be it live music, an open mic night or a game of footie on the big screen.

      Recharge bar

      Once a fabulous art studio, it has now been converted into a juice bar – a refreshing water hole on a hot Central Otago summers day. Recharge bar prides itself on providing the local community a nutritious range of ‘clean’ eats and drinks to enjoy, guilt free.

       

      Olivers Restaurant

      Olivers Cafe and Bar Credit Credit- James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Olivers Cafe and Bar Credit Credit- James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Olivers is where boutique and elegant hospitality in Clyde all began. Olivers was originally called “Victoria Store”, and owned in 1869 by a merchant called Benjamin Naylor, who saw the opportunity to sell essentials to the miners who flocked to Dunstan during the gold rush. But, the person who really put it on the map as a significant and historical landmark, was Fleur Sullivan. Fleur opened a restaurant in the old Victoria Store in 1977, naming it ‘Olivers’. Fleur was well known by the locals as a fabulous woman and chef, who worked day and night, and loved her customers. After Fleur moved on from Olivers, there was a bit of a hiatus until the current owners Andrea and David Ritchie, have come along from Auckland and lovingly rebuilt, restored and generally done fantastic job and justice to the buildings of Olivers, and the business itself.

      Olivers is a claim-to-fame for Clyde these days, and enjoys not only an award wining restaurant, but a brewery and bar, a merchant cafe and several options of so-beautiful-its-surreal accomodation, in the heart of the historical precinct of Clyde.

      The Bank Cafe

      With the slogon, “Eat. Drink. Feed Your Soul. We serve happiness”, this place is definitely our kind of place! The Bank Cafe offers you a curated culinary experience that celebrates the local produce available with a variety of beautiful options, complete with insta worthy presentation.

       

      The Post Office cafe and bar

      Post Office Cafe and Bar, Clyde, Credit - James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Post Office Cafe and Bar, Clyde, Credit – James Jubb / Tourism Central Otago

      The Post Office in Clyde has a fantastic range to offer, too! Inside the old stone Post Office building you’ll find a cafe, bar and restaurant, complete with alfresco garden dining, and a cosy fire for the winter months. The Post Office also has accomodation available for you to experience, in one of Clydes gorgeous, iconic cottages, right next door to the restaurant – The Post Masters House.

      The Orchard Garden

      The beautiful Orchard Garden is a cafe and function centre located on Dunstan Road, between Clyde and Alexandra. It is a popular wedding venue and eatery, set amongst the high hedging, flower gardens and evergreen maze for whole family entertainment. The Orchard Garden is accessible for those on the Central Otago Rail Trail – see this map where you get off the Rail Trail to cycle easily to Orchard Garden for a well deserved break.

      Art and Culture Exhibits

      Clyde’s art and culture scene is as vibrant as its people, history and natural surroundings. Clyde is home to several of boutique galleries, with collections from local artists, as well as crafting stores and locally produced foods. The list below are the must-see art and culture experiences in Clyde:

      • Eade Gallery

      • Touch Yarns

      • Folklore

      • Clyde Wine & Food Festival

      • Clyde Village Vineyard wine tasting

      • Nom Nom – Ice cream

      Water Activities and Relaxation

      After a day (or several) of cycling, there’s nothing like unwinding with a long, refreshing dip in the lake or river! Lake Dunstan and the Clutha River offer the perfect place for some R&R, the whole area has several places you can choose to enjoy a dip and a rest, as well as anything else water-related you enjoy! The locals love boating, kayaking, SUP and fishing, or just hanging out in their donut or pink flamingo floaty – its really up to you. Check out:

      • Miners Lane

      • Weatherall Creek + Burton Creek (Freedom Camping available here) + has boat ramp

      • Champagne Gully (Freedom Camping available here)

      • Dairy Creek + has boat ramp

      For those who prefer land activities, Clyde also offers golf, tennis, and football to visitors at its fully-equipped amenities.

      Navigating the Four Seasons

      Clyde offers a unique experience throughout the year – following a very true season structure. From spring cherry blossoms and vibrant bulb flowers to winters clear, blue skies that help very crispy, cold mornings feel a bit friendlier; summer is all about alfresco living, stone fruit in droves and clocking up the lake hours, and autumn shrouds Clyde with awesome colour.

      Beautiful Autumn Colours Clyde, Credit- Tourism Central Otago

      Image – Beautiful Autumn Colours Clyde, Credit- Tourism Central Otago

      Clyde is indeed a worthy Little Pocket of New Zealand. With its rich history, cultural heritage, fantastic produce and foodie scene, friendly locals, scenic landscapes and brilliant cycling trails, whats not to love? Whether you’re an adventurous cyclist or a family looking for a leisurely day ride, Clyde promises a unique and unforgettable experience. Clyde will see you soon!

       

      Frequently Asked Questions

       

      How long does it take to cycle the Lake Dunstan Trail?

      It takes approximately 4 to 5 hours to cycle the 55km Lake Dunstan Trail, which includes remote and challenging terrain. Plan for a day trip to complete the trail and consider the rugged sections during your ride. This ride is NOT for everyone.

      Are there toilets on the Lake Dunstan cycle trail?

      Yes, there are toilets available in Cromwell, Clyde, Bannockburn Inlet, Cairnmuir Ladder, Halfway Hut, and Dunstan Arm Rowing Club.

      How high is the Lake Dunstan Bike Trail?

      a moderate climb reaching an elevation of 580m.

      When did Lake Dunstan Trail open?

      The Lake Dunstan Trail opened on in May 2021. Funded by the Government, the Central Lakes Trust, and the Otago Community Trust as part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail Project.

      What kind of cycling experience does the Lake Dunstan Trail offer?

      The Lake Dunstan Trail offers a challenging 55km ride through distinctive terrains and remote sections, making it ideal for moderate to experienced cyclists.

      Grab yourself a FREE and comprehensive travel planner!

      We have put together a comprehensive, easy-on-the-eye and free, travel planner with over 50 pages of helpful planning sheets and handy hints for you to have everything sorted!

      To-list Lists
      Packing Lists
      Departure Plan
      Flight and Accomodation Informaion
      How to get the Most out of your Getaway
      Things to Experience
      Expenses
      Daily Schedules
      & More

      Simply add your details in the boxes below to download the PDF
      The document can be easily customised to suit your travel plans in the free version of Canva, and can be downloaded as a PDF again for your phone, tablet or computer – or it can be printed.
      LP x

      Read our Privacy Policy

        Auckland Awaken the senses with West Auckland waterfallsAwaken the senses with these West Auckland waterfalls, both of which have a glorious backdrop of the Waitakere ranges. The ranges reach 450m above sea level and cover 16,000 hectares of native rainforest...

      Wellington Discover the Top Things to Do at Wellington: Your Essential Adventure Checklist!This site contains affiliate links for products and services we recommend. Read my disclaimer for more information. If you make a purchase through these links, at no extra cost...

      Blog 13 Most Stunning Places to Visit in New ZealandAotearoa New Zealand, a diverse, attractive and unforgettable Little Pocket of land in the Southern Hemisphere. Today we are exploring the 13 most stunning places to visit in New Zealand, on both the North and South...

      Little Pocket Tips Free Travel Planning ResourcesThis site contains affiliate links for products and services we recommend. Read my disclaimer for more information. If you make a purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission...

      Soul Food Self-Care: What Is It?What actually is self-care? Life got you like, I need a vacation!?And so you're thinking, whats this self care thing all about?We feel you. Self care is one of those terms people love to use, so the fundamentals of what self-care is,...

      Guided self-care The Five Ways to Wellbeing The Five Ways to Wellbeing are a set of five influences which can improve our overall wellbeing and are presented to be able to apply to our lives in a practical way. These are  – social relationships, physical activity,...

      Accomodation New Zealands Best Glamping: Luxury Camping RetreatsThis site contains affiliate links for products and services we recommend. Read my disclaimer for more information. If you make a purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small...

      Little Pocket Tips 17 Essentials to Pack for Travel in NZDAY BAG First things first - check the weather. This little island nation has some pretty changeable weather patterns! When packing for a trip in NZ, we suggest packing layers of clothing so you can add-on or...

      Southland Discovering Milford Sound: A Soulful Escape in Fiordland National ParkThis site contains affiliate links for products and services we recommend. Read my disclaimer for more information. If you make a purchase through these links, at no extra cost to you, I...

      Canterbury An Insider Guide to Aoraki Mt Cook National Park with Meaningful ExplorationsThis site contains affiliate links for products and services we recommend. Read my disclaimer for more information. If you make a purchase through these links, at no extra cost to...

      Discover what makes you shine