Central Otago

9 of the Best Things to Do in Clyde, Central Otago

Clyde boasts the perfect mix of great scenery and interesting architecture and is home to some top-notch eating and drinking establishments. It’s also the start (or the end) of the Otago Central Rail Trail, one of New Zealand’s most popular cycling routes. Looking for the best things to do in Clyde, Central Otago? You’ve come to the right place!

Explore the Old Town

Clyde is one of Central Otago’s best preserved old towns. The historic area is on the small side but there are some really nice buildings, including an old lodge and Olivers, a store which sold provisions to gold miners turned upmarket bar and restaurant. It doesn’t take long to explore the old town — make sure you seek out the historic post office (now a cafe) as it’s a little removed from the main street. Also go for a stroll down Miner’s Lane to see Clyde behind the scenes (the small path runs along the back of the buildings in the old town).

Clyde travel guide, Central Otago, New Zealand -- an historic buildingClyde travel guide, Central Otago, New Zealand -- an old gold mining store

Clyde Dam

Clyde Dam was built between 1982 and 1993 and the effects of its construction dramatically changed the scenery in these parts. Today Lake Dunstan is popular for water sports and is a great place to relax (assuming it’s a nice day!). You can drive right up to the dam but it’s better to look down on it from either of the viewpoints above town.

Clyde travel guide, Central Otago, New Zealand -- Clyde Dam

The Clyde Lookout

A narrow track winds its way up the hill above Clyde and it’s a nice place to see the town and its surrounds from above. It’s a short walk but is quite steep, so decent shoes are a good idea.

Clyde travel guide, Central Otago, New Zealand -- Clyde Lookout

The Other Clyde Lookout

Head across the bridge (towards Earnscleugh) and turn up Hawksburn Road to reach a viewpoint with panoramic views over the area. The road is a little rough so you might want to avoid taking delicate vehicles up there. From the viewpoint (or series of viewpoints) you can see the town, the dam and lots of neat little farms.

Clyde travel guide, Central Otago, New Zealand -- Central Otago from aboveClyde travel guide, Central Otago, New Zealand

A Cool Sign

Have you seen those signs which point to far flung destinations and tell you exactly how far away they are? There’s one of those in Clyde, although it isn’t all that useful (but it does look cool!).

Clyde travel guide, Central Otago, New Zealand -- a cool sign

Walk from Clyde to Alexandra (Or Alexandra to Clyde)

Known as the Millennium Track, the 11.5 km trail between Clyde and Alexandra makes for a great half-day hike. The track never strays far from the river and is mostly shaded, making it ideal on a hot day. You can also cycle along the track and combine it with the riverside track between Alexandra and Doctors Point (and further on to Roxburgh if you organise a boat transfer).

Hiking from Alexandra to Clyde, Central Otago, New Zealand

The Otago Central Rail Trail

One of the most famous things to do in Clyde is cycle the Otago Central Rail Trail. It starts (or finishes) in Clyde and goes all the way to Middlemarch. I’ve done a few sections of it and I remember it being pretty tough cycling all day in 30 degree heat (in my defense, I was a kid at the time).  You could also just do a section — the bit between Clyde and Alexandra is nice and there’s a picturesque old bridge along the way.

Go to the Beach

Drive (or walk) past the dam on Fruitgrows Road and you’ll eventually come to a small beach. It looks like a great place to go on a nice day, it was a bit windswept when we visited though.

Clyde travel guide, Central Otago, New Zealand -- a stony beach near town

Eating, Drinking and Sleeping

The Dunstan Hotel is an excellent budget option right in the middle of the old town. The nearby Olivers and Hartley Arms are more upmarket old town options or you can stay at one of the numerous bed and breakfasts scattered in and around Clyde. Olivers is the most popular restaurant and bar in town and is well worth visiting. If you can’t afford a meal go for one of the delicious craft beers. Central Otago is also famous for wine, so you might want to check out one of the vineyards in the nearby Alexandra Basin.

Clyde travel guide, Central Otago, New Zealand -- Olivers Restaurant

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Jon Algie

A travel blogger from New Zealand who has just returned home after 6 years abroad. Join me as I see as much of the South Island as I can.
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