The Middlemarch to Clyde line was removed some years ago, and this smooth corridor is now being reconstructed as a trail for walkers, mountain bikers, and horses. The easy, straight trail may be a little tedious on foot. As there is little shelter from the sun, this walk may be best avoided in summer. Perhaps a good winter trip?
The Dunedin to Middlemarch section of the line still runs as the Taieri Gorge Railway. This is surely the only proper way to begin your journey into Central Otago. You can be picked up or dropped off at Middlemarch, and bicycle transport is free of charge. The trail passes through a series of small (and not so small) towns and you can enter or exit at any of these points. A variety of overnight accommodation is available in the townships. There are camping grounds in Clyde, Ranfurly, Alexandra, and Omakau, and a camping area north of Hyde. Backpackers hostels are located in Waipiata and Alexandra. Toilets have been installed at various points along the line.
From Middlemarch the trail follows SH87 and the Taieri River northward through Hyde to Kokonga. There are several bridges and a tunnel. Here the trail bends westward, away from the road which it rejoins at Ranfurly.
The section through the Maniototo between Ranfurly and Ida Burn Dam is under construction and not open to walkers at the time of writing.
From Ida Burn Dam near Oturehua, the trail crosses several high viaducts and passes through two tunnels on its way to Lauder and the highway. The trail follows the Manuherikia River and the road southwest to the large township of Alexandra. Here it follows the road along the Clutha River to Clyde, a delightful, quiet gold town untouched by the ravages of tourism. The massive concrete edifice of the Clyde Dam is overlooks the end of the main street. This hydroelectric power scheme flooded the Cromwell Gorge and the old Cromwell township, creating Lake Dunstan.