What to Do in Clyde: Central Otago’s Historic Town
Step into the historic town of Clyde and you might just think you’ve stepped into a polished pioneer park attraction. Quaint gold-rush buildings decorate the town situated along the bright blue waters of the Clutha River. The town was born during the 1860s Otago Gold Rush where much of the history is preserved in the museums, the heritage buildings and along the famous bike trails of the area. While nowadays, gold mining has been replaced by the production of fruit and wine, of which there are plenty of opportunities to sample, the history just makes up part of the amazing activities there are to experience here. Be inspired by this list of things to do in Clyde!
1. Cycle the Otago Central Rail Trail
This part of Central Otago is renowned for its amazing range of cycle trails. The most famed is the Otago Central Rail Trail, a 150km journey between Clyde and Middlemarch. Cycle through historic sites and breathtaking countryside as you follow an original railway route through Otago on a well-graded trail suitable for all abilities. The 3-4-day ride passes pubs, vineyards, through tunnels and across desert-like countryside. With three cycle hire and shuttle services in Clyde, as well as more information in our 5 Best Bike Trails in Alexandra and Clyde, there’s no excuse!
Location: Albert Drive or State Highway 8.
2. Walk or Cycle the 150th Anniversary River Track
If you don’t fancy going on a 4-day mission with the Otago Central Rail Trail, then there are plenty of short cycle trails giving a similar experience to the Rail Trail for those with less time. The Clyde/Alexandra Loop follows the Clutha River on the 150th Anniversary Track toward Alexandra. Along the way, you’ll see the Earnscleaugh gold trailings etched into the hillside, as well as relics of the area’s gold mining past. Cross the historic Alexandra Bridge, then link up to the Manuherikia River Track off River Street, then onto the Otago Central Rail Trail back toward Clyde. Again, this trail is detailed in the 5 Best Bike Trails in Alexandra and Clyde.
Location: Clyde River Bridge.
3. Sample Some Local Wine
Yes, when you are in Clyde you are in the heart of the spectacular sub-region of the Central Otago wine-making region. Pinot Noir is the region’s speciality, as well as a few other varietals that can be all sampled in Clyde’s surrounding tasting rooms and cellar doors. Check out some of the best wineries to visit nearby in 10 Wonderful Wineries in Alexandra.
Location: All around Alexandra and Clyde.
4. Visit the Local Museum
You could say that the Cylde township is a “living museum” with its beautifully preserved historic buildings. In fact, you can even pick up a Historic Walk brochure from the local information centre to learn more about what you can see around the town. Alternatively, visit the Clyde Historical Museums, one on Blyth Street and the other on Fraser Street. The museum on Blyth Street holds interesting gold mining relics, while the Fraser Street complex has larger exhibits of recreated rooms, stables, wagons and more. The museums are open Tuesday-Sunday, September-April.
Location: 5 Blythe Street and 12 Fraser Street.
5. Play Golf
As you may have noticed while travelling around New Zealand, there is no lack of golf courses. Clyde is no different. In fact, you have two fantastic courses to choose from! Check out the Dunstan Golf Club and its 9-hole course with 18 tee-offs. The golf club welcomes visitors.
Location: Dunstan Golf Club – O’Reilly Avenue.
6. Enjoy a Cruise on the Clutha River
If you can’t resist the allure of the vibrant blue waters of the Clutha River, then a great way to discover it is on a river cruise from Clyde. The Clutha River Cruises takes you down to Doctors Point to see historic schist huts that the early gold minders once lived in. You’ll also get the time to soak up the wonderful scenery of the area. Jet boat options are also available from Alexandra, which you can learn more about in the 17 Best Things to Do in Alexandra.
Location: 51 Sunderland Street.
7. Watch a Movie at the Clyde Cinema
If the weather isn’t playing ball or you are just looking for a great way to relax on an evening, then check out the Clyde Cinema. The boutique cinema features the latest releases, as well as arthouse films. Pick a drink and a treat from the Clyde Bistro to go along with your movie for the full “boutique cinema” experience.
Location: 6a Naylor Street.
8. Treat Yourself to the Local Cuisine
Speaking of “treats”, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to eateries and quaint cafes in Clyde. Try locally-grown berries at the Monte Christo Dessert Cafe & Gardens offering mouthwatering sweets. Or check out The Orchard Garden Cafe with a hedge canvas maze, a mudbrick old fruit packhouse and direct access to the Rail Trail. Or mix dining and heritage in one of the town’s historic buildings, such as The Post Office Cafe, The Old Clyde Bank or House & Cafe.
Location: Monte Christo – 100 Springvale Road, Orchard Garden – 576 Dunstan Road, Post Office Cafe – 2 Blyth Street, The Old Clyde Bank – 31 Sunderland Street. Dunstan House – 29 Sunderland Street.
9. Go Off-Roading on a 4WD Safari
Offering bespoke 4WD tours, Rock and Tussock Safaris not only offer a wine tour, but you can use this premium 4WD company to reach some of the best surrounding sights. Their safaris take you to the hard-to-reach hidden gems, from the short and sweet sundowner experience of the Earnscleugh Clyde Lookout to the full-day mission to Bannockburn, ascending the Old Woman Range for a picnic lunch. Additionally, Rock and Tussock offer fishing trips in summer. See more experiences like this in the 6 Best Luxury Experiences in Alexandra & Clyde.
Location: Pick-ups available from local accommodation.
10. Check Out Cromwell or Alexandra
If for some crazy reason the above activities weren’t appealing enough, then you are never too far from more amazing scenery, interesting towns and amazing activities. Just a short drive or cycle south is the town of Alexandra or head on a scenic drive north along the Cromwell Gorge to the town of Cromwell. Find some inspiration in the 10 Damn Good Things to Do in Cromwell and 17 Amazing Things to Do in Alexandra.
Location: Cromwell – 23km (14 miles) north of Clyde, Alexandra – 7km (4 miles) south of Clyde.
More Things to Do Near Clyde
That’s it for the best things to do in Clyde. For more experiences nearby, check out the following guides:
- 10 Hikes in the Catlins and Clutha District
- 10 Best Things to Do in Cromwell
- 17 Best Things to Do in Alexandra
Finally, find more activities for your travels in the 51 Best Things to Do in the South Island and 101 Things to Do in New Zealand: The Ultimate List.