Riding the Central Otago Rail Trail

The Central Otago Rail Trail is a 150km bike ride.

The Central Otago Rail Trail is well known throughout the country as a biking adventure through a distinct  area of the South Island. I have organised a few bike rides over this 150km trail and was encouraged to get another group together . So 14 of us set out on the 20th October from Clyde.

A reasonable amount of training or time on a bike seat is required to complete the ride in comfort but there were a few looking a little sheepish when asked about their preparation. We stayed the night at historic Dunstan House and left several cars there as we had driver support and a trailer to pick up those who found it tough going. The wind was at times gale force over the next 3 days, and not from a favourable angle, but apart from a short spell of snowflakes and rain, the weather  was mostly fine.

There are many historic pubs and cafes along the way to meet and compare stories about sore bums, fabulous scenery, downhill treats and photo opportunities. Our first overnighter after a day's cycling was at Kevin and Ross' Muddy Creek Cutting. They also cook for guests so the lamb had been slow-roasting as we rode. We had a great night around the stone fireplace and some of the local pinot noir was sampled as well.

The next day is the most scenic, with railway tunnels to ride through and viaducts to cross. There were spectacular views of the Ida Valley , an area where dams and lakes freeze for winter sports like curling and skating. Peter's Farm Hostel , an 1880s farm house was our next destination at Waipiata.   Peter catered for us with a BBQ while we enjoyed 40km views across the farmland to the Rock & Pillar Range which got a heavy coating of snow that night.

Two punctures the next day, lost computer, a lost biker, and a lost bike, but all found after some angst. But the last day was very challenging with a ride into a very strong headwind. Middlemarch finally arrived, famous for its excess of single bachelor farmers. We were transported to our last night at Naseby, a cute historic town , where we had a pub meal , and relived the experience . Some had been found out for lack of training but we had a trailer back-up and that helped get them to the finish line. We had lots of laughs, friendships made and cemented. Another ride is planned for autumn if you want to come!


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