Otago NZ Apr 2008
School Holiday again, time to explore the Central Otago region of New Zealand, and ride the Central Otago Rail Trail.
Our trip starts with a ride on the historic Taieri Gorge Railway, which departs from the most beautiful Dunedin Railway Station and proceeds through some spectacular scenery in the Taieri Gorge. The railway used to continue all the way to Clyde, approx 200km from Dunedin. Nowadays it only runs about 60km to Middlemarch, the remaining 150km of the tracks have been torn up and converted to a walking and riding path - the Central Otago Rail Trail.
The scenery in this area is quite wide open and reminds us very much of portions of the western USA. The climate is similar as well - this is very often the hottest place in New Zealand in the summer, the coldest place in New Zealand in the winter.
We were on the trail during perhaps the busiest time of year, school holiday and a 3-day weekend as well. There were many riders out there, but surprisingly long quiet stretches as well. Here is the lunch crowd at the Oturehua Tavern, where I stopped to get a cup of coffee and warm up.
The mornings were cold and foggy, but the afternoons were briliant and sunny. At times in the morning it seemed like the trail went straight off into eternity.
The fall colors were great. With essentially no native trees in the region, the color is supplied by the willow and poplar trees found along rivers or planted by farmers.
I think the most fun on the rail trail is definitely riding over the viaducts and through the tunnels, as Zane demonstrates here. Hint - to avoid crashing remove your sunglasses BEFORE entering the tunnel.
The Poolburn Viaduct is one of the more historic and picturesque on the trail. The supports are constructed of blocks of local stone, each elegantly hand shaped. Fun to ride over too, as Zane demonstrates.
Victory at last! After 4 days of riding and 240km on the bike odometer, I was ready to get into the car and drive home.