Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Central Otago Rail Trail

The time finally arrived for Anja's and my own adventure to head south to the beautiful region of Central Otago, one of my favourites spots!

Anja arrived at work with her bike and gear, a little bit apprehensiveof the journey ahead. We left Christchurch about 10am for the 6 hour trip south on what would be a stunning day passing through the Mackenzie country with Mt Cook brilliantly displayed for us.

Finally arriving in the historic town of Clyde, once we had checked into our accommodation the Hartley Arms, we went for a wee walk around town to look at the buildings and find a pizza for dinner.

  We woke to rain ... how ironic we are in the driest area in New Zealand and hottest! Once packed we took the advice from the cycle shop we took the River track to Alexandria, this extended on first leg by four kilometres but was more sheltered from the rain and wind. An hour later we had arrived like a couple of drowned rats we hit the nearest cafe for a hot chocolate, it was still raining and I was getting pretty cold, so we went and found the local hunting and fishing store brought a couple pairs of polypro gloves and a thermal top for me and headed on our way ... next stop Chatto Creek! About half an hour out it stopped raining I had started to warm up.

Chatto Creek was our lunch stop and we headed to the pub, with the fire roaring and a great feed we sat there chatting to other riders, when the publican came in and asked Anja whether she would like to feed the lamb, next minute the lamb appears around the corner!

Once the lamb was feed, we headed off on our journey heading to Lauder arriving about 3 ish taking 6 and 3/4 hours (3 hours 40 of riding) to cover the 51 kilometres.

Anja arrived tired but happy with her achievement and I was one proud dad!

Staying at the Lauder Hotel, which had recently reopened we did our chores washing our cycle kit ready for the next day and tucked into a large country pub dinner ... it wasn't long before we were stacking the zzzzz's!

Day Two. With breakfast done and dusted, we jumped on our steeds and headed off in to a classic Central Otago day, absolutely clear skies, the sun was out and so was our grins. Today was our biggest day 58.5 kms, but would be our most interesting.

The Trust which operates the Rail Trail has done a great job putting all the history/information boards together and to keep everyone interested. We purchased a Rail Trail Passport which at every station we could get a stamp in it, this certainly was motivating!

We had tunnels and viaducts to ride through and over

One of the high lights of the trip was the stop at Hays Engineering, this property is run by the Historic Places Trust and is a stunning example of early buildings, workshops and lots of ingenuity!

Soon after leaving here we reached the highest point of the Trail from here it would be all downhill (well pretty much) it is pretty much half way too!

Lunch was at Wedderburn, made famous by Graham Sydney's painting. We pushed on to Waipiata ... not much pushing since it was an easy peddle in the sunshine!
We had spent 6 and half hours getting there but only 3 hours fifty of that we were  actually riding, Anja finished strongly and was meet by the Waipiata Man ...

... Staying at the Waipiata Hotel we enjoyed the hospitality and great food here ... we  discovered that our my Great Grandmother (Anja,s Great Great Grandmother) lived here Isabelle Dowle working for the Post Office (1905) and probably meet her Husband, Walter Webb (Creamery Manager) here. Isobella's father William Dowle was the Post Master here having arrived in New Zealand (circa 1887) from Gloucester, England. This was a surprise to us!

All of a sudden our journey had a lot more value to it!

Day Three, rolled around we packed up and headed out, the day was going to be our quickest with the 52.5 kms covered in three hours riding and stopped in Hyde for morning tea. Anja was flying this particular morning, the end was in-sight. We had one other stop along the way which was at the memorial of the 1943 Train Accident in which 21 lives were lost.

Middlemarch appeared on the horizon we had traversed 168 kilometres in three days had seen a whole lot of country we hadn't seen before, learnt about the history of the area, discovered some family history and made some too!

For me this was a special trip, to spend three days one on one with Anja, to see her grow in confidence, to share an adventure together ... it was a trip to remember! Can't wait for the next one.

We spent the night in Middlemarch, caught a shuttle back to Clyde to drive back to Christchurch in time for Christmas :-)  

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