Tag Archives: otago central rail trail

NZ: Love on the rails… the rail trail that is!

It has been well over a month since we got home from NZ and I must confess the whole blog writing thing just hasn’t appealed. I got through day one of our bikepacking trip and hit a writing brick wall. Now though, there are lots of very exciting adventures in the pipeline so I thought it is time to get this written and get on with things!

Where I left off last time we had just completed day one and had found a nice camp next to the river near Arrowtown.

Day Two – Arrowtown to Wedderburn (160km, 1523m elev.)

We got up nice and early, feeling a bit guilty as we rode past all the ‘no wild camping’ sign. We rejoined the great Queenstown trail we had been following and headed out of town towards Cromwell. After some amazing gorges with spectacular swing bridges that took my breath away, we snaked around next to the Kawarau River on the bitumen for quite some time. We stopped to have a look at the Roaring Meg lower hydro power station. On the other side of the road a small dirt track starts to ascend up into the clouds: The Cardrona-Roaring Meg pack track which is used in the Great Southern Brevet course. We hope to be coming down that very track next year!

Epic suspension bridge just for walkers and cyclists

We cruised into Cromwell for a very nice late breakfast, coffee and obligatory fresh fruit from the roadside stall.

Giant fruit

From Cromwell we pounded out some more bitumen km’s before descending down to Clyde. We asked around and were advised to ride the ‘river track’ into Alexandra instead of the start of the  Central Otago Rail Trail as it was meant to be pretty fun. Turned out to be a wicked, windy and flowing dirt track next to the river. Needless to say, on our first real dirt for the day, much ‘woooooping’ was done!

Eventually the river track brought us out at Alexandra where we refueled and readied ourselves for the Central Otago Rail Trail. We didn’t particularly have a plan as to where we would get to for the day, just see how we felt as the day went by.

The Central Otago region has sweeping views of vast open plains and treeless hills; famous gold-mining country. It was hot, the sun was out and there was nowhere to hide. We started stripping layers off as the hours went by, climbing up a slight but ever-constant gradient towards Lauder.

As we approached the top of a one hill, Seb asked if we should stop at the seat coming up and swap out of our SealSkinz socks ’cause our feet were sweltering! Oblivious to what was unfolding in front of my eyes, I stopped, changed socks and was ready to move on. Seb, on the other hand,  had unpacked what looked to be his entire bag onto the ground, very unusual for his usually quick and punctual stops.

I’ll spare you the mushy details but there was a seat with an inscribed Irish blessing, a killer view and a romantic proposal! Couldn’t have been more perfect for two sweaty cyclists in love!

Our seat!

Our seat!

Selfie of the newly engaged lovebirds

Selfie of the newly engaged lovebirds

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a soul around for me to tell and we still had a fair bit to ride if we wanted to stay in Ranfurly. We got to go through some more pretty spectacular scenery plus over another huge bridge and through two old train tunnels! I got to test my KLite dynamo light in one of the longer tunnels which was great, good to get some use even if only for 1km!

KLite dynamo light on and into the tunnel we go!

KLite dynamo light on and into the tunnel we go!

We made it as far as Wedderburn  where we stumbled across some very cute rail trail cottages made to accommodate the normal folk who don’t carry their own tents….

We were starving, sun burnt, engaged and there was a king bed and free breakfast! No way we were passing that one up! Turned out to be quite lucky as that night I suffered from very bad heat stroke; shaking, hot cold feverish and feeling very unwell. Was very glad to have a cool shower and some normality to get me back under control.

Wedderburn cyclist accommodation. Very trendy.

Wedderburn cyclist accommodation. La-di-da fancy (compared to the tent)!

A long and eventful day in the saddle. Very obvious niggle starting to occur in my left hand: feeling weak and a bit tingly. Tomorrow we would leave the rail trail and head through Naseby and over Danseys Pass.