Otago Rail Trail - Wedderburn Pub

Otago Rail Trail: Getting back on a bike after 45 years

As a kid I lived on my bike. It was basic; no gears, the chain came off regularly which meant that you lost your brakes, but it took me on many wonderful adventures around the Taranaki countryside. There were numerous adventures riding up the mountain (difficult without gears) with the hair raising return journeys down the then metal road (stupid without brakes).

In 2011 we both reintroduced ourselves to bike adventures by completing the Otago Rail Trail in New Zealand’s South Island. We completed the ride in late March and it was a fantastic four day experience that ended too soon.

We chose to bike the “wrong way” going from Middlemarch to Clyde. It worked for us for we caught the Taieri Gorge train from Dunedin which was a impressive curtain raiser to the main event.

The primary reason why you should bike from Clyde to Middlemarch is that you are more likely to encounter a head wind going in the direction we chose. However, the wind was kind and was at our tail on the first day with a good lashing of cold rain thrown in. Those pedalling the correct way did not look to be enjoying it. On the following three days it obliged by not blowing at all.

We had three nights and four days on the trail staying in Hyde, Wedderburn and Ophir (the coldest place in NZ with lots of press clipping on the pub wall to confirm it).

What a great way to experience the country side, has given me respect for those soles that I see pedalling along the main highways, not something I would really want to do.

The Rail Trail experience was cycling for softies style with our luggage being transported to our next destination each day. We booked our accommodation and hired our bikes through trail journeys and found them to be efficient and helpful. On our arrival at Clyde we were able to shower and change back into our civvies at their base which was appreciated as we caught the bus through to Queenstown.

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