Mitchell Bicycle Users Group have enjoyed several weekends away riding various local Rail Trails. This April the group ventured on its first International tour – 15 members and friends rode the Otago Central Rail Trail in the South Island of New Zealand. The Otago rail trail extends for 152 km between Clyde and Middlemarch with the elevation rising from 200m to 618m. It is able to be ridden comfortably in 4 days and passes through spectacular countryside
The MBUG group arranged with a commercial cycle company to organize the hire of bikes, transfer of luggage and accommodation. With the formalities completed, we commenced from Clyde to ride along the beautiful Clutha river to Alexandra. The trail passes through the dry, rocky “Wild West type” scenery of Tucker Hill and later in the day, past the schist rock hills beside the Manuherikia River. We negotiated the steepest part of the trail at Tiger hill and were glad to reach Omakau for a well- earned rest. The next day we experienced a dramatic part of the trail. We crossed the Manuherikia river again over the curved bridge and entered the rocky Poolburn Gorge – two long tunnels (torch or headlamp required) then out into the Ida Valley over the 37m high viaduct. This day also included the climb to the highest point (618m) and we crossed the 45 o south latitude twice before dropping down to Wedderburn for the night. The next day we passed through lush farming country before following the Taieri River into the rugged cliffs and beautiful picnic spots of the Taiere Gorge. After a night at the tiny Hyde Hotel, we rode the final 29km to Middlemarch. We battled a head wind, but the view of the snow topped Rock and Pillar Range was wonderful. We finished the trip on a high note by catching the scenic Taieri Gorge train to Dunedin.
What a fantastic holiday! It was great to see that MBUG members of varying cycling experience were able to accomplish this ride. We all enjoyed the good company, good accommodation, lovely autumn weather and spectacular scenery!