Otago Rail Trail Day 3

March 27th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

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Yes that is frost on the ground. We left at 8.30 am and it was freezing – almost literally. Around 1 degree and it was nasty. My fingers were frozen and the wind bites through the jacket. The first 4 kms or so was very unenjoyable. But fortunately both the air warmed up, as did we. Next time I’m wearing full polar gloves, not fingerless gloves!

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Well above the river.

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And then closer to the river.

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Then we hit some nice open country. We had 42 kms to cover in the final day but had to do it in three hours to make the shuttle so had one brief stop in Hyde only.

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Once the day warmed up, it became easily the best of the days. Lovely sunshine, mainly downhill or flat and stunning scenic views.

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We stopped to celebrate having done 150 kms. Yay.

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I just love Central Otago views and you soak them up so much more when through them than driving through them. Superb.

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Just to prove I was on the trip also!

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The memorial for the train disaster in 1943 near Hyde.

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This was rather cool. At first I thought they might be statues as they looked so still and just standing guard. But eventually they flew off.

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The last few kms are very straight, and fast.

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More great scenery.

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These km markers from the original rail line were very useful as you got to know where each town is in relation to them. The end at Middlemarch is at 64.

Often when cycling along, I reflected how amazing a train journey along here would have been.

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Middlemarch has a few remains from the train line.

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Yay, at the end. We ended up cycling 172 kms in 48 hours! As one of our party only started taking up cycling six weeks ago (and me only three months ago) this was a very good effort.

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Then we had a shuttle bus take us back to Queenstown where we once again enjoyed great views, and excellent wind and tapas at Eichhardts.

Despite some challenging conditions, absolutely loved doing the Rail Trail, and already planning the next trail. For those thinking of doing it also, here’s some advice.

  1. Do it in at least three nights, not two. It is hard going, unless you are an experienced cyclist. Almost everyone we met on the trail was surprised at the distances we were trying to do each day, and it left less time for entertainment
  2. Make sure you have really really warm gear, no matter how sunny the day looks, but also ability to strip off if you get too hot.
  3. Consider getting plastic bags to wear over your sock or shoes, in case it rains. Cycling in wet shoes and sock for five hours is not so much fun.
  4. Stay in Clyde the night before if possible so you have an early start on Day 1
  5. Have your valuables such as cameras and phones in a plastic bag in case it rains as panniers get soaked.
  6. While only a 2% slope, be prepared for it to be a long slog up.
  7. Don’t believe people who say it is all downhill after the highest point. It is mainly flat and downhill, but still has a few sections with an uphill gradient
  8. Try and stay at Muddy River Creek in Lauder and Kokonga Lodge if you can, with perhaps a night in Wedderburn between.
  9. Definitely do the alternate route of the river trail to Alexandra in the morning, even though it is longer.
  10. Trail Journeys were very good on customer service and helpfulness, but their administration was a bit loose as the booking for a shuttle back to Clyde was wrong. So double check all the bookings, but the staff were good sorting the problems out.
  11. Definitely go do it – the scenery is amazing, and far better than photos can portray.
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8 Responses to “Otago Rail Trail Day 3”

  1. Richard Hurst (796 comments) says:

    “At first I thought they might be statues as they looked so still….. then I saw one was Mallard and the other was Cunliffe.”

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  2. Gulag1917 (807 comments) says:

    Thanks for the great photographs and commentary David.

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  3. virtualmark (1,514 comments) says:

    DPF,

    You need some overshoes. Check out http://www.probikekit.co.nz/elysium.search?autocomplete=searchsuggestion&search=overshoes and http://www.wiggle.co.uk/overshoes/

    As for the camera and the phone … best recommendation is go buy some ziplock plastic bags from the supermarket. Look in the area where the Gladwrap and cooking paper is. Further tip: You’ll find your phone will work quite well through the ziplock bag, so you never need take it out in the rain.

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  4. greenjacket (436 comments) says:

    Thanks. I agree – photos can’t do Central Otago justice.

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  5. Hamish_NZ (46 comments) says:

    I’ve done it with a group of mates in less than 24 hours from alex to middlemarch, but that was when I was 18, and it wasn’t pleasant or that fun. Literally collapsed from cramp at middlemarch. We rode till about 8pm with the aid of lights and then camped off the side of the trail in tents, and back underway at 6am the next morning. All totally self carried. Definitely wouldn’t do it that way again, half the fun of it is taking your time and exploring the little towns and places off the trail too.

    Also competed in the rail trail duathlon from ranfurly to middlemarch as part of a team when at school, came second, but would have won if I’d remembered to take my speedo with me, was still rested when I reached the changeover point after 40ks, not realising I’d gone so far.
    My other biking team mate did the whole section from the hyde road crossing to middlemarch at an average speed of 60 kph, and didn’t drop below 50kph at any stage. But he was a machine. We paced him down the final 5ķ in a car on the parallel road at 70 kph.

    Would love to head back down and do it again with my wife for a more leisurely ride.

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  6. Sidey (249 comments) says:

    Feeling homesick now. Fantastic area to just get away from pretty much everything.

    The frost reminds me of my (semi) fond memories of the first Brass Monkey Rally I went on – something like minus 12 overnight. So cold riDing into Alexandra in the morning I had to change gears without the clutch – couldn’t feel my fingers. Didn’t seem to bother the bike but the sound wasn’t good.

    Have enjoyed the posts, great stuff.

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  7. Shunda barunda (2,966 comments) says:

    David, you should seriously consider doing the West Coast wilderness trail, some of the views are simply stunning, they have done a fantastic job of it. People were raving about it even before it was finished.

    It takes you from the beach to the mountains and back again, passing several lakes and through some of the best native forest in the country. The gradient is easy all the way.

    Once the finishing touches are complete it will be one of the best cycle trails in the country.

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  8. Sean (299 comments) says:

    Was it something you ate? Or a competition?

    ‘Then we had a shuttle bus take us back to Queenstown where we once again enjoyed great views, and excellent wind and tapas at Eichhardts.’

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