Wet, Wild and Wooly. The Otago Penninsula and Central Rail Trail. Dunedin to Clyde

Friday, February 27th. Dunedin to end of Otago Peninsula and Back. 68 Km. 

 First day to ride. We picked up the bikes from the shop and after a late start rode them unloaded the length of the Otago Peninsula. It was New Zealand pastoral at sunset. Green hills, billowing sheep, few cars, and a Kiwi greeting in passing of “get off the road!”  We were lucky enough to see a Royal Albatross wheel overhead and a bay filled with black swans. 

Saturday, February 28th.  Taeri Gorge Train to Pukerangi then cycled to Middlemarch.  19 Km. 

First day of riding. Kind of. We loaded the panniers on our bikes and were so alarmed by their weight and wobbliness that that we mostly walked them to the train station. I’ve already started discarding items that no longer seem essential. Goodbye “Kafka on the Shore” and sorry Mr. Murakami. You’re just too heavy. I suppose I’ll regret it when you win the Nobel Prize.  

 For two hours we took the narrow Taeri Gorge rail on the slow trip to Central Otago.  A narrator explained the reason that the creeks and rivers were mere trickles was because of a severe drought and that this had been the driest summer in years. 

 We got off at the deserted station of Pukerangi and rode for two hours in pouring rain and mist to Middlemarch. 

As our arrival heralded the end of the long suffering drought we expected some sort of welcome though only the wet sheep seemed to notice as they paused their grazing with a brief glance of alarm. 

The rain stopped as soon as we arrived. 

Sunday, March 1st.  Middlemarch to Ranfurly. 66 Km. 

Start of the Central Otago Rail Trail, our path for the next 3 days.  We’ve re-packed so the bikes seem less wobbly and we hope to get used to them over the next three days of no traffic. 

The elderberries along the trail were just starting to ripen and we ate so many that an emergency pit stop was needed a few hours later. 

Met an English couple on their last day of a 6 week trip that was the reverse of ours. When we asked about traffic, the husband answered for his wife and said she now has road fear. The more we hear about the drivers, the more we are searching out small back trails and roads to ride. 

Monday, March 2nd.  Ranfurly to Lauder. 48 Km  

After a breakfast meet-up with Debbie Paterson and the shy Laura (thanks Lynda) who were taking a break from their busy day on a 4000+ hectares sheep and cattle ranch, we rode for the next two hours into headwinds so strong that it was at times just as fast to push the bikes, which we did. 

The reward was waiting in the Ida Valley Kitchen’s cake cabinet. 

Note: I’m afraid this blog may in the future degenerate into grousing about the weather and obsessing over food as they seem to be our primary daily concerns.

Lots of bridges and dark tunnels. Vertigo riding through the tunnel with no light.  Another day of spectacular scenery. 

Observation: Its common to leave cars running and unlocked when you run into a store or cafe. 

Tuesday, March 3rd.  Lauder to Clyde to Alexandra. 52 Km. 

Passed a large group of high schoolers riding the trail this morning. A chubby, very dark-skinned girl on a wobbly bike rode alone far behind the popular others. I wanted to tell her about my 20 year high school reunion where the quarterback off the football team was voted “most changed.” He was missing teeth and appeared to be no stranger to the bottle. Even after 20 years the high school crowd can be cruel. 

Another beautiful day’s ride. 

Finished the rail trail with smiles and a picked bag of apples. 

Time to ditch more stuff. The bikes are still way too heavy. I guess I’m not the dedicated revolutionary that I thought. Goodbye yellow umbrella. Sorry Umbrella Revolution and Hong Kong (and Lee Faulkner for providing it).  Shots from around New Zealand with a yellow umbrella seemed like a good idea. What was I thinking?

Map of the last 5 days of cycling. 


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