Picking up the bikes and doing the Otago Rail Trail
Queenstown, New Zealand
Picking up the bikes and doing the Otago Rail Trail, New Zealand
The day after Glenorchy races we head down to Mosigel to visit Malcom and Rochelle, on the way we pause at the Kawarau Bungy, the kids are fascinated at the people throwing themselves off the bridge, but refuse to join in when we asked if they would like to do one despite the 10 year old limit. When we reached there the kids straight away jumped in and started playing together, Malcom was checking and sizing the bikes and the kids spent much of the remaining day riding bikes around the garden, the kids have really missed their bikes since leaving the UK and thoroughly enjoyed riding them.
The next day Malcom took us all down on his boat to the Taieri River and down to the mouth, one sometimes forgot that around most corners in NZ beautiful scenery is often seen, sometimes something we take for granted. We had brought a couple of biscuits onto the boat, Luca bullishly wanted to ride on one at first but after Ella's demo of her flying off the biscuit he soon recanted his choice to ride. The rest of the day was spent enjoying a BBQ with the Adams family joining us all.
The next day we were up early at 6.30am, we had a 2 hour drive to Omakau where we had booked transport with the bikes to Oturehua around 30km away. We would then cycle back on the Otago Central rail trail back to Omakau to pick up the car. Named after the old railway line, built between 1891 and 1907, the Otago Central Rail Trail travels through big-sky country where cyclists traverse ever-changing dry and rocky landscapes, high-country sheep stations, spectacular river gorges, tunnels and viaducts. The whole trail takes around 4/5 days, we felt this was too much for the kids so decided on a 1 day cycle hopefully covering some of the highlights of the trail.
Initially the trail started off flat but as we approached one of our highlights, Poolburn gorge, the track would descend for many kilometres crossing viaducts and entering tunnels, the fields full of rocks are a specular setting, and one of Peter Jacksons favourite film locations for LOTRs, this in the film was Rohan country and I could easily picture packs or orcs running over the hills being chased by men on horseback. After the gorge we hit Lauder an opportunity to get a well-deserved coffee and ice cream. Being back home for Edwina has conjured a number of memoirs about her past and I think it has made her feel sentimental, she has had the idea to fill our home with old memorabilia from NZ and the world, some may even call them antiques but I call it junk. In the café Edwina eyes up some rusty nails used to hold the railway tracks in that the husband had polished up, to be fair I actually quite like them also and felt it would provide a nice memory of cycling the trail, to add to the charm they are called dogs and their side profiles look like dashhounds. On leaving we only had 7 km to the finish for us but the sun was beating down intensely and initially had to go uphill, I had to go at my own pace and went ahead when I reached the top I waited for the others and looked behind me, the whole day Arabella was trailing the pack, she was taking her time and going at her own pace whilst the others where messing around more, but to my surprise Arabella rounds the corner first solo on the track, to me this was the classic hare and tortoise race and now the tortoise was in the lead as the others had burnt out. I decided not to wait for the others as we only had 2 km left and really wanted the tortoise to win so we progressed and with great pleasure arrived at the old Omakau station first.
The others soon caught up, we took a family photo and progressed into the village, I saw Edwina's face light up with a smile when we passed "The gold mine" a second hand junk shop in the village, we stepped inside to what Edwina thought was a treasure trove of items, there was no one in the shop except for a sign on the window "Had a better offer, not coming back". We weren't sure whether this was Kiwi humour or if we could indeed just walk out the store, but after 5 mins someone did finally turn up and Edwina delightfully bought some old manual sheep shearers and an old mouli. At least the mouli had a practical use and with could use it to make tomato puree or grandads famous plum sauce.
5 hours and 30 kms on the bike saddles had taken its toll and although Edwina was worse we both sore bums and compared notes in the car driving back to Queenstown.
Were really enjoying just doing nothing and relaxing in Queenstown for the next few weeks and hoping to catch up with old friends.