A 150km section of the railway branch line into Otago Central Region of the South Island has been converted into a continuous rail trail for cycling, walking or horse riding. The railway was built to link the port of Dunedin to Alexandra, Clyde and on to Cromwell.
The section of line between Dunedin and Middlemarch remains operational as a tourist line, The Taieri Gorge Railway. At the other end, the section from Clyde to Cromwell was closed and then flooded when the Clyde hydroelectric dam was built. The remainder now forms a continuous rail trail between Middlemarch and Clyde.
We had identified three short sections of the trail to tackle as a sampler during our tour. Firstly, during our stay in Alexandra, we rode to Clyde and back to visit the historic buildings in Clyde and enjoy a lovely lunch at the Postmaster's House Restaurant.
Alexandra to Clyde
Then, driving out to Lauder, some 35km North of Alexandra on State Highway 85, we rode the section between Lauder and Auripo. This section goes through the scenic and dramatic Poolburn Gorge with tunnels and viaducts. As it happened, we shared the trail with athletes tackling the Rail Trail Duathlon; a two-day event covering the full 150km with alternate running and cycling sections! We sat having our lunch, and much needed water, to cheer the competitors on in very warm conditions.
Finally, our tour itinerary brought us back through Otago Central with the opportunity to sample another scenic section of the trail. After an overnight stop in the historic town of Naseby, we then drove to Hyde for the ride to Daisybank through the Upper Taieri Gorge. The trail taking us across the Prices Creek Viaduct and through the Prices Creek Tunnel before crossing the historic Cap Burn Bridge.
Prices Creek Viaduct
Cap Burn Bridge
Otago Central Hotel, Hyde
We really enjoyed our sampler experience of the trail. It has whet our appetite for taking on the full end-to-end journey; a new item on the bucket list.
Clyde, start of the trail