A fresh blue sky awaits us as we mount our bicycles to leave the town of Lauder while it has a lazy lie in. Our legs quickly spring into action as they continually spin the pedals taking us further into the Otago region. We feel relaxed and enjoy the morning sunshine on our backs as our bicycles bump along the gravel trail.
Beautiful old railway bridges welcome us. We manoeuvre our wheels over the rustic wooden planks as the intricate metal structures of the bridges radiate their strength to hold us above the huge crevasses below.
Craggy rocks appear and begin to decorate the barren landscape. The cycle trail trickles between the gorge below as digs it way deeper into the earth. Above the landscape and the edge of the trail appears to disappear into lush greenery sprouting from the mouth of the Poolburn gorge below. The trees resemble the flow of a river stream making its way to a bigger space…
Patiently a dark tunnel sits, cut into the rock it waits for daring new customers to enter its damp, dark space. We take the dare and pedal at top speed, hollering and hooting all the way through the dark beast until the light swoops us up safely in its arms.
Pedalling onwards we cruise happily through the Ida valley with a back drop of bare mountains and green pastures. The mud-brick Railway Hotel still stands proudly alongside the trail from the early 1900s looking isolated.
It is New Zealand’s oldest continuously operating general store and is full of goodies for any traveller. It has a huge section displaying a number of nostalgic ‘Kiwi’ products bearing long-gone brands. I have to say I fell in love with the store – I was giddy with excitement I felt like a kid in a candy shop!
The trail continues its way onwards along the gravel travel and past the mountain peaks to the small settlement of Wedderburn. With the time ticking by we decide not to stop and carry on.
Not long after passing through Wedderburn we cycle to the highest point of the trail to then find ourselves pedalling down very long stretches of gravel roads slicing through huge areas of farmland.
I look forward to our arrival into Ranfurly. It is known as the centre of rural art deco in New Zealand and it has one of the world’s best 1930s museum. It is also where we intend to take a short break from cycling. We will grab a hire car and explore the hidden towns of Naseby and St Bathans, but more on that later!