Pedalling the Otago Rail Trail – Day 2

Otago Rail Trail - New ZealandA 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.

Otago Rail Trail - New Zealand

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.Otago Rail Trail - New Zealand

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…

Otago Rail Trail - New Zealand

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.

Ida Valley - Otago Rail Trail - New Zealand

Next stop is Oturehua. It is a gem of a town dotted with a handful of dated buildings. We stop for a greedy lunch and take a step back in time in the famous Gilchrist’s store.

Oturehua - Otago Rail Trail - New Zealand

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!

Oturehua - Otago Rail Trail - New Zealand

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. Wedderburn - Otago rail trail - New Zealand

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.

Otago Rail Trail - New Zealand

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!

Ranfurly - Otago Rail Trail  - New Zealand

11 thoughts on “Pedalling the Otago Rail Trail – Day 2

  1. Why the heck am I sitting in rainy ol’ New Hampshire USA, when I could be cycling in New Zealand– where trails trickle down and trees flow like rivers!! Not to mention menacing tunnels that sneer and dare you to enter! Pedaling “through the dark beast until the light swoops us up safely in its arms” has to be one of your most inventive turns of phrase ever!!

    Another great post with fab photos, sir, and I’m sorry it took me so long to get here. I would dearly love to visit that general store, and a rural art deco town with a 1930s museum sounds absolutely fantastic. Thanks as always for sharing these wonders and doing it with your usual inimitable style! : )

  2. Having just returned from NZ, I have to congratulate Kiwis on their trail stewardship. We mainly toured on our road bikes, and therefore weren’t equipped to do the Central Otago (we saw parts of it from the highway…), but I also did some mountain biking at parks in Wellington, Taupo, and Rotorua, and we did some amazing hikes. Simply outstanding, and it shows what proper priorities and a bit of political will can do. The world needs more places like NZ, and more people who choose a lifestyle that favours recreation.

  3. Awesome stuff. Thanx for being a great travel surrogate. You do a wonderful job documenting it all for us. Keep it up!

    1. Glad you are enjoying my blogs – been busy as of late, hence the slowness of posting. I will continue to keep going… it is fun sharing with others and hearing from others!

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