Happy Trails Downunder – Otago Rail Trail New Zealand

Back home from my beloved Berlin, I quickly fixed on a local adventure in my New Zealand homeland to take the sting out of coming back. I booked an Otago Rail Trail odyssey for the first New Zealand long weekend spring holiday season.

The trip is 150 kilometres of mountain biking over what remains of a derelict train track from Clyde to Middlemarch in the alpine region of the South Island.

Only problem is I gambled on some spring weather. In the days that approached I reviewed my packing list. It was expected to be anything but spring like, with lows of -4 to highs of 12 C forecast.

Not a natural bad weather biker I had to fossick deep in the wardrobe for merino layers and cadge a man size winter cycling jacket and rainwear to take with me.

The packing preparation was more thorough than my exercise regime. I managed a couple of sessions on a static bike in the gym in the days before hand of 10 kilometres duration, pushing it up to 15 Ks on the week of departure. Only problem was the daily trail requisite Ks was at least 40 Kilometres over steep passes and on stoney roads to make it to your overnight accommodation.

Here is how it played out. Day 1 was sunny. Who knew? I had gear for near arctic conditions which had to be shed layer by layer, shoved into my bulging bike panniers over the first day’s 44 kilometres from Clyde to Ophir.

Gorgeous vistas unfold before me, first along flat lands through to Chatto Creek, where we cyclists chowed down on carbs at the cafe, before the assualt on Tiger Hill – a calves straining slow ascent to the top of the pass.

On the other side is Omakau, and just over the bridge, Ophir a charming village with several B and Bs set in cute cottages and a couple of nice gastro pubs. I checked into one in an 1870s building.

After a gargantuan dinner and a chat with the owner who tells me there are two weddings on in this tiny town, I retired early.

But after midnight I am awoken, by what I quickly guess is the honeymoon couple, directly above me, through thin floor boards.

And I can report the marriage was consummated several times over that night, as I was a reluctant third party witness throughout.









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