Cromwell to Middlemarch

Orc Country
  • Cromwell 12th November 2012
The trouble with chilling for a week, enjoying reclining leather chairs, Discovery & National Geographic channel in a warm house is it’s hard to get up and make a move back out again. As they say, stepping out the front door is the hardest part of any journey or something like that!
Brothers Cromwell
Finally, the ride to Clyde is faring with a healing rear breeze as I follow Lake Dunstan to Clyde dam.
Lake DunstanFrom here I join the Otago Central Rail Trail (150 km long). The first section is a 12 km roller-coaster-single-track-ride following the river to Alexandra.
Clyde dam & bridge
River path Clyde to AlexandraConsidering I didn’t leave Cromwell until mid-morning with time spent also chatting to the helpful lady in a cycle hire shop in Clyde, I resolve to find a camp spot near the end of the river trail before entering Alexandra.
Camping off river Alexandra
I attempt my first bush curry. Chicken, onion, Chinese curry blocks and Jasmin rice.
Chicken curry dinner
Very very tasty too. Thanks to my brother Andrew for the curry blocks idea.
Mosi'sThe morning I’m greeted to the most docile bunch of mosquitoes I’ve ever encountered! I had to brush them off, but then the temperature is still a tad low. But perfect for me!
Camp spot somewhere in thereAlways good to leave a stealth camping spot, look back and say thank you. Good karma! And think; know one would’ve ever found me in there.
Small bridgeNot always something one comes across, a bath! Very comfortable it was too.
BathThe trail immediately starts in earnest as I cross a red iron bridge out of Alexandra.
Alexandra bridgeOnce again a fair wind assists off my tail.
Midway stationAlready the trail has a beauty.
Railway signage
Some days I can’t resist the temptation for a fine coffee. Stopping at Chatto Creek Cafe’ for just that.
Chatto Creek
Also some really good photo opportunities as well.
Chatto Creek cafe
Chatto Creek man
Chatto Creek Man wooden sculptures with bicycles are very cool.
The trail 2
Lauder station
Once again, I’m soon back into the routine, after midday, looking for a spot to pitch my tent. Around early afternoon I pass Poolburn Gorge. It’s only 1400 ‘ish, but this is too good a spot to cycle past.
Poolburn gorge
It’s also an historical site for the ‘navvies’ building the railway line and tunnels. With plenty of info boards showing photos of them too.
Camp set, noodles in my belly, washed down with a couple of mugs of sweet tea, I set off exploring the area.
Camp set Poolburn gorge
The river late afternoon beckons for an early evening splash, well more a case of, strip off, dunk myself and dry off! I’d imagine the navvies doing just this in the early 1900’s on this very spot.
The morning vista out of my tent is down the Poolburn Gorge, pretty amazing. As camp is broken, I haul my kit and bike to the entrance of tunnel thirteen.
Japenese guy
As I’m about to set off into the dark abyss I hear a rumble heading towards me. Orcs perhaps? But thankfully no! Out of the gloom appears a Japanese guy on his bicycle. He tells me he works in a souvenir shop in Queenstown, plenty of Jap tourists go through there, so makes sense.
I’m not so sure about wearing any kind of backpack while cycling! It’s very tough on the shoulders plus just adds more weight to one’s bum.
Tunnel 13
The tunnel is dark and cold, which must be a cracking rest-bit from the summer sun.

Oturehua store

In the town of Oturehua, the local store welcomes a step back in time with the early 1900’s Hudsons counter, along with the original shelving.
Hudson counter
I enjoy a coffee in this pleasant surroundings while signing the guest book.
Hudson exchange
Blow-me-down, the diary begun in 1966! My birthday year. A great year all round!
November 15th 1966
Along the route are various red corrugated huts, with either historical information or basic shelters from the elements.
As I approach one particular shelter I find my first hobbit’s of American and Canadian descendant’s! Sitting with beers in hand, coupled with Canadian coolers!
Information hut
That’s the way to cycle the trail. Greg and Cathie have hired mountain bikes and are staying at accommodation along the route. A civilised way of riding it.
Soon after leaving them the heavens start to show some sort of vengeance against my fair weather days to date.
Wedderburn station
As the rain starts to take hold I find shelter in the old Wedderburn railway station. Taking a spot of lunch while the weather abates.
Wedderburn siding
I’m aware of there being a free camp spot at Daisy Bank, so there I head.New design flat cap weather gear
Daisy Bank gorge
This I find as I pass through the gorge. Also after spending my first occasion in cold driving rain. It recedes after an hour or so.
Morning rise Daisy bank
I set camp 100 m before the Daisy Bank site. Down an embankment and onto a lovely flat grassy spot. With shades of the late afternoon sun, ideal.
What a place to spend ones birthday (November 15th 1966).
Bathroom Daisy Bank
It’s always nice when near a water source, to use my folding bucket and install a bathroom! Strip off, stand in the bucket, jobs done.
Bridge crossing
Leaving what has to be my best wild camping spot to date, I trundle towards the end of the trail at Middlemarch.
French guy
As I pass through a gate near the Otago Central Hotel at Hyde, there’s a gaggle of touring cyclists around an information board. One being a French guy pulling a trailer, along with Sophie and Dave from Belgium.
We all enjoyed a good natter and I duly handed out contact cards. Well, I had them printed so I’m dam well going to get rid of them!
Sophie & Dave (Belgium)
10 km’s or so from the finish I bump into Greg and Cathie once again.
Work it darling
We slowly enjoy the last remnants of the trail while yapping away. A good way to end such a beautiful trail.
End of the line
Great cycling
We top it off with a few jars in the local tavern.
Nice end to the day
Greg and Cathie pick up the shuttle bus to join the tourist train down to Dunedin. Then flights back to California.
Diesel shed
The weather looks now to be turning for the worst. I embed myself in the engine diesel shed for supper. Pitching my tent at the rear.
Sunrise Middlemarch
The weather that had seemed so ominous during the late afternoon never appeared and a dry evening ensued.
Next the big hills to Dunedin
  • Middlemarch 16th November – 185 km’s
The trail certainly lived up to its expectations, but I was also fortunate with the weather. Leaving the next day the heavens opened up and no way could you enjoy it to the full.
No Orc slaying on my part!
Except for the few people I did meet it was very quiet, perfect. And to those I was blessed to meet, happy cycling where-ever that may be, and perhaps a beer sometime in California too. 


Wild/stealth camping spots can be viewed when zooming in on each location. Also, click on the icon for a photo and another click on the photo will open it up in Flickr.


You can click on each photo for an enhanced Flickr view or the above Flickr slideshow for further photos for this post. 


My second attempt at videoing.



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