Our third day along the Otago Central Rail Trail, and one that ended feeling strange to me – accustomed to starting somewhere, riding to somewhere else, then staying there the night.
After a quiet night in the lodge with only two other people in the building things got busy around 9 am as a large coach-full of around 50 high-school kids from Christchurch arrived for a day’s excursion – the gently downhill ride from Wedderburn to Hyde. Once we were out on the trail some quickly sped past in ones and twos, others in larger bunches later, some, I suspect, never caught us.
The first 15km or so was a hoot, a long constant gentle descent all the way from Wedderburn to Ranfurly, gravel crunching and pinging away under the tyres, huge smiles and almost no need to pedal. Pedal we did, effortlessly lifting our average speed and all too soon having to stop at Ranfurly.
Grocery shopping for tonight’s dinner and then a morning coffee and muffin in Ranfurly, sadly not in the marvelous Art-Deco “Centennial Milkbar” – it’s now a museum and only open on Tuesdays. Then it was onwards to an early lunch stop at Waipiata – another pub lunch, this time a selection of the pub’s own pies.
An unsuccessful hunt around near the Waipiata Man sculpture for another geocache – GZ1JFZM – then on from Waipiata to Hyde, more enjoyable riding but not up to the spectacular standard set by the morning cruise! Along the way a number of interesting stops and gangers’ sheds and some old rail infrastructure to look at.
Accommodation tonight was at Peter’s Farm, and this was a slight oddity; the farm was back near Waipiata where we’d had lunch and the instructions and arrangements were to just “leave the bikes in the bike rack outside the Hyde pub, unlock the car parked across the road and drive back to the farm” – along with a note that it wasn’t necessary to lock the hire bikes, but we might feel more comfortable locking our own one! Certainly didn’t make me feel comfortable, even if the pub looked closed up and abandoned, still, nothing for it but to lock the AWOL up well hidden at the back of 50-60 hire bikes, unload the panniers, then get in the car and drive all the way back.
The drive seemed to take a lot longer than expected, 12km of sealed road then 10km or more of dirt track, finally at the farm where we discovered that we had the entire place to ourselves and after meeting Peter, were told to take our pick of rooms or the cabin. It seemed a bit strange to me to be driving this far from where we’d ridden to the night’s accommodation, then to have to drive back the next day, but in reality is one of the many options open to people traveling and holidaying along the Rail Trail, some seem to manage to ride the entire route while based at a single location, others stay solely where they end each day.
After a pot of coffee and some freshly baked bread and honey we explored the garden, fed the lambs, said hello to the goats, and walked down to the river. A game of mega pooh-sticks, involving large brittle branches thrown as far as possible, some grass angels, and a muddy shortcut back through waist-high grass that was hiding ankle-deep mud.
As a break from endless pub meals, tonight we stayed in and had cooked and fed ourselves; spaghetti with mushrooms and herbs and a bottle of local pinot noir that as pack horse, I’d been carrying in the rack bag all day.