Doing the Otago Central Rail Trail as a family was one of the best holiday experiences we’ve ever had.
We teamed up with my Mum and another family from Wellington and spread the 150km out over five days in late January. This meant that the daily distances were challenging, but doable for our seven and ten year olds. We could also stop lots (and we did – and took many photos).
R. sorted everything out through Trail Journeys, one of a number of similar operators (their website has heaps of useful information, too). They organised accommodation and baggage transfers between our stops, and could have hired bikes to us had we needed them.
This freed us up to simply enjoy the ride. While we we could have camped, and carried all our own gear, we figured that if we were to subject the kids (and ourselves) to nearly 40km of bike riding in a day the least we could do was give them a nice comfy bed at the end of it.
There were lots of highlights:
- finding several full fruiting cherry plum trees at Galloway;
- stopping at the Chatto Creek pub for a much needed cold beer;
- staying in the old Omakau Post Office;
- the Poolburn Gorge and tunnels;
- the Ida Valley –yes, all of it;
- the Hayes Engineering Works;
- the wide open spaces –lots of them;
- dinner at the Otago Central Hotel;
- the passports that my Mum bought for B₂ and R₂, which they had a lot of fun stamping at each station along the way;
- The weather, apart from that first hot day, which was generally temperate and not too windy, and no rain until an hour after we finished at Middlemarch; and
- The other trail riders, the same groups of which we’d come across every day and chat with on stops.
But most of all, just being outdoors for days on end, away from cars and noise and speed and any external pressures was very very nice. And at the end of it, we felt like we’d really achieved something good. Which we had. B₂ wanted to do it again, immediately, a feeling we all shared (except for the timing – the rest of us needed a rest!).
I’d thoroughly recommend the Rail Trail to anyone.