I made it!
Several hours a day cycling, over four days on the Otago Rail Trail and I got to the end - in tact. One of New Zealand's easiest cycling/sightseeing trips. For those of you outside of NZ, this cycle ride is through some of the South Island's most spectacular scenery - especially at the start of autumn when the landscape colours turn into rich reds, vibrant yellows and greens.
You can organise your accommodation on the way yourself or use a bike company, such as Bike It Now! - the one we used and would recommend. This way your luggage is taken for you from each night's accommodation and onto the next, where you are greeted by your hosts at the door and for our time of year, a welcoming roaring fire. Some lodges offer dinner or the company will organise a shuttle and dinner at a nearby pub or restaurant for you. It was brilliant. Breakfast is usually excellent and sets you up for your next day's ride.
I was a cycling virgin and was very nervous! I hadn't been on a bike for years and had only done minimal training due to a tailbone injury (too much information??) but the electric bike, a gel seat, plus a gel seat cover and the necessary padded pants, all made for a comfortable ride. Once I was confident using the e-bike, I was away but always got off at the narrow cattle stops and gateways and walked through as I was not going to risk a fall. I'm travelling again in the European summer and need to be injury-free!
While on the trail, we were collected in Naseby and taken to learn and have a game of curling. It's a lot of fun, rushing ahead of the curling stone and sweeping furiously to keep it moving towards the bullseye. Carolyn and I lost to the boys, sadly. There's quite a lot of skill in learning just how much you 'push' the stone down the ice.
Our trip ended in Middlemarch where we were shuttled through to Dunedin to collect our rental car. Three days exploring Dunedin was just fabulous. Out to the Royal Albatross Centre on the Otago Peninsular, a visit and steep walk down to Tunnel Beach, museum visits and a walk through the town. The four of us stayed in an exceptional apartment, Bell Hill, where the manager, knowing we were arriving on Good Friday and nothing would be open, had provided us with eggs, bread, jams, butter, beautiful teas and plunger coffee, fruit, milk and a decanter of port. Not for breakfast, of course. Our apartment was called Gaynor Clayton. These are centrally located and an easy walk to the galleries, supermarket, cafes and restaurants. Perfect!
It was Carolyn's birthday on our last day, so as a treat, we went to have dinner and stay the night at Larnach Castle - New Zealand's only castle! It's a beautiful, majestic place to be but we could hardly see two feet in front of us the whole time we were there. Dense fog had rolled in, obliterating any views. It didn't matter. We had a fun time together.
Now home and planning our UK/European trip, mid year. Not long now! Very exciting. Will keep you posted.