Otago Central Rail Trail

Rails and whales

Nope, not Ruby on RailsRail Trails! That’s right, we’ve done some bike riding!

First, we did a section of the Otago Central Rail Trail which was pretty magnificent. We did the very end (depending on which way you ride, I guess!) of the trail from Middlemarch to Rock and Pillar Station and then back to Middlemarch. It was really pretty, and quite hot out in Central – it just seems to be at least a few degrees warmer at all times!

Otago Central Rail Trail
Otago Central Rail Trail

We also went on a wildlife cruise out on the Otago Peninsula with Monarch Wildlife Cruises. Just a short drive down the Peninsula, you jump on a boat and head out into the Harbour, passing the Royal Albatross Centre. At the Centre, you can also visit the albatross sanctuary and see the nesting birds and chicks.

The day was clear but pretty gusty which made things chilly for us, but it seems that the wildlife love it in rougher conditions! We saw all manner of marine bird life: albatross are almost guaranteed, but there were also petrels and shearwaters flying all around us. As we continued along the peninsula, there were also groups of fur seals on the rocks but also swimming about near the boats. Seals are such goofy, lovely creatures!

Then, a big surprise as we saw a mother and calf orca (“killer whale”) playing near our boat. You can just see the mother’s dorsal fin in the picture below, but I was too excited to take any other pictures! The cruise operator gives everyone a set of binoculars which is really helpful for seeing tons more wildlife around you!

Orcas in Dunedin Harbour
Orcas in Dunedin Harbour

Another ride we did recently was with a couple of friends – also the tail end of a longer ride that you can do: the Alps2Ocean. The whole trail takes about a week and you ride from Aoraki/Mt Cook on the western side of the island in the Southern Alps all the way east to Oamaru on the ester coast.

We wanted to see what it was like, so we did a section from Oamaru to Windsor and back. I think it ended up at least 50km in total, but it was really fun! This ride is definitely more difficult as it’s not a rail trail which tend to have more gradual ascents/descents. I think this would be a really great ride to do right the whole way through – the beginning section in Mt Cook national park at least would be incredible!

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