Rail Trails

You gotta love rail trails - trains can't go up steep inclines, and nor can I. We drove to Lauder to join the Otago trail for a short twenty km trip, which passed through two tunnels and over two viaducts. The day was brilliant - bright sunshine and at least 15 degrees with not much wind. We would have gone further but my tender bottom would not allow it. The first half of the trail was uphill all the way, so the return journey was easier, but someone should tell them to make the timber sleepers the same size when constructing a bridge, to avoid a constant pain in the arse.


I think this was bridge no 13 on the Central Otago Rail Trail and the longest. And possibly the bumpiest. If only the renovators could have ordered all the infill sleepers the same depth as the old ones instead of being 15mm shallower. It would have quite smooth then.


Completed in around 1907, it would have been quite a feat just showing up for work each day with everything done by hand, shovel and wheelbarrow, except for the occasional stick of dyn-o-mite


Speaking of dyn-o-mite, they used it to blast the schist to form these tunnels, then cut it into blocks to face the entrances and some of the walls. Often living and working in freezing conditions, the workers would known what suffering and hardship was. I think we should start some projects where young people have to endure some of that stuff to make them realise what an easy and priveleged life they lead and how bad things could be. We can't even recognise suffering these days, let alone experience it.



Very steep and rugged country


Take a look at those photos - suffering.


The Ida Valley. There is so much water in New Zealand but because they are in the midst of a " drought" everything is "tinder dry", according to the kiwis at least.

We returned to a great cafe in Lauder. It's for sale if anyone can endure the 20 below in winter. It's right next to the railway line and is run by a very pleasant couple who recommended that we spend the night at the blue lake in St Bathans. It is another lake as a result of gold miners, but with white cliffs. We were able to free camp in what we thought was a perfect place right next to the lake. they didn't warn us about the wildlife. Although there were plenty of bunnies, and we have seen heaps everywhere, dead and mostly alive, this wildlife was of the human kind. After enjoying dinner and a glass of wine looking onto the lake as the sole occupants, a car load of yobbos descended on us and proceeded to strip off, swim in the freezing lake, pee right in front of us (girls and boys) and generally entertained us with their shenanigans. Thankfully they didn't stay long, maybe it was the death stares from us, but at midnight we had a visit from some fun loving pyromaniacs, who decided to use up the rest of their fireworks left over from guy Fawkes night the week before. In Nz they are not enlightened to safety, and anyone can buy fireworks for the night. We really appreciated the show, and that our van was not set alight. The next morning, we were hoping that the lake might turn blue, because it had not remotely resembled that colour since we had arrived. No such luck, it was cold and grey, so we moved onto Queenstown.



THe beaty of nature or the destruction of it, depending on how you look at things. They were in the middle of a gold rush, and with any sign of gold, they were those who were willing to dig massive holes to get at it. One such man was big John McEwan who invented a hydraulic hose and pump system to dig such holes to get lower and lower. THis country was ideal for his system and so this hole was especially huge


I mean huge.




Yep, you said it.


Some of the cars as well.


Not huge, but familiar cars have unfamiliar names - the Tarago become an Enima - oops - Emina




The Clyde dam, one of many hydro projects in this region


This pumped hydro power station was completed in the early 20th century and is still operating today.

The drive was spectacular. Although we have not touched our bikes today, we did manage to walk up Ben Lomond, because it was easier than catching the gondola (not). 450m in elevation, it only took us 45 mins to stagger up and another 35 mins to walk back down. The mountains is littered with mountain bike trails and we managed to avoid any accidents, as the crazy riders whizzed across our path. Ray wants us to start mountain bike riding but somehow I value my limbs too much! The gradients and the rough tracks were staggering. I don't know how any of them survived!


We walked up a very stepp hill about 100mtrs long to get to this spot. it was so steep some of the mountain bikers had to walk their bikes to get up.


Some of the spectacular views over Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown


Lake Wakatipu and Kowhai bush



To give you some idea how steep it is on Ben Lomond, Brenda has walk about 20 mts to get to this spot


One of many mad downhill BMX exponents. Respect... They have skill and daring.


Steep and high. Note the Luge trolleys on the chairlift. Evidently a big export earner for NZ and the skyline compnay who invented the idea in the late 1990s


Not flying. Still on land.


We walked up (and down) that hill. Did I tell you how steep it was.

To make up for the money we saved on not catching the gondola, we went out for dinner in one of the many Indian restaurants. The food was hot but the weather was not. Ray forgot to take his beanie on the walk there, so he had/was a freezing nut.

Off to Bungy jump, climb mountains and jet boat tomorrow.

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