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Published: June 23rd 2017
Geo: -45.5071, 170.119
We had to blow through Dunedin a little quicker than we wanted to because our time in New Zealand is starting to wind down and we still have three ‘must-dos' on our list: mountain biking through part of the scenery featured in the Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy, swimming with endangered Hector Dolphins, and surveying the earthquake damage in Christchurch- not sure we'll get it all done.
Cousin Robert had recommended something called the Rail Trail if we found ourselves in Central Otago, and here we were rolling into the pretend town of Middlemarch, which constituted the start or finish of the trail, depending on which way you were facing (after fighting to remember and pronounce the various Moari names of towns, it was nice to be in an area that made use of quaint labels like those of Mama England). As you may have guessed, the Rail Trail is a mountain biking path over what was formerly a set of railroad tracks- to do the entire length is normally a 3 day adventure but given limited time and still tender backsides from our Wanaka ride, we selected the “most spectacular” one day section. Because Blind Billy's Camp
was out of business we had to park on the dominion for the night (after taking 10 minutes to figure out that the “dominion” in NZese is a grass playing field). With no opportunity to plug-in, and our coldest night in NZ we both woke up oddly homesick, and raring to jump on the bikes just to warm up (note to self- never ‘jump' on a bike when you're still recovering from your last encounter with a concrete bicycle seat!).
The ride itself was really enjoyable- not being a Lord Of The Rings buff I'm not sure if we saw anything from the various movies but it certainly had an other-world quality to it (the number of places in NZ claiming to have been immortalized by LOTR Hollywood is similar to the number of people claiming to have been at Woodstock). It was great to see all of the old trestles and tunnels maintained for this very new purpose- we even stopped at one of the B&B's that now populate the trail length for ‘a bit of afternoon tea' (getting back on the bike after that break was scarier than the bungy jump!). Fun day of riding and highly
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