Otago Rail Trail, New Zealand (Guest Post: Rebecca)

Fellow London Kiwi, bubbly, cat-loving, flat-white drinking and exercise-hating +Rebecca Blandford has kindly taken over Adventures of a London Kiwi, with her exploration of the Otago Rail Trail, in the South Island of New Zealand.


I told you that this week would be a bevvie of beautiful bloggers didn’t I?


The Otago Rail Trail, a Runaway Kiwi and a killer Lamb.


The ever amazing Emma asked me to guest post on her blog, and being a thrill seeker she said I could write about whatever I liked…rookie mistake. But since the rumour is that she has a secret supply of Pineapple Lumps I better behave myself, so let me tell you about the time I voluntarily did exercise on holiday. This is the story of the time I rode the Otago Rail Trail. 

As my friends know, I love making impossible plans when drunk. After a few glasses of Pinot I think that the world is my oyster and running a marathon, taking a round the world trip or signing up for an advanced physics degree are all entirely plausible and very exciting options. Normally this would not be a problem, but in the age of the internet it means life gets a whole lot more interesting. Pre-internet you would wake up with a hangover and laugh about the stupid implausible things you planned last night. But with the internet and credit cards you wake up with a hangover and realise that the anti-exercise girl who has not ridden a bike in ten years has just booked a holiday to Otago for a week long bike ride over New Years.

When the trains stopped running in the central South Island of New Zealand, someone came up with the bright idea of taking out the tracks and making it a public cycle track and thus the Otago Rail trail was born. After all, trains can’t go up hills so the entire thing is mercifully flat and it goes through some of the most heartbreakingly beautiful countryside. 

Luckily the Pinot had given me enough presence of mind to book an entirely assisted trip, this meant that all food and was going to be provided (including some epic cooked breakfasts) and the best bit was we had a van following us the entire time. The magic of this van meant that they took our bags from hotel to hotel and if the cycling all got a bit much they could drive us to the next pit stop.

The plan was to do some training before the trip, well that was the plan anyway. The training turned out to be one bike ride to a cafe ten minutes down the road where we had to walk back because we were worried about spilling our flat whites. We were perfectly prepped for the 150kms of cycling ahead. 

It was incredibly beautiful. We were lucky with the weather, not too hot and not a speck of rain in sight. The ride was tough but we started with a road cycle beside some beautiful lakes to get us used to it, and by the time we hit the almost empty rail trail we were pros. There was something utterly in balance about cycling hard each day in the heartland of New Zealand, a massive hot dinner at night and in the morning waking with aching muscles ready to do it all again.

The only scary moment was when I got attacked by a lamb. Stop laughing. It bounded out of nowhere like a bat out of hell, and I was forced to take evasive manoeuvres in order to survive. I think what hurt most of all is that no one believed that it was a vicious and malicious creature with fangs, glowing red eyes and poison dripping from its wool. But hey, after a strong flat white and a pie I was ready to go again.

The holiday ended with an amazing historic train trip through the lower Taieri Gorge to Dunedin, just in time for a cocktail and tiredness fuelled New Years Eve. But the cycling was not over yet, on the way back to Christchurch on New Years Day we stopped by the Moeraki boulders for a photo followed by some more road cycling. Road cycling where I definitively managed to snap the chain on my bike. 

Sitting by the roadside in a field of grain, waiting for the support team to pick me up, felt like the most perfect end of the mad adventure that was the Otago Rail Trail. 




Only Rebecca could have a Black Sheep experience and live to tell the tail. SorryI’mNotSorry. Definitely check out more of her explorations on her blog Runaway Kiwi, and her lovely jewellery. I can’t guarantee that you’ll have quite the same adventures but there is always a chance…


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