- Start Clyde
- End Middlemarch
- Duration/Distance Three to five days/152km
- Difficulty Easy
Begin your journey in lost-in-time Clyde, which sits by the banks of the Clutha River, overshadowed by the massive Clyde Dam. The trailhead is by the south-eastern edge of town, on the corner of Springvale Rd and SH8.
A relatively easy 8km ride brings you into Alexandra, the largest town on the Rail Trail. If you’re ready for morning tea (and why not?) be sure to stop at the Courthouse Cafe & Larder for a mouth-watering array of cakes, doughnuts and other delights.
After crossing the Manuherikia River, the trail heads northeast towards Chatto Creek (17km), where you’ll find the Chatto Creek Tavern, a popular stop for Rail Trailers. There’s accommodation here, should you decide you can ride no further.
If you’re feeling dedicated, however, press on 12km to Omakau and take a detour to tiny Ophir (2.5km) where Pitches Store offers luxe B&B accommodation and award-winning gourmet meals.
The next morning, be sure to stop at the Stationside Cafe in Lauder (7km) for friendly service and freshly baked scones (among other treats) to fortify you for the day’s ride.
It’s a longish (48km) ride to quiet Ranfurly – you could choose to stop in Oturehua (23km) or Wedderburn (35km) – but you’ll definitely get a good night’s sleep at the comfortable Hawkdun Lodge.
Those with some life left in their legs could press on to the Waipiata Country Hotel, an excellent country pub with hearty meals and great service.
Soon after Waipiata, the trail enters the scenic Taieri Gorge. Many riders choose to camp along the river, or you can carry on to the small township of Hyde (25km). Evening meal options are limited here, so you may want to pack a picnic.
The last 27km leg of your ride brings you into the small township of Middlemarch. Celebrate with a cool drink at one of several cafes in town before catching your shuttle onwards.