The home straight

(57 Kms)

Sunday, 24 Jan, 2016

Waipiata - Middlemarch

The final day of the rail trail. Fortunately, the weather forecast was wrong again and the day dawned fine though cloudy. We knew we had a long ride ahead to Middlemarch but we were not a hurry, and waited for the other group to leave before emerging to make lunches.

I had cooked up burgers and onions to ensure we had good sustenance at lunchtime, and the burgers were quickly made. Our 1kg slab of cheese needed to be used, so the burgers were well supported with cheese, tomatoes and lettuce.

We enjoyed more of Peter's fresh bread as toast and combined with cereal ensured we had a good breakfast. Peter took our photos before we left, and as a professional photographer, we hoped the results would be good.

It was drizzling slightly as we rode off round 10.30, but fortunately the rain didn't settle in. We headed back into Waipiata and noted that their library shed was probably three times the size of Pateaora's.

Waipiata Man

As we approached the trail we could see lots of cyclists whizzing past, and the trail was certainly the busiest we had seen it, at least until we reached Hyde.

It was scenic travelling gently downhill along the trail, and we soon passed through Kakonga. At Daisybank we could see the trail that led up to the cabin we had lunched at yesterday. It was definitely one for mountain bikers only.

Soon after Daisybank we stopped for morning tea at a gorgeous little camping spot with access to the Taieri river.

Taieri Gorge

Morning tea by the Taieri River

From there it was through the upper Taieri gorge and across a few bridges to the Prices Creek tunnel. We went through the train tunnel, but nearby was another tunnel built to divert the river in the hope of finding gold. But despite the major excavation work, little gold was found and the river remains diverted today.

We passed through Hyde, which was clearly a major stopping point for cyclists judging by the buses waiting to collect bikes and cyclists and headed on towards Rock and Pillar station. Jonno was under instructions to find a good stopping place for lunch and it was with some relief that we found him waiting at a memorial to the 21 people killed and 56 injured in a train derailment where the driver was travelling at twice the speed limit following a few drinks. At the time it was the biggest train accident in the history of NZ but glossed over as it happened during war time in 1943. The memorial included a monument and picnic table, just perfect for lunch.

Bridge on the way to Hyde

Lunch at the monument

The clouds were building as we approached Ngapuna but by that time we were only 7km from Middlemarch which was visible in a straight line ahead of us. It was with some relief and a little sadness that we headed down the final straight and into town, some 460kms covered on our bikes in the last two weeks. With a day in Middlemarch tomorrow to explore the local area, we may even crack the 500kms.

The clouds building as we approach Ngapuna

The end of the trail, we made it

We made our way to the Kissing Gate cafe, a buzzing place worth returning to, and picked up our keys to Jailhouse cottage located just next door. Whilst Georgia showered, Jonno and I wandered up to Maggies little shop to see if we could buy some crackers and milk. Definitely a little shop, with lots of sweets and ice creams, one packet of savoury biscuits and no milk.

Once showered, we headed out again to the pub for a celebratory drink. The South Taieri pub was very much a locals pub, and the beer taps weren't working so we enjoyed a bottled beer, and lemon, lime and sodas for the kids before returning the cottage for dinner.

With no wi fi, and limited data on left on our phones, the plan is to drop into the Kissing Gate cafe for coffees tomorrow and use their free wi fi. The device to read the photos on the camera has now failed completely, so Simon will upload what he can from his phone. We will have to wait till we get home to see the results of Peter's photography.