Rail trail favourite riding spot
It’s 17 years since the Otago Central Rail Trail was officially opened as a cycle trail and it remains as popular as ever, so much so that it’s been named as the best in the country for the second year in a row.
The 152km former railway route between Clyde and Middlemarch was named top cycle trail in the New Zealand Transport Agency’s annual Favourite Places to Ride competition.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced the competition winners in a statement earlier this month.
Otago Central Rail Trail Charitable Trust chairwoman Kate Wilson said she was ‘‘pretty damn thrilled’’ with the accolade and hard work had kept the experience relevant.
‘‘We’re not sitting on our laurels thinking this is done. It’s never complete.
‘‘The trustees and DOC [Department of Conservation] work really hard on improving the experience all the time.’’
The trail at Hyde was the latest development, with a railway station alignment expected to be complete by October. That would bring the trail back in line with its original route and incorporate refurbishment of rolling stock and information about the area.
‘‘There’s going to be quite a lot of development work at Hyde,’’ Wilson said.
‘‘The people who do the rail trail want to learn more and understand why things are.’’
She also pinpointed Omakau as a place where the rail trail’s impact was clear.
There were now over 100 accommodation choices along the trail and about 15,000 people completed the ride each year.
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said it was a credit to communities and businesses along the trail for their continued work.
Close to 10,000 nominations were received for the competition for about 1200 different rides across four categories.
‘‘We’re helping to encourage more people to get out on their bikes more often,’’ Bridges said.
Christchurch was named the top town to ride, while Taupo’s Great Lake Walkway was the top urban ride.
Rotorua’s The Redwoods – Whakarewarewa Forest was the winner of the off-road or adventure ride.
People cycle and walk the Otago Central Rail Trail at the entrance to Omakau, Central Otago.