NZ Walk/Cy­cle: Roxburgh Gorge - Cy­cle and Walk­ing Trail

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Iain Gal­loway

The Clutha River orig­i­nally flowed swiftly through the gorge it had carved out over thou­sands of years. With the ad­vent of Euro­pean set­tle­ment and sub­se­quent ex­plo­ration, gold was dis- cov­ered in the 1860s. With the build­ing of the Roxburgh hy­dro dam be­tween 1956 and 1962 the gorge was flooded, drown­ing, much of the min­ing his­tory and stop­ping the mighty river.

Hav­ing de­cided to in­clude the trail on a re­cent south­ern so­journ we de­cided to en­list some help.

Trail Jour­neys, in Clyde, who is one of a num­ber of op­er­a­tors of­fer­ing sup­port (in­clud­ing equip­ment hire, trans­port shut­tles, gear and car trans­fers, ac­com­mo­da­tion book­ings) was our first port of call.

They ar­ranged for us the con­nect­ing jet boat ride and trans­ferred our car to

our ac­com­mo­da­tion af­ter the ride. When the start point of the jour­ney is not the end point, these lo­gis­ti­cal dif­fi­cul­ties are over­come by us­ing a provider.

The Roxburgh Gorge Trail com­mences in Alexan­dra. How­ever there are two trails that pro­vide the link. These are the River Trail and the Clyde to Alexan­dra sec­tion of the Otago Cen­tral Rail Trail.

We de­cided upon the lat­ter, mainly through nos­tal­gia. We had com­pleted the rail trail in its in­fancy back in the early 2000s.

The ride through to Alexan­dra was a flat nine kilo­me­ters that passes be­side farm­land, vine­yards and or­chards.

Sports fields, on the Sat­ur­day morn­ing with chil­dren play­ing on the cool au­tumn morn­ing sig­naled we had ar­rived in “Alex”. Time for a morn­ing cof­fee and brownie we thought. It proved great fuel for the jour­ney ahead.

The Court­house Café (built in 1876 as the orig­i­nal court­house) was an early opener and re­ceived our busi­ness.

With Trail Jour­ney’s in­struc­tions still clearly in our minds we nav­i­gated through town, crossed the Clutha Bridge and we were on our way rid­ing the first ten kilo­me­ters of the trail to Doc­tor’s Point. At this point, the need for prepa­ra­tion was clearly il­lus­trated.

Less than one kilo­me­ter into the trail, a piece of wire pierced the front tyre of Rob’s bike bring­ing us to a grind­ing halt.

A num­ber of ex­ple­tives rang out as I delved into my back­pack for the re­pair kit and bike pump. A quick tube change and re-in­fla­tion of the tyre fol­lowed. Suc­cess! We were on our way again.

The trail is re­mote, ac­cess wise, rather than by dis­tance, with ac­cess only by boat or along the trail. Cell phone cov­er­age is mostly im­pos­si­ble. If you were a long way into the ride and ex­pe­ri­enced bike dif­fi­culty, the only prospect would be … a long walk.

The trail it­self is wide and the sur­face is smooth mak­ing it a ride suit­able for all

Op­poosite page below: the Clutha in Au­tumn. Above: Here we meet cy­clists com­ing the othr way. Below right: The trail is wide and flat here.

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