Three days of relatively easy tandem riding
After the forest fire was finally brought under control, we took the Taieri Gorge Railway to Middlemarch. In this train, the bikes were really well loaded and secured by the staff, no comparison with the Interislander ferry, where the bikes were more or less thrown into a corner.
On the very nice train ride, we were able to watch firefighting helicopters at work, among other things. In the area of the forest fire there was an exceptionally busy air traffic.
Arrived in Middlemarch we loaded our tandem and started on the Central Otago Rail Trail. In former times the rail trail led through the Taieri Gorge to Middlemarch and on to Cromwell. The Cromwell - Clyde section was closed due to a dam. After the dam was built, the Clyde - Middlemarch line was also closed in 1990. Only the section up to Middlemarch was preserved for tourism. After the closure of the Middlemarch - Clyde line, the railroad track was converted into a cycle path, although some felt that this land would be better used for agriculture. The investments (making bridges bikeable, fine gravel as roadway,... ) seem to have paid off. Thousands of cyclists now visit the route annually and enliven this region.
Already at the start in Middlemarch we were positively surprised by the new road surface. For New Zealand conditions, the gravel is very fine and caused our fully loaded tandem with trailer no major problems. We had to fight only with a narrow bridge and with tandem traps. The so called tandem traps are barriers to keep cars and motorcycles off the trail. It's a bit awkward to push a normal bike through, but a tandem is too long and with a trailer you have no chance. Fortunately, however, these obstacles were only encountered between Alexandra and Clyde.
At the first overnight stop in Rainfurly we met on the campground the two Englishmen with the tandem, which we had already seen in Dunedin and on the train.
On the second day we crossed the highest point of the route. Nevertheless, there were still pleasant gradients. So even the downhill sections were not very steep, but we could still ride at around 30km/h over large distances.
The second night on the trail we stayed overnight in Omakau. There were extremely strong winds during the night. To adequately describe the strength of the wind gusts would require colloquial terms of strength! We had never experienced anything like it. The tent and also we survived the night but nevertheless unharmed, only some not quite sunk pegs (own fault) were bent.
On the last day of the trail we had first once again a longer ascent with less optimal wind conditions, but we were rewarded with a very long descent, where we could drive over long stretches over 30km / h!
Overall, we were so despite luggage with much more than the stated average speed of 10 km/h on the road :-)
After the Rail Trail we continued on a state highway to Cromwell. In Cromwell we met on the campground the British Tandemfahr once again, probably the last time, because our routes now separate.