Ranfurly is one of the larger villages in Central Otago. Once the gold boom slowed down in Naseby and the rail came through, Ranfurly soon became the main centre of the area. there is an excellent information centre (at the old Railway station) and amazing A’Deco buildings, and of course a pub!
It will be our base for exploring Central Otago – staying at Hawkdun Lodge and cycling the Otago Rail Trail.
Hawkdun Lodge in Ranfurly is a perfect place to base ourselves – it has been purpose built for those on the ORT. Comfortable, warm and spacious rooms, a great continental breakfast to start the day, and a spa pool to ease those tired muscles after a day’s riding.
Richard is the ideal host – knows lots about the local area, and always seemed to appear magically whenever we needed him. We are there for our three nights, which is great – we don’t have to keep unpacking. Better still we can walk to the Ranfurly Hotel.
Hire your bikes here in Ranfurly and you can do the Rail Trail from here – via shuttles and support vehicles. You don’t have to move every night.
The Otago Rail Trail in Winter
Today’s the day – we have all packed our winter woollies for our winter ride on the Otago Rail Trail. We walk down to Ranfurly Bike Hire where we are measured up for our bikes by owner Dick, while being watched carefully by his Chiahuaha Echo.
We are going to do the Lauder to Oturehua stretch of the ORT – 23 kms long, this is one of the most spectacular sections of the Rail Trail, including crossing the Manuherikia River on the trail’s longest bridge, then passing through the Poolburn Gorge, keeping an eye out for the rare New Zealand Falcon. The track takes us through two tunnels and cross the 37m high Poolburn viaduct and on to the Ida Valley and the famous Idaburn Dam where the famous Bonspiel – outdoor curling competition is held when the weather is SERIOUSLY cold.
When Dick dropped us and the bikes off at Lauder, he told us if we are not in Oturehua in 3 hours, he will come looking for us, which is a comfort. As the ORT crosses the main roads every hour or so, there is always a chance we can be rescued if we find the going to tough. After 30 minutes I put my seat up which makes a great difference. Despite no training, the cycling is not hard, though regular short stops seems to work well for me. Each time back on the bike, there is a new surge of energy.
After the 23 kms, we all decide against embarking on another section of the trail. We decide to head back to Hawkdun Lodge for a spa and refresh before heading up to Naseby for dinner.
The Top Pub in Naseby is also called The Ancient Briton. At the height of the gold rush there used to be dozens of pubs here in Naseby, now there are only two. After a hearty dinner we are off a Curling lesson on the Naseby Indoor Curling Rink.
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