© NZPocketGuide.com
© NZPocketGuide.com

Biking the Clyde to Alexandra River Trail

© NZPocketGuide.com

187 Days on the Road

Central Otago is famous for its cycle routes here in New Zealand. With the Otago Central Rail Trail taking you through the historic towns we visited in the Maniototo district that we visited yesterday, we have seen heaps of people enjoying the peddle power. Admittedly, we’re a little envious! It would be an insult to be in Alexandra and not take advantage of the bike trails here. However, we don’t have the time to do the 150km Otago Central Rail Trail, but there is a half-day single track alternative along the stunningly blue Clutha River: the Clyde to Alexandra River Trail.

Bike it now!

We drive up to the historic Clyde, with its charming buildings that remind us of our trip to Arrowtown, and park up at Bike It Now! (We love that name, “Bike it Now, Goddamn it, Bike it NOW!”). Rows and rows of brand spanking new bikes sit outside this bike retail and hire shop. Duncan from Bike it Now! gives us the rundown on the track, as well as other options we could do is we have time. Map in hand, we head outside the bike store for Duncan to show us our bikes. The Scott mountain bikes are waiting for us with our correct size, helmets, a mini computer to track our kilometres, speed, etc, a seat cover designed for extra comfort – a lady’s one for Laura and men’s one for Robin – a day pack attached to the back, and a complimentary water bottle, which we can keep as a souvenir. Yay!

The stunning Clutha River

After Duncan explains how everything works, he lets us loose on the bikes. Our bike ride begins! First, we cycle through more of historic Clyde, with old bank buildings and hostels kept in what we assume is their original state. Then, its across a red bridge and down to the Clyde – Alexandra River Trail. What an awe-inspiring river the Clutha River is! We can’t help but stop under the bridge to take photos of the vibrantly blue river so moving so much water that we can see the current swirling in all directions. It’s actually difficult to work out which way the river is flowing!

Cruisy fast-flowing fun

The single track bike trail takes us through mostly sheltered sections along the Clutha River. It’s a pretty cruisy easy-flowing bike ride with uphill sections that are not too relentless, and very short but frequent downhill sections to catch some speed – speed you’re safe enough to catch with such even terrain mostly consisting of hard gravel. There’s only the very odd loose rock that we have to watch out for. Like us, you don’t have to be an avid rider to enjoy this trail, but we see people certainly kitted out like hardcore bikers that we can only assume are enjoying the trail too.

Cycling the seasons

To go with our colourful ride along the blue Clutha River, we pass the blossoming yellow flowers and vibrant green forest. Spring time really is a stunning time to do the ride! (Although, with all these trees, we imagine autumn would blow our minds too). Along with that, we have birds watching and judging us as we pass, or flying out of the way as we come flying down the track.

Getting some height and getting some views

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A local’s favourite

Despite it being a Sunday, we only see the odd cyclist and person walking their dog. It’s fair to say that this trail is more of a local’s favourite, rather than the more popular and busier Otago Central Rail Trail.

Mining relics and blasts over bridges

Along the way, we stop at a few fun features, such as a huge drill left from the mining days, a quarry which marks halfway through the trail, and a tree swing over the river. However, it’s just a little bit too cold to go for a splash today. (But just imagine how awesome that would be in summer!)

The second half of the Clyde – Alexandra River Trail throws us some fun features to river over too. Where streams and beautiful cascades flow into the Clutha River, we ride over a selection of small boardwalks to larger bridges. It’s pretty cool to know that these boardwalks are here for when the weather gets a bit wet, but for today, most of the streams under the smaller bridge have dried up, giving riders the opportunity to plunge down into the steam bed and up again. While Robin anally sticks to every bridge and boardwalk, Laura dips into every alternative route she can find.

The shameful struggle

Everything runs smoothly and fast-flowing until we reach a sign saying: “Alexandra via bridge”. A short yet super steep track leads up to bridge and man, the dry gravel mixed with the gradient defeats us. It’s the only time we have had to get off our bikes for the 12km ride. We have to do the walk of shame. Then, it’s a quick ride over the bridge to end in Alexandra. Wahoo!

Congratulatory coffee

To congratulate ourselves on a short, fun and easy bike ride (they’re all aspects worth congratulating, right?) we ride up to The Tine Goose Cafe for a massive caramel slice, banana bread and a hot chocolate. While we sit outside, tiny birds come and join us for our snack. We literally feel like freakin’ Snow White as the birds eat out of our hands!

Clyde – Alexandra – Clyde

Fletch from Bike it Now! picks us up right outside the cafe, loads the bikes on the back of the van and we head back to where we started.

Although we would much prefer to bike back to Alexandra all over again, we get in our campervan with our newly acquired Bike it Now! water bottles. It’s time for another night in the Alexandra Holiday Park situated alongside the Manukerikia River.

Tomorrow, we make our way to the “fruit capital of New Zealand”, Cromwell. Perhaps we are going to the Highlands Motorsport Park, or perhaps we’ll do a hike… We just don’t know! Find out tomorrow!

Passing cascading streams along the Clyde

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