Riding the Rail Trails around Queenstown New Zealand travel blog

The leaden skies over the Maniototo valley

Has anyone seen the cabin?

Lunch on the deck

Headstones in the Hamilton cemetery

Crossing a ford on the way to Patearoa

The Patearoa library, thank goodness for e-books

The water supply dam at Patearoa


Peter gave us a few options on how we could spend our day. Kayaking on the river, driving to Naseby or exploring the local area, Big Sky country.

With overcast skies, we decided to explore the area around the Maniototo plains. We left the farm and started the climb into the hills, which was a gentle rise at first along the tarmac road.

As we turned onto the gravel road, we could see old tuberculosis sanitorium nestled in the hills above. This is now a Christian religious retreat, which is closed to the public, but we could see that many of the old buildings still remained. It was a slow uphill ride to the Hamilton diggings, which we managed to miss as we continued uphill towards our lunchtime destination.

Maniototo is Maori for "plains of blood" and as we climbed further into the hills we could see how the plains surrounded by mountains would make for a perfect battlefield.

Peter's brother has a cabin up in the hills, with a big, new deck, and that was our proposed lunch stop. All the instructions were by landmarks so we were looking for a rundown sheep shed on the right hand side of the road. The road started to deteriorate but we persevered and as the road ran out, we found the shed, and the cabin perched above it. There wasn't much to the cabin, but the deck was lovely and the views were unbelievable. We could see the Rock and Pillar range and Mt St Bathans that was towering above the hills.

It started to spit rain, but fortunately held off while we ate lunch, but we had raincoats at the ready as we started the ride back. This time we found the diggings, though there wasn't a lot to see. The Hamilton cemetery was more interesting, with many of the headstones showing that people had lived good, long lives. Maybe there is something in the air?

The cycling was so enjoyable, we decided to keep going and headed down the hill to Patearoa, a little village with a lovely river which supplies water to the local area. We stopped off at the pub for a refreshing ale, then headed to Sowburn bridge and had afternoon tea sitting on the edge of the river.

From there it was an easy 14 km ride back to the farm. Jonno took off, in a hurry to get to his maths homework so he could have it done before dinner. Two other families had arrived to stay in the lodge, so we caught up with their travels, whilst we waited for dinner. We were having Peter's famous BBQ which included steak, sausages, salads and more roast potatoes than even Jonno could eat, though he gave it his best shot. Maybe the 4.5 sausages and huge piece of steak stopped him from going back for thirds. The kids didn't even have to do the dishes!



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