Anyone who lives in Otago and bikes, has been watching the construction of the new Dunstan Trail and getting impatient for the trail to open.
Stage 1 from Smiths Way to Bannockburn Bridge opened a while ago and of course I was up there like a shot to ride it. Very easy riding and an enjoyable 22 kms one way. I was impressed with the amount of planting that has been done, and in a few years it will be so lovely. You pretty much follow the lake edge all the way to the Bannockburn Bridge,
|Trail from Old Cromwell town|
Stage 2 opened...Bannockburn Bridge to Cornish Point. An easy 7.3 km one way. I rode this when all the wild thyme and Californian poppies were out is summer and it was just beautiful. You also ride through Carrick Winery and conveniently they have wine tastings and a cafe.
And then finally in May the whole Dunstan Trail opened. As you can imagine it has been pretty busy especially on the weekends, so I left it a couple of weeks before I headed up to Cromwell. The whole trail is 58.3 from Smiths Way to Clyde, but if you leave from Cromwell its 48.3 km. (Bike It Now run a shuttle from Clyde to Cromwell for $45.00 per person and bike.)
It was a beautiful autumn day and the colours were amazing. The trail wasn't crowded at all, in fact I only saw about 20 people the whole day, but it was a Wednesday. I imagine weekends there would be more people on it.
You can also grab a coffee just before the Hugo Bridge from the floating cafe! Such an awesome idea.
I packed a picnic lunch and had a leisurely ride. The trail is great and such fun to ride with a couple of unexpected climbs (maybe I should have checked the elevation map first!). The clip ons around the bluffs are great and the Hugo suspension bridge is stunning.
This trail is graded 1-2 but I think it is a 2-3 grade trail. Yes some parts are cruisy, but I don't think it is for a novice rider. There are blind corners, the trail is narrow in parts and they do recommend dismounting on these parts if someone is riding towards you.
You also need to keep an eye out for those riders using it as a speed track, when in certain places there are 20km p/h signs in plain view.
Overall it is a beautiful trail and well worth doing. I'll definitely be up there again shortly for another ride.
"Its by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best."