Dunedin to Port Chalmers to Middlemarch - Retyrement on 2 Wheels 5 - CycleBlaze

February 26, 2021

Dunedin to Port Chalmers to Middlemarch

Charmed by Port Chalmers, amazed by Middlemarch.

Day 3 Friday 26 February 

Dunedin to Port Chalmers to Middlemarch.

Today’s plan is to cycle to Port Chalmers, Dunedin’s Port, before catching a shuttle up to Middlemarch for the start of the Otago Rail Trail. It’s a breezy day with a headwind out to the Port but with, of course, the promise of support coming back. 

Heading to the cycle path.
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Ingenious wind proof dining option on the waterfront.
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For much of way till St Leonard, there’s a good cycle path - it takes us out of town past the stadium, a bit of a grey monolithic monster- on the outside anyway. The wind is coming off the sea and blowing up the harbour; it’s invigorating and the seascape looks wildly beautiful in the morning light.   Small settlements can be seen across the water, along our route are houses of all manner of architectural style. Some old and a little rundown, others of modern design.

Home to The Highlanders.
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At St Leonard we share the road wth traffic. There are one or two large timber trucks heading to port but they seem to be taking the ‘share the road sign’ to heart and giving us about a metre. We’re in no position to argue for the additional half. Fortunately there’s a bit of a shoulder and the route’s mostly flat. 

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Bus stop for all weather.
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The port township looks quaint and the buildings are a little reminiscent of Lyttleton without the steep hills and pubs, though there is the Portsider, an impressive looking 19th century watering hole among other notable edifices.

The Portsider.
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Iona Church.
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The Tiger Who Came to Tea.
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Originally a sailors’ pub.
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We stop for a coffee and to catch up on the  ODT. The cafe is well patronised with a variety of clientele. The cafe owner confidently tells us that there will be a cycle path all the way to the port by the end of the year. 

After lunching with seagulls in a small memorial park, we head back for our 3:30 rendezvous. As anticipated, the ride back back to town is speedy and we’re soon at the railway station.

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Discerning reader.
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Local humour.
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Hopeful.
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We stop for an hour at the Settlers Museum and enjoy looking at the exhibits of yesteryear. The reconstruction of the sleeping quarters of an immigrant boat feels quite realistic- if only smell could be added!  

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No trains today.
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Times may have changed.
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Heading back to Carroll we pick up our panniers  and wait for our shuttle to Middlemarch. Our driver, Cathy, arrives with a large van, so that stashing our bikes in the aisle is no problem. We are quickly out of the city and by the time we stop for supplies at Outram, there’s a definite feel of a change in temperature, a wider sky and browner hills.  Along the way we try to assess how feasible a bike ride to Middlemarch might have been- there are certainly a few ups and downs but the astonishing rock formations  on the horizon would have made for an interesting journey. 

At Middlemarch, campground owner Brian shows us to our accommodation- a pleasant enough cabin on the periphery of the property. The kitchen is found in an old railway carriage now reassigned to the creation of haute cuisine.

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We dine well- better possibly than most railway passengers are likely to have done in that carriage. Tomorrow is our first day on the Otago Rail Trail and it’s- ‘Gentlemen to bed, for we ride at daybreak!’ Or soon thereafter.

Today's ride: 33 km (20 miles)
Total: 68 km (42 miles)

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