A 1 hour scenic drive from Dunedin on State Highway 87 will bring you to the Strath Taieri and Middlemarch, a close-knit farming community that welcomes visitors to experience their lifestyle and explore the dramatic
scenery surrounding them. From the top of the Rock and Pillar Range, where you can find the Giant Weta (Hemideina maori), to schist tors lower down, where you will discover the Otago and Grand skinks and the New Zealand Falcon, you will continually be amazed and delighted by what you will see here.
Take a walk through tussock and rock tors to Sutton Salt Lake, New Zealand’s only inland salt lake. It is 30cm deep at its highest and is often dry. (1 and a quarter hours return).
The Rock and Pillar Range (summit 1450m) provides a playground for trampers and cross-country skiers with small huts dotted in the area (www.doc.govt.nz for more info).
Trout fishing is a must at Taieri River, New Zealand’s 3rd longest river (318km). With many access points, you are sure to find a secluded spot where the fish are biting.
Travel via the Taieri Gorge Railway to complete the experience! The Train takes you all the way back to Dunedin via the start of the Otago Central Railway at Wingatui. It leaves either from Middlemarch or Pukerangi (19km south of Middlemarch) and runs several times a week. Transport can be arranged from Middlemarch to Pukerangi. Travelling by train is a relaxing way to travel and the scenic route includes the 437m long Salisbury Tunnel and the 197m long Wingatui Viaduct, to name a few of the many attractions
along this route.
The Middlemarch museum is situated in the former Masonic Lodge building in Aberafon St. It houses a comprehensive collection of local history and interests, including simulated static displays. Opening on
request, it also boasts “Platypus” a submarine designed for the recovery of gold from river beds, first tested in 1874.
The Otago Central Rail Trail, New Zealand’s original great ride, can be walked, cycled or horseback ridden and has the advantage of no cars or hills and is free. You can take as
little or as long as you like to complete the Rail Trail and with so many great places to see along the way, it is well worth taking a leisurely tour. The Rail Trail itself provides a wonderful and unique insight into railway engineering of the early 20th Century with fantastic bridges (over 60), viaducts and tunnels to see and explore. The Rail Trail is also very flexible in that if you have little time, day trips can be made as access to the Rail Trail is easy from the main highways. The Otago Central Rail Trail winds 151km
from Clyde to Alexandra and then down through the Manuherikia & Ida Valleys until it reaches Middlemarch, situated on the Strath Taieri. The Otago Central Railway originally branched from the main trunk at Wingatui, 12 kilometres south of Dunedin, and ran through Middlemarch, Ranfurly, Omakau
and Alexandra to Cromwell in the heart of Central Otago, 235 km from the junction. Construction was protracted, commencing in 1879 at the Dunedin end and not completed to Cromwell until 1921. At various points travellers can break their journey to experience the blue sky, barren landscape and sense of history. Be sure to also sample the legendary hospitality that the locals are rightly famous for. Stay a few days, you will be made most welcome.
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