We’ve been in New Zealand for about three months now, and we’ve done some cool things, but I have to say that riding the Otago Central Rail Trail was the best thing we’ve done thus far. As you know, we’ve got a bit of a history with bicycles, so when we saw a query looking for folks to ride and review the rail trail, we were excited about the opportunity. Claire & Daphne, from the Trust organized everything for us and Steve Goodlass, generously donated the bikes, ferried us around and sorted out our stay in the old post office in Omakau.
The Otago Central Rail Trail is iconic in New Zealand. It’s the classic cycle trail, and the one that inspired the national project to connect cycle trails across both islands. There are lots of ways to ride it, from bringing your own bike to several rental agencies that service travelers who want to make the ride part of their journeys.
Shebikeshebikes is one of the smaller companies, and it’s family run. They have a fleet of only 100 bikes and Steve Goodlass runs the show. Steve inspires me because he was a software developer for years, but hated it. So, he and his wife took a big leap of faith, moved out to Omakau from a busy town down on the coast, transplanted their four kids into a two room school on the central plain, and traded a career in the tech industry for their passion: a family business focused on health and building the local economy. Stepping out of the fast lane, recreating a career and pursuing your dreams takes a lot of guts. Steve and his wife also stepped out on a limb and bought the Omakau post office, turned it into a holiday home, and it’s quite possibly the premiere accommodation on the trail.
Since we only had two days, Steve ferried us straight up to Oturehua so that we could cycle the two days down to Clyde. We started with a tour of Hayes Engineering Works, where the Hayes wire stringers were pioneered, and then we headed towards Omakau. It’s the most fascinating working museum we’ve been to in a very long time.
The ride was spectacular. If you find yourself in NZ, make the time, and don’t miss it. Contact Steve if you need to rent a bike. He’ll make sure your properly fitted and take good care of you. He and his wife can arrange the bikes, your accommodation and move your bags ahead of you so that you don’t have to worry about a thing. Be sure you tell him we sent you!