Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold trails: Central Otago scenery

DSC_0068At the weekend, along with the Invercargill Rowing club masters rowers (well, some of them!) I cycled both the Roxburgh Gorge trail and the Clutha Gold trail, a total of 12okm of mountain bike trails that take you from Alexandra to Lawrence. the route follows the Clutha river, passing through Roxburgh, Millers Flat and Beaumont on its way to Lawrence. It truly is like another world. It offers a wilderness experience through the remote and stunning Roxburgh Gorge, and the scenery changes from rugged and mountainous to lush green orchards is really quite amazing. Its not a trail for the faint hearted, specially the Roxburgh Dam to Shingle Creek section!

We decided NOT to pay the $95 for the River taxi, so rode from Alexandra to Doctors point, return, then The Roxburgh Dam to Shingle Creek return. A total of 44km. That was day one! Day two was 73km one way from Roxburgh to Lawrence. Mark and a few friends ferried the cars and orgnanised nutritional stops along the way!

Roxburgh Gorge Trail

IMG_0744This trail takes you into the wilderness, remote and stunning Roxburgh Gorge. You can ride right through to Roxburgh Dam, if you book the river taxi, or do as we did, and ride the 22km to Doctors point and back, Drive to the dam, then ride the other 11km to Shingle Creek. To Doctors point takes in stunning scenery, some tough climbs, but all in all manageable. The early Gold mining settlers dwellings are still evident in the hillsides at the turn point.  The other half is very much tougher, many more tough climbs and descents, and several tough switchbacks. The scenery is well worth the effort, mind you, but allow more time for this 11km.

Clutha Gold trail

IMG_0875This trail is 75km from the Dam to Lawrence. The trail mostly follows the river, the Clutha-Mata-au with its distinctive turquise colour that you will notice from the photos. The early Gold mining settlers dwellings are still evident in the hillsides. There are several things to break up your journey. The first is Pinders Pond, hand dug by gold mining giant John Ewing using an hydraulic elevator in the search of Gold.

The four main villages on the trail are Roxburgh, Millers Flat, Beaumont and Lawrence making it easy to do part of it if you don’t want to do it all.

Beaumont marks the transitional zone between central Otago’s rugged steep hills and lush green contoured hills of Clutha district. Beamont was built to serve as a crossing over the river between these two districts. The trail follows the route of the old railway line from here to Lawrence and former Maori track through the Beaumont Gorge. At big hill tunnel, they join as one trail.

Here is a wee clip showing the incredible changes in the scenery from Alexandra to Lawrence along the river.

IMG_0899The reminders of the Chinese Gold miners is evident as you arrive in Lawrence too, with this preserved Chinese pig oven. The pig is lowered in head first and usually took around 2 hours to cook.

The Lawrence camp would originally have had two or three of these since it was the district centre for Chinese new year.

All in all, wonderful weekend, tough, but incredibly amazingly scenic, stunning beyond words. The trusty £80 8 year old mountain bike from Halfords did well, wavered a bit, but got me there! next time, bike shoes I think! I can now see why mountain biking trails are so popular here. Such a great way to see otherwise inaccessible scenery.