Otago Rail Trail day 4 – flowers in the landscape
Even at the height of Summer there are beautiful flowers along the Track. The tall yellow plants, that resemble foxglove or tobacco were joined by lovely purple plants today. Bumble bees lazily maneuver amongst the stems and hawks and falcons ride the thermals up above.
Even the farmlands were lovely to behold, but the gorges we passed through today were stunning. Deep, craggy rock walls and a wide river rushing along far below. Fir trees hanging on where they could and all against a backdrop of sparse, folded straw-coloured hills and clouds that seem as solid as the land.
Our path took us through another hand-hewn tunnel and over several trestle bridges. The tunnel was literally cut by hand using little more than picks, shovels and wheel-barrows – and those the workers had to supply themselves. Near the rail tunnel we walked to visit another tunnel that had been cut through 50m of rock to divert the river and create gravel flats that the miners hoped to extract gold from. They failed to find much gold but made an impressive hole which the river rushes into and shoots out of on the other side of the ridge.
One way or another much of the land we passed had been impacted by the gold mines. Even the rich-looking farming flats were a lake bed drained by the miners. The lure of gold is a clearly a big incentive.
The ride today was not only lovely for the scenery, but also because it was smooth and almost all downhill. The low graded hills over the last few days meant we hadn’t really noticed the hills we’d climbed to gain height, but it all paid off today which saw us on a light downhill slope almost the whole way.