|Hyde – Rock and Pillar 14km
Rock and Pillar – Ngapuna 7km
Ngapuna – Middlemarch 6.5km
Car parking: Hyde Village, Rock and Pillar Station site, Rail Trail’s end (start), Middlemarch Station
Information Panels: General – Hyde, Middlemarch Station sites, Historic interpretation Hyde, Rock and Pillar, Middlemarch Station sites, Scrub Burn Gangers’ Shed, Rock and Pillar Access Gangers’ Shed, Strath Taieri Gangers’ Shed
Gently rolling and flat landscape characterises this section of the Otago Central Rail Trail across the Strath Taieri Plain and its many bridges and culverts.
Just south of the Hyde Station site is the scene of the region’s worst rail disaster. On 4 June 1943 the Cromwell – Dunedin train derailed, killing 21 passengers. Nearby, beside State Highway 87, there is a memorial cairn commemorating the tragedy.
The trail traverses the foothills of the 1400-metre high Rock and Pillar Range with its distinctive, huge rocky outcrops, before meandering through the valley’s productive farmland to the Ngapuna Station site. In the east is the 700-metre high Taieri Ridge.
The Otago Central Rail Trail ends 400 metres short of Middlemarch Station. The railway line first reached Middlemarch in 1891 and the station is still operational today.
The Taieri Gorge Railway train travels between Middlemarch and Dunedin on a selective and seasonal timetable. It runs a more frequent service that stops short of Middlemarch, at Pukerangi. Additional arrangements would have to be made to get to the Rail Trail from there. Cyclists could make their own way.
Journeying by train through the spectacular Taieri River Gorge, across viaducts and through tunnels is perhaps, the perfect way to end (or start) your Otago Central Rail Trail experience.