Rail trail a 'great escape'

Otago Central Rail Trail Trust chairwoman Kate Wilson thinks it is ''absolutely brilliant'' the 150km route has been named as one of 75 Great Escapes in Lonely Planet's latest publication of the same name.

''But we're not surprised ... It's a credit to all the operators and Doc [the Department of Conservation].''

The 75 experiences, from around the world, have been organised by theme with the rail trail falling into the ''Wild Escapes'' section.

It features alongside destinations such as Colombia's ''Ghost Coast'', a 100km stretch of coastline bordering the Pacific Ocean; a ''Powder Pilgrimage'' ski trip to Japan's Hokkaido and a dead sea experience in Jordan.

''The gold rush is long gone and today there's no rush of any sort. Though the cycling is easy, the distractions are many.

''The trail is punctuated with pubs - a dozen hotels in about 150km - making this a ride as civilised (and ciderised) as any in the world,'' the book says of the trail.

It also lists some of the essential experiences - pub-hopping, the tunnels of the Poolburn and Taieri Gorges, curling at Naseby, watching the willows turn golden in autumn, stamping a rail trail passport at each former railway station, and returning to Dunedin on the Taieri Gorge Railway.

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