Curling is the winter olympic sport that inspires both fascination and ridicule. Naseby in Central Otago boasts the only Olympic standard indoor curling rink in the southern hemisphere.
Why you may ask? Because Central Otago was settled by Scottish immigrants in the 1840s and they brought their curling stones and love of the sport with them. Most winters the lakes freeze over sufficient to send out the call and assemble teams for a Bonspiel.
If you book a tour with Off the Rails, Nick ensures that you enjoy an evening lesson and curling session. If you are unassociated with a tour you may book your own session.
The rules of the game are similar to bowls, kube, or bocce ball. You can throw the stone with your arm or you can push it with a stick. Your teammates can use the broom to sweep the ice and encourage your stone to reach the target. Your opponents can use the broom to sweep the ice and keep the stone moving past the target. I joined some other visitors for a lot of practice and a lot of fun.
Afterward we ate dinner at the Ancient Briton pub and restaurant. After a drink at the bar and an interesting conversation with some locals and the Publican, we enjoyed generous portions of a hearty meal not unlike an American Thanksgiving with pork, steak or lamb instead of turkey, and if you are not careful with the same stuffed feeling.
The evening was a terrific way to unwind after Day Three of cycling. Just a few short kilometers the next day and the Rail Trail adventure is complete. Feeling a touch melancholy.