Olympics Sparks Interest in Curling

On podcasts and in conversations with colleagues, everyone is fascinated with curling during this Olympics. I love being able to say, “I tried it.” Quickly I’m peppered with questions about the rules. I try to get by with saying it’s a lot like Bocce.  Here is my post from my Otago Rail Trail adventure in New Zealand. But first watch this 2 minute video from and see how much curling is not like Bocce.

Indoor Curling Rink in Naseby

Indoor Curling Rink in Naseby

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.

The rink provides these rubber covers for your shoes to enable you to walk safely on the ice. No special equipment needed. Dress warmly!

The rink provides these rubber covers for your shoes to enable you to walk safely on the ice. No special equipment needed. Dress warmly!

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.

If your back is stiff or sore, use the stick to push the stone.

If your back is stiff or sore, use the stick to push the stone.

Give Curling a Push in Central Otago, New Zealand

Indoor Curling Rink in Naseby

Indoor Curling Rink in Naseby

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.

The rink provides these rubber covers for your shoes to enable you to walk safely on the ice. No special equipment needed. Dress warmly!

The rink provides these rubber covers for your shoes to enable you to walk safely on the ice. No special equipment needed. Dress warmly!

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.

If your back is stiff or sore, use the stick to push the stone.

If your back is stiff or sore, use the stick to push the stone.

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.

Excellent food and a wide selection of wine, beer and spirits are available.

Excellent food and a wide selection of wine, beer and spirits are available. Plenty of places to dine by the fire.

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.

Otago Central Rail Trail Day 3: Ranfurly to Stone and Pillar

Waipiata Man greets cyclists along Rail Trail.

Waipiata Man greets cyclists along Rail Trail.

I ended Day Two in Ranfurly so I began Day 3 just behind the Information Centre.It was a pleasure to wake up and roll out of town with little fuss. I borrowed a pair of gloves from Off the Rails because the sun and wind had burned the back of my hands the previous day. It was also cooler and cloudier so the extra warmth felt good.

Rail Trail between Waipiata and Kokonga.

Rail Trail between Waipiata and Kokonga.

I still was not sore from cycling, just tired. I was confident in my ability to cycle the 44 kilometers to Rock and Pillar.

The plan was to ride to Hyde for lunch and then finish the day mid afternoon at Rock & Pillar, giving me ample time to get cleaned up and go curling before dinner in Naseby.

Beautiful home in Daisybank.

Beautiful home in Daisybank.

I packed my rain jacket in my pannier everyday—a wise precaution in New Zealand where the weather is changeable. Today I wore it to ward off the chill and “just in case” although it never actually rained.

Red Dwarf HutI stopped frequently to take photos as the scenery was even more gorgeous than previous stretches. The place names are sometimes Maori, sometimes reminiscent of somewhere in Great Britain. I loved “Daisybank,” which likely describes the place in springtime. I saw some picnicking couples but otherwise I had the trail to myself.

Hyde Central Hotel cafe one of my favorite stops.

Hyde Central Hotel cafe one of my favorite stops.

There was another tunnel and quite a few bridges. It seemed like no time and I was rolling into Hyde. We stopped at the charming café Otago Central Hotel after quickly admiring the World War I memorial. The women in the teashop were very friendly and the cheese scone yummy. I warmed up with some tea and a little time out of the wind.

Crazy cloudsI was whizzing along lost in my thoughts and I rode right past the stamp stop at Tiroiti and also did not see the sign that indicated the memorial for the 21 victims of the Hyde rail accident. Fortunately the café in Hyde had the stamp for Tiroiti and Nick was happy to stop at the Memorial after loading my bike on the trailer at Rock and Pillar.

Then it was just 14 kilometers to Rock and Pillar. I clouds in the sky were spectacular. I felt like I was flying along.Rail Trail

Hyde Rail Accident

Hyde Rail Accident Memorial

Hyde Rail Accident Memorial

The 4 June 1943 Hyde rail accident was horrific. Of the 113 people on the train, 21 were killed and 47 injured. The train engineer ought to have reduced speed before Straw Cutting but because of his own fatigue failed to do so. The engine and 5 carriages jumped the tracks, several of them telescoping into one another. Passengers were thrown onto the cold ground and there was risk of dying from exposure. Rescue efforts were hampered by wartime petrol rationing, lack of manpower, and busy telephone lines. Locals will share some of the remarkable stories of survivors.