Meet the Locals

Lauder School B & B

182309 Esme Bruce MacDonald Lauder B B 7

Esme & Bruce MacDonald of Lauder School B & B, Lauder.

image: Clare Toia-Bailey

A chat with Esme & Bruce McDonald who have been the hosts of Lauder School B & B for six and half years...

What services or products do you provide rail trailers?

We provide rail trailers with unique bed and breakfast accommodation and southern hospitality in Lauder. We offer a range of tastefully-decorated, historic accommodation at the former Lauder Railway School. With capacity to cater for up to 22 guests in either ensuite or shared-facilities rooms, Lauder School B&B is well situated to provide quality accommodation for groups, couples or solo travellers. Guests are welcome to use the complimentary spa pool, free 1GB  of Wi-Fi and to jam with Bruce in singing and playing the ukulele or guitar if they choose – not a nightly occurrence but when guests are keen to do this it is a lot of fun.


Lauder Ukelele Festival Organisers

Lauder Ukelele Organisers including Esme & Bruce MacDonald  Image supplied.

What has inspired you to run your business in Central Otago that supports the Otago Central Rail Trail?

For over 20 years we witnessed happy cyclists using the Rail Trail from our property in Galloway. Having lived in the Manuherikia River valley for more than 30 years, we are very familiar with this part of Central Otago. When an opportunity arose to purchase the Lauder School B&B in 2012 we decided that it would be a great way to join the fun that the Rail Trail generates. Lauder School B&B has always enjoyed a good reputation as accommodation and we felt we could  take the business forward and build on that reputation.

182309 Esme Bruce MacDonald Lauder B B 2

Lauder School B & B. image: Clare Toia-Bailey

Describe what makes Lauder School B & B stand apart from others?

Lauder School B&B has been an accommodation destination on the Otago Central Rail Trail since the trail began. The opportunity to stay in a repurposed building which has been an important part of the Lauder community and to be part of its history is very appealing to our guests. With its spacious Common Room, lovely country gardens and outdoor spa, Lauder School B&B offers a wide variety of places for guests to come together and socialise. We are also the hub of ukulele entertainment along the Rail Trail and a major part of the Lauder Ukulele Festival.

We are proud to have been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor for four years in a row as it reflects the independent feedback given by our guests.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

We enjoy the interaction with our guests. They are all interested in our local history and the area around Lauder. We like to promote local attractions such our dark night skies, St Bathans, the Cambrian Common Forest, Hayes Engineering at Oturehua or curling at Naseby and if our guests are on a tight schedule we try to get them to come back to Lauder to explore the area further. Every day we meet interesting and friendly people from all over the world.

Any tips for people thinking about planning a trip on the Otago Central Rail Trail?

Plan and book early. Investigate how to include side trips that let you explore and discover the secrets hidden in fantastic little communities just off the trail ... stay an extra night in Lauder... don’t go home wishing you had given yourself more time. The people along the Rail Trail are as interesting as the landscape so keep a wide focus on what you might enjoy along the trail and give yourself as many great experiences as you can find to take home and share with others.