Trail Places

Poolburn Gorge

From Lauder, the trail crosses from the Manuherikia Valley, through the Raggedy Range via the Poolburn Gorge and out into the Ida Valley – the most dramatic and popular part of the trail.

Train passengers could only glimpse this secret world, as they were whisked into the gaping, dark mouths of the two Poolburn tunnels, then out onto the Poolburn Viaduct – which they would not have been able to see. We now have the chance to explore the rugged gorge that was known well only to the 300 workers who hacked and chiseled and blasted a path for the train for three years from 1901. A torch is a good idea for the longest tunnel on the trail, Poolburn Tunnel #2, as it has a curve in the middle and the darkness is very dark. Get off your bike to properly admire the skilled workmanship of the stonemasons who helped construct by hand the Trail’s highest viaduct. You can walk down to the “ghost town” – all that remains of the Tunnelers’ Camp are a few stone walls and chimneys, not far from the Poolburn Stream. Nowadays you can feel like “man alone” in this quiet place. It’s a great place to sit and reflect on the lives of people who lived and worked so hard here, then maybe enjoy a lunch break, look out and listen for some karearea (native falcons)…