The Taieri Plain lies to the west of Dunedin under the watchful eye of the long mountain Maungatua (892m). The Taieri River winds its way through farmland towards the sea, rarely flooding nowadays but over centuries covering the plain in rich river silt. The hawthorn hedges, small farms, grand houses, old oak trees, narrow country roads and peaceful countryside here are as close as you’ll get to rural England in New Zealand. It’s the perfect place to explore by car or bicycle with beautiful hidden corners such as Woodside tucked under the hills, the country town of Mosgiel, and the timeless village of Outram.
The popular picnic spot of Outram Glen is the starting point for this 12.5 km (return) walk. It’s a 23 km drive from Dunedin via Three Mile Hill, along Highway 87 to the bridge over the Taieri River, right on George King Memorial Drive, then right again to Outram Glen. The track is clearly signposted and follows the west bank of the river. The first 30 minutes are flat then there’s a steep climb leading to an hour long section high above the river through the gorge. The return trip to the small river flat where Lee Stream meets the Taieri River takes three hours, but even a short walk along the track is rewarding for the tranquillity of the bush and the river views.
Dunedin is a fantastic golfing destination with courses to suit a variety of weather conditions. If you’re looking for a warm and sheltered country course you can’t go past Taieri Lakes at 92 Milners Rd North Taieri, just 15 minutes from town. With three lakes to make the golf a bit more challenging this mainly flat course has a couple of hills and is bordered by rolling farmland. The 6th hole is a risk and reward hole where top golfers can have a go at driving the green, while for others it’s a lay-up and short approach shot over the lake. Green fees are $30, or $25 if you’re a member of another New Zealand club.
Wal’s Plant Land is an ever expanding shopping and entertainment destination located at 107 Bush Rd on the outskirts of Mosgiel. They sell everything a gardener could want including plants, trees, bulk mixes, pots and seeds plus they have a florist and an extensive range of gifts. For the children there’s a miniature railway and for golfers an 18 hole mini golf course and a 330 metre driving range. A vegetable store selling locally grown produce is coming and there are plans to expand the railway in the future. The Topiary Café serves breakfast and lunch and there’s plenty of outdoor seating.
The picturesque farmland of Wingatui to the east of Mosgiel is home to several thoroughbred racing stables, and around 100 race horses which are trained at the Wingatui Racecourse at 285 Gladstone Rd. With 13 race meetings this season and high numbers of race goers, the Otago Racing Club which is based here is one of the most successful in the country. And it’s not only the pounding hooves of the gallops that you can experience at Wingatui. The racecourse has a steeplechase course of six fences including a sod wall and water jump for fans who like the spectacle and drama of jumps races. Melbourne Cup Day in November is the biggest event of the year with 8,000 punters attending. Check out the website and Facebook page for details of all their race meetings.
If you’re looking for good coffee then this family owned and run café is a must. In the main street of Outram they use freshly roasted coffee from the Fat Cat Coffee roastery just around the corner, and bake all their food on the premises. It’s a very popular spot for Sunday drivers from town plus cyclists and people en route to the Otago Central Rail Trail. Outram is at the centre of a network of flat and quiet country roads so if you feel like some gentle exercise why not hire a bike from the Wobbly Goat and go exploring. They will even pack you a picnic lunch.
Zelda Matheson – Taieri Enthusiast
Zelda Matheson has lived on the Taieri Plain for most of her life, and her husband Athol’s family goes back four generations to the early settlers in the area. A genealogist and keen historian, Zelda is a great advocate for the Taieri Historical Park which is located on George King Memorial Drive along the road from Outram Glen. It’s well worth a visit at any time to explore the historic buildings and vintage farm machinery, and on Sundays from May to October the buildings are open from 2 – 4 pm. With a range of artefacts from household items through to the historic Waipori Pump Station switchboard available for viewing, it offers a wonderful glimpse into the past.