By G Thompson
The Alexandra to Clyde River Walk or more properly ‘The Millennium Track’ celebrates Otago’s 150th Anniversary.
The River Walk, as locals call it, meanders 11.8km alongside the true right bank of the Clutha River between the Alexandra Bridge and the Clyde Bridge in Central Otago.
Every winding turn in the track opens up new vistas. It makes for a most charming walk and is suitable for all levels of fitness.
There is always something new to see as the seasons change through the year, each one distinct and beautiful in its own way.
In summer Alexandra gets some of the country’s hottest weather. The River Walk offers the only sheltered and shady track in the area so it is pretty special for those wilting yet wanting exercise.
Poplars and Willows line both sides of the track with frequent peeps of the Clutha River and quiet eddies to cool off in.
The shade is much appreciated by walkers, mountain bikers, runners and dogs alike. Well away from roads and the noise of traffic, the track is a serene and tranquil place to recharge batteries.
Autumn is especially lovely with the soaring Poplars turning to glowing golden spires and the Willows to a rich buttery yellow in the sunshine.
You can walk along the track on a carpet of crunchy leaves with others falling like bridal confetti. It just lifts your spirits. Visitors often come to take photos.
When all the leaves have fallen and the trees stand bare for winter more sun gets through to the track and you can see more of the river with its aquatic inhabitants.
Ducks, Coots, Shags, Herons and the occasional Swan above and Trout, Eels and perch below in the deep blue-green water.
Sometimes the track gets covered in snow and this is magic for locals competing to be the first to leave footprints!
Spring is the time of new growth and as the fresh green leaves dress the trees, the fragrant catkins on the willow release their sweet perfume. The pace of life picks up with birds busy building nests, bees buzzing in the canopy, fantails flitting around the track with hordes of Quail chattering in the undergrowth.
It is a delight to the senses.
There are features of interest along the way like a Kayak Slalom Course where local youngsters practise their skills, a Department of Conservation Historic site just a stone’s throw from the river comprising over a hundred hectares of dredge tailings and dredge ponds left over from the Central Otago Gold Rush days.
There are a few interpretation panels and lookouts on the track offering views of these too.
Bridges and board walks add a different perspective and a stony beach where the Fraser River meets the Clutha is popular with fishermen and family groups
There are lots of other great tracks around Alexandra but not many have the trees, water, abundant birdlife, fish, rabbits and historic remains that this one has.
The River Walk is our favourite track and we’re there most days. We never get tired of it.