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On the trail again . . . Similar scenes will be seen on Central Otago's gold rush trails when the Cavalcade returns to the area for a week from Saturday. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Old gold rush trails leading to Patearoa will be put to good use when the Cavalcade returns to Central Otago this weekend.

This year’s event, which starts at various locations on Saturday and finishes in Patearoa on February 29, will feature 10 trails riders, four just for horse riders, one for walking, one for running, one for trampers and one for mountain biking.

Starting points will include locations in Tarras, St Bathans, Wedderburn, Lake Mahinerangi, Grays Hills Station in South Canterbury and Ida Valley Station.

Otago Goldfields Heritage Trust started the event in 1991, to re-enact the Gold Rush era, when able-bodied men left their jobs and headed for the hills in search of gold.

Back in the earlier gold rush years, as far back as 1862, the trails were basic, if they existed at all. Accommodation was an overhanging rock or a canvas tarp and food was damper and boiled mutton, if you were lucky, an excerpt on the event’s website states.

However organisers have turned their focus towards the wilderness environment to include the most basic of transport or bike accommodation options to include tents, woolsheds and community halls along the way.

Cavalcade co-ordinator Terry Davis said food had also improved since the gold rush era, and would be supplied by various groups along the way.

Each of the trails will lead about 500 participants into Patearoa on February 29, where they will be welcomed with a grand parade, markets and entertainment.

and they’ve got a great day of entertainment and celebrations planned for us.”

He said fingers were crossed for calmer weather than had been experienced across parts of the district over recent weeks, which has included heavy rain and thunderstorms.

Mr Davis said spaces were still available on most of the trails and anyone who wanted to make a late registration could phone 03 445 111.

ALEXIA.JOHNSTON

@alliedpress.co.nz