Organised by Mike & Colleen, 11 of our members (4 couples and the 3 wisemen) packed their bikes for a quick, late night flight across the Tasman ready for a cycle adventure through areas of New Zealand south island. Blessed with fine weather, they left the Gold Coast and arrived in Christchurch. The next day, after assembling their bikes, it was time to look around the earthquake damaged city.
Whilst that evening Phil satisfied his hunger for bread and jam, the rest prepared for an early morning departure. A hired bus and trailer was used to get to Lake Tekapo, the commencement of the ride from Alps to Ocean. Our first night being at Twizel. Robert had his own adventure returning the bus & trailer.
A map of the travels can be found here. It was fun changing the route between the towns to keep off the busy roads. Luckily the road surfaces were generally fantastic. Still, we managed to find a few off-road bike tracks to keep us balanced (or not).
After leaving Twizel, a slight detour had us traversing past salmon farms & scenic lakes on gravel trails. There were even apple trees! Some weary souls gladly made it to the hot tubs at Omarama.
From Omarama we made our way to Otematata for morning tea, a rise over the spectacular Benmore dam, around Lake Aviemore to arrive in Kurow for a cool swim and a “small” dinner at the local.
Every town & every corner had a new story to tell. After leaving Kurow we came across a lot of history including Maori drawings, Elephant rocks & up close and personal with whale bones. Duntroon was a highlight, not just for the namesake, but also an association with flying pigs. The long, hilly, & scenic ride to Oamaru (on the coast) was ever changing – with a fabulous welcome at the Backpackers.
Oamaru was a great place to have a “rest”. Many of us taking the opportunity to cycle around the steep hills surrounding the town and visiting the culture centres, including the steam exhibit, historic buildings, taking in a movie or watching penguins!
Leaving Oamaru we cruised along the flats and took a scenic route via “Cock and Hen Road” until, after climbing hills, we rode through a beautiful valley leading into Waimate. A pub, that had seen better days, was our accomodation for the night. We made friends with the publican/cook and even tried our hand at strawberry picking (well at least looked for the fields).
A southerly buster morning enabled us to literally fly up the road to Timaru. It was pretty cold on the coast and a most welcome morning tea along the way. With time to spare, a quick cycle adventure around the bay found many attractions including the public avairy and even a cruise ship in port from New York.
Morning tea at Pleasant Point at the “Legends” cafe was a highlight the next day. Pleasant Point being the town that “if you blinked you will have missed out”. We went past another “under whelming” feature at hanging rock, however were soon rewarded with a climb through hills, a short dirt road, and even Moi relics before another valley ride into Geraldine.
From Geraldine, there was only one word to describe the ride – flat. So flat we even decided at morning tea to take a slightly shorter route into Methven. As the local rag at the stop wrote, “you have got to do these things before you get tapped on the head with a shovel”.
Leaving Methven our group was in for a treat, through the beautiful Rakaia gorge and morning tea at Terrace Downs Golf Resort at the base of Mount Hutt. Some of our group thought they would take a shortcut via a gravel road (known locally as the zig zag) – I think they are still overcoming the effects of riding on marbles! A pie stop for lunch at Glentunnel and fast ride into Springfield made this one of our longest days. What a lovely suprise the YHA was.
So good was the hospitality at YHA we decided to have a rest day and try our luck at catching the train to Arthur’s Pass and cycling back. A bit pricey though and the next day the weather was not looking the best. Phil, BA & Kermit were keen to climb Porter’s Pass and were back in time for morning tea. Which was just as well, because the YHA offered us a bus to hire for the trip to Arthur’s Pass. Enjoy the photos.
It seemed like it was all downhill from Springfield into Christchurch. We got our only bit of rain (if you could call it that), however it was cold enough to really enjoy the bakery at Darfield. As we got closer to Christchurch the road got busier so it was pleasing to get to our park giving plenty of time to stow away the bikes, return cars and prepare a fine meal. It was E.D’s birthday the next day & an opportunity to enjoy our final night.
Not much left of the trip now. A quick flight home to the Gold Coast and then the car ride back to Coffs Harbour area. The following photos are at the “end of the roll”.
The ride inspired us all and with all the knowledge gained, it was enough inspiration for E.D. to gain focus on a potential cycle trail along the entire coast of New South Wales. Check out NSW Coastal Cycle web site for all the details.