Tag Archives: new zealand

(photo) Update 4 – Tour Aotearoa 2016

Seb and Ollie had a big day yesterday up and over Haast Pass, still managed 300+ km while ‘taking it easy’. They camped out and rolled into Wanaka at 6am to eat bakery treats and keep rolling. They have just hit Queenstown and will be on the 2pm boat to Water Peak. Only 240km to go: estimated finish time 12pm tomorrow (10am Australian time)!

That’s it from me, Seb can write a blog post or two when he gets home!!

Go guys, stella effort.

 

 

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Update 3 – Tour Aotearoa 2016

Had a quick chat to Seb today when he was in Ross, about 2112km into the event. Has been riding for around 7 days 8 hours and he sounded very chipper! All is going well. He and Ollie parted ways with Anja when she had a slightly longer stop in Nelson, her home town. Seb had some tube dramas and spent a chunk of time swapping new ones in and out and mending others, but all seems good now and he has a fair long road section ahead. If they keep on this pace they will finish before the allowed 10 days minimum, so it sounds like the next few days will be a bit more cruisy rather than sitting near the finish waiting… I wish my cruisy days were 300km!

The next 300km for the guys from Hari Hari has around 3500m climbing and will take them past the glacier townships of Fox and Franz Joseph and then up and over Haast Pass. The next 300km after that has around 2600m of climbing. Hope Seb gets to have an awesome Queenstown FERGBURGER before the boat across gorgeous Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak.

Anja is having some butt issues although it doesn’t seem to have slowed her down. Cracking pace. Nathan apparently got stung on the tongue by a bee (eeeek) and has a bit of a sore knee, feeling good other than that. He has regained some ground and is currently in Springs Junction about 280km behind the leaders. He has a fantastic road climb ahead of him up and over Rahu saddle (one of my favourite Kiwi Brevet sections) to Reefton. He then has the horrid Big River Track (my least favourite section). Think of a road with head sized river boulders followed by classic (and a tad sketchy) NZ hiking trail. Enjoy Nath, Seb confirmed that he enjoyed it as much as last time, which was not at all!

The field is really spread out now, with a lot of riders looking like they might still be on the North Island when the top riders finish. Sounds like weather up north is hampering efforts, making the Mountains to Sea/ Bridge to No Where section challenging. Keep thinking happy thoughts people, it will all be over too soon and you’ll wish you were back out there in the rain!

Here are some photos Seb sent through.

 

Update 2 – Tour Aotearoa 2016

Today (25th Feb) sees the front riders well into their 5th day of racing. All waves have started and riders are now spread out across the entire North island of New Zealand as people have settled into their individual rhythms and routines.

Tour Aotearoa - Day 5

Tour Aotearoa – Day 5

For the last few days a group of 6 riders had been out the front quite enjoying each others company. Seb as usual says he is just riding along chatting and loving it, but some others appear to be already burning the candle at both ends. Nathan Versey was riding with the group but required a chain lube top up in town, which unfortunately (unless he stopped for other reasons), meant he missed the boat the front guys were on.  Haven’t heard from him but looks like he is still riding strong!

Seb’s FB update read: “Tour Aotearoa going along fantastically. Today was wicked-up at 4am to finish off timber trail – proper NZ mtbing. Managed to make last jet boat and rolled 80km to Whanganui for a motel and shower which also means social media. Been very social for a change with a group of 6 – mainly due to boat pinch points. Around 1050km in now and aiming to make ferry to Picton Friday evening.

Photo point 10 was at the Bridge to Nowhere: originally built to connect the small settlement to the Whanganui River, Now abandoned, native bush has taken over leaving a bridge with nowhere to go. Very pretty!

Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere

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Being a tree? I presume this is photo point 8 – the geographical centre of the North Island.

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Anja and Ollie

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Not quite so rideable. Anja and Ollie.

Seb said parts of the timber-trail were pretty epic but there was a great downhill which made up for it. The jet boat from Mangapurua Landing along the Wanganui River to Pipiriki looked so cool! He posted a video here.

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Bike storage on the jet boat

Annoyingly when they woke this morning to leave, Ollie Whalley’s shoes had been stolen from out the front of the room. The others pushed on while he waited around for a store to open to buy some more. Who would want shoes that have just ridden over 1000km in 4 days!?!? They are famous person shoes I guess!

So at the moment Matty Graham, Seb Dunne, Anja McDonald, Steve Halligan are trying hard to make the Friday ferry from Wellington to the South Island.  Ollie will surely catch them up in time for the Friday evening ferry, otherwise it’s Saturday morning. I gotta say, big kudos to Anja, she is ripping this ride apart so far and keeping with the top boys. Go girl! Not sure where they will sleep tonight, but the riding looks pretty straight forward once they cross the Tararua Range.

Grey Galway and a group of a few others have just gotten off the speed boat and will push for Wanganui tonight I guess, this is where hard as nails Rob Davidson and Nathan Versey currently are.

Our buddies Dane Roberts and Lee Rice are going well since their start on the 23rd. Both have made it Auckland and it looks like Dane has pushed on ahead.

I am away camping and rogaining for the weekend so no internet or updates for me. Come Sunday night I am sure things will have started getting interesting. With only one boat section on the South Island they will be free to ride without such hard time constraints except for the 6 hour stoppages!

Update 1 – Tour Aotearoa 2016

As most might be aware, there is an awesome new event on the bikepacking calendar this year: Tour Aotearoa. It is a 3000 km brevet from Cape Reinga to Bluff (top to bottom) in New Zealand. It follows the route described in the 3rd edition of Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails and has been organised Jonathan Kennett.  The event is being run in 3 waves of start dates: 21st, 23rd and 24th February.

The event follows most of the usual bikepacking style rules: self-sufficiency, carry your own gear, no outside assistance. There are a few other unique additions to the rules: cannot finish in under 10 days or over 30 days, can ride in pairs (no drafting) and between 9am one day and 9am the next, every rider must spend at least one block of at least six hours not travelling. That is, the maximum time any rider may spend travelling along the course will be 18 hours (between each 9am-to-9am period). Plus mandatory photo points!

You can follow the spot tracking here: http://touraotearoa2016.maprogress.com/

And the event blog here: http://www.touraotearoa.nz/

We have a quite a number of riders from Australia who have headed over: Seb Dunne, Nathan Versey, Dane Roberts, Lee Rice, Steve Watson.  There are a few good friends of ours from New Zealand riding including Ollie Whalley, Rob Davidson, Scott & Jo Emmens and Margaret Leyland (riding in a pair as Peg & Kath).

Back here in Australia I am super busy with uni and work at the moment but I’ll try and do a general update of what I hear and find on out on the internet every couple of days!

Seb's photo point 1: Cape Reinga

Required photo point 1: Cape Reinga, the top of New Zealand

I spoke to Seb after his first day. Apparently a super tough day. The first section headed them straight out onto ‘Ninety Mile Beach’ for a hard slog the entire length of the beach on the sand with a great big southerly blowing hard into their faces. Oh, and it was HOT! Seb had some chest pain and breathing issues so stopped a bit early that night. After a good rest he was up early and caught back up to the small lead group to all catch the ferry together.

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Required photo point 2: Ninety Mile Beach

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On the ferry across Kaipara Harbour

After the ferry a small group waited out the rest of their 6 hr rest stop in order to ride through the night, avoiding the hectic aspects of riding through Auckland.

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Hobbits wearing lyrca?!

Apparently they made it through Auckland with no dramas. Seb says he is on track to catch the speed boat at the planned time to Pipiriki. He also said that all the timing deadlines with boats makes riding a bit more complicated than normal, especially trying to coordinate it with mandatory rest periods!

It seems like a group of a few riders have been staying pretty close at the pointy end: Matty Graham, Seb Dunne, Cliff Clermont, Anja McDonald, Steve Halligan. It appears (according to the trackers but who knows how accurate the trackers are real time) Ollie Whalley and Nathan Versey are a little bit behind that.

Wave 1 have now been riding for just over 2 days. Wave 2 started a few hours ago, wave three due to start tomorrow!

Keep enjoying the event unfold and watching those dots.

Kiwi Brevet – finishing strong

Day 4 – Near Moana to Maruia Saddle

182km, 3155m elevation

Day four was the day I nearly pulled out of the Kiwi Brevet. I had already had some tough days but mainly they were mentally tough, not physically. I started day four in the drizzle, a little damp but happy to be riding. After an hour or so my left knee started hurting. It went from hurting to excruciating and within a few hours I could hardly pedal. I adjusted my seat to give me slight relief but it was far from fixed. I worked out where I was going to pull out and started to figure out how I could get back to Blenheim from there. While I was sitting on the side of the road I caught a glimpse of my left cleat. It was skewed off at a hideous angle, definitely not straight. I had given myself a sore knee. Fark! I got out the allen keys and quickly rectified the problem. Would you believe that that was it, no more problems. Pays to check these things!

So back on the horse, I refueled at Ikamatua, bumping into the Iride guys who had had a great night sleep at the Blackball Hilton. Jealous!!!! The climb up to Waiuta was glorious. Fresh air, lovely gravel gradient and beautiful green forest. I was (almost) grinning with happiness at how things can turn around if you keep on keeping on.

The next section on the Brevet takes you into the gold mining area know as Big River. The Victoria Conservation Park apparently has some of New Zealand’s finest native beech forest and I would happily attest to that! Despite walking nearly the entire 9km section, it was almost my favourite part of the brevet. Every type of fern you could imagine was sparking and spectacular in the rain, classic New Zealand!

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Unfortunately I had assumed the section after Big River was nice gravel road into Reefton, but it was in fact a long-ass haul on old mining kart track with river boulders the size of my head the whole way. Needless to say I again did more walking. It would be a cool place to visit with more time, exploring the old mining buildings, the DOC hut and mine shafts. Finally popping into Reefton I was in surprisingly high spirits, gobbled down some pies and goodies and headed back on the road.

The climb up to Rahu Saddle, with the setting sun and quiet evening road, was just delightful. I hung my socks out to dry on my bar ends and “wahoooed” my way all the way down to Springs Junction.

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The evening was getting fresh but I was feeling great and happy to keep pushing on. I decided to aim for Murchison or close enough to get breakfast there in the morning. As I started up Maruia Saddle in the dark, the temperature plummeted and my enthusiasm waned. I rounded  corner to see a grassy corner, sheltered by the wind by large pine trees. I quickly set up camp and had the best, albeit freezing,  slumber of the trip so far.

Day 5 – Maruia Saddle to Nelson

226km, 3270m elevation

I luckily escaped an awkward naked hello as Peg and Mike rounded the corner as I was packing up camp. They continued on but we were soon to be new criss-crossing buddies until the end of the brevet. I couldn’t quite work out how Peg had ended up been behind me, I thought she was way in front, but soon caught up and found out she had skipped 200km after she had stitches in her knee at Hanmer Springs. HARDCORE! The early morning ride into Murchison was peaceful and passed quickly as I was looking forward to a big breakfast. I passed Keith Payne who was bleary eyed and looking freezing after a night in a ditch on the road side. We rode the last few kms together into Murchison and both devoured a delicious hot breakfast while I enjoyed my first WiFi of the trip! This is also where I started my obsession with Snickers as the ultimate bikepacking food. By the end of the trip I counted I had eaten 13 Snickers bars!!!!

The next section of the brevet was a steady climb and descent down to Lake Rotoroa. Then started some epic hike-a-bike up Porika Road. The views were sensational, but I would never ever voluntarily go up there again!

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The next hours and kilometers rolled on nearly effortlessly. Pretty passes, pine plantations and lonely small towns. Eventually they all gave way to civilisation as we headed in towards Nelson on the Great Taste Trail. I had grand plans of getting into town and getting a motel room for my first real shower in five days. I rode around and around looking for somewhere but evertything said full or was closed. I eventually decided on Burger King and the campground up the road. I bumped into Peg and Mike again and we rode together to the campsite out of town. I had shower and got some shocked side glances from another female camper (bad tan lines, rashes and general disgustingness), ate cold Burger King in the tent at about midnight and had a glorious sleep until my air mattress got a hole and then I froze my tits off! I was absolutely stoked that by tomorrow night I would be finished!

Day 6 – Nelson to Blenheim

151km, 5185m elevation

Tough day!!!! Somewhere in the back of my mind I envisaged a bit of hike a bike up Maungatapu and some hills along Port Underwood and I’d be done by lunchtime. 10 hours riding time later and some serious vertical meters and I was back in Blenheim. Maungatapu was the hike-a-bike hill of doom and by far the longest and biggest mountain (up to 1014m) that I have walked my bike up. The scenery along the coastline before and after Picton was jaw dropping. I was so worried that I would run out of water on the relentless hills of the Port Underwood track (or Port Underpants as some were calling it). Jut to give it even more sting in the tail if that climbing was not enough, I had a ripper of a headwind all the way into Blenheim. Luckily Seb and Ed came to keep me smiling all the way into town.

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Kiwi Brevet was the best experience! Many thanks were required including Bruno for not leaving me on Wharfdale in the dark despite my protests, to the YHA owner at Authur’s Pass who refused me a room and demanded I ‘get back out there and harden up’, and to Peg and Mike for fun crisscrossing company and also the Iride guys. Thanks to Jo and Scott for their organisation of a such a grand adventure. Mostly thanks to Seb for putting up with my higgledy piggledy pre-event (dis)organisation. You rode an inspiring event to finish 2nd male!

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Kiwi Brevet – plans which don’t go to plan

The Kiwi Brevet is a self supported 1100km cycle event around the top of the South Island in New Zealand, mostly on gravel roads. In February this year Seb and I headed over the give it go. After a few months of 15hr work days, I am finally able to sit here on this rainy arvo and do some writing. I wish I could have written about everything that happened but spending an average of 12 hours a day for 6 days on a bike means that there are far too many experiences to share!

Day 1 – Blenheim to Pool Hut (?) on St James Cycle Trail

205km, 2950m elevation

Standing at the Seymore Square fountain in Blenheim in light drizzle I was so nervous I was actually shaking a little bit. After our briefing in the cinema, it was now 9:50am and I was full of espresso and madly trying to get my GPS to turn on. It dawned on me that I was about to head out for a little 1,200 km spin around the New Zealand South Island with a little GPS arrow as my tour guide. Shit!

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There were a few group photos and I said my goodbyes to Seb and Ed and then it was 10am and this peloton of eager-beavers were screaming out of town in a blur of every colour of rain jacket you could imagine. I found myself comfortably about 10th wheel, keen to sit in for as long as the tar lasted at least. We covered about 35km in the first hour and it felt like warp speed. As soon as we hit the gravel I silently waved goodbye to Sebba who I could see was off the front of the pack, that was the last time I saw him for nearly six days! I dropped back and found myself alone and all of a sudden instantly happy. My own head space, my own speed. And that was where I stayed for the whole of the brevet.

The first 150km of day one passed quickly, the kilometers ticking over effortlessly as I settled into my own rhythm. Passing and chatting to a few people here and there and being passed by a few people too. Mainly I rode alone and began my bikepacking ritual of talking and randomly singing out loud to myself. Gradually the route took us up the valley, riding parallel to the Wairau River for most of the day. As we turned away from the river and over our first big pass, we headed towards the St James Cycle Trail.

Now the big views started. Surrounded by snow capped mountains with the setting sun breaking through gaps in the peaks and illuminating the valley in beautiful oranges and pinks.

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As all plans never go to plan (my plan being that I wouldn’t ride slow off-road sections at night due to my bad light setup), of course I found myself bumping and bashing along the St James Cycle Trail at night, my dynamo flickering like a disco, accentuated by the rigid fork vibrations and the connector plug popping out with every big bump. I urged myself to remain happy and slowy push through, I was determined to make it to a hut although I hadn’t decided which hut it would be. At about 210km one popped up out of the dark and into my light beam, possibly Pool Hut but I can’t be sure. I poked my head in the front door but there was some snoring and all beds appeared full. So I set up the tent outside and drifted easily to sleep after an almost indigestible can of chicken meat and a packet of cold fried rice. Very happy to have day one under my belt and eager to tackle a new day of riding tomorrow.

Day 2 – Pool Hut (?) on St James Cycle Trail to a hedgerow near Springfield

200km, 3100m elevation

It was a glorious morning when I got out of the tent, happy to find the hut-riders had left and I was free to nude up and change clothes outside 😉 I rode alone until I came across Chris Bennett who had stopped for a caffeine pill. According to him that is a big thing so he must have been feeling pretty flat. He had also struggled on the St James track in the dark, having only a dynamo light after his head lamp malfunctioned. We rode the whole morning together into Hanmer Springs, chatting about bikes, jobs, Tour Divide and everything in between.

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At Hanmer Springs we shared a table for breakfast, our first real meal since breakfast the day before. I devoured coffee, juice and amazing pancakes with banana and bacon but was astounded by Chris’ ability to eat a serve of scrambled eggs, followed by a serve of pancakes, followed by another serve of eggs! It dawned on me that I really needed to learn how to eat big and still be able to ride out of town, a skill Chris noted was essential for Tour Divide riders! We parted ways as Chris went to buy a new headlamp and I continued out into the heat.

The day warmed up to be a scorcher and the bitumen was hot and I was saying out loud I wanted to get off this bitch-umen. Where were the trees? In Culverden I downed an ice cold coke and got a toasted sandwhich to go. This is where I started my brevet-long crisscrossing with the IRide guys, Jesse and Kirk. I was a slower rider but pretty spot on with my nav, they were faster but less than spot on with their nav! I passed them just before heading into MacDonald Downs, a large cattle grazing property which the brevet goes through. It was hot, windy, treeless and generally smelt like cows. Slowly and steadily I wound my way up and down through the dry desert-like property, running out of water fast. The guys passed me as I was lying under the only tree we saw for hours eating my amazing toasted sanga, but I soon passed them again as they began ducking into every farm house on route looking for water. Begrudgingly I filled up from a semi-flowing stream with rocks which were covered in cow shit and cows standing on the other side of the stream. I decided that I was happier with giardia over death by dehydration, but put about 10 puritabs in my water bladder and began the slow 30min ride until I could drink it.

The afternoon turned to evening as the guys and I started out on the much talked about Wharfdale section: a walking track in Oxford Forest which can also apparently (??) be a mountain bike track too. I had heard it was hard and there would be some walking and pushing, but I was totally not prepared for what lay ahead in the dark. Hours upon hours of pushing, lifting, shouting, cramping, crashing, more pushing, pulling and whimpering. Somewhere along the way Bruno Geldermans appeared and we trudged along together. The only saving grace for me was that Bruno declared I was not in any state for him to leave me alone out there by myself. At one point I stopped in the middle of the track and decided I was camping right then and there. Bruno headed off and it took me less than 5 minutes standing there in the dark to rush off again to find him! We escaped the forest at about 11pm. I camped in a hedgerow at the bottom of the hill to escape from the strong winds, he decided to head closer to town to get water. I washed myself down in a muddy river crossing on the main road by a farm house and filled up my water from the steam with the sound and smell of cows nearby (eeewww again). Completely exhausted and now cramping from head to toe, I hardly slept a wink. Probably the toughest day on the brevet for me. If I was sensible I should have camped at Wharfdale hut and done the track fresh and early in the morning, but as always, plans never go to plan.

 

Day 3 – A hedgerow near Springfield to near Moana

210km, 2650m elevation

Day three was groggy start, I packed up early and headed into Springfield to find some much needed food as my last proper meal was breakfast the previous day. Luckily I stumbled across the Yellow Shack cafe, where I ate my body weight in delicious homemade goodies including egg and bacon pie, Camembert quiche, a muffin and a much needed coffee. Bumped into the Iride guys at the servo, they had spent the night at school ground around the corner. We headed off to tackle the bitumen section over Porters Pass and on towards Arthur’s Pass. Everything about day three was slow. I knew I was wrecked from the day before so I decided to take it very easy and set no goal destination for the day. The wind was howling and the rain was setting in as I approached the township of Arthur’s Pass. I had all my rain gear on and it was bucketing down. Torrential rain. I ummed and ahhhhed and eventually decided I didn’t want to be caught wet and freezing in the dark on some epic New Zealand mountain pass. It was only 4pm in the arvo but I stopped in at the YHA to get a room. A keen cycling enthusiast and brevet fan, the guy at the front desk  kicked himself for not realising the Kiwi Brevet had started. We chatted and I did some more umming and ahhing, expressing my concerns about the cold and rain. In the end he convinced me I’d be up and over the pass in about half and hour, so he kindly declined my request for a room and told me to get back out there. “Think of how much stopping at 4pm will kill your daily average” he protested.

It was torrential rain, but he was correct. In no time I was indeed up and over the pass, slip sliding down the other side in a river which was running down the road. Over 4 hours passed and I merrily rode along in the easing rain, so glad I had kept going.

As it got dark I looked at the cue sheet and decided Moana was only a short way off course and I could get a room there to dry out for the night. When I t-boned Arnold Valley Road I turned left off course, thinking I only had a few kms to Moana. By now it was dark, I was soaked to the core, freezing and it was torrential rain again. More than 6km down the road I got out the map and realised I had misread the cue sheet, the turn off to Moana was many many kms before Arnold Valley Way. Very sad, I bailed and headed back towards the route. At the intersection again, I noticed a house with a light on. I knocked on the door to ask how far Moana actually was. A lovely old Samoan lady opened the door and she looked a bit shocked to see this bedraggled looking crazy wet Australian standing there. To be honest I don’t know why she didn’t slam it shut again in my face! After agreeing that Moana was too far she kindly offered me her veranda for shelter. Her husband headed off to the midnight shift across the road at the abattoir, and after a handful of rain-sodden cold potato wedges, I drifted off to sleep to the sound of cows being beheaded. I wondered where Seb was and hoped he was dry. I wondered where the Iride guys where, they couldn’t be too far from this horrid weather. Some days bikepacking is not glamorous, and this was definitely one of those days.

New Zealand bikepacking days 3 & 4: sweaty business

Day Three: Wedderburn to Cattle Creek (137.8km, 1926m elev.)

I had been dragging anchor and struggling with a cold during our hike and the last two days of our cycle touring. Pushing myself too hard in the hot sun had driven me to exhaustion and heat stroke the day before, so Seb was kind enough to let me decide the pace and call it quits at anytime. I was determined to keep going and knew I was on the ‘getting better’ side of the cold, just needed to take things down a notch.

The day started with a cruise through Naseby Forest. With the long ride ahead we were not as enthused about finding the Great Southern Brevet singletrack as we thought we might have been. We rolled into Naseby town to find a very informative welcome sign. So, worry-free, we headed out to find Damsey’s pass.

Tussock grass was about the only vegetation as we climbed higher and higher. A great climb and jaw-dropping views from the top.

Damseys PassIt was getting hot again, average temperature for this day was 31 degrees. The climbs were getting very sweaty.

After some very nice downhill we cruised along into Duntroon where we stocked up on water, ice, iced chocolates, sandwiches and cookies. We had so many good cookies in NZ. And carrot cake. Amazing carrot cake! Ride to eat, isn’t that what they say?

The next stretch through to Kurow was possibly the most demoralising bit of bitumen I have ever ridden on a mountain bike. It was hot, damn freaking hot. We emptied litres of water on our heads and buried ourselves in the riding – not a word was spoken between us for that 20km. We arrived in Kurow and went straight to the shop for more water and icecreams. It was getting towards afternoon and we had to think about our plans.

looking satisfied

looking satisfied

We had thought that today we might get to Lake Tekapo and tomorrow we would smash out the flat ride to Christchurch. Unfortunately for us there was another large pass between us an Lake Tekapo and nobody could really guarantee us any water along the way. I was very worried about riding in more swealtering heat all afternoon and not being able to freely gulp at my water. We decided we’d get the map out at the cafe over coffee.

As it turned out, the owner of the cafe had a property up the Hakataramea Valley where we were headed. He suggested starting out that afternoon and staying at an old abandoned school along the way (Cattle Creek), that way we could tackle the pass in the cool morning and be at Lake Tekapo for brunch. Glorious!

feeling like a sheep who wished it was shearing time. wool was too hot!!

feeling like a sheep who wished it was shearing time. wool was too hot!!

We crossed the border from Otago to Canterbury regions and began up the valley. It was truly disgustingly hot (did I mention HOTTTTTTTTT) in that valley and I was dying in my icebreaker jersey. I think about 90% of the time I had it pulled up around my ears for some ventilation!

Cattle Creek was very abandoned little town: a school, a town hall and one other building with not a soul in sight. We set up camp around the back of the school near the playground and had a delightful swim in the creek. For dinner we shared a pack of pre-cooked rice and a can of shredded chicken in mayonnaise. Yep, it was a interesting and gross as it sounds. Night brought a cool breeze and made sleeping easy.

Day Four: Cattle Creek to Lake Tekapo (72km 970m elev.)

In the breaking dawn light we set off early from our school hideaway at Cattle Creek. We were faced with a short ride up the continuation of the Hakataramea Valley before starting the Hakataramea Pass climb.

Sheep ran along next to us as we made our way past the final farm and began our ascent. It wasn’t actually a huge climb but the weather was heating up by 7am and we were glad to get to the top. We were treated to views of the vast open basin leading to Lake Tekapo with Mount Cook National Park in the background. Dripping with sweat and again with my icebreaker jersey pulled up around my ears, it was odd to look out across at Mt Cook, majestic and covered in snow.

The best way to start the day

The best way to start the day

The next  downhill whizzed us down to the basin where we were spat out into the middle of this big, dry open space.  We rode until we met Haldon Road and turned right, heading towards the (8) highway to Lake Tekapo.

At that turn, the wind hit us. At first we thought it was just a gust and it would disappear. But 15 minutes later and we were crawling along at 8km/h being battered by a direct headwind that must have been 30km/hr or more. An hour later and we were still battling it out against the wind. I was trying with all my might not to fall apart. Tears were coming but I couldn’t let some nasty wind do this to me. It was terrible. We were no longer riding together, Seb was far off in the distance. I was doing less than 8km/hr now. An eerie misty was pouring over the mountains from Fairlie, like the apocalypse was coming.

so pretty and we got to enjoy it at snail pace!

Tailwind to Tekapo!

Eventually, we turned left onto the highway, greeted by a 30km/hr tailwind. After that we didn’t really pedal until we got to Tekapo! We had a huge breakfast and a swim in the vivid blue and freezing glacial lake.

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

I made the call here. I couldn’t face 200km tomorrow across flat boring plains to Christchurch. I didn’t see the point. We spent a lovely afternoon sightseeing around Tekapo and lying on the grass between food runs to the supermarket and nearby cafe. We ended up catching a bus to Christchurch that night, leaving us plenty of time to find new bike boxes, pack our bikes and leave the country!

A whirlwind journey full of adventure, emotions and scenery. Utterly exhausted after all that hiking and biking we nearly needed a holiday to recover from our ‘holiday’. My left hand ended up developing very bad nerve damage in the ulnar nerve and I was forced to take a month off the bike directly after our trip. I am in the process of rethinking rigid forks, or at least my bike setup needs modification.

If I feel enthusiastic I might try do one final post with a gear rundown and hopefully some GPS files. We’ll see, sounds ambitious 🙂