Pulling back the curtains revealed another glorious day in the making. Brilliant sunshine, no clouds! Perfect in the town known as the Place of Light and is regarded as a world class gliding environment.
Before we set off on the bikes though we headed back to the Wrinkly Ram for breakfast. Too early for live sheep shearing ( mind you, at $25 I would pass).
A bunch of younger guys arrived for their breakfast looking like they woken after a hard night! I loved one of the guys footwear for breakfast….
Wherever we go we note different foods. This one has been quite common in New Zealand, but I’ve not seen it before anywhere else.
We had a last minute chat with the Sierra Motel manager. Interesting chap. He has ridden rides up 7000 km, driven a 4WD through Africa and led quite an adventurous life. I would have been interested to listen to more of his tales but alas the office phone rang and that signalled the start of today’s ride.
Leaving Omarama we rode east down the Waitaki Valley following the off road trail to the top of Chain Hills. Glorious early morning views both right and left.
From Chain Hills the track then followed the edge of Lake Benmore to Pumpkin Point and onwards to Sailors Cutting.
The next section was a 2-3 km climb up to Otematata Saddle on the main road. Oh for my road bike! Nice views from the saddle and then downhill to the small town of Otematata.
Stopped for a drink and snack at the local supermarket and I took the opportunity to check out a local art exhibition but said no to the offer of wine samples…. still a bit of a way to go!
The local shop was very clearly supportive of cyclists with a large sign indicating free water top ups. Tasmania is well behind in comparison.
From Otematata we took the sealed pathway beside Loch Laird Road following the gravel track beside the lake, passing by many campers and people partaking in water activities.
The trip notes state that you need to ride up the steep road to the dam and you will probably need to walk. Got up there ok, with pinches of up to 11 percent.
The Benmore Hydro Dam is New Zealand’s largest earth dam with Lake Benmore being the countries largest constructed lake. Water from the lake flows into the concrete penstocks and surges into the turbines. Benmore is New Zealand’s second largest hydro station.
We rode across the top of the dam with impressive views both sides.
After crossing the dam the trail follows State Highway 83 to Lake Waitaki. It was around here that the easterly headwinds started buffeting us.
With the headwind came a smell that I was all to familiar with riding in Tasmania. The smell of upcoming road kill. I was very surprised to see a decent sized wallaby dead on the side of the road. This surprised me because I thought they were purely Aussie. Obviously not! There were a further two dead wallaby in the next few hundred meters.
Lake Aviemore is quite a long lake and there were many campers nested in under trees enjoying the weather.
Crossing Lake Waitaki and the Waitaki Dam we then turned left towards tonight’s destination of Kurow.
A brand new section of trail has opened for the last few kilometres scrambling up and around a hill.
Kurow is a quaint town and we’ve been able to do a load of laundry using a washing machine, hang it out on the clothes line and have it dry in the wind very quickly.
A quick reconnaissance of the town including a visit to the local museum revealed that it is Tasmania’s fault that wallabies are in New Zealand!
They were introduced from Tasmania to the region in 1874 for sports hunting. The wallaby thrived in local conditions where vegetation was lush and plentiful. They quickly multiplied. They are now regarded as a major pest, fouling pastures, destroying crops and seedling trees, damaging fences and displacing farm stock.
Well another cycling day done and dusted. Here are the stats:
And finally… continuing my Chillaxing theme here it is!