Wont you take me to Funky Town!

Today was the grand finale, the penultimate, last hoorah on the A20 Alps to Ocean trail.

I awoke in a single bed as the accomodation provided a choice of four single beds, 2 downstairs and 2 upstairs. We both chose downstairs.

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The day was quite overcast with a forecast of possible rain. We were keen to get cracking, and were packed up and on the road by 7.30 am. Duntroon was still asleep and ever so quiet.

The trail headed south west through farmland.

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The trail climbed up to Elephant Rocks, a set of interesting rocks! I am reliably informed by Hazel Fish that the area was used as a filming location for the first Chronicles of Narnia movie in 2005 when it was transformed into Aslan’s camp.

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Elephant rocks
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Sheep measles! Learn something new every day.

The trail continued through various farms where the pervading smell was cow pats! Very wet and splatting cow pats I noted as I grabbed my drink bidon for another sip!

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Cow pat free section 

One of the farm said had a very nasty section of switchbacks…about 7-8 of them. My mtb skills are not at the level required to climb and do such frequent tight turns.  So I opted to be safer and walk this section.

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The interesting rock formations continued through the farms.

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Along Prydes Gully and onto Island Cliff we were surrounded by limestone escarpments. A sign indicated that there had been a school operating many years ago but no longer in existence.

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Veering left the track crossed Karara Creek climbing through a series of gravel roads.

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Concentrating

Lovely farmland vistas.

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Checking out the views

At the top of the first climb there was a random table begging for my attention.

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The now ubiquitous table shot

Just before the Rakis railway tunnel there was an interesting piece of old equipment that lay abandoned.

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Fresh clean drinking water on the trail

From the junk equipment the trail descended to reveal the old railway tunnel that has not been operational for a long time. It is quite long and you cannot see the end when you ride through the first part. We did not have lights on the bikes so just hoped the ground underneath was level and we were tracking ok. Water dropped down on the bike helmets as well, somewhat being like in a cave.

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Finally there really was light at the end of the tunnel.

On we rode arriving at the small village of Windsor. I could see a banner flying with the word “coffee”. Then I saw the name of the establishment and had to stop. It was a renovated church.

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Inside we met the owner who has lived there for 27 years recently opening the church as a cafe to cater for the increasing bicycle tourism market. He is in a great location as it was about 33 km into our ride for the day and the very first option for anything refreshment wise.

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Upon leaving he insisted on taking our photo.

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Guess this provides a different perspective after all my confessional box photos from France.

The trail was really pleasant for the next 10 km.

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Passing through farmland to Enfield and then Weston the trail rejoined an old railway line for a flat ride to the outskirts of Oamuru.

A song became stuck in my mind. A few nights ago I downloaded more songs onto Spotify on my IPad. One of the artists was Eric Carmen, former lead singer of The Raspberries. The song stuck in my head that would not go away was his solo hit “She did it” and I started to reflect on the A20 journey. Yes this was my shortest tour I had completed since 2007, but tricky in other ways experiencing the mtb side. So yes, SHE DID IT!

We passed through the very pretty and well maintained Oamuru Gardens.  I was still humming my song thinking I would name my blog accordingly.

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This couple were originally from Scotland and come to feed the ducks grain every Saturday.

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Riding through the Victorian Historic Precinct was an eye opener. What an extraordinarily quirky, funky town this is. Riding past Steampunk HQ was akin to viewing a Mad Max set.

Eric Carmen left my head and was immediately replaced with Lipps Inc. “Wont you take me to Funkytown”.

Around the corner and there it was. Friendly Bay and the Pacific Ocean!

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When you reach your destination on riding tours it is always with mixed emotions. Pleased, because you achieved what you set out to do and are still in one piece. Melancholy because it’s over.  We had ridden 359 km and climbed 2228 metres.

Time to say goodbye to the bikes. They were a bit grotty.

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We had time for a wander. The children’s playground was fascinating!

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A wander through the historic centre found artefacts of interest.

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Tony thinking he might take Phil Stones on in penny farthing racing…

Then I got to meet a zwifter! The first zwifter outside of Tasmania that I have ever met in person. Steven often does the Asia 100 ride and a few months back after one such ride we then rode on until the 161 km Mark ( 100 miles).

It was lovely to meet Steven, his wife Hazel and three sons. We enjoyed a lovely lunch down on the waterfront.Oh, and we got to ride in his electric car. I was very intrigued as I had not been in one before.

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Note Steven’s  shirt. He is doing a mammoth TDF fundraising ride in 2018 in support  of the NZ Mental Health Foundation.

So tomorrow it is ooroo to South Island. Tony flies home to go back to work and I fly to Auckland for more cycling adventures.

Stay tuned!! Oh and I must go and listen to some other music…Big Cadillac is playing as I sit here in McDonakds using their free wifi..

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Duntroon dilly dally

Today is the shortest day of the Alps to Ocean journey. Hardly seemed worthwhile donning the lycra. Our preference would have been to ride out to Oamuru and make a day of it, but we’d had accomodation waiting in Duntroon, a small town with a population of 90, and we were told absolutely no shops open. The local pub and cafe had both closed.

So we procrastinated in leaving Kurow, then called in at the local cafe for a coffee and as it turns out a treat.

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Nice outdoor area complete with bocce
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Bikes and dogs are welcome
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Yum
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Interesting information

The trail today was all off road, starting at the eastern end of town between the museum sheds. A gravel track heads across to the Waitaki River which we followed down the valley.

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At the 5km point we rode bang smack into the middle of a winery that was also open for coffee but we were all coffeed out.

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The winery was lovely to cruise through reminding me of the Bordeaux wineries and other rides in France with an avenue of trees either side.

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From the winery we headed back towards the Waitaki River and followed the Waitaki Haul Road, also used by 4WD. The track was patchy in places courtesy of flooding and crossing creek beds. We crossed the Otiake River and then the Otekaieke River.

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The off road trail then followed adjacent the highway with lovely valley views.

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Waitaki River Valley

At the 23 km point, on the other side of the highway was a sign to Takiroa Maori rock art site. So over we went.

It was very interesting but sad that humans of the more modern era have come along and destroyed most of the art work in one of two ways. In the early 1900’s scientists removed a portion for museums, but in the process most was destroyed and little remains.

Secondly there are the bogan vandals who have carved names, words and initials into the soft stone, of the small amount that does remain.

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Table of the day

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The devastating effects of vandalism clearly depicted alongside the Maori art in this photo

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After visiting the rock site we needed to retrace our steps and continue on the trail back down to the Waitaki River.

A pleasant discovery on the outskirts of Duntroon was a wetlands walkway track, with numerous little bridges criss crossing the wet terrain.

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Having arrived in Duntroon by 11.30am we cruised around town and found quite a few quirky points of interest. Firstly there was a static blacksmith shop that is active some days, having been restored by locals.

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St Martins church is apparently one of the most photographed in New Zealand due to its gothic style and stone used. It was opened in 1901, same year Queen Victoria died.

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These two characters are outside the old goal
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The old gaol with a suspect character loitering with the intent of being a right royal pain in the neck.

Mention must be made of the local public toilets, featuring cycle friendly murals

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We are staying at the old Duntroon Railway Station. Amazing accomodation featuring large lounge, dining and kitchen area, two bedrooms ( 2 x 2 single very short beds), bathroom, as well as a large deck overlooking the Waitaki Valley.

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Deck view looking right
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Deck view looking left
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Duntroon Railway Station- sole occupancy

I have have enjoyed sitting out in the sun, skim reading a book on New Zealand, finishing a book by Juliana Buhring, falling asleep for a nap…trying to remove those knick  and jersey tan marks!

An extraordinary looking dinner and pure quantity of food has been delivered that we could not possibly eat all of…

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I notice that all the chocolates and the caramel shortbread cakes have been removed someone else’s safe keeping ( not mine, ha ha ha). For the record I have knocked off all the cherries though!

So despite today’s shorter distance and leisurely ride, Duntroon is a nice little town where I have chillaxed on the deck! So nice to be here.

Tomorrow is the final day of the A20 Alps to Ocean ride as we will arrive in Oamuru.

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Tasmania what did you do!

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.

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Early morning Omarama

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….

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Yes they are gumboots ….

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.

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My kids would have loved this when they were younger.

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.

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From Chain Hills the track then followed the edge of Lake Benmore to Pumpkin Point and onwards to Sailors Cutting.

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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.

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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.

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Low side of the large dam wall, penstocks and station to the left, and spillway to the right.

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.

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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.

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Crossing Lake Waitaki and the Waitaki Dam we then turned left towards tonight’s destination of Kurow.

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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.

 

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Continuing cyclist support
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A bike in the Kurow Museum
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Main Street Kurow

Well another cycling day done and dusted. Here are the stats:

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And finally… continuing my Chillaxing theme here it is!

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Pump it up

Elvis Costello had the hit song, Pump It Up… some lyrics that I probably should not put in full in my blog, but great song with funky beat that will always make me move!  I thought of this song a few times today whilst riding – the chorus:

Pump it up until you can feel it

Pump it up when you don’t really need it

………………………………………………………………………………………

I awoke this morning to magnificent views. I just lay back and  soaked it in.

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Communal breakfast was scheduled to commence st 8 am. Drag myself away from the view! As is common with bike tours, we were the very first there!

One view was replaced with another! How awesome is this? It was going to be hard to leave such natural beauty, but leave we must.

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Breakfast views surely don’t get much better?

Starting from the Lake Ohau Lodge driveway, the trail traverses the lower slopes of the Ruataniwha Conservation Park, offering stunning views back across the basin to the Ben Ohau Range.

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We crossed numerous creeks including Freehold Creek at 600 metres above sea level.

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From here the track narrowed and became quite loose, slippery with numerous patches of larger rocks to navigate. Legs were pumping hard!

Pump it up Sharron!

I found I had to really concentrate too and could not turn my head left to look at the view as invariably I became unsteady on the bike. So eyes straight ahead looking to where I needed to ride, rather than what I wanted to avoid!

There are several false summits where the trail appeared to have reached the high point but instead kept winding upwards.

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Rest at Turnbrae

We then descended…what goes up must go down.

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Tony heard an ominous bang in his back tyre and had a puncture. The tube had already been patched so we used the one spare tube the hire bike company gave us for the two bikes.

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Awful view to tolerate whilst puncture rectified

Pump it up Tony!

There were numerous small streams to cross.

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We stopped off at the historic woodshed at the top of Quailburn Road.

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I am looking out the window
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Inside the old shed

From the signage I gathered that the woolshed was part of the Benmore Station.

The story goes something like this. 2 Scotsmen set off in search of new country to settle. Having come through Mackenzie Pass they crossed Tekapo, Pukaki and Ohau rivers. They climbed to the top of the last terrace and saw straight ahead of them north facing tussock covered ridges sloping gently to rich grassy plains.

“I’ll take this country” said MacMurdo pointing to the range.

“That’s just the country I’ve decided to take” retorted Fraser.

They debated for some time, neither giving way. They decided to race to Christchurch to register their claim but that was over 200 miles away over rough country.

In the end they decided to race to a matagouri bush about a mile away. The winner was to take the land to the left, the loser the land to the right.

MacMurdo won the race and named the land Benmore after his birthplace in Scotland. The year was 1857.

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Old wagon

There were toilets at the woolshed, very welcomed by this female cyclist. I was taken with this message on the loo wall from 2 French cyclists earlier this year.

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Better than a lot of things I have read in public toilets! 

The terrain had flattened considerably and we were riding around farmland.

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With plenty of time left in the day we decided to take a return detour of 14 km along a gravel road to visit the acclaimed Clay Cliffs.

The Cliffs are on private property and the last 4 km in was heavily corrugated and not a lot of fun. We saw the most cars on this section as well with dust dust and dust.

I was not sure what to expect but once in sight it was “wow”. I also had my second spill of the trip climbing the last few metres spilling on loose gravel.

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Descending from the cliffs we stopped to climb through the farmers fence at the Ahuriri River to top up our bidons.

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A fence is not enough to stop me! 

Returning to Quailburn Road we took the off road trail adjacent to the highway, passing through Ahuriri Camp Ground where there were many tents erected and much activity on the river banks.

Exiting the camp ground we crossed the river and arrived in Omarama via an off road trail.

Great accomodation here in a well appointed unit. Cycling clothes all washed but not being dried in accordance with our normal conventions ( bra, knicks etc hanging out windows). This place has a clothes line and it is windy as! Bonus!!

Tea was at the Wrinkly Ram (!?!)

So a solid day in the saddle. Arms and shoulders can feel it from the constant hump and bump. Tomorrow we head to Kurnow with lakes, rivers and dams.

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Two of these bikes adorn the fence at our accomodation. Proud supporters of the A20 trail.

Here is a map of today plus the ascent/descent info.

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Nice backdrop! 

Boxing Day

0BC86F53-84A6-46FB-9A99-57A1ED96D433Boxing Day in Australia signals the start of a sporting extravaganza. As a child I always recall it meant the television was blaringly loud. We started with the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, with the massive supporting armada seeing the maxi yachts out of the magnificent sunny Sydney Harbour to the heads. The television would not change channel until the leaders were out the heads, heading to our state capital Hobart.

The television channel then swapped to the cricket live from the home of Australian sport, the MCG, or as Aussies call it, The G. The Boxing Day test is always played between Australia and the visiting international team. As the day rolls on, often hot, over by over, the mob on the hill get rowdier, well liquidated by the local amber ale.

Today looked nothing like that. Not one iota.

It started raining and raining and a little bit more for good measure.

Now today was to be a shorter day so we had time to kill. You can’t arrive to early, wet and cold. So we headed off to the Twizel shopping centre where there was shelter.

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Waiting for the rain to stop

Then we headed to the bakery and grabbed a coffee.

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Interesting sign outside the bakery

From there we checked out the local hardware store. Amazingly eclectic!

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Yes, a toilet tattoo that is reusable! I know carp will survive in anything but your toilet bowl? Anyway if you want one of these they  one for $19.90 at Twizel Hardware!

However I did purchase my third pair of locally produced wool cycling socks! They are really comfortable and these were a bit longer for the cooler day. It was 9 degrees. The chair was for sale and really comfy. $160 for the ‘mother of all chairs’ ( well that’s what the sign said).

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The mother of all chairs… recommended by me!

Still killing time we headed to the local toilets. I was impressed with the bottle filler fountain. Here we met Will, hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland who is on a two month riding tour of South Island. Poor guy has been in bed for the last week with pneumonia and was heading for Mt Cook.

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Tony and Will

Finally it was decided to ride on as the sky looked to be improving. We left Twizel following the Glen Lyon Road as it weaved its way around towards Lake Ohau.

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Lifting skies Glen Lyon Rd

We followed the Pukaki canal.

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Pukaki Canal shortly before it connects with the Ohau Canal

As we turned right to follow the Ohau Canal we had some lovely head winds but on the positive side, the temperature had jumped to 11 degrees. We had drizzle on and off but overall it looked like it was clearing.

The Ohau Canal appears to have a reasonable amount of salmon farming. The birds were keen. At least seals would not be a predator issue here like at home.

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Salmon farming on the Ohau Canal

 

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Ohau Canal

At the end of Glen Lyon Road the Ohau Canal enters Lake Ohau.

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The Ohau Canal meets Lake Ohau

We turned off the road and back onto gravel track for a further 10 km under the ever watchful dominance of Ben Ohau. The scenery was so reminiscent of northern Scotland so appropriate it is a ‘ben’.

Ohau Weir features a ramp up and over the tunnels.

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First shot of Ohau Weir

We then climbed a small rise providing a better view of the weir.

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The tunnels have old timber on top
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Downstream from the weir

We continued to follow the Lake Ohau track which was skirting around the edge of the lake. This section was my favourite part of today.

A new type of crossing appeared.

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Sharron, this is the wrong way to tackle! You wheel your bike through the left section walking through the right hand section.

One of the better view of Ben Ohau encountered today. A popular walk that takes around 4-5 hours, 810 metres vertical climbing.

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Ben Ohau 1522 metres

Following the track around the lake we came across an old hut.

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Old hut…

The track was lined with flowering lupin ( yellow and purple) which Gary grumblebum ( InterCity bus  driver from Christchurch airport notoriety) had told the passengers that the spread of lupin was from sheep eating the English introduced plant.

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Lupins in flower

The track also had the most incredibly prickly plant (matagouri) that you need to avoid close encounters with.

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Very nasty non cycle friendly plant with longer slender needle like protrusions.

Some final views from the track.

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Ben Ohau
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We are heading 10 km down that way!!
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Gate exit sign

Nice ride down the sealed road room is into the Lake Ohau village that has some very flash homes. We climbed up the village hill off the A20 route just because we could.

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Lake Ohau from Ohau Village

7 km down the road from the village we arrived at our destination, Lake Ohau Lodge. Our gear is here, bonus! Our wifi does not work here so have just bought a pack for $20 that you can only use in the communal areas.

The view from the Lodge is so reminding me of Scotland. Just beautiful.

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The hot tub called my name so I obliged. Looking stressed?

E9F4EE2D-C3DF-40A2-8EC1-722BFA7E7072Whilst writing this blog I have spied a table tennis table. Someone is in for a spanking…volunteers to take me on at the table tennis table? Roll up!

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Chillaxing on the job!