Balclutha to Cromwell

Balclutha to Cromwell

After residing again at The Catlins YHA for nearly two weeks (working), I eventually leave Owaka for the final time 🤔 I think! As I’d previously cycled the Owaka-Balclutha road, I wasn’t too keen on covering it again. So on asking Craig, he kindly dropped me off at the Balclutha iSite office to start the journey back to my brother in Cromwell.

I follow the Clutha River towards Alexandra. The road is generally flat, but then, following a railway line, it’ll tend to be! Considering I started out late, and with it been hot, the temptation for a swim was too great as I come across a public pool 🏊

I pop my nose into Clydevale’s swimming pool. Only a few people around, and they’re looking to leave. Perfect. A pleasant swim without kids 🧒🏼🧒🏼 jumping on me! To top the day, a nice spot behind the pool on the adjacent school grounds to plonk my tent. Imagine doing this in the UK. I’d probably get arrested for being a vagrant!

The road still follows the Clutha River 🏞️ while merging itself into the Rongahere Forest. Would’ve made some great wild camping in there.

New Zealand like Australia maintains a draconian law for the use of helmets. It’ll be a fine straight away if caught not bearing one. I believe the choice should be one’s own.

My view is along the same line as CTC : The health benefits of cycling are much greater than the (relatively low) risks involved. That, even if these measures caused only a very small reduction in cycle use, this would still almost certainly mean far more lives being lost through physical inactivity than helmets could possibly save. However effective they might be (that’s open to discussion too).

I arrive at the small village of Beaumont. The bridge 🌉 is under repair. Therefore a thirty-minute wait ensues while work is carried out. Then, a flurry of activity as an interval permits vehicles to cross. I immediately turn on to the Beaumont Trail. This is part of the larger Clutha Gold Trail. The New Zealand Cycle Trail.

The trail is well looked after, and on a radiant day like this, it’s perfect. But, don’t be fooled, sand flies are still prevalent if standing too long ie. 30 seconds is too long!

I’m in no mood to rush this trail, many breaks 🥪 taken to enjoy the surrounding vistas. The glacial blue of the river contrasting with the grassy farmland is remarkable.

Always something to capture one’s attention, Potassium Cyanide! ☠️ No threat to man as long as you don’t go tampering with it! All about critter control. Well, possums to be exact.

The nameless grave 🪦 at horseshoe bend is a historic site, which has a great little story. On the headstone of William Rigney it says: Here lies William Rigney, the man who buried somebody’s darling. The story has stuck, and the truth shouldn’t get in the way of a good story!

The sun ☀️ truly beating down on, what is certainly the hottest day so far. Love it.

The end of the Beaumont Track. A glorious trail. I felt like turning around and going back!

On arrival at Millers Flats, I stock up at the stores. As I’m heading out, what do I eye? 👁️ Yes, an outdoor swimming pool. I scout out a stealth camping spot for later. Then its strip off and dive in. NZ$5 can’t complain. I think a few locals thought I was setting up camp here 🎪 as I’ve a brew on the go. Once bathed and watered I go back to my reconnoitered stealth-camping-hideaway. Zoom in on the map below and you’ll detect my location for the night. Nice large overhanging tree. Stealth is the key!

As with any day so far, if I manage to get on the road by nine o’clock ⏰ I’m happy. I just don’t like rushing these things. Tea, porridge, another tea. Then, make a move out of the tent for seven’ish. It’ll still take nearly two hours faffing around with packing. OH and more food, fruit, then a coffee ☕ Now I’m ready! It’s about the journey, not the destination.

I head towards Roxburgh. Further upstream from the main town of Roxburgh is their hydro-dam.

The Roxburgh dam was the first major dam and power station project in the South Island after the Second World War. Construction started in 1949.

Once I cross the dam, I’m back on a major highway 🛣️ Well, as much as a major highway can be on the South Island! The road is very hilly and very hot. The kilograms will be falling off. If there’s any left!

My arrival in Alexandra is treated with a fan fare. OK, it wasn’t then! Perhaps another time! But nice to get off that sun-soaked-hot-road. Once over the bridge I took a left hook and joined the Otago Central Rail Trail, again! Fortunately, not far to run down the trail until I find a wild/stealth camping spot in coniferuos woods 🌲🌲🌲 only a few hundred metres off the trail.

The last few kilometres of trail the next day takes me to Cylde and the western end of the trail. Presently, I’ve explored both ends of the Otago Central Rail Trail. Job Done.

Now to follow the remaining flow of the Clutha River towards Lake Dunstan and Cromwell 🏡

Photos shot with a Samsung EX1 24-72mm f/1.8.

The map is interactive. Click on the route or icons for detail.