Blenheim to Hanmer

Blenheim to Hanmer

The road out of Blenheim this fine sunny day was pleasingly flat. Such a novelty! 😀

My direction is the Taylor Pass and the back roads to the famous Molesworth Station 🐮 This is the largest station (farm) in New Zealand.

I pop into The Honey shop. More out of interest to see an actual hive section at work.

My camp spot this night is a bit of stealth camping, in what I think is forestry land. So leap the gate, cross a stream and up into the forest. Don’t try this at home!

In the morning, I briefly see off the remaining climb up the Taylor Pass and unite on a tar-sealed-road. At this point I yum’n’r about whether it’s prudent to carry on down the Molesworth Station road. Firstly: the time it would take as I’m keen to arrive in Christchurch on the 4th March. Allowing myself good time to sort a bike box etc. out. Plus, I’d like to attend Scott’s Last Expedition (Captain Scott of the Antarctic) exhibition at the museum. Secondly: will my rack/frame (eyelet) hold up to the abuse of the long gravel roads that would be fourth coming. I head towards the Molesworth Station! My adventurous side is too strong. Equally knowing I’ll be well away from any form of traffic 🚗 That’s reason enough!

The start of the road is flat and sealed. I’m thinking great, might get this all the way! I’ve become soft! It follows the river, which supplies Marlborough Oyster Bay vineyards 🍷 And it’s a vast area, all draped as far as the eye can see in grapes.

Not before long I’m bouncing briskly over a graded-gravel-road, but still fairly flat. All this pleasant cycling though has been propping me into a artificial sense of, this is easy. As the sun starts to thoroughly beat down 🌞 the gradients start to intensify.

Those heady pleasant hours are now over, it’s becoming hard going ⛰️ Grind up one rise for thirty minutes or so in at times soft gravel, descend, then start again. My cycle computer is winding the kilometres forward at a snail’s pace. I switch the screen off, so I don’t know!

My next concern is obtaining water. A few streams offer me some H2O. With what looks like no live-stock around. This sound be fine to drink. But the further I go into the Molesworth, the more abundance, the live-stock becomes 🐑 This typically wouldn’t be a problem as I can boil the water, only my methylated fuel supply needs to be conserved. With the sun soon to drop over the horizon in the next two hours and no camp spot on the horizon, I need to make a plan. I investigate a few places out, but nothing offering good ground, with a decent water source nearby. I ascend another rise. This one is a bugger as the legs are very weary. It keeps on climbing and switching back with no end. Gaining the summit with an hour or so of daylight left, I promptly discover my spot for the night. Level ground, nearly hidden and an acceptable stream next to it 🏕️

I rise the following morning to a nip in the air. Very welcome after the heat of the previous day. Not that this will last long.

As I turn a corner, I’m amazed to see another cyclist approaching 🚵‍♂️ I thought I was the sole nutter out here on a bicycle!

He’s a South African 🇿🇦 living in Nelson. The accent is still acute. We natter for what must be thirty minutes. I’d noticed what looked like fresh bicycle tyre tracks the last few days. He informs me that these are from two girls 🚴‍♀️🚴‍♀️ cycling twenty or so kilometres ahead of me. It was genuinely good to chat and exchange a few stories. Wish it was longer with perhaps a beer or two!

He very kindly fills up one of my water bottles as I’m fairly low. He’s employing a sterilising pen (Steripen) which uses ultraviolet technology to sanitise most water. One can then indeed drink from most water sources at ease. Not like me, having to go through the hassle of arranging everything out and boiling. The pen just dips into ones water bottle, switch on until a happy face shows on the display and your done. It’s that easy. I want!

I arrive at what is Cobbs Cottage on the Molesworth Station. To be greeted by the DOC (Department Of Conservation) ranger Bill. He brews me a cuppa as we both have lunch. He’s formerly from Derbyshire (England) 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 so always a good yawn or two.

I’m advised it’s 56 km’s to the following DOC hut at Acheron. If I’m however out on the road before 1900hrs he’ll have to pick me up in the pickup, as it’s not permitted to camp out on this Molesworth Station stretch. Therefore I’ve two options, set off and be picked up regardless (I would not make the distance) or chill with Bill? Put the bike in the truck and enjoy a leisurely afternoon. It’s not rocket science … I stick with Wild Bill!

The plan is he’ll drive halfway to Acheron, then meet up with Richard, swap the bike into Richards pickup. Happy days. I was so chuffed with this, as its saves me a day. Which I needed. A very smiley man I was too. That’s luck in my books. Acheron is another DOC campsite so only NZ$6. Not always keen to pay money to camp, but was extremely happy with this one 😊

The next day after saying goodbye to Richard, I notice my right crank arm was loose in the bottom bracket. This was cause for alarm. I expect it came from lying the bike down on it’s pedal in Bill’s pick up, as we merrily bounce along the corrugated track. What can I do? Therefore, I saddle up and get going. After a few miles it seemed to have tightened itself back in. We hope!

Other cyclists out on the track. Sean and Kate. They’re preparing their bikes for the Great Divide ride in the US. Cool. 🇺🇸

I’m fortunate as I leave the Molesworth Station through Jollies Pass to come across the Molesworth manager. He’s on top of his pick up whistling to his dog somewhere down in the valley as they’d lost spooked cattle 🐄 The Molesworth Station has merely had three managers since 1942, so they represent a rare breed indeed.

The Jollies Pass is the shortest route to Hanmer, but not the quickest. It was incredibly steep on the descent and rocky. I had to walk most of the way down, about three kilometres. Next time select the other route! It might not look too bad in the photo 📷 but I can assure you it’s steeper than it looks.

My arrival in the town of Hanmer is a quick awakening to populace. It is a spring (water) town. Thriving with tourists and the weekend market was in full swing.

The brief use of the library for wi-fi and stock up once again on supplies, I’m then soon out-of-dodge.

Without a doubt, this section through the Molesworth Station is probably the best route I’ve cycled to date 👍 No vehicles!

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

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