Christchurch to Pioneers Park

Christchurch to Pioneers Park

This is the first post I’ve compiled while being out on the road in New Zealand 🇳🇿

I had got to use to the comfort of fast broadband in the UK, and this process was a lot simpler. But the reality out on the road is very different! 600 mb data on a phone linked to a netbook, soon runs dry if one is not careful! Tweeting 💙 and Facebook at times is not so straightforward when you spend a great deal of time with no signal. But worst of all, is trying to keep modern gadgets topped up with juice. Smartphone, stills camera, video camera all need a go-go socket at some point, this takes up precious time. Plus with me being a dam perfectionist, making my blog (old blog) look and read respectably takes time and patience. But then, it’s not a race, so as they would say in Swahili ‘Pole Pole’ … translated ‘Slowly Slowly’! 

I start out from Christchurch 23rd October 2012.

Leaving Christchurch quite late in the morning, as I still seem to be faffing around with being un-organised. But, as each day passes more fluidity comes into my camp admin 🤪. I also need to make a visit to the New Zealand Post Office to forward on 5 kg of gear to my brother in Cromwell. Just too much kit!

At last out on the open road. Refreshing to be free of the bonds of Christchurch. As they say, “the hardest part of any journey is getting to the end of your drive”.

I head north until I hit Tram road. 23 km’s of straight tar. The wind is light and the sun is out 🌞 Can’t ask for more. Finally arriving at what one would call a very picturesque campsite at Ashley Gorge via meeting a goat en route 🐐 As you do! Ashley Gorge is certainly special even with sand flies (which I can assure you bite!), but then, no one else around.

Sheffield Pie shop certainly deserves its name. The best pies I’ve ever tasted. Even better than the Aussie ones!

The Lonely Planet Cycle New Zealand guide-book has its uses, but I’m finding it too basic. I wish to get off the main scenic highways. I’ll plan on ditching it in Cromwell. Saving the 1/2 kg and just go with the flow.

After briefly stopping in Glentunnel, I set out for Rakaia Gorge with a voice in my head from the local store owner of strong winds brewing later in the afternoon. I pass a farmer and hands tending to lambs in a paddock (field to you & me!), we exchange a wave 👋🏼 Ten minutes later I’m passing the same farmer with another wave as I’ve turned around after contemplating the store owner’s words.

I stop and chat with Woody the Kiwi sheep farmer. After a bit of a yarn, he says I can camp at the bottom of one of his paddocks (field). Eventually after camp set, belly full and an invite, I join Woody and his girlfriend Steph for beers at the farm-house (bungalow to you and me!).

Next day by 1400 I’d reached Rakaia Gorge and slowly made the climb up the opposing hill. Once at the top, I turned round to admire the climb and the view. Then, on seeing a beautiful camp site below, I’m freewheeling 🚲 back down!

It’s quiet, with a stunning view over the river. Enough of a reason for me to set camp up early, laze in the sun, with a walk along the river.

Enroute to Methven I pick up a tailwind. 51 kph on the flat. That’s shifting on any laden bicycle! At least cycling laden, once up to speed it’s easy to keep the momentum up.

I spent time talking to the Matt the pilot at Pudding Hill parachute club. Next, I’m up in the air for a flight, and we’re dropping parachutists over the drop zone. I flew too! 🛩️ A baby Cessna Caravan. Yes, that its true name! I flew the larger variant in Namibia: a Grand Cessna Caravan.

After leaving the drop zone I sneak into a woods 🌲🌲🌲🌲 nearby on the advice from one of the jump students at the school. Well, it’s not fenced, so fair game in my books. Early part of the night listening to wild boar being hunted by dogs and drunks. Lots of squealing, barking and shouting. Not a very pleasant sound at all in the pitch of night. I was just hoping they didn’t venture my way. Eventually it all calms down and I get a night’s sleep.

I stop at Staveley Stores. Famous for its sausage rolls. Never really been a fan of sausage rolls, but the chilli one is quite something.

My nights spot is on the shores of the Rangitata river 🏞️ This river, as with most in south New Zealand wash down from the snow covered peaks of the southern alps. I got in for a wash. Bit on the nippy side … frikin freezing! I was in the buff 😳

Once a spot is found to camp, a cuppa tea is on the go. Along with some tasty noodles to fill a hole before dinner. Dinner will be pasta, flavoured tuna and mayonnaise. Getting in the carbs and protein. Not so sure about carrying the cheese around, it’s heavy and doesn’t last too long in a hot pannier.

Richard Pearse 1877-1953 is said to have flown a heavier than air aircraft 🛩️ from this site nine months before the Wright brothers. He later conceded, though, that the Wright brother’s flight was a controlled and sustained. But no one doubts he got airborne. He later kill himself with his flying endeavours.

Those Pesky Magpies … well, it seems the flying critters have an aversion to either me or perhaps my shiny bike helmet! Usually when cycling past tall 🌲 trees lining the road, that’s when the attacks take place. First, you hear a whoosh and then quick successive flapping. Most magpies just stay as an annoyance for a few minutes and give up. One did, though, hammer into my helmet trying at times to lift it off my head. I’ve the talon marks on the back to prove it. I reckon they must be the most dangerous thing here!

Pioneers Park. This DOC site one is classed as ‘standard’. As it only has a toilet facility 🚻 But at NZ$6 I felt it was still a bit steep for just lonely me. 

The only other people around was a Kiwi couple. They kindly gave me their water bag left over from their camper van hot tank. The only other tent around was one tucked in the corner near me. As sunset beckons, I set about hanging the bag from a tree and strip off to the buff for a quick shower. Enough water to wet myself and lather up. Yes, you guessed it, I heard a vehicle arriving. I look through my soapy eyes. A car turning towards me … eeeccck! There I am, half brown arms and legs 🦵 wet and soapy, scurrying around trying to find my very thin travel towel. I just cover up as three girls drive by with wry smiles. Europeans, at least point and laugh … no reaction at all!

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

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