The roads are well graded, but the gravel is very harsh. So look out for cuts in your tyres. I’m running Schwalbe Marathon Plus. Which are top tyres, but are still acquiring small cuts. An inferior tyre wouldn’t last long.
Most of the tar roads have at least a foot or two of hard shoulder, so I feel comfortable with traffic 🚗 But then, hardly any traffic compared to the UK.
I decided not to cycle into Lake Tekapo 🚤 this evening and camped a few kilometers out of town. Keeping away from the nearby pond, mosquitoes seemed prevalent. Camp set and evening brew ☕ before the descent into Lake Tekapo the next day.
The climb (walk) up to the conservatory is steep through dense pine forest 🌲 but beautiful. A quality work out for another group of muscles.
Mt John observatory 🔭 at the top has a very splendid cafe. Worth the climb for the cappuccino.
Tekapo Springs ♨️ well, more like heated water from the lake! But at NZ$15 for the day, can’t say no with a shower thrown in! So, after the hike up to the Mt John observatory and down again, a soak and shower afterwards is very welcome.
I head off to the woods east of Lake Tekapo for my nights wild camping. Very pleasant it was too. Coniferous 🌲🌲🌲🌲 my favourite.
The information centre at Lake Tekapo advised me that the first section of the canal towards Lake Pukaki was closed 🚧 But after talking to locals, all said, it’ll be fine, they won’t mind a bike going through. So after a natter with Air Safaris a kilometre up from the canal, I descend to the canal.
The surface is corrugated for a bike, but you wouldn’t notice in a car. Hence the going is slow, but with a healthy tailwind. 5 km’s in, I turn a bend and I’m greeted by an approaching engineer 👨🔧 Nervously I inquire if it’s fine to go through. Guess what, NO he replies. Lesson number one: don’t listen to the locals! We all laughed at me! I turn round and headed back. By the time I get to my original position, I’m two hours behind and just shy of 12 km’s down and no further forward.
I notice a nice sheltered spot near Lake Pukaki. There’s a sign saying ‘No Freedom Camping’. I march on past it and push the bike up onto a little hill. I’m pretty well out of sight and the sun is soon to go down.
Passing through Omarama I stop for a coffee ☕ and enjoy a chat with Zoe (from Dumfriesshire) who is working in the cafe.
On leaving Omarama, I soon stop again after eyeing my first cycle tourists 🚴♀️🚴♀️ Phil & Pip. Phil left the UK some years earlier on his bicycle. Phil and Pip are now cycling round the south island before departing for Latin America. More of a dress rehearsal. I tag onto their tales as they leave town. Turned out to be a smart move.
As soon as we head out onto the open road after enjoying a cosmic tailwind 🌬️ into Omarama, our world changed. The road promptly turned us side-on to the wind. Boy, never experienced anything like it (neither had Phil with his miles of road under his backward facing tyres!) It was doggedly going, and the photos don’t do it justice. I spent numerous occasions been blown 🌬️🌬️ into the open ditch.
As we near the climb for the Lindis Pass and hopefully a picnic spot to wild camp, Phil notices a few cabins. Off he skips up a dirt lane. Phil found the farmer. NZ$10 for the three of us. That’s £1.50 each. Hot showers, comfy beds 🛏️ TV, sofa, couldn’t believe it! Decent job Phil. Top man too! 🚬
Pip kindly offers to prepare a meal with all our food thrown in. But we’re still short of meat. Off Phil skips back to the farmer. He only returns with a chunk of venison 🥩 No charge! A venison curry it is then.
No one ever expected to wake up to a white morning. Manic! As Phil said.
I set off for the Lindis Pass. While Phil & Pip decide to sit out the day in comfort.
Long, slow, but with the snow and quiet roads, a truly great climb. It was a tad breezy on the descent, but certainly idyllic.
My final push from Tarras to Cromwell was 30 km’s. But the head wind 🌬️ I endued was draining and just bloody hard-aching work! The longest day for me ever in the saddle at 93 km’s, and I suffered it. i could only manage 5 km stretch at a time, then had to lay down for a bit.
I can definitely lose a few items before I set off again, but I generally didn’t have a problem with the weight or the hills. Merely struggled with the final 30 km’s 😬
They say, a good headwind eats 80% of your forward energy, and it feels like it too!
I finish this post with a photo of Phil as he sets off for Queenstown. Pip’s gone ahead in my brothers car as she has a swollen ankle. Rest she needs.
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