Saturday 2 June 2012

Queenstown to Christchurch, New Zealand

Thinking we might be missing out on something if we didn’t tramp one of the “Great walks” in NZ, we decided to set off up the Caples River trail and Back along the Routeburn Track.
Socks for Dinner

Yes it was great, through the tangly-root mossy forests by the rushing river and up to the bald heights with views towards Milford sound and up the Hollyford river. We were though, very much on the beaten track, the Routeburn at least and it all seemed a little tame compared to the Reece Dart trail.
Finally we dragged ourselves away from the manicured claws of Queenstown and rode through a remarkable gorge to Cromwell, thence to the pretty town of Clyde and the start of the Otago Rail Trail.
This has to be one of the finest designated cycle-rides in the world. Central Otago has its own unique dry climate its own palate of colours mainly brown and particularly unique cloud formations high up in largely blue skies. My favorite area of the country, should anyone be interested.

We had had a run of good (awesome) weather since Westport at the top of the West Coast and could not believe our luck, the downside being cold nights where our tent would often be covered in ice in the mornings. This was no problem really but the autumn days were also becoming shorter.
At the 45th parallel marker we figured we had gone far enough south and headed North over Danseys Pass to Duntroon where we poked around the dilapidated old forge then rode up the Waikato river to Twizel and Lake Pukaki. The campervan season (road lice, the locals call them) seemed to be over and we rode into a strong headwind in relative tranquility.
To our surprise we hit a brand new cycle-path which took us round the lake a bit and over towards lake Tekapo. Now into the last week of our sojourn we were enjoying the cycling more than ever.
Head In The Clouds

From Tekapo, Burkes pass was the easiest pass ever, we hardly even climbed but the drop down to the Canterbury plains was phenomenal. Well it would have been if Anja’s front rim had not cracked halfway down. We swapped the wheel to my bike and I descended slowly using only the back brake, and wobbled the last 200kms into Christchurch. We planned to ditch all wheels at the airport because all four were pretty much worn out and with our return flight the weight restrictions were pretty tight. Somehow we needed to lose 20kgs.


I am not quite sure what we expected really from a town hit by an earthquake. Bustle and rebuilding I 
Kaiwarau Gorge

suppose. What we found was a rather subdued atmosphere and rubble still being cleared 14 months after the last quake. A part of the city centre had a retail village built from multi-coloured ship containers; quick, fresh, quake-proof and effective. Someone deserves an award for that idea. Most of the central district was still fenced off though and the locals seemed to be becoming a little disgruntled with the lack of action and some of the decisions made by the powers that be. People felt they were not even being consulted about the future of their beloved Garden City. In fact, throughout our travels through NZ we met no-one who was in any way gruntled with the government. People felt let down about so many issues.We had a good time though, treating ourselves to a backpacker hostel (Dorset House) while we cleaned and boxed up the bikes for the flight to England. Was this really the end?


Old Timer 

Cycling The Otago Rail Trail

Danseys Pass

The Finest Autumn

Last Days of the Adventure

Lake Pukaki

Southern Alps

New Zealand Scene

Frost Every Morning

30,000 kms

Canterbury Plains


Earthquake Damage

Container City