21 March 2022

Three Old Codgers on their Bikes

This trip had a long gestation both in planning and execution. Covid delays were the main problem. After our trip on the Old Ghost road last year we decided to do the 'Alps to Ocean' in the South Island, a cycle trail that goes from the Hermitage area near Aorangi/Mt Cook, to Oamaru. Jim did all the planning, Mike had a hip replacement and had to resign himself to a supporting role - taking our gear from place to place and biking back out to meet us. It worked well. Jim's sister, Margaret was made redundant but didn't get any payout. Sorry Margie. The plan was to start by going to Tekapo and then being driven to Mt Cook Station to start the cycling. I started off the trip with a night at Jim and Ann's on Monk's Spur - good catch up time. 

The Seven Sisters from the road to Braemer

The old codgers were showing their age. It nearly turned into a disaster. There were lost car keys, lost keys to our e-bike batteries, lunches and toilet bags left behind and more, even Covid chased us out of Tekapo. And there were no wives to find things for us!! Finally we left Mt Cook Station at about 10am on the 6th March 2022 and flew off down the road with a good tail wind. There was dust in the air as there had been a landslide up the Hooker Valley but we could see Aorangi and Sefton clearly over our shoulders.

Jim Standing Amid our Memories

Mike gave sterling support for his old mates. On this first day we also left our matches behind (for the midday brew) but Mike discovered them and fortunately we saw them on the roadside with the little cairn marker he built for us - that was lifesaving stuff for Jim and I.

From Our Brew Spot on Pukaki - Sefton and Cook

After lunch we biked on the the bottom of Lake Pukaki, purchased some salmon for dinner and, after meeting Mike, pedalled on to Twizel. Next door to us were Victoria and Emilie (7 years) who were over half way through Te Aroha. They were great fun and next morning we were amazed at the weight of the pack that Emilie was carrying. They were being supported by FMC and also raising funds for Mental Health and the FMC Mountain and Forest Charitable Trust.

Victoria, Emilie and Jim

Victoria, Mike and Jim at Twizel

The following day we pushed on to Lake Ohau Lodge via the good track around the bottom of Lake Ohau.

The Old Historic Shearing Shed

Our next day was a longish one. Steady but prolonged uphill and then down to an old historic shearing shed - starting to deteriorate - where the pens were made from beech saplings and where the ghosts of blade shearers wafted in the rafters - and so down to Omarama where we made a stop for coffee.

An Old Codger trundles Through Omarama - note the Snazzy Lycra

The last bit of the day was along the edge of Lake Benmore - a magnificent recent addition to the trail.

Rest Stop - Upper Lake Benmore

Lower Lake Benmore Trail

Near Benmore Dam

 Finally we descended the Benmore dam to find Mike who'd been biking up and down the road to the lip of the dam - to show us what real men do!!! We spent a pleasant hour with Elder, an amiable Peruvian and his group. He was guiding his group down the trail. He'd helped me with my bike the previous night -brought him a beer.

Rest Stop at Lake Waitaki

Next morning was full of apprehension as we cycled back up onto the Benmore Dam - it wasn't too bad - and then we cruised off down the Waitaki River, past Aviemore and Waitaki Dams and on to Duntroon. This time Mike biked up the river in time to have lunch with us alongside a grape field. Very pleasant. Just 2k short of Duntroon my battery gave out and I had the unpleasant task of trying to keep up with the others, uphill, to our digs for the night. Here, next morning, Trevor and Kat, the real estate barons of Duntroon entertained us with stories of their little village.

Elephant Rocks beyond Duntroon

That morning we shot off for Oamaru - passing by the scenic Elephant Rocks, the Tunnel and finally the historic approaches to Oamaru and its beautiful Gardens. At Oamaru Mike fed us up on chips - we loaded our bikes onto Jim's faithful car, Rodger, ands headed off to Christchurch, first dropping Mike off Mandeville and finally me with John, my brother in Cashmere for more royal hospitality. And so to Hamilton dreaming of what form next year's activity might take. My task.

Alps to Ocean? Highly recommended as one of the best bike journeys in New Zealand. Good company too.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful account Barry!
    Filled with admiration... must catch up soon at Pukawa.