14 March 2023

Old Gold Trails, Rivers and Lakes - Five Days Biking from Queenstown with Tuatara Tours

On the way from Hamilton to Queenstown I stopped off in Wellington and had a few hours with Byron - at Te Papa. Great. At Queenstown I made my way to Arrowtown where I had the chance to catch up with Max Adler - a friend of Byron's from thirty years back - good catch up.

Happy Tuatara Cyclists and Clutha (Nick fifth from right) - thanks Tuatara and Ben Liley for photo.

Next morning I took off with Nick Bray, our tour guide who gathered us all up and took us to Kelvin Heights where we sorted our bikes and took off along the side of Wakatipu, down the Kawarau, up the Shotover and over to Lake Hayes which we circumnavigated - then back to Arrowtown. The "Us" was Vicki and Harold, me, Wendy, together with Don and Pat, all from Hamilton; Katya (Napier), Mike and Anne from Ontario, Canada and Shane and Allison from Luggate (ex Kerikeri). We all got on famously and Nick was great - the food decadent to the extent that I was relieved when, rarely, there was just enough and none was wasted. A far cry from the subsistent menus we old mountain cobbers shout ourselves. For those of you who can't discern the contents of my breakfast plate below, they were - bacon, cake, fruit sauce, chocolate sauce, fresh fruit and ice cream. I wasn't sick, but then I couldn't quite finish it. Old tummy.

My First and Only Disgracefully Decadent Breakfast

Next day, Tuesday, we were off down the beautiful Arrow River to the Kawarau where we lingered to watch the tourists (we didn't consider ourselves as tourists!) doing the bungy jump - we were not tempted. I excelled myself by riding off early - thinking the others had left - and arrived at the boutique winery in the Gibston Valley, about half an hour before the others. By the time they arrived I'd leisurely consumed a glass of Pinot Gris and was relaxed enough to sustain the jibes about getting 'lost'. The down side of the morning (my lonely bit) was seeing a couple of feral cats and lots of rabbits. Oh, to have had a rifle or shotgun.

Karawau from the Bungy Jumping Bridge

After lunch we motored to Clyde, mounted our two-wheeled steeds again and enjoyed a refreshing ride through willow-ways  down the Clutha to Alexandra. Ben Liley, an old friend from Ruakura days (seems so long ago) joined us for this section. Good catch up. We motored back to Clyde where we stayed at the historic Dunstan Hotel. I stayed in the Charles Wong Gye, room, named after a prominent Chinese interpreter, constable and store keeper and we looked for the Aurora australis (unsuccessfully) that night.

Wednesday, we started from Alexandra and cycled the Roxburgh George. We biked to Doctor's Point where we were met by a jet boat. We and all our bikes were loaded aboard and we had a pleasant break cruising the lake to Shingle Creek. This section was scenic and littered with historical gold mining artefacts - mainly Chinese gold miners' buildings amid the rocks - 90% of which have been drowned in the dam. Excellent tour! We biked on to have lunch beside the Roxburgh Dam. From there we cycled on down the Clutha to Millers Flat where, by chance, we had an excellent tour of the old local bakery. Thence it was back upstream (courtesy of our Tuatara Tour bus) to our next lodgings

Last Bit to the Jet Boat

Loading the Jet Boat

Couple of Miner's Abodes

Day four saw us biking up above the Clyde Dam to do Lake Dunstan. This was the newly opened trail above the lake taking us up a few long climbs and descents. At the bottom of our last descent came upon a cycle traffic jam which would have done Auckland motorists proud. It was the Coffee Boat doing a roaring trade and we didn't let the opportunity go to waste. Onwards to Bannockburn for lunch and then, Cromwell. Old Cromwell, the un-drowned part - beautifully restored - was excellent and most of us indulged in an ice cream. From there it was on along the edge of Lake Dunstan to Smith's Way.

Rare Photo of Vicki From the Front

Vicki and Harold

Lake Dunstan from Top of the First Climb
Our last cycle on Friday was from Lake Hawea across its base to the Hawea River and down to the Clutha at Albert Town, thence up the Clutha to Lake Wanaka, and around its shore - ending at the town of Wanaka.

Harold and Mike at Bottom of Hawea

We were taken back to Queenstown - then went home. This Tuatara Queenstown Cycle Trail is to be recommended. The logistical support gives you the chance of cycling the best of the Kawarau, Shotover, Arrow, Clutha and Hawea catchment trails - with good company, food and guidance amid spectacular mountain scenery. Worth the cost. The effort that has been put into constructing these trails is admirable.

Oh, and we all had e-bikes except Vicki who managed to keep out in front most of the time!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks Barry. Always enjoy reading of your adventures, and long may they continue.