Christchurch - Revisited
Today is a big one, Alexandra to Christchurch via Mt Cook, around 600km.
After another lousy nights sleep thanks to some clown announcing his arrival to the neighboring room at around midnight by slamming doors and talking at the top of his voice, we were up and on the road by 8.00am on the dot.
Mind you our washing was all dry and very warm thanks to the impromptu drying room we had set up in the bathroom by running the small heater all night. Very toasty.
Our first stop was just up the road at Clyde to take a look at the hydro dam. The attraction being the very sheltered waters providing a beaut mirror lake at this time of the morning. Always time to admire beauty.
The next major stop was that vital one of breakfast, Omarama. Although just another small town with a service station and cafe, the beans on toast was excellent as was the huge mug of Moccachino. Just what was required to light the fires. Doug declared his toasty to be "good".
Suitably fortified off up the road we go with Mt Cook in our sights. It was cool and getting cooler the further up the road we travelled. When we set out the temperature was reasonably mild so I had the light gloves on and the jacket vents open. By this stage I'd zipped up the vents and had the grips turned up to "pie warmer". Doug called me a girl, I told him I didn't care. Next stop and the heavy gloves were going on.
Up to now the traffic had been minimal, after 10.00am though the roads rapidly become infested with camper vans. I guess it takes the occupants this long to decide what coloured culottes they are going to wear today.
As we were trundling along Doug pulled over seemingly in the middle of nowhere. Out in a paddock the farmer had constructed this really cool statue of a biker staring off into the distance with his ape-hanger bedecked bike behind him. All constructed out of old farm machinery and bits n pieces, some people have a very lively imagination. A pretty popular spot it is too, there were tracks worn all along the fence-line by people stopping to take photos.
From quite a distance out we could see the mountains on our left getting closer, they had snow on them, lots of snow, no wonder it was getting chilly. Soon enough we reached the Mt Cook turnoff, around 110km round trip, of course we were going to check this out.
The road is is lovely and wide, populated predominately by tourists, one must be wary of these as they tend to just stop or turn without warning. What we didn't expect was animals on the road first sheep wandering all over then a cat flew out of the grass just missing Dougs' front wheel.
The road follows Lake Pukaki, which has a distinctive greenish hue due to the snow runoff. Mt Cook and its attendant peaks stand resplendent at the head of the lake, quite a sight, we stop a few times for photos as the view is really something quite special. By the way, the heavier gloves are working a treat, the grips have been turned off and Doug is no longer calling me names.
A bit anticlimactically there is nothing much at the end of the road, apart from a small village, although the view does certainly more than compensate. A bunch of of photos taken and we turn around and head back to the highway.
We have a way to go to reach Christchurch so apply ourselves to the task at hand, twist the throttle and keep up a steady pace. A quick lunch at a town quaintly named Geraldine and onwards, ever onwards.
More stock on the road, this time a gaggle of supercilious geese making their way to the other side. Nothing fazes these birds, the sight of two bikes bearing down on them only resulted in haughty stares as they carried on waddling across the road. "Yes this is MY road, you shall wait for us".
Just after the Mt Hutt turnoff we approach the bridge over Rakaia Gorge, big illuminated signs warn of bridgeworks ahead and to expect lengthy delays. Rounding the bend there are a dozen vehicles queued up at a checkpoint with the drivers standing about chatting. OK, so we wait, we pulled over ready to take time stretching our legs but no sooner had we got gloves and helmets off and the road was reopened. Luck is with us.
There is not much more to report after this as we soon rejoin the main road and commence our approach to Christchurch. Thankfully it is still before rush-hour so the traffic is reasonably well-behaved, though the cyclists seem to have a different approach to road rules than everyone else, just like home. We arrive at the motel around 4.30pm, some 580km and 7 1/2 hours since we set out (although we did have plenty of stops along the way). Surprisingly we both feel pretty good after the long haul, a quick freshen up under the shower and we repair to the pub for cleansing ale and steak (yep there was bacon too, as is proper).
We are at the final stages of our little South Island adventure, tomorrow we wend our way back to Karins' place at Seddon before catching the ferry to the North Island on Wednesday. Gee that really did go quickly. It's certainly not over yet but home is in our sights.