2019 shines ⭐️

‘Rob and Gran

Well surprise surprise I am not feeling too shabby as I was not too sure how I would be the morning of the 1st January 2019 after a family night with some impromptu entertainment and then stepping out to the Winery Bar in The Kingsway for a glass of bubbles but unfortunately the music was a little heavy emotionally and loud so the night was short lived…a short lived night meant a walk up the hill or rather hills back home as I had not earnt a taxi ride that would come from a big night out.

I did decide though it was a ride and breakfast to celebrate 🎉 the start of 2019 (any excuse really!!) and off Rob and I went on our mountain bikes down some steep West Launceston hills for an urban scape ride around Launceston, enjoying the whispy clouds, historical architecture and imagining the Anglo Saxons of old…holidays has meant a lot of Netflix watching ( The Last Kingdom, Vikings, Robin Hood and Marco Polo) transporting us to lands long gone battled by Danes and Saxons and every other person wanting to be king!!

At breakfast over my fresh and juicy oj I did the obligatory pondering of what I would like to manifest and achieve with this 365 days for 2019. Rather than setting intentions I thought I would start with quarter goals that will support our two planned adventures for this year Cairns (March) and Western Australia (September). Fitness is a gold star ⭐️ must so my two healthy healthy goals for Jan – March are to have an adventurous mountain bike ride at least once a week and sign up for the F45 8 week challenge in February; the functional fitness of F45 I find really supports my chasing and keeping up with Rob on our rides…also it helps for sprinting away from frothing farm dogs and bombing magpies.

The short ride back home up the hills was a test of fitness just pure nasty but strangely enjoyable once I had parked the bike back in the garage.

New Year’s Day was then finished at the Longford Horse Races overall it reminded me of being on a cruise sitting around drinking and eating….Rob sat patiently looking up into the mountains wondering what tracks were out there to be discovered!!!


My grateful moments of the day

1. Enjoyment of the morning ride around the Seaport and through the city. A feeling of relaxed freedom.

2. Chilling at breakfast.

3. Laughter – I think mum enjoyed the antics of the bookkeeper who also forgot to put her bet on and the horse had a place!

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And that’s a wrap…

Day 12/13 and 14

Day 12 Middlemarch to Ranfurly

Day 13 Ranfurly to Oamaru

Day 14 Oamaru and the atomic bus to Christchurch

It seems my account of our daily adventures has slowed down almost to a stop but this is not a representation of what is happening with our riding!

There have been crazy challenges one after the other each day, each challenge testing not only my physical capabilities but my will power and when I think I am done….yep there is another mountain to climb or lamb to dodge.

Though on reflection that is what adventure is about adversity and not the path of least resistance. No each path is rocky, ascending, wind howling, isolated, cow mooing, lamb bleeting and something always a little novel to look at from the big asparagus to the cattle dogs rounding up the sheep.

Middlemarch I could not wait to get out of there, the challenge for me that day was not the riding rather forcing myself to shower in the sewerage offerings, I just felt like I was bathing in Pooh!!! I was waiting for the toilet paper to come out of the shower head and wrap around me!! And this was our 20th wedding anniversary!!!

MiddleMarch was our start but the end of the Otago rail trail and this day was like a breath of fresh air just an old windy rail trail nothing at all too challenging and had ambience…little huts along the way with stories about the train line and landmarks to look out for, even an old train tunnel to ride through TOOT TOOT.

The weather was sunny, running creeks and there were lots of little lambs bouncing around who had sneaked out of the paddock to come and have a curious look at us before quickly bounding back to their mums. It was so cute, they hang out in twos!! No more lamb cutlets for me!!

There was not much in the way of food offerings along the trail other than a quaint ‘honesty cafe’ they had a tin where you left your change for a drink or chocolate.

That afternoon we arrived in Ranfurly a town that is still in the 1970’s! Fascinating, wifi was unknown and the pub LOVE IT had a striped hand towel that you pull down and wipe your hands then the next person comes along and does the same thing NO I DID NOT TOUCH IT!!!

We stayed at a gorgeous bnb that night, it’s always lovely to stay where the owners genuinely take pride in their accommodation, no sewerage that night just a gorgeous big comfortable bed and a hot shower….and a view of the full moon stunning.

It was the 29/11/2018 six months since dad passed and I was twinged with sadness looking at the moon but knowing also dad would be loving the adventure I was on, the scenery and wilderness.

*always in my thoughts dad and I’ve been talking to you out on the climbs taking on the energy of your courage and positivity 🌸

The next days ride can only be described as a horrendous mountain climb one climb after another with headwinds that were blowing us sideways and back up the hill…the only thing slightly keeping us preoccupied was watching the sheep being rounded up by the farmers waving their arms furiously and cattle dogs running up and down the mountain hills rounding up a determined sheep that was wanting to get away.

It was so horrendous riding from Ranfurly to our planned destination Oamaru, at 80kms riding into Palmerston wind blown and battered we ended up getting the little atomic bus to Ormareu another 65kms away…

And that is the end of our travels around the South Island and after a sleep and French toast I now know that this cycle tour has reignited my spirit for adventure and that life is really about being in the moment, enjoying and accepting now for what it is (Middlemarch was probably the least able place to do this) because you do not know what the next moment will bring…the next moment is usually another climb!!!

Thankyou to everyone who has shared our little adventure reading my blog, liking, asking questions and commenting 😊 ….it has been a journey and my goal at the start of our South Island adventure was too also tap into the creative part of my brain that gets too tired to play in the normal world 🌎 …

Feral Beryl

Day 11

Dunedin and a train out – Taieri Gorge Railways to Middlemarch (ie Bogmarch)

Late morning start becomIng rather the norm, I peered out from underneath my eyelids to be greeted with another dreary cold grey day and it took a lot of willpower to peel back the doona and discover what today’s challenge the universe was going to deliver…first challenge not so bad was the cleaning ladies knocking on the door advising that checkout was in one hour.

On leaving our accommodation the plan was to get the train to the start of the Otago rail trail that did not leave till 2:30pm as we had missed the 9:30pm…the train station was grand I almost felt that I could be In Russia with its ornate train station and the greyest of days…today I am exhausted, 🥶, freezing and feeling rather miserable not a good mix for a holiday cocktail even Rob is saying ‘I think we should only bike tour in warmer places like Vietnam or Sri Lanka’

As we had a few hours to entertain ourselves in Dunedin we did a 5min ride around the historic town and then a progressive cafe tour …I have discovered a taste for caramel lattes and free wifi can entertain me for hours.

Then onto the scenic Taieri Gorge Train to Pukerangi and a wild rocky 20kms into Middlemarch (alias bogmarch).

As we discovered on our train ride the worst floods experienced in the South since 1918; we were told on arrival at our underwhelming accommodation that sewerage had escaped into their water system and tommorrow they were doing maintenance and having to empty all water tanks…best we boil the water and to brush our teeth with bottled water. Felt like I was in Bali without the culture …mmm as for the culture let me share the art work.

Rob’s 3 favourite moments of the day…

1. The train ride which included a commentary of dad jokes and the picturesque wild scenery.

2. Breakfast – filo pastry curry cauliflower and feta.

3. The ride into Middlemarch – chunky gravel road had the bikes hopping allllll over the road, we were rally riding!

Onwards and upwards

Day 11

Oamaru to Palmerston (get me out of here!!) then onto to Dunedin.

After a leisurely coffee and breakfast we said Goodbye to Oamaru and onto Palmerston….the start was climbing nothing unusual there along the coast, then sharing the highway with high speed farming and petrol trucks eek 😬 and on arriving at Palmerston 60kms later it was an underwhelming vibe that soon became spooky. I just had a feeling that we really could not stay there and after some hot chips it was decided ‘let’s get the hell out of town’…at this time it was 2:00pm.

Getting out of town and to Dunedin meant you guessed it, more climbing but this climbing was insane!! I thought I had experienced crazy at Burke’s Pass but this was incromphensible and I thought it could not get any worse but oh yes it could …15kms out of Dunedin there was a sign gravel route or sealed, we took the ‘sealed route’ well I would have hated to have seen the gravel route and we began the 15km mountain climb into Dunedin, it was relentless maybe even bordering on tortuous. Though on the flip side very scenic with creeks, large pine trees, mountain fresh air and just stillness other than the occasional lamb bleeting.

There was a steep descent into Dunedin that tested Rob’s breaks he squealed his way into town whilst I was pedaling furiously trying to keep up and not have an anxiety attack about being lost with no idea where I was, every survival mechanism had been tested today I was at my limit….freezing and a little shell shocked from our ride we found some half price accommodation at 7:00pm, essentially we had been out riding from 10:00am – 7:00pm and most of that was mountain climbing…I just wanted to sleep 💤 but the essentials of eating and doing washing all had to be ticked off before I crawled into bed well past my bed time.

Rob’s 3 favorite moments of the ride from Oamaru to Dunedin

1. Warm shower and heater at the end of the day.

2. Clearing all the mountain passes into Dunedin

3. So hungry Maccas even tasted alright. And as Rob was inhaling his food I guzzeled a litre of soft drink that tasted better than any NZ Sauvignon Blanc!

Steam Punk!!!!

Day 9?

Sublime Organic Winery to Oamaru

50kms mostly on road as Alps2Ocean closed due to flooding!

Well you think after last nights festive and being in beautiful accommodation I would wake up with a bounce in my step…feeling inspired and ready to conquer, not the case I woke up like the weather grey and miserable. I was exhausted, my legs were heavy and I felt deflated.. And I was very much like the little engine telling myself ‘I think I can I think I can’ for the days ride ahead.

And that was my mantra for the days ride ‘I think I can …I think I can’ as we rode past dairy farm after dairy farm’ and battled with the constant rain and wind.

*love toilet block Art

On arriving into Oamaru it was getting later in the afternoon and the wind was howling I was freezing and unable to appreciate the moment, that we had completed the Alps2Ocean ride…that will be a photo tomorrow at the finish sign!

As for Oamaru it is amazing the power that a hot shower can have washing away a bleak mood, I have discovered one of the most fascinating and quirkiest places I have ever been too…it’s like I have been put into a time capsule and am either in a futuristic apocalypse world or have gone back in time but as I discover there is a name for this and it’s STEAM PUNK!!

Steam Punk as described by the trusty Wikipedia

‘… a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era’

My soul loves this place maybe my life goal could be to buy a run down cattle farm and a Victorian dress and move here!

Pine needles and the big 50

Otematata to Sublime Organic Winery (just outside Kurow)

Alps 2 Ocean Trail

60 plus kms

I just want to go straight to Sublime winery pics but that is at the end of the so called ‘soft and fluffy’ ride day!!!

Rather we seemed to have settled into the homeless men’s shelter over night (I think it was the unlimited free wifi) and we did not get going to 9:00am and then stopped 500mtrs up the road at a delightful little coffee van

with a lady who loved what she was doing all smiles and stories she even gave Rob a free slice for his birthday!!!

It was a morning of chirpy locals all saying ‘hi’ curious to know where we had travelled from and too and tell us the weather ‘they haven’t never seen it this bad’ and ‘we were brave to be out there’ one old man did not seem to care though when I mentioned my feet had gone purple he replied you know what we would say in my day ‘harden up…tablespoon of cement’!

On leaving Otematata (in Maori this means place of good flint!!) the path traversed along the wetlands till we came to the Benmore Hydropower Dam (like Rob it was 50 as well and this explains the decor of the pub as it was built in the hey day of the town) this added to Robs birthday morning he was quite excited about the cables (?) and the motor (editor says it’s called a turbine) also of course the climb halfway up the mountain to see the hydro plant..as we are climbing I am thinking what part of this ride is soft and fluffy!!!

Then the cycle trail weaved through the Waitaki district which looked like countryside from an Enid Blighton book; think English and magical with flowing creeks, an amazing assortment of flowers, fat little bumble bees and the most delicious smelling pine needles..oh and of course some cow manure.

The magic did not last for too long before we were climbin again up the Otematata saddle and onto another smaller hydro power dam…

climbs are so much easier when you are not being whipped by wind, rain or snow, it was stunningly sunny.

Then another off road climb to our destination for lunch in Kurow, this town was on the upper end of super friendly and I had the most amazing gf toasted sandwich I have ever had at a little cafe that even allowed dogs..the dog we saw looked as happy as I did, eating my sandwich.

Following that Rob and I went to the information centre and spoke to some very helpful locals who shared their knowledge and pride of South New Zealand with memorabilia and Rob got his own personal history lesson about the hydro dam …

And then the best bit yes another climb that was almost equivalent to Burke’s Pass to our accommodation at Sublime winery and all I can say is WOW..,we were greeted by the hosts Stephen and Fenella with a bottle of organic red from the property and nibblies.

The chooks happily watched us eating and celebrating Robs 50th..

Dinner was incredible not only the 3 course meal all prepared by Fenella who has travelled the world as a ‘chef’ but sitting in the dining room surrounded by her art and hearing her stories…oh and the local news that the South Island of New Zealand is under a civil emergency ‘one of the worst floods in 30 years’ where were preparing to head too is under water, has raw sewarage over flowing and no buses are going in or out! And to add to the news the cows we saw the other day actually attacked a couple who were on the track and his leg was broken!!!!! They were on their honeymoon!!

I think a nice way to end today would be Rob to share as many things as he wants that he has enjoyed on his first day in his 50’s!!

1. Enjoyed cake and coffee on the side of the road.

2. Visiting the Benmore hydro power station.

3. Good old chat with local volunteer with Peter at Kurow’s information centre.

4. And Sublime …the atmosphere, the hospitality and the food.

5. Tommorrow is a down hill run all the way to the highway from Sublime.

*cute little Maltese at the winery

*artwork Rob’s style

Mountain goats 🐐

Day 7

Ohau to Otematata

Alps 2 Ocean Trail

70kms mostly off road

Everyday is a challenge and today’s challenge was let’s pretend I am a mountain goat as we climbed the remaining 500mtrs up the mountain 🏔 and because it’s a mountain we spent quite a bit of time bike pushing! I experienced a lot of fofo moments…what is fofo you ask? Fear of falling off.

Because of the recent snow, the edges of the climb were soft so I was being very safety conscious, it was a long way to drop to the bottom and the terrain was technical with melted snow sludge and jagged rocks… I have only really ever seen Rob bike pushing once before in the jungle in Bali. Though the best bit of the melted snow was the mud and random stream crossings….LOVE THIS my inner toddler comes out to play and interestingly the only time that I am not experiencing any fear. These stream crossings were some of the deepest I have ever ridden through.

The descent down was just as crazy and at the bottom was an old shearing shed ‘The Quailburn Wool Shed’ it was built in 1920 but had stories from the shearers and explorers in the late 1800’s this was fascinating….they slept on just a canvas in the snow, made tracks in the mountain and had to find the sheep that got lost. They had to have been tough men I don’t think I am channeling any of their energy!!

Once we were off the mountain, we meandered along a gravelly logging road and around a river we arrived in Omarama and had lunch at the wrinkly ram; then a lovely gentle off road ride around a lake with free ranging lambs, pretty flowers and more scenic views, then finished the day off yet again, climbing into Otematata.

Tonight’s accommodation I can only describe as a men’s homeless shelter but Robs said this is fine ‘I just haven’t stayed at any construction camps!’ Like really, no I haven’t why would I?’So this place…a bar in the South of New Zealand that has not changed since the 1960’s..

Here is a couple pictures of the decor!!!

Thursday night at the bar is platter night and I must say I was quite excited to see this and I asked Rob to ask about this in particular the cheeses. Rob strikes up a conversation with the bar guy so ‘it has cheese and biscuits’ the bar guy looks at him like he is from another planet and goes ‘no it’s meat we cook up on our big Texas burner out the back and bring you in bowls!!’

After a few drinks, dinner and the essential chocolate we began planning our day for tommorrow, we discover that Duntroon where we were planning to ride too, the town has closed down..how does a town close down??? Also it’s quite sad that these little places are becoming lost as I am learning they are part of the adventure with their character and quirkiness. So that means changing our plans, which is also all part of the adventure and as it’s Rob’s 50th tommorrow the outcome is a soft fluffy day of riding around the lake with a night booked at Sublime wineries.

And to finish the day on a positive Robs 3 favourite moments were

1. Making it too the summit of the mountain.

2. Ride around the lake

3. The burger from the Otematata pub with meat cooked in the Texas burner!!

Is that a little bit of sunshine

Day 6

Twizel to Ohau

Alps 2 Ocean Trail

40km off road

So confession time if you had not noticed I was a bit of a mad woman when I wrote my blog yesterday there was only so much weather battering, snow slapping one person can take ..and then to be told well tommorrow is an even balmier one degrees!!!

But like Cinderella and the magic of midnight (and a bottle of New Zealand Red) I began the return from the world of the mad to the world of WOW this is stunning. Rob woke me to show me the stars ⭐️

as they were glistening through spare cloudless spaces in the sky and the moon had an aura that had to be seen to be believed.

Then in the morning what had been hidden by grey cloud cover the day before was a picturesque mountain scape…maybe I had been a little harsh on Twizel the night before (also for the first time in a week we turned on the television to hear that Otago this week had its worst weather for this time of the year in 20 years, towns were without power and roads had been closed because of flooding. The reporter suggested people stay indoors but not us Connolly’s)…

Breakfast was a bagel and jam at Poppies and one last stop before heading off on the Alps to Ocean trail to the hardware store to get some thermals and ski gloves, I have never ever been dressed by the fashions of a hard ware store before and I even bought some lip balm which I found amongst the fishing lures.

The track started in Twizel in the town centre out along the bluest of blue canals for 18kms then 11kms along the Lake Ohau Foreshore all gravel (wahoo this part was a little mountain biking fun for the day) and right at the end of this part of the track were some serious fat cattle blocking the path, they weren’t moving anywhere so I tried to blend into the mountains and send telepathic messages to them that ‘I don’t go out of my way to eat them’ and let Rob do his thing whatever that is with cows before they decided to be courteous and headed back up the hill

then the final 10km along the road to Lake Ohau Lodge (now this place looks like something from the Weekend at Burnies!!) with an assortment of school project ornaments and deer 🦌 heads hanging from the corridor walls …

Though Lake Ohau Lodge has its peculiarities it is situated in the stunning snow capped mountains, the view from our room is million dollars and they know how to make an awesome New Zealand tasting platter!!

Another night in a warm bed with the plan weather permitting of our biggest day tommorrow heading off to Otemmata…..my only request is no cows or snow!!

And to finish off Rob’s 3 enjoyable things of the day were

1. Cattle moooooving out of our road.

2. The platter

3. The hot tubs…these were awesome especially on my sore ankle and they had special mountain minerals…the water at the lodge comes from a spring 1000mtrs above sea level on the mountain behind the lodge.

No words 😶 again

Day 5

Lake Tekapo to TwIzel (it’s prehistoric I wouldn’t suggest a visit here…you should see tonight’s accommodation!!)

52km on the Alps 2 Ocean Trail

*the backpackers cat

So yes I woke up with a little spring in my step feeling toastie and warm, I had thawed out overnight excited for the day ahead but not for long, setting out for the day on the Alps 2 Ocean trail it was a balmy 2 degrees wind, rain, hail, snow ⛄️. The trail was probably stunning on a beautiful day but the weather gods were not out to impress, the temperature plummeted not long into the ride and it was a battle to ride forward rather than backward.

Finally a teeny weeny stop almost at the end of the ride at the Mt Cook Salmon farm/visitor centre and the sushami was amazing quality and freshness, no salmon slime!

Then the last little stretch to TwIzel 8kms off road in the paddock there are no words to describe how horrendous the conditions were, my toes were no longer connected to my body and my hands were burning from the freeze 🥶…I thought in seeing TwIzel things would improve all I can say is WTF!!!

I will let the pictures below of our accommodation finish this post and you can make up your own mind…oh it was so damn cold in the bathroom I am sure it was snowing in there!

As I know I have been rather negative I will let Rob finish off sharing his 3 favourite things today

1. How cold his hands could get and still function to some degree…there was a sketchy drop on the ride.

2. Reaching TwIzel

3. It’s taking him time to answer this I’ve had two glasses of Red in this time!! Deal with it or sit in a hut all day!!