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!!

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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!!

No words 😶

Day 4

Fairlie to Lake Tekapu 42kms (Burke’s pass will make you feel every bit of that 42kms)

Headwinds, snow and a blizzard…

My experiencing on waking today was my hair had separated into Stalacites over night and I am lying there in my sleeping bag frozen like a microwave dinner waiting to be nuked…

I am wearing every bit of clothing I own and still shivering 🥶 …

As I didn’t want to be in the way when Rob was packing up the tent and it was too wet for me to sit in the pine needles feeling miserable I wandered off to the toilet block and warmed myself up with the hairdryer!

First stop leaving Fairlie was coffee at a very homely friendly and WARM little cafe…another traveller gives us the warning bad day for travel headwinds and snow…for some reason I start visualizing the game of thrones and long for John Snows black fluffy crow jacket.

The ride out of Fairlie was pretty, free range chickens, sheep and llamas all saying good morning along with some serious battering winds and rain, we did think of turning around but isn’t this part of the adventure we decided, so we continued on. I couldn’t believe riding behind Rob I could see the snow ⛄️ collecting on his jacket.

There is no words or pictures of today’s us climbing the mountain range as the thought of stopping would have prolonged the agony. Burke’s pass is part of the mountain climb and at this point I wanted to cry nothing positive there other than a quick stop to much on my hokey pokey Whittaker’s chocolate for comfort and energy to continue on…and on and on!!!

Finally we arrive at Lake Tekapu and we are greeted with one final wild blizzard…a snow slap straight to the face. At this point I learn snow is not soft and fluffy rather harsh and scratchy like shards of glass …my face has had a peel today, it’s seriously red!!

Ohhh and of course we cannot get any accommodation in Lake Tekapu everything is booked out accept a camping site or the shared backpackers dorm…guess where we are? The parents have turned up at the backpackers!!!

I am seriously not impressed, maybe this bike packing is not for me!!! I am trying to reflect at this point and ask what I am enjoying…the scenery is beautiful yes but not really getting a chance to stop and soak it in as it’s all climb climb and rush to get out of the elements and the people we have met are all super friendly and helpful.

Fairlie scary and comes with snow ⛄️

Day 3

Christchurch to Orari on the Atomic bus.

Ride Orari to Fairlie

Waking with buttterflies the sort before a job interview or when your stepping into the unknown, slight trepidation of the day ahead… I realize this feeling I am experiencing is a reaction to the unknown ahead and isn’t that part of the excitement of adventure the unplanned, letting go of control and planning… it’s about just being here and now and letting life unfold with just a little bit of prior arrangement though! The Atomic Bus had been booked through to Orari 137kms and the plan from there a three and half hour ride to Fairlie…a 58km ride.

The ride to Fairlie was Fairlie scary with climbing 565mtrs on a very very narrow shoulder and at time sketchy road and if I had been a little bit more rolly I would have been touching the traffic…adrenaline overload, on a positive though the traffic were fantastic from the big touring buses to the campervans just a little too close for comfort.

One of those too close for comfort calls was a b double cattle truck and there was no where for me to go but wobble off into ankle deep loose gravel!! Today I was grateful for having some mountain bike experience.

The next bit of excitement was the battering of the headwind the kind you had to hold onto your bike and hope to stay on…having stopped for a coconut water to rehydrate the next 18kms into Fairlie was almost excruciatingly 😖 freezing, wind and traffic, by the time we had arrived my morale was at an all time low and I was thinking what have I got myself into! My shoulders were burning from the ride, miserable and dejected i sat amongst some pine needles and watched Rob put the tent up…

The day progressed with a little shop at the corner mart I do love all the New Zealand brands and treated myself to NZ cider (they sell alcohol in the supermarket!!) and hokey pokey chocolate!

It seems more climbing tomorrow into Tekapu with the possibility of snow ⛄️…funny moment sitting in the camp kitchen it was raining and cold I said randomly it will snow …this guy turns around and says ‘that’s correct it’s forecast too’…I was only joking!!! At the time of writing this I have never ever been so cold in my life and I grew up in Tassie. Curious what temperature do you begin to experience hypothermia?

Christchurch in a day

Day 2 Christchurch

Wow where do I start with New Zealand 🇳🇿 this country is out to impress and I am not talking just about the beautiful landscape to the fresh air but the most friendliest people I have stumbled across especially to us cyclists!!!

Our day started Australian time 4:00am here 7:00am New Zealand time no wonder I looked and felt like the walking dead 💀 and yes my breakfast at Vic’s Cafe I couldn’t get into even though I had the most delish homemade herby hash brown which had the vibe of having been with made love but yes we seemed to go back to the same place again for a brownie and coffee for lunch, so it can’t have been too bad!

As for the rest of the day I felt it was a wander-less amble around Christchurch to a camping store out in the middle of nowhere if you can visualize it was next door to a gun shop as I was still waking up I didn’t even get a piccie of this but I was thinking what would we need to be shooting out here …

And then it was a simply relaxed day settling in letting go of needing to be anywhere or do anything other than getting the bikes unpacked and ready for the next fortnight and soaking in this vibrant friendly energy around us.

Christchurch is stunning in its beauty, friendliness and resilience. The people are warm, engaging, the botanical gardens lush and green you could visualize fairies 🧚‍♀️ sprinkling some of their good dust around, there are also purpose built cycling lanes with their own traffic light system and on a serious note the resilience demonstrated by this country from the 6.2 earthquake experienced 22/02/2011 is profound. The city is still rebuilding from this disaster and just for myself riding and looking at the most beautiful historical buildings having been ‘shaken to their core’ being restored, rebuilt and re-energised is unfathomable; there is care and pride in the rebuilding of this country.

Just where we are staying at our Airbnb at Melrose Cottage our lovely host shared the history of our accommodation which was built in 1901 and on the day of the earthquake she recounted the buildings 3 chimneys crashing around her and six years later they are still rebuilding!! She also shared that she lived in our little cottage for two years rebuilding their house!! This little cottage was originally the gardeners shed (random tangent this is why I love Airbnb there is always a little story/history to tell).

We finished our day with dinner at Tutto Bene restaurant….St Albians.

Italian dining gluten free to fuel us up for tomorrow’s adventures.

And the adventure begins!

And the adventures begins our much anticipated trip to the South Island of New Zealand to celebrate Rob’s 50th bonanza (remembering Rob’s alias is Mr Surly not because of temperament but because of his bike) and we also realised it’s our 20th wedding anniversary eek! And so does the slap of reality that I may be a little underprepared for the physical journey ahead….maybe my own enthusiasm can possibly conquer what is ahead!!!

I do know though as crazy as it sounds but being a yogi blog there is a spiritual element to what I share the kookaburra visited on the morning we were leaving, was a good omen and one that I was eternally grateful to see …how blessed that this visitor came to say goodbye 👋 and from there the morning departure was filled with sunshine ☀️ and good juju ..from the cheery taxi driver who helped lift the bike boxes to the airport assistant with the offer of a trolley and the WIN was checking in we were told our bikes/luggage would go all the way through to Christchurch. An important lesson was learnt here!! after the travel agent told us we would have to collect our bikes in domestic find our way to the international terminal all within two hours Mr Surly and I have had a couple of sleepless nights thinking about the logistics of this but eventually I just came to the realization ‘what will be will be’ and not put energy into something that has not even happened!…our thoughts become our reality! And my reality for this trip is squeeze every little juicy bit of sunrises/sunsets, delicious food and adventure into two weeks and learning just how little clothing one can squeeze into a panieer for that time away ( my new mantra is clothes are over rated)..And don’t pack the chair I would much prefer to sit on the ground then lug that up some hill or mountain….