Previous Post: Part Five – Over The Haast Pass To Queenstown
Rather than committing myself to a definite itinerary for the second half of my South Island Ramble, I left it “to be determined”. To make sure that I had most flexibility in terms of route, I ended up hauling my camping gear (about 3.5 kg of dead weight) all the way down to Queenstown from Christchurch, where I had started the ride. In retrospect, I should have either not bothered with the stuff at all or had Natural High, the bike rental agency, arrange to ship it ahead to Queenstown for me. Maybe next time!
I had two basic routes in mind. The first possibility was continuing on to Southland as the following map illustrates –
Option #1: The Catlins Tour
Click here for the interactive Google view of the ride. Do note that the Google route maker cannot show the gravel roads from Walter Peak to the Te Anau Highway so I’ve put an approximation on the map.
This route would need a week and would take me to Walter Peak via the coal-fired steamship TSS Earnslaw. From there I would cycle the Mount Nicolas-Beach Bay, Von and Mount Nicolas Roads to the Mavora Lakes campground and a tent spot. The next day I would continue to Te Anau and then head to Tuatapere and Invercargill before starting my tour of the Catlins. The end point would be Dunedin, from where I would catch a bus back to Christchurch the day before my flight back to Toronto. A highlight of this route would be the relative isolation and emptiness of the roads as I cycle to Te Anau from Walter Peak and along the south coast from Invercargill. It would definitely add some variety to the mountainscape of my ride up to this point.
Option # 2: To The Foot of Mount Cook
Click here for the Google map view.
I was thinking that perhaps this route would give the most Wow for my efforts. From Queenstown I would make my way to Twizel (Twhy-zul) via Cromwell and then follow the road on the west side of Lake Pukaki to Mount Cook Village. From there it seems possible to connect with a gravel road (the Hayman Road) which runs down the east side of the lake before turning east on the Tekapo Canal Road. (Again, the Google map maker does not do gravel roads! See the red line from Mt Cook Village to Tekapo.) Tekapo, at the south end of the lake it is named after, would be the next stop. Then after riding down to Timaru I’d make my way back to Christchurch via any route other than the very busy SH1 ! The reward here would be more mountains and hills and glacial lakes, never a bad thing.
The Actual Ride – From Queenstown To Invercargill Via The Mavora Lakes
I ended up going with Option #1. Well, at least I did until I got to Invercargill. A spur of the moment change in plans led me to cycle to Gore instead of heading deep into the Catlins. So – no Catlins! I’ll explain why below.
And then a day spent on the admittedly generous paved shoulder of SH1 all the way to Gore convinced me that another two days of SH1 to Dunedin was not going to be much fun – so I hopped on the bus at Gore the next morning at 9:30 and three hours later I was in Dunedin. It was the right choice – I got a day off the saddle and spent a glorious next day doing a 60 km tour of the Otago Peninsula with my unloaded bike.
Day Twelve: Queenstown to the Mavora Lakes via the Walter Peak Road
The TSS Earnslaw was being readied at the wharf on the waterfront as I cycled over from my room at the Lakefront YHA hostel. It was another clear and sunny day and I was looking forward to a different kind of ride this day – the all-gravel road that would take me from Walter Peak to the Mavora Lake campground on my way to the highway to Te Anau.
Day Thirteen: the Mavora Lakes campground to Te Anau
It is the end of August and I hope to finish off this post in the next month or so! See below in the Comments section for my lame excuse for leaving it hanging like this!
Day Fourteen: Te Anau to Tuatapere
Day Fifteen: Tuatapere to Invercargill
Day Sixteen: Invercargill to Gore
Day Seventeen: Gore To Dunedin via the Bus
I have posted something on the 60-km Otago Peninsula ride. It was one of my top-three favourite days on the saddle on South Island. Incredible scenery/great views/good roads- and my 50 pounds of baggage was back at the motel room in town!
Next Post: Part 7 – Dunedin And The Otago Peninsula