Today was our last bike ride in New Zealand — the days have passed just too fast. Wasn’t it just yesterday that I arrived in
I woke up to a clouded, almost foggy day. I should not complain about the weather, as this meant that it would not get as hot as it has been in the past couple of days.
Twizel is a construction town, as it was only founded in 1969 to house the workers who built the Upper-Waitaki hydroelectric power station and was meant to be taken down after the construction was completed. But, after completing the power station, the inhabitants of Twizel fought to keep their city alive and used the surrounding nature to their best purposes. Twizel is now host to the annual national championships in rowing, but the city is even better known for its Kakī Visitor Hide, from which visitors can watch the Kakī, one of the rarest birds in the world.
We left Twizel on the main road as today’s ride was supposed to lead us to Tekapo. The original plan had been to take a side-road, but we either didn’t see it or the gravel was too deep to ride on it. There was not much traffic on the main road either, so riding in one long line toward the shore of Lake Pukaki was no problem.
In good weather one should have a great view upon Aoraki — Mount Cook — from the parking lot at the south end of Lake Pukaki. This time we would see the mountain from the “other side,” as we had been able to see it from Fox four or five days ago. Still the clouds and the fog had not lifted enough to give us a postcard-like view. But then, who want’s all those postcard photos if what you can get is something equally nice…but more unique?
Shortly after this lookout we left the main road and continued on a track that was described in our documentation as an easy to ride unsealed gravel surface. For the first couple of kilometers we had some hope that the track would get better over time, but instead it got worse.
This path might be easily doable if you have a mountain bike or no pannier bags on a hybrid. But seriously, with the luggage on my bike, it was not easy to stay on the bike, always looking out for the best possible surface to ride on. So after 12 kilometers on this gravel and no improvement in sight, we all decided to find the best possible spot to stop, wait for the guide’s bus, and put all the bikes back on the trailer. Instead of the 44 kilometers that were planned for today, we only did about 30 kilometers on our bikes before continuing the trip in the bus toward our final destination, Christchurch.
Would I do this again if I was on another tour in New Zealand? Well… first of all I would have wanted to get much closer to Aoraki, so I would possibly — given I were on an unsupported ride — take the Highway 80, also known as Mount Cook Road, to get as close as I could. But yes, I think I would still consider doing this gravel path again now that I know what to expect, especially if the Highway toward Tekapo was high trafficked.
We arrived in Christchurch in the early evening, having just enough time to be taken on a short sightseeing tour up to the Mount Pleasant Scenic Reserve.
After this short detour we drove to our hotel, just enough time left for a refreshing shower before our last group dinner.
Here you can find more of my photos from my journey on the South Island of New Zealand