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Archive for November, 2017

SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 3 Braemar Station to Lake Ohau 80km

The rain had cleared overnight, so we woke up to stunning vistas of the Southern Alps.  After a hearty breakfast we hit the gravel road along Lake Pukaki.  The road continued for a further 18km until we reached the Tekapo B power station, after which it turned into smooth tarseal.   The riders were fairly spread out, but we regrouped at the Lake Pukaki Visitor Centre just past the Pukaki Dam.   Our support drivers Dave and Said made sure we were watered and fed before crossing the highway to rejoin the A20 trail on the other side.

The next section was a flat and fast gravel track with an expanse of dry grassland characteristic of the Mackenzie landscape.   After crossing this we ended up in Twizel, but bypassed the town to head 3km further down the road to the Salmon Farm, where we fed the salmon and indulged in Salmon pie!

After heading back to Twizel to rejoin the A20 trail, we followed the road until we reached a canal. The bright blue water was perfectly framed by the lupins which were fully out in bloom. The endlessly long canal finally took us to the Ohau Weir, and then joined the most fun singletrack of the tour.  We arrived to stay at Lake Ohau Lodge, one of the picturesque places of the tour.

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 2 Mt Cook to Braemar Station 33km

We started off bright an early, as we had to drive from Tekapo to Mt Cook. The first stop was the Church of the Good Shepherd, one of Tekapo’s famous landmarks. After the obligatory group shot, we were off to the start of the Alps 2 Ocean trail at Mt Cook.

It was a very scenic drive with the mountains looming in the foreground. Although it was a unicycle tour, we actually started off with a 2 hour hike up the Hooker Valley, across several swing bridges and alpine tussock. It was a beautiful walk, but by the time we got back to the carpark everyone was ready to head off, we had a helicopter to catch!

The first part of the Alps to Ocean trail is a rocky track which leads to Mt Cook Airport- basically a landing strip and a helipad. When we arrived the group took turns to fly up to the Tasman Glacier, which was well worth the trip. The helicopter landed on the glacier and we got to walk around on the ice, before being flown back over the iceflow to Tasman Point, where the A20 trail continues on the other side of the river.
It was a lovely warm day, and the clouds had burnt off, so we decided to cool off in the glacial water, with several members of the group stripping right down for a skinny dip. It was CO0old, but well worth it.
The next part of the trail proved to be fairly tricky for unicycles. It was a well-groomed trail, but without suspension and limited gears, it was slow going. Dani ended up shredding her tyre, so spent considerable time trying to patch it up. Luckily Said came by with the support vehicle to the rescue!
As we rounded the lake, we could hear thunder, and before long the beautiful clear skies opened up. Along with the relentless headwind, it took its toll on the riders. By the time we arrived at Braemar Station, we were ready for a hot shower and hot food, which is exactly what we got. Anna, Dani and Gen had gone ahead in the support vehicle and made a delicious curry, followed by banana/chocolate self-saucing pudding, which hit the spot. We were all tired but well fed by the time we got in bed.

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SINZ II Tour Blog: Day 1 Christchurch to Tekapo

The South Island, ,New Zealand Unitour kicks off today. This is the second unitour of the South Island, 10yrs since the first!  We were taking a slightly different route this time, incorporating the new Alps to Ocean (A20) cycle trail, the Central Otago Rail Trail, Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold Trail.

We had quite a hectic morning as the riders flew into Christchurch from overseas and around the country. Unfortunately, we lost a member of our group, Eric, who couldn’t make it due to Visa issues.  Several riders had arrived the day before and picked up one of our two support vans- an 8-seater van driven by Said who travelled with our Italian riders. Dave Goodman, our second support driver arrived from Dunedin, and we spent a considerable amount of time getting our second hire vehicle sorted, a 12-seater van.

Ken, Anna and Chris went off on a big shop at the local supermarket, spending the next hour chasing their list around to find dozens of tins, loaves of bread, pasta, rice, fruit and vegetables etc. It was a mammoth effort to pack them all into boxes and load up the support van.
Then we’re off! It took us a few hours to drive to Tekapo, by which time we were all starving! Anna got things happening in the kitchen, getting the troops together to put together a hearty meal of Nachos and Chili con Carne.
We had a gorgeous view of the Lake, although our late arrival meant we didn’t get much of a chance to look around. Ken and Anna held the tour briefing, and then it was off to bed!

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