Tag Archives: Biking

The dusty track from Lauder

While we were in Tekapo with our neighbours, Ray and Margaret who have been living in their bus for the last 4 ½ years or so, we found out that we had probably missed the best part of the Rail Trail while we were in Ranfurly. We had a few days up our sleeve before catching up with Helen in Lowburn so we decided to spend another couple of nights at one of our favorite stops in Central Otago, the Omakau Hotel.

The Omakau Hotel is well setup for Motorhomes with a whole set of Ensuite cabins and concreted Motorhome parks out behind the Hotel. See my previous blog on this.

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We were travelling from the NZMCA park in Cromwell so it wasn’t that far.

Getting ready at Omakau behind the Hotel

We used the time to have a good tidy up. Vacuuming and washing Rafe inside and out! The only problem is that the fresh water in these parts has a high level of calcium which dries on as water spots.. ugly! At least it was clean 🙂

At Omakau

The next morning, we up early and set off on the bikes to Lauder on the bike trail. The first bit to Lauder was slightly uphill but barely noticeable. There were a couple of bridges but it was largely a dead straight track across open fields most of the way to Lauder.

Arriving at Lauder

We stopped briefly at Lauder for a couple of sandwiches which we took with us and a glass of water.. the last of the big spenders !

Viaduct 1

From here is was a slight uphill grind up to the hills until we came to a curved viaduct crossing a river which was amazing. We stopped here for a look then headed onto some amazing tunnels which had to be walked through.

Real lord of the rings type of landscape

Both tunnels were reasonably short. We continued a slight climb through a really rocky Central Otago landscape to cross the main Viaduct.

The first Tunnel

From here we were on the edge of the Ida Valley and could pretty much see right down towards Ranfurly.

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

Amazing view. Apparently this Viaduct took three years to build and the workers lived up here in the hills in little shacks. It must have been pretty unpleasant. There are some great signboards which give you the history as you go along.

Viaduct 2 took three years to build.

It was sandwich time before heading back to Lauder. We’d done the bits we missed !

Viaduct 2 with the Ida valley behind

The ride was great and it was nice to see the Tunnels and Viaducts that we had missed. We worked out that we did approximately 36k’s there and back.

On the way back to Tunnel 2

This was the easy bit. Feet up downhill really all the way back to Omakau. We stopped in at Lauder for a cuppa and something else to eat before heading back to Omakau.

In the tunnel

While we were in Lauder having a cup of coffee, I received a phone call from my old neighbour, Terry. He was on the road on his way to Alexandra and was keen to catch up.

Fiona nearly back at Lauder

We arranged to meet at Omakau and we had not long been back when he arrived armed with a bottle of Chardonnay and some cheese and biccies.

On the way back to Omakau

It was really nice to see Terry and we ended up having Tea at the Omakau Hotel which was great.

Tea by Winchester

One of the things we wanted to do was catch up with old friends Pam and Campbell who we knew from our old days is Devonport. They have set up an amazing Farmstay B&B business just outside Temuka and had invited us for tea. Yippee.

The next issue was where to put Rafe as Google Earth showed their driveway impassable for Motorhomes and there wasn’t roadside parking either.

Plenty of room

There was an great camping ground a few K’s up the road at Winchester which was $18 a night with plenty of room to spread out so we headed there.

The campground is actually in the Showground’s so there are times of the year when it isn’t available. Nice showers which don’t require any money and a big kitchen common room which looks the business.

Lots of space
Showers and Toilets

After an afternoon of lazing in the 20 C plus sun, we got the bikes down and headed down the road to Pam and Campbells place. Drinks in the sun on the deck and amazing roast meal and it was really neat to see them after having not seen them for at least 20 odd years. They look really well and the House they have done up looks great and they’re now running it as Olivers  Farm Stay  Bed & Breakfast. Campbell is a Chef so the meals are stunning !

Campbell and Pam

Campbell very kindly dropped us off at the campsite later, with the bikes on a bike rack on the back of his car as it was a bit dodgy in the dark on State Highway 1 ! Thanks very much guys and it was lovely to catch up again after all this time.

Art Deco on the Rail Trail

I used to joke with my old friend Gary who lived here, about Rantartica but over the 4 days we spent in the new NZMCA park here in Ranfurly, the temperature ranged during the day between 24 and 26 degrees every day. Beautiful blue skies with only one morning with a bit of drizzle.

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The NZMCA Park in Ranfurly

Stunning weather and a lovely town.

Rafe with the awning out in the heat of Ranfurly

The people are really friendly and the buildings are amazing.

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Around the time of the war, the town was struck badly by a string of suspicious fires where a significant number of iconic buildings were burnt to the ground.

Once the tea rooms, now a museum.

At the time, money was scarce and the cheapest and quickest way to replace them was to do the Art Deco style. The town is blessed with these lovely old buildings with some real class.

The famous Ranfurly pub

The drizzly day we had was when the town had its market day at the railway station and it was just great to see the whole town come out to play, even in the dreary weather. It was only shortlived and an hour two later, there was brilliant sunshine again.

The entrance to the park

We were originally only going to stay for two nights but its such a great place to stay so we stayed for four! The NZMCA park is right in the middle of town and is huge.

Looking down the road to Dunedin towards the St Bathans mountains

We’ll definitely be staying here again.

Rafe’s track to Ranfurly

Lakeside

Pinders Pond would have to be one of the most beautiful parking spots in Central Otago. Its also free and is an easy 5k’s to Roxburgh by the most amazing bike trail right next to the Clutha river.

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Lots of space

After leaving the Gold Cottages campsite and saying goodbye to Lloyd and Kate, we headed down the road about 6k’s to Pinders Pond.

Is that a reflection ?

When we arrived, were a few Motorhomes and two Caravans there so we just plonked ourselves on the grass and had lunch.

Close to the bike trail

About an hour later, the place literally cleaned out and the Motorhomes all left and we moved back to a flatter spot closer to the Caravans.

Click on the gallery below for a Slideshow

There is a bike trail which goes right up to the Roxburgh bridge and beyond one way and I think it goes to Millers Flat and beyond the other way. It is very easy riding and we were off. It took us about 20 minutes or so to get to Roxburgh so we celebrated with a cup of coffee in one of the cafe’s there before riding back.

Fiona nearly at Roxburgh
Roxburgh bridge

A lovely spot. Thanks to several people for recommending it.

Rafes Track to Pinders Pond

Riding to beat the rain

We woke up to a stunning view across the water at Rabbit island. It was dead still and with lots of local dog walkers out exercising.

Dogs exercising their owners.

Who’d have thought that it was going to go pear shaped later in the day with a front forecaast to come over and drench the whole country !

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Bright Sunshine

We thought there would be a few hours where we could jump on our bikes and go into Nelson for a look around. Fiona was keen to get some wool and it was good to bike around the foreshore and check out all the neat houses tucked into the hillside.

Wow

The bike lanes are pretty narrow and close to the traffic so we ended up using the footpaths probably more than we should have but there were no pedestrians so Hey Ho!

The typical Nelson look

We parked our bikes in the centre of town and locked our bikes into the provided bike racks and set off on foot. On a mission for the wool shops 🙂

The main road through Nelson with the council clock.

We found a couple but not quite what was required it seems so a cup of coffee in a cafe was a nice break.

The River through Nelson

After looking around a bit more, we hopped back on the bikes and headed back the 4kms back to the campground. The weather was closing in and it all looked different with a grey sky but still nice and warm. After an 8K round trip, it was time for a cuppa by the sea.

The famous Restaurant over the water on the way back.

A great day out and although it was supposed to be raining by 2pm and we rode back looking at the threatening sky, it was still dry at 6pm!

The 27K ride

Andy, the Spring Creek camp owner, had just been telling me that some truck drivers who were due to stay in the camp had called to say that they wouldn’t be here as they’d got stuck in the snow in the Lewis Pass so we knew it was going to be cold!  It was fine though and it was forecast to be dry but the sky was a bit threatening.

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The weather is strange here as you see the clouds in the hills and on the rain radar but nothing seems to make it over the Nelson hills apart from sunshine, so a lot of the weather forecast seems to be a case of the Bark being worse than the Bite!

The old Narrow Blenheim Bridge and railway bridge. Fiona way in the distance.

Anyway, we set off in the morning to ride into Blenheim which is about 7 k’s down the main highway. About halfway down, I discovered a bike lane that goes all the way down so we shifted over to that to be safe.

The Criterion Fire
One of the rebuilt Criterions after the fire in the floods.

After having a look around Blenheim, we stopped for a cup of tea. We stumbled across the spot where the old Criterion Hotels were built, all on the same site. There were 3 of them all destroyed by fire between the late 1880’s through to the 1960’s. The site is now occupied by a Backpackers and Bar.

The Backpackers on the Criterion site.

We were heading out to Allan Scotts Vineyard which is about 10 k’s by bike against the 25 odd knot wind which was hard riding. Right opposite Allan Scotts is Cloudy Bay Vineyards so we were spoilt for choice.

Allan Scotts fine establishment
Allan Scotts Cellar. The Chardonnay was spectacular.

A glass of Chardonnay and a really nice cheeseboard here with all sorts which was really nice and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder soup which she enjoyed.

Looking across towards Nelson with the snow on the tops of the hills

Then it was back on the bikes and back to Rafe, 10 k’s ! With the wind behind us coming home, we were barrelling along and we were home before the showers looming in the hills.