|22-03-2006, 01:34 PM||#1|
Mapping the next ride...
Join Date: Mar 2006
Fire 'n Ice NZ'05 pt.3
Pitchblack, 6am to avoid the coaches and we're off, faint daylight saw at the start of the mountains, the following sunrise one of those magic moments...
Very narrow valleys,
incredible rock-formations, the Homer Tunnel followed by some nice hairpins, ever more sweet bends before the "pop-out" at Milford….unforgettable.
The clouds didn't want to lift completely during the boat-cruise of the sound
and the underwater observatory with it's black coral was well worth the visit….
One last look back...
we again beat most of the traffic on the way back to Te Anau. Another good ride and exceptional day "in-the-bag"
Even the setting sun agreed
The next morning it's off down south, Te Anau the start of the Southern Scenic Route which cradles the whole southern end of the South Island. The high mountain recede, replaced by some harshly folded landscape with sharp-ridged hills and 'chopped-out" gullies along the valley floors.
The coast is quite different here, bare and wind-blown.
We're by-passing Invercargill, not wanting to get stuck in some city-traffic, then pick up the Scenic Route again a bit further to the south-east. Sunny breaks framed by black clouds racing low across the skies...and extreme gusts of wind picking up the bikes for a sudden 3-foot side-step...hard riding!
What's the name of that cave?
Not exactly overpopulated here...
Each westerly tack makes the bike speed up, the wind gobbling up most noises… each southern tack is dreaded due to being to quick at the entry, then the moment when the wind hits and shoves the bike all over the place...usually mid-corner somewhere.
Pounawea turns out a very scenic spot on an inlet south of Balclutha...and here Jimbo loses his heart.
It's small, it's a bit forgotten, it's very scenic...and the pub in Owaka puts on a real surprise, the meals are fantastic
Clouds are lifting and breaking next morning as we're off for a loop-around-the-block, Balclutha, then back-county roads for the morning up to Etrick.
First a detour after passing a rolled-over truck:
Riding through lush farmland, narrow roads hugging the ridges, shallow mountains as a backdrop...WHOWW, what a beauty!!! And then it gets even better; Lunch at the Gallery 1 café in Tapanui is GREAT.
Under blue skies it's west to Gore and north to Mandeville. Somewhere around here is the De Havilland Aircraft restoration place...and we find it. A huge flat paddock, 2 biiig single-storey sheds and an entrance door to the office...that's all from the outside. No entrance tickets, no guides no nothing...but vintage planes in all stages of restoration, from timber-framed fuselages to near-completion stage...it's all here.
From timber-propped double-deckers to 10 seaters. A handful of people are working here and there, someone beating sheet-aluminium into a wheel arch, someone else profiling a timber-strut with a chisel... This is incredible, even more so, that we're allowed to just walk around and "feel at home'", snapping pics, asking questions….a place NOT to be missed whenever reasonably close. There's a new hangar is the making which will make it an official tourist thing over the next year or 2...get there before it becomes yet another plasticky- tourist-attraction. The Catlins area is still un-spoilt by McDonalds and real commercialism...
Pounawea welcomes us back home with a spectacle...
Next morning's sunrise makes it real-hard to leave the place and go north to Dunedin.
Goodie jettisons her left pannier at near 100kph...which miraculously stays intact and waterproof despite the spectacular bounces and tumbles. Brownie-points to Hepco Becker, great gear.
It's off to Dunedin via the main highway, the Otago Peninsula another experience: the road winds tightly, following the shores only 1 meter above water level...and no barriers!!
Finding the old, Scottish-built Dunedin University proves a hard task, the original building are nowadays surrounded by more modern structures, a young guy on a 50cc scooter plays guide and gets us there, thanks, buddy!
Clouds draw in along the coast, time to get inland and hopefully outrun the weather...and it works! Some 20odd km of twisties get us onto the road to Middlemarch/ Ranfurly,
traffic drops off to near-zilch, we've got the road to ourselves once more.
Above us the skies are in turmoil, 2 fronts fighting each-
"Blind- Billy's Holiday Camp" is a REAL find,
a huge grassy area cradled by tall poplars, small cabins dotted randomly, the camp-kitchen is an old railway-wagon with a generous, covered timber deck...the spectacular sunset is the cream on the cake. In the background the locals "take-the-pub-to-pieces"...it's Saturday and the rugby is on Sat-TV.
The pizza from the lonely shop in town is truly forgettable...but the local Monteith beer makes up for it )
Another of those spectacular sunrises
and we're on the road to Ranfurly, wide-open sweepers to the turnoff onto the Hyde-Macraes Road, yet another backblocks-find, yeeha.
Bends and sweepers galore onto the High Plateau, the paddocks are studded with big boulders…
The hamlet of Stanley is a surprise,
there's a huge open-cut gold-mine around here, we
have to have a look---no mention of it on any map or info material we've come across.
The pub is worth an inspection as well, one of the oldest in NZ.
It's north to Ranfurly for a break, then into bad gusts south to Alexandra/ Clyde.
The wind at Lake Dunstan near Cromwell is so bad, it's getting close to impossible to wrestle the bikes through 120km/h gusts and we're finally outta luck:
The rain pelts down hard. The first real rain for the ride so far!! And it seems like it wants to make up for it. 10 mins later it's down to drizzle...before it REALLY buckets down across the Lindis Pass to Omarama.
The clouds are nearly low enough to scrape the helmet on if standing up on the foot pegs. But the wind has dropped completely and riding is easier now. Omarama is dry….juuust being at the edge of the big dark clouds...after a quick break it's off north to Twizel and target for today. A bit more drizzle, an impossibly coloured lake at the turnoff, the water is iridescent aqua, it's surreal. Ahhhh...Goodie's birthday and we're off to the pub
The last glimpse of the day...Lake Ohau, Twizel
Mt. Cook-stumper, losing Jimbo, Karamea, gravel-pits, East-Cape: