Road Trip 2021 – Central Otago
Lynn and Dave cycle the Otago bike trails
Lynn and I have been wanting to do the Central Otago Rail Trail since we first heard about it many years ago. We finally have bikes that we feel we want to use on such adventures, but weren’t confident about our ability to get there and back in our electric vehicles. In February 2020 we did a road trip to Akaroa from Whitby in our Mitsubishi Minicab Miev (Squirrel), sleeping in the van with the awning on the back, and we realised that traveling was not going to be much of an issue in the van, just hard work! We didn’t have the bikes with us that trip, which we felt was a bit of a shame as with the van tied down with the awning, we didn’t really go very far.
We thought about alternatives, like hiring a bigger van and getting a group together, or take the leaf and do a package tour with hire bikes, but the organisation was not something I wanted to do. However, Lynn was very keen to do the Clutha Gold Trail and the Roxburgh Gorge trail, in a big loop with the Otago Rail Trail. To reduce travel, my first plan was to drive to Lawrence at the start of the Clutha Gold, ride upstream to Clyde, then turn around and do the Otago Rail Trail, possibly completing the “Big Loop” riding from Middlemarch to Lawrence (80km) stopping at Clark’s Junction Hotel to break the journey.
So, sometime during 2020 we decided we would take 2 or 3 weeks, to drive down to Central Otago in the van, with our bikes in the back, and do some serious cycling. Lynn’s holidays were booked, and I started some serious planning. I attempted to fix some dates so that we could book accommodation on the Rail Trail, but never having driven that far, with no idea whether it was going to be 3, 4 or even 5 days travel, we couldn’t even set a start date for the first cycle trip. Without a start date, we couldn’t book things such as the boat ride on the Clutha to do the Roxburgh Gorge trail, or any accommodation. Travel companies’ websites had all sorts of warnings about booking in advance, ‘bookings for 2021 were filling up fast’, ‘bookings for most accommodation was already full for 2021’, and it all started to get a bit much. We realised that these websites were a bit iffy when we spotted one company offering the “Big Loop” as an option, with an overnight at Clark’s Junction. Some investigation showed that Clark’s Junction Hotel had closed down in 2018, and become a Cafe only, and that soon after the cafe had closed too, and was now just a private dwelling!
We were always going to take camping gear for the odd time there was no accommodation or we missed our booking, but I got to the point where I said, no! We will do this as a camping trip, with only the vaguest of plans, camping where it suits us, and if not there the next camp site! If we were feeling lazy and there was accommodation available we would book into a motel unit, or a cabin. We would take our chance charging, but to reduce any issues, we added a second battery to each bike, giving us a range of 80-150km. I decided to take a chance on the boat journey, intending to book the day before we needed it, being the time we would be most certain we would be doing it. Similarly if we need bike transfers anywhere, we would wing it and take our chances.
Yuba Mundo V4. Lekkie 300watt mid drive motor conversion, 13aH battery that came with the kit, and a second 17aH battery fitted Jan 2021. Custom wired with a switch to use either battery but not both. Rear rack is part of the long tail cargo bike frame. Front rack is an aluminium delivery rack liberated from a skip, with brackets made to fit it to the lugs at the front intended for the Yuba Breadbasket.
Tern GSD Gen1 S10 – 10 speed, 250watt electric long tailed cargo bike with 20″ wheels. Second 400wH battery added in Jan 2021, making 800 wH in total. Rear rack is part of frame, front rack is a Tern Hauler rack.
Our 2 man tent last used on the Queen Charlotte Track walk 6 years ago is now a bit difficult for me to get in and out of, or to get dressed or undressed in, or even turn over in without getting everything wet! So we decided to get a nice spacious 3 man tent from Intents Outdoors called the Titan 3. This was an excellent choice, we each had our own doors to get in and out of, it was really spacious with vertical walls where it mattered, and the extra weight did not matter, as the bike would be doing the carrying.
Everything else was selected from our normal camping supplies, polyester type sleeping bags, self inflating mats, lightweight stove and cooking gear etc.
Chargers for each battery type were carried, with a multiplug, and an adapter to plug all three into a caravan socket if required. Phones and torches could be charged off one of my bike batteries or off the control console on the handlebars.
Take a ferry from Wellington on the morning of the 13th February, and drive down to Lawrence taking as many days as was needed, charging as necessary at fast chargers, camping overnight at campsites and slow charging overnight.
Arrive Lawrence (via Dunedin and Milton), camp overnight, arrange to leave the van somewhere for up to 9 days, arrange the boat transfer on the Clutha for a couple of days hence, and maybe camp another night before setting off.
Two or three days cycling up the Clutha Gold Trail, stopping at Millers Flat or Roxburgh, ending up at Alexandra, and camping overnight. One day riding to Clyde and back, and maybe camping at Alexandra again.
Start the Central Otago Rail trail, traveling maybe 30 to 40kms a day, working on campsites being available at a few places on the way, 4 or 5 nights, maybe 6.
Arrive Middlemarch, camp overnight, maybe two nights, and then cycle to Lawrence, using the Lee Flat to Mahinerangi to Lawrence road, possibly camping overnight somewhere.
Finish at Lawrence, camp a couple of nights, and reverse driving trip home, catching the ferry back on 5th March at 7pm.
What actually happened
Day 1 Saturday 13th February – Whitby to Cheviot
Left home at 5:30am, headed for Wellington, drove to Grey Street Charge Net charger and topped up the van to 95%. The homeless guy sleeping in the adjacent doorway didn’t notice us, the empty bottle leaning against the charger was probably why.
The 8:00am Bluebridge ferry left at its normal time of sometime just before 9, but what a crossing, dead calm, no wind, blue skys. A sign of things to come?
Off the ferry and heading south in good time, and with a full charge and a few chargers to use as required, we made good time down to Blenheim, and tried the new Delta charger at The Warehouse. Very convenient for the trip south, a bit better than Spring Creek distance wise, and 25kW, so great for the van. Not the best access, but the cable is more than long enough.
Next stop was the Flaxbourne Cafe at Ward. 95% was required here, and we got it to ourselves for the full duration. Tea and something nice while we were waiting.
The drive to Kaikoura was quite good. Its a good 83kms or so from Ward to Kaikoura, and even though the first part is downhill to the coast, we were effectively “hypermiling” the whole way, so lots of pulling over to let vehicles past, and now the road works have all but gone, no enforced battery rests on the way. Beautiful scenery and weather all the way, and a stop at Ohau point to say hello to the baby seals in the rock pools. Again charging to 95% at Kaikoura New World, a 5 minute wait while a Tesla topped up a little bit, then it was all ours for the duration again.
Our next leg was to Cheviot, with a fall back of the Staging Post at Hawkswood if needed. At Hawkswood we still had plenty of battery left, so drove on to Cheviot with no problems. Normally we charge at the Charge Net charger, but we had decided to stop overnight here, so found the Cheviot Motel and Campground 750 metres away, and booked a power site for the night to charge the car slowly at 13 amps. As the campsite was nearly empty, we plugged the car in at one site and camped at another non powered site. We move the van when it completed charging. What a lovely little site, reasonably quiet, just the noise of engine brakes on the main road and the occasional train in the distance. A great stop on the way south.
Day 2 Sunday 14th February – Cheviot to Akaroa
A lazy start, but we were away by 10:00am with 100% charge for the drive to Amberley.
During the final days of planning the trip we had decided that we may complete last years trip by going to Akaroa. We had issues with the ABB charger at Little River last time, so never made it over the hill. Today would be the day we went to Akaroa, and we felt really happy as we travelled, but realised we had to keep the battery as cool as possible so as not to have the same issues again.
At Amberly, a new style leaf was plugged in but finished charging, so I unplugged it and started charging to 80%, just as the owner was making his way across the car park. He and his wife were enjoying a huge tour of the South Island, I got confused about where they had been and where they were going, but it was pretty impressive. Being Sunday, our favourite cafe in Amberley was closed, but the cafe next to the supermarket in the Mall was a good substitute, if a little bland.
We decided last time that we seriously dislike driving down SH1 between Amberley and South Christchurch, so we decided to go via Kaiapoi, and then down Marshlands Road, around the CBD to Sydenham, and the out to Halswell. As we were taking every opportunity to keep our charges down to a minimum %, we stopped in Kaiapoi to try another new charger at New World, them carried onto Halswell for a top up to 80% there too.
At Little River we used the ABB fast charger to charge to about 75%, just before where it failed last time we used this charger, then we moved to the AC charger next door and used our new Type 2 to Type 1 cable to finish off the charge to 100% at a nice slow rate, while we went for a cup of tea, then a nice walk down the cycle path.
With a 100% charge, and a type 2 to type 1 cable, we felt very confident traveling over the big hill to Akaroa, getting huge amounts of range back going down the other side, and also significant amounts of regenerated power too. What a great drive down to Akarao, and Akaroa itself was basking in a perfect summer’s day. We plugged in at the Fire Station slow charger, and left the van while we went for a walk, then headed up to the Top Ten Campsite above the harbour.
This must be the campsite with the best views in NZ, or at least of the campsites we have stopped at! We were treated to the most amazing sunset as the sun went down over the Banks Peninsula, and the views from the kitchen area down to our campsite and beyond were stunning. We paid for a powered site, and charged to 100% overnight.
Day 3 Monday 15th February – Akaroa to Timaru
Another lazy start, leaving Akaroa at 10:00 again, with 100% charge. Stopped at Little River for a top up on the slow charger again, and a coffee at the cafe. Back on the road, heading for Lincoln, into new territory for us, exciting times.
Charging at Lincoln (to 80%) we realised the adjacent slow chargers were all being used by a Tesla Model 3 and a gaggle of Leafs, and across the road in a research labs car park were another couple of Leafs.
From Lincoln we headed cross country, trying our hardest to avoid SH1 – a theme we would stick to as much as possible for the rest of the trip. So at Springston we turned south and headed for Leeston, and from there we headed over to Raikaia.
Ar Raikaia we used the ABB charger to charge to 80%. We are very wary of ABB chargers, we have too many issues with our van while charging at them, but this time it was all fine. Lovely charging site though, nice park and excellent toilet facilities, with a cafe or two around the area.
And on to Ashburton for another 80% charge at an ABB charger, again no issues this time. A difficult to find location but a welcome charge.
We decided that Timaru was just a bit too far, particularly as we used a lot of energy on SH1, keeping up with the main traffic flow, and having to stop and start each time we stopped to let the traffic past, so we stopped off at Temuka New World and charged to 80% there too. If we could have found the campsite we may have stopped there and charged, but somehow it eluded us, so having done a bit of shopping at Temuka New World, we headed off for Timaru.
First stop was the Top Ten site at Timaru, but it was a strange campsite, not what we were looking for at all, with a very definite emphasis on camper vans and caravans, it was not welcoming for tent users, so we moved on and ended up at Glenmark holiday park on the way out of Timaru to the south. What a find, a really good site with excellent facilities. Reasonably busy, but still quiet and pleasant. Paid for a powered site and charged the van again to 100%. It only rained twice on this trip, and overnight in Timaru going south was one of them!
Day 4 Tuesday 16th February – Timaru to Lawrence
This was an exciting day, we were within striking distance of our destination, if all went well we could be there by the evening!
Yet another lazy start, having to pack away the wet tent, and away by 10:00. The next charger on SH1 is Oamaru, but this is possibly too far from Timaru for the van, even with 100% charge. SH1 is difficult to go slowly on, there is little room to pull over, so letting traffic past involves almost stopping and then starting off again, or you have to drive to keep up with the traffic. Neither is good for your SOC!
In order to get south successfully, we headed for Waimate, just a few kms off SH1, where they have a 50kW charger which appears to have very little use. So we topped up there, and found a nice-ish cafe for coffee and a snack, and took some photos of the somewhat eerie grain silos painted as a tribute to local prominent citizens. Very striking effect, a nice feature for the town.
Back on the road, and we headed for Oamaru. This was a first for us – Oamaru is a FREE fast ABB charger. Sounds good? No, a lady was sitting in her Leaf, charging to 100% with an hour or so to go. Why? Because she can. I am assuming she charges once a week or so at the free charger, rather than charging occasionally at home. She was quite definite, suggesting we might want to go and do something else as it would take a long time! So we set off to the Whitestone Cheese factory, and sampled some of their Savoury Scones with Camembert on. They were not very good. I think the Level 2 we were at at the time had reduced their staff and ability to service customers. Anyway, back to the charger, where the lady was just finishing up, and we charged to 80% for the trip to Hampden.
27/03/2021 – just read on the power companies web site that they are partnering with chargenet, and will be charging 25c/25c as per other 50kW chargers. Yes, well done Network Waitaki and Chargenet
We did a bit of Steam Punk tourism before heading south again.
As part of avoiding SH1, we used Beach Road to go via Kakanui on what was a brilliant little diversion, along side the Pacific Ocean with glorious empty golden beaches, on a really beautiful day. And then onwards down Waianakarau Road, to rejoin SH1 for the trip down to Hampden.
Hampden is another free fast charger – ABB again. No issues this time, another charge to 80%, a little walk to stretch our legs, and onwards again to Palmerston.
No issues at Palmerston, a very welcome charger, we may have had to camp again if this charger had not suddenly appeared on the map late in 2020. I think we charged to 95% here, because of the hills heading into Dunedin. We did get off SH1 again, by traveling through Karitane, and down the very hilly coast route down to Warrington. Back on SH1 for the massive climb over the hill to Dunedin, then a stop at the Water Street charger for a quick charge to 80% before heading for Milton.
It was getting late by the time we got to Milton, so back on charge to 80% at the Four Square, a walk into town for a toilet stop, then fish and chips from a very grand fish and chip shop. We ate those in a lovely park opposite, then set off on our last leg of the day to Lawrence.
By now we were tired so the trip to Lawrence was nothing special, and once there we just went to the Goldpark Campsite, paid for one night, threw up the tent and went to bed!
Day 5 Wednesday 17th February – Lawrence to Beaumont
Lawrence was our planned start point for our cycling holiday, but that depended on one thing, getting a place to leave the van for the 9 days or so we would be cycling. We had contingency plans, but they were not particularly attractive.
First stop was the iSite to buy our passes for the Clutha River stage, and we inquired about places to leave the van. Number one was our preferred location, which was at the campsite. This has stacks of room, and seems fairly secure. The second option was a very small car park at the very start of the trail. This was not what we wanted!
So we went back to the campsite to ask if we could leave the van there, making it clear we were happy to pay. “No, parking is available at another car park, and this is where everybody else parks, it is opposite the police station, so is quite secure”. Yeah Right! Back to the iSite where the helpful lady suggested the Beaumont Hotel, who were apparently very nice. Lynn rang up and Alison was perfectly OK to rent us a cabin for the night, to allow us to park the car there for 9 days, and to charge our car and bikes if necessary!
So a change of plan. Down to Lawrence Four Square to charge the van, and off over “Big Hill” to Beaumont, and the hotel of the same name. We spent the rest of the day sorting out our bikes for the trip, eating a fine meal, and going to bed in a comfortable bed for the first time in 5 days!
We also arranged for the boat transfer on the Clutha for Friday, no problems. We used Beaumont Jet, and we would be the only passengers as we were going the “wrong way”, and Dave would have just dropped someone off at Roxburgh Dam, so was returning empty anyway, until we booked. Score!
Day 6 Thursday 18th February – Day 1 cycling, Beaumont to Roxburgh
First job after completing packing the van and bikes, was to move the van into the camping field, lock it up and hope for the best.
Before we cycle off into the wilds, what does starting at Beaumont Hotel do to our plans? Well, Beaumont is 20 kms along the trail from Lawrence, the normal start/finish point. The 20kms from Lawrence to Beaumont are a bit ordinary, but at Beaumont, the trail joins the Clutha River. Being 20kms into the trail also changes where you can stop. We were struggling to sort out stops overnight that fitted in with getting to Shingle Point for the boat transfer to Doctor’s Point. Somewhere we were going to have to do a 60km day, which we didn’t fancy at the start of the trip. Starting at Beaumont, we can do 42kms or so to Roxburgh on the first day, and then the second day to Alexandra is about the same distance, 10kms to Roxburgh Dam, another 11 or so to Shingle Creek, and 10 or so from Doctors Point to Alexandra, plus the boat ride. This meant we could organise a boat trip for an acceptable time, and arrive at each stop at a good time of day. So a good place to start from. Of course it leaves 20kms to do at the end of the loop, we’ll look at that when it happens!
So off we go, across the Clutha on the incredibly noisy bridge a 100 metres or so from where we slept. Wood planks rattled all night as trucks and cars headed across, so we were reasonably glad to leave it behind.
At the end of bridge, we immediately turned left onto the trail, which headed into the Beaumont Gorge alongside the Clutha. It was a cold morning, and the Gorge meant we were in the shade for the first hour or so, and we shivered a little until we got warmed up.Not as much as the day before in Lawrence, where it got to 2 degrees C!
The Beaumont Gorge is a great introduction to Central Otago Cycling. A lime sand trail over a lot of its length, occasionally sharing the gravel road that runs along side the river all the way to Miller’s Flat. The river is stately, wide, full and reasonably fast flowing. Herons and Shags were common, along with other wildlife. Cyclist occasionally passed the other way, but it wasn’t like a motor way. As I mentioned before, we were going the wrong way, upstream rather than downstream. Most people go downstream as the cycling is easier, but not us!
Eventually we arrived at Miller’s Flat, where we crossed the Clutha just to get to the pub on the other side, where we had some lunch and a coffee. There was a lovely outside seating area, and over lunch I managed to complete the payment for the boat transfer booked for the next day. It felt much better getting everything confirmed.
Back across the bridge and back onto the trail. From here on the gorge opens out, and there is a lot more farmland, and the trail meanders along the river bank through the fields and hedges. All very gentle, with the occasional steep bit going down to the banks of the river. Towards Roxburgh it gets a little rougher and we had to dismount a couple of times. We were stopping quite often, as I was having trouble with my seat (dropping down as I rode) and my panniers, one of which kept unhooking.
At Roxburgh we headed for the campsite I had picked out, the Clutha Gold Cottages and holiday park. This is a spectacularly nice camp site, its website does not do it justice at all. Clean, well maintained, very green, with lovely flat camping areas. Again we paid for a powered site, but camped on an unpowered site. In the evening we plugged the bikes in at a spare caravan socket to charge, but that only took a few hours. When we had set up camp we rode back to Roxburgh for a cup of tea and a visit to the Superette to get some dinner and breakfast, and then headed back to the campsite.I bumped into Darryl, the mechanic at our local bike shop in Porirua, who had been down to the Burt Munro race meeting in Invercargill, and was making his way north in his campervan. Small world. It was a bit cold overnight, but the sleeping bags and the tent were doing their jobs well.
Day 7 Friday 19th February – Day 2 cycling, Roxburgh to Clyde
Another exciting day ahead, seeing the Roxburgh dam, riding the gorge trail, traveling on a jet boat. We set off in good spirits.
The track quality dropped another notch after Roxburgh, a bit rougher, more steep bits, a bit more exposed in places, but it and the river were still amazing to travel along. Some farmers were doing something with drainage in a field along side the trail, and had dug a ditch across the trail, which was a few feet wide, a couple deep, and very muddy and difficult to get past. I think the path was supposed to be closed, but we were committed to it so struggled across. As we approached Roxburgh dam the path eased off a bit, and eventually we were riding a farm track then a sealed road up onto the dam and across it. Spectacular views down off the dam.
Immediately across the dam the Roxburgh Gorge Trail starts, with a steep hill which you go up using a switchback path, which goes on forever. The ordinary track going straight up would have been easier. At the top of the hill, the view up the gorge trail was stunning, another switchback path down to a trail which hugged the side of the gorge until it disappeared around a bend in the river. This was not how I a imagined the path, somehow I had a much gentler idea of it following the waters edge, meandering along with easy small hills! How wrong I was going to be proved over the rest of the day.
So down this zig zag path. We were taking it easy, Lynn is not confident with steep drops and tight corners on trails. We got to the second left hand bend, very sharp and steeply cambered in towards the hill side, but a large drop off on the outside. I was doing about 5kph or less, struggling to get round the very tight turn, when my front wheel hit some horse dung. Quite a big pile. And it was sun dried to the point where it was like a rock, my front wheel went out to the side, and I started to fall to the left. Being steeply cambered, I could not get a foot down, so had to roll with the fall, pushing away from the bike as a fell. I softly landed on my bum, and rolled backwards, until my shoulders hit the ground, then my head carried on and smacked into the ground. I heard an exclamation from Lynn, but I hardly felt a thing, the roll and my helmet meant there was absolutely no damage to me, no cuts bruises, blackouts, sore necks nothing. The helmet did its job. Later when we stopped I took a look at the helmet, and just to the rear of the crown was a cross shaped cut in the outer skin, and a diamond shaped dent in the polystyrene beneath it. Looking at the rest of the helmet, the internal polystyrene shell was cracked across the very back of the helmet. I think the helmet had sacrificed itself for me. Time to retire it and buy a new one.
So we took it a little bit easier along the rest of the trail, which continued to be very exposed and quite high most of the time. The trail goes up elbow creek, quite a long climb up, almost to the main road, and then back down to the river. Great trails, lots of bends, drops, climbs and incredible views.
We arrived at Shingle Creek at 1:00pm, and our ride was due at 1:30pm, so we had 30 minutes to get all the gear and batteries off the bikes to make them, easier to manhandle onto the boats. The first boat to turn up wasn’t ours, but the driver (pilot?) was very nice, and very interested in our long tailed cargo bikes, he had never seen anything like them. When Dave our river guide turned up with his boat, after dropping off his fares downstream at the dam, he had a similar reaction, it was his first view of long tails too. I think it made his day, and was still discussing the weight etc as we loaded them up. Maybe they will be the first of many.
Having filled his jet boat with bikes, 40kg of camping and personal gear and the two of us (good job it was just us) we set off for Doctor’s Point. This managed to take about 90 minutes to cover about 13km. Dave kept up a non stop running commentary, describing everything we saw, answering question, going off on tangents as we took an interest in the odder sides of what we were seeing. Absolutely excellent trip. It was expensive ($250 for the two ebikes and us) but by the time we got off at Doctor’s Point, we felt we had got our moneys worth.
At Doctor’s Point we offloaded the bikes, reloaded all our gear back onto them, made use of the toilet further down the trail and set off towards Alexandra. The trail is straight forward, but there is a 300metre section that we had to walk, and some really tight bends and steep climbs we took it easy over. As we approached Alexandra it became a bit more park like.
Lulled by this easy end to the trail, we decided to continue along the left bank of the Clutha up river to Clyde, along the Centennial River Trail. We had only done 30kms or so cycling so far, even though it had been quite a long day. Unfortunately this river trail is like a 12km long mountain bike park, and our bikes and us were rattled and shaken from start to finish, even crossing the Clutha Bridge in Clyde was horrible, just not bike friendly at all.
We rode to the Clyde Holiday Park, and as were tired and a bit fed up after the ride from Alexandra, we booked into a cabin for the night. We did some shopping at the Four Square, charged the batteries at the cabin, and had a good nights sleep in a comfy bed again.
Day 8 Saturday 20th February – Day 3 cycling, Clyde to Omakau (41.5km)
Before setting off, we rode into Clyde to see what it was like. We came across a bike shop, Cycle Surgery, who were busy setting up a batch of trail riders with their hire bikes and gear. We noticed that they sold bike helmets, and I found a Giro Fixture MIPS Extra Large helmet which fit as well as my broken Bell helmet had, at a very reasonable price. The bike shop disposed of the old helmet, and I walked out with my new helmet, ready for anything. I had intended to look for one in Alexandra, but I am glad I didn’t.
A whole new trail again, the Central Otago Rail Trail. The first km meanders through the streets of Clyde from the historic railway station, until we reach the rail head, presumably the old goods and marshaling yard.
Here we took the obligatory photos by the gate with the date and location on, and headed out down the long straight railway line to Alexandra. We tried for a coffee at a cafe on the trail (Industrial Lane Eatery), but it was heaving with Saturday shoppers, as it was also part of a local shopping centre. So we carried on to Alexandra proper, and turned off the trail to find a cafe in town. There wasn’t a lot to choose from, in fact there was not a lot of anything open at all (especially somewhere to buy a helmet). Coffee and a slice at the Cafe Rossi, an excellent coffee, and a lot of cyclists all heading down to Roxburgh on the gorge trail. I don’t think they realised how hard it was going to be either.
Back onto the trail proper and heading north, we started to see what the trail was going to be like. Well made tracks on the bed of the old railway line, lots of railway stuff around, and lots of other cyclist all heading the same way. But it had a good feel, like it was going to get better. Once out of Alexandra, the scenery started to get more varied and we really started to enjoy it. The bikes made easy work of the very slight uphill gradient, which was going to be with us for the next two and a half days.
Our first stop of the day was Chatto Creek Tavern, trapped between the main road and the old railway line, it had two very distinct group of patrons, one one set were a bit puzzled by the others I think. The hippopotamus didn’t seem to mind. Some reasonable food, and some tea, and off we went again. A lot more of the same trail riding, but the trail went over a bit of a hill and under the main road before the long down hill to Omakau.
We camped for the night at Omakau Domain Camp Site, which was a great site and quite popular. The lady in the office was from Yorkshire like Lynn, and had recently moved to Omakau and bought a section with her partner and was building a house.
We charged at caravan sockets again, bought some goodies for dinner and breakfast at the 4 square, used the excellent kitchen and even better showers and laundry, and had a great nights sleep.
Day 9 Sunday 21st February – Day 4 cycling, Omakau to Oturehua (31.4km)
Another damp tent (condensation) to take down and pack away, but we were getting really good at it by now. Back out to the trail and off we went. Today was the day of BIG SKYS. As we rode out of Omakau the huge basin surrounded by quite low hills seemed to go on forever. As with every other day so far, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the sky also went on forever. Long straight stretches of rail trail disappearing into the distance in both directions were spectacular to ride along.
Before long we got to Lauder, and we stopped at the Stationside Cafe. What a treat this was, possibly the best long black in the South Island, and beautiful scones and excellent service. After leaving Lauder we headed down and crossed the river on our first big bridge, then headed up into the Poolburn Gorge. Towards the top we went though two tunnels, and then crossed another long viaduct across a stream, before heading down into the Ida Valley. All breathtaking on such a gorgeous day.
And the skys got bigger, and the valley even wider. Ranges of hills to both sides, we had just crossed Raggedy Range, and to our right were the North and South Rough Ridge. The ride up Ida Valley was lovely, until we started to get towards Oturehua, when the trail started getting quite rough and hard to ride. The gradient definitely got steeper, and the long straight lines started to get longer as we rode them! Eventually we arrived at the historic Hayes Engineering Workshops, where we had some food and some tea at Hannahs, before a quick tour of the workshops and the homestead. Well worth the stop.
A couple of km further and we dropped off the trail into Oturehua, where we looked for the Crow’s Nest accommodation, where we found Bill who let us camp on his site, and charge our bikes at a caravan plug. Even though we finished riding at 3:30, it had been a hard, hot day, especially the last 10kms, so we rested a lot in the lounge, reading, cooking and eating and drinking tea, before enjoying another night in our lovely tent. We also visited the Gilchrist Historic Store, where Lynn had a postie conversation with the owner, who owned two Rural Delivery rounds.
Day 10 Monday 22nd February – Day 5 cycling, Oturehua to Daisy Bank (52.4km)
We had always planned to have a day or two where we took it easy, either a short day or a rest day. This day was supposed to be one of them, stopping at Ranfurly, and resting up before the big blank space between Ranfurly and Middlemarch.
So we set off from Oturehua quite late really, 10:00, and cycled slowly and with very little assistance up out of Oturehua to Idaburn, and up to the summit of the Rail Trail for the big photo opportunity. On the way we crossed the 45th parallel for the second and third times on the trip, but definitely not the last. Because we took our time, the batteries were still virtually untouched.
So over the top we went, and it really was all downhill from here! Wedderburn was our first stop, where I used our coffee and the supplied kettle and water to make us a coffee. The view of the Maniototo from Wedderburn is wonderful, down the Rail Trail towards the Rock and Pillar range, and it was another glorious day, with huge skies again.
Downhill from Wedderburn following the dead straight rail trail across country to Ranfurly. On this section we started to notice the planet sculptures from the “solar system” based on Ranfurly. Great fun for the kids!
We got into Ranfurly at 12:00. and even after a light lunch and some shopping at Four Square, it still wasn’t 1 o’clock! Right we said, lets go on to Waipiata just 7.5 kms down the trail, and see what its like camping there. Not nice is the answer, the domain campsite was not pleasant at all, with no drinkable water supply, other than at the nearby pub! A couple of kms further on is the Waipiata informal campsite at the toilet by the river crossing, but there seemed to be a bee problem there, and neither of us was keen.
Ever onward, we decided to keep going and see what we found, the Daisy Bank informal camp site being as far as we wanted to go. On the way to Kokonga, it got very hot as it does in the afternoons, and we started to worry about water, as we had a bottle or so each, which was not enough to drink and use for cooking dinner and breakfast. At Kokonga we went looking for water, but there were no shops, and all the houses we tried appeared to be holiday homes, so we decided to just carry on, see what Daisy Bank was like, and if necessary, just ride on till the situation resolved itself at Hyde or Middlemarch!
Daisy Bank is an informal campsite in the Upper Taieri Gorge. It is only accessible by the Rail Trail, and is a few kilometres in each direction from Kokonga or Tiroti, so is pretty isolated. It is also perfect as a campsite. We found a nice flat area, there is a toilet, a picnic bench and a seat, and just 50 metres away, down a bit of a gentle path, is the Taieri River, with as much water as we needed. Lynn was quite keen that we boiled it, so it was used for hot drinks, cooking our Cous Cous and our breakfast porridge.
So we settled in, enjoyed the splendid isolation and being a little closer to nature. Nobody went past from 4pm when we arrived until 9am just before we packed up and left.
Day 11 Tuesday 23rd February – Day 6 cycling, Daisy Bank to Middlemarch (36.4km)
We said goodbye to the best camping we had done on the trip so far, and set off downhill and downstream. Tiroti, the next point on the map is a rail halt only, no visible facilities at all, but there were people camping along side SH87 which looked a little unpleasant. Prices Creek was the next point of interest, with its viaduct and its long curved tunnel. Tunnels are always exciting pushing bikes!
Hyde has a coffee cart where basics can be bought, we thought the petrol station may have sold us stuff, but it is just a big tank with a pump at one end which was self service. The coffee cart was quite new we think, so we were lucky to get something to drink at Hyde.
The trail from now on flew by, milepost after milepost, through Rock and Pillar, and Ngapuna with time just to use the toilets or read the sign boards. Not only had the last 60kms been basically down hill, the wind had been on our backs since coming out of the hills at Hyde.
So we stood on the pedals, and sailed and coasted down into Middlemarch, which suddenly sprung out of nowhere, with a duplicate gate to the one in Clyde at the start, and photos were taken!
We were pretty pleased to have completed the whole trail, but a bit sad to have finished it. We resolved to come back and do it again in the opposite direction.
But we had to look at what happened next. First some lunch at the only alternative to the Tavern, which was Maggie’s shop. Maggie does the best pies, well best to date. I had a meat, pea and potato pie, and I could have ate a few more after it it was so good, but I was full already.
The next step was to look at the weather for the next couple of days. It was not good, high winds were expected the next day, with rain and a drop in temperature. We were considering cycling from Middlemarch to Lawrence, 80kms using SH87 as far as the Lee Flat Junction, then the Lee Flat to Mahinerangi to Lawrence road, but this goes over the high country, and we were getting indications from locals that the roads may not be good after rain a few weeks ago, and that it was not a nice place to be in high winds. There was apparently accomodation at the Fishing Huts, but I didn’t know where they were, so we had nowhere to stop and charge.
So, we needed a transfer to Lawrence. We checked at Cycle Surgery in Middlemarch, they had a shuttle going to Clyde at 1:30, and vague ideas about getting another company to take us from there to Lawrence. OK, let’s look at alternatives. I was pretty sure there were a couple of local independent shuttle operators, and I thought one was in Middlemarch, but when I looked I could find no trace. So I looked at the other end of the trip, and found Absolutely Lawrence who did transfers out of Lawrence, including Middlemarch. So I rang Jude Gamble who was lovely, and we agreed that she would pick us up at 10:00 the next day, and take us to Lawrence, for $250 for the two of us. This seems high until you realise that it is about 170kms round trip, maybe 3 hours in time plus diesel for the van, and about 1/2 the journey is over gravel roads!
In the meantime we booked into a cabin at the Middlemarch Holiday Park, made use of the laundry, showers, kitchen and lounge, washed the bikes and charged the batteries, and got ourselves sorted out after two longish days in the saddle.
Day 12 Wednesday 24th February – Middlemarch to Lawrence, Day 7 cycling – Lawrence to Beaumont (20.6km)
Jude turned up at 10:00, and was just a little surprised to see the size of our bikes, as she had not brought her trailer and was expecting to put two ordinary bikes in the van. Together we figured out how to get my bike in, using the same techniques I use to get it into my van, and Lynn’s bike is relatively easy – it looks long but is just like an ordinary bike really.
Off we went and Jude told us about her interesting life, running a shearing gang for years and still working for the same gang occasionally, and running her accommodation business and shuttle business. The route we took was where we would have taken the bikes, and we learned a few things on the trip. Firstly, the roads are not that bad, a bit hilly, corrugated where the trucks go (easily avoided on the bikes) and not a terrible surface. Secondly, the Fishing Huts where we could have stayed and charged our bikes are perfectly positioned, about 50kms from Middlemarch and 30kms from Lawrence, and on the road a couple of kms from Mahinerangi bridge. Thirdly, don’t trust the weather forecasts in Otago, it was another beautiful day, blue skys a lot of the time, warm and a reasonable breeze!
We were dropped off at the trail end in Lawrence, and after packing the bikes again, and grabbing some lunch at 26 On Ross, a nice little cafe, we set off to do the 20kms to Beaumont back to the van. The route is basically the old railway line, but does not stick to it quite so much. The trail follows SH8, diverting through farmland, along streams, and occasionally using the old rail bed, like through the tunnel at Big Hill. But it also hugs the road for a lot of the way, crossing it a few times. But it is quite a quick route with little to stop for, so we got to the Beaumont hotel by 1:30, where we got a cabin, sorted out our bikes and gear, and took a look at the van. No issues, it worked first time, so we plugged it in at a caravan plug and charged it up for the trip the next day. We grabbed a pizza at the hotel, with all our favourite extras (mmmm anchovies), which set us up for the night.
Day 13 Thursday 25th February – Beaumont to Cairnmuir
Another change of plan. Rather than just going back the way we came, I decided that the hills and chargers aligned quite well to go via Alexandra, Ranfurly and then over to Palmerston, seeing a bit more of the country, a few more chargers, and missing out Dunedin. We also had heard about the Lake Dunstan Trail which was close to completion, and felt we would like to do what we could of it. Unfortunately the best and most exciting part of it is not yet completed or open. This is the part that goes from Cornish Point to Clyde, down the southern side of Lake Dunstan. The gorge is very steep and rugged, and there were a few issues that had yet to solve, so it was going to be delayed a while. Anyway, this fitted in with a trip to Cromwell which I wanted to do, especially to take a look at Highland Park, the motor racing circuit.
So instead of heading south out of Lawrence, we headed north towards Roxburgh again, travelling through the same country as the Clutha and Roxburgh trails, but usually on the opposite side of the river.
Our first stop was at Roxburgh, where we charged up for the trip to Alexandra. We also went to Jimmy’s, home of Jimmy’s Pies, where we had coffee and I had a “Dressed Pie”. After 30 years in New Zealand I had not heard of this. What it is is a mince pie, the top is taken off, mashed potato, frozen veg and gravy are put on top, and the top of the pie replaced. I will go back there again!
Roxburgh to Alexandra goes over a fairly large hill, so we took it very easy. The Roxburgh Gorge Trail runs in the Gorge to the right of SH8, and it was great to revisit some of those view from a slightly different viewpoint. What a glorious drive that was. The van manged the hills no problem, and we had a fair amount of charge left when we rolled into the Thompson St charger, to charge to 80% for the drive to Cromwell. We went back to Cafe Rossi for a drink, but it didn’t seem quite so good without the bikes.
The charger at Alexandra would not plug in, and when I examined the plug, a seal from around the sockets in a Leaf had got jammed into one of the sensor wire plugs, which I had to remove with tweezers before we could use it.
Alexandra to Clyde was very quick, we could barely remember the bike ride in the other direction by this stage. We stopped on the top of the Clyde Dam viewpoint, and had a drink and the treat we bought at Jimmy’s (sausage rolls), before heading to Cromwell. On the opposite side of the Lake we could see the newly constructed Lake Dunstan trail, still festooned with diggers and stuff, but we were very impressed with the “clip ons” – boardwalks hanging off cliff faces over the water. We look forward to doing those one day.
At Cromwell, our first trip after charging was out to Highland Motorsport and Tourism Park, where I satisfied my curiosity, and while it is impressive, it is probably not somewhere I will go again. Next we went to what had been the Cromwell Top Ten Holiday Park, but it was not very attractive, very dusty and looking run down, so we gave it a miss, and found an alternative a few kilometres away at Cairnmuir, near Bannockburn, just over the Kawerau Bridge. This could be a nice site, but is being let go, as it becomes a permanent accommodation for seasonal workers etc. However, it was better than anything else we had seen in the area, so we booked in for a couple of nights. The facilities were still quite good, so we fed and watered ourselves, took a walk along the river bank, and then turned in.
Day 14 Friday 26th February – Day 8 cycling -Lake Dunstan Trail (61.9km)
The campsite was very nearly on the Lake Dunstan Trail, but much closer to the Cornish Point Terminus than Cromwell. We decided that as there was no loop available, we would ride the trail from Cairnmuir, through Cromwell and out to the other terminus at Smith’s Way, then return along the same route, and may be finish off the other bit the next day.
So with lightly loaded bikes we headed off along a very civilized trail up the Kawerau arm of Dunstan Lake, over the Kawerau Bridge, then back down the Kawerau arm to the Cromwell Heritage Precinct, then on, under the road bridge, and up the main Lake Dunstan shore. We diverted into Cromwell where we had a nice coffee, and went to New World to buy some food for the trip. The track continues upstream along the lake shore, a very pretty area. The most remarkable area is Pisa Moorings, a very exclusive looking development that seems to go on forever, built around several inlets off the lake, where houses front onto the water front (and the trail), and some even have been built over the water and have moorings under the house. Very Venetian.
Mount Pisa was in cloud, but even in February we were able to see patches of snow on the tops.
A few kms further on, we came to the end, at Smith’s Way, where there was really no option to turn round and go back! It was quite a scenic area though.
The path was very easy, and as we were approaching Cairnmuir, both Lynn and I decided that it was pointless stopping, we might as well carry on to Cornish Point and finish it off. When we got back to the campsite, we had done 61.9 very easy kms, With no weight on the bikes, and pleasant if not exciting riding, it had been a good day.
We drove back to Cromwell to shop for dinner and breakfast, and rewarded ourselves with a double flake ice cream.
Day 15 Saturday 27th February – Cairnmuir to Ranfurly
We still had a few spare days in our plan, so our new plan was to head to Ranfurly today, and stay two nights, and ride to Naseby the following day.
First stop was a top up of on the van at Cromwell, and then another at Alexandra. Driving north out of Alexandra was interesting, seeing signposts flashpast to places we had sweated to get to. We stopped at the Commercial Hotel at Omakau to top the van up again, and had a coffee at the cafe opposite. We then headed to Historical Ophir, a few kms up the Poolburn road, and we visited the old swing bridge.
We headed up to the top of the Poolburn Road, and stopped at the viewpoint, where we met a retired farmer from the McKenzie country, who was interested in our van, and bikes, and discussed his own campervan and his bike etc.
Anyway, the viewpoint was special. Those BIG SKYS we saw on the way up on the bikes were even bigger here on top of the Raggedy Range, breathtaking.
The Ida Valley was a lot easier in the van, but we saw a little less. Through Oturehua, and up the hill to Ida Burn we realised we had used quite a lot of power getting over the hill, and it would be tight getting to Ranfurly. The road to Ranfurly is not as flat as the railway line, so by the time we got to Ranfurly the gauge was flashing at us. So we topped up at Maniototo Paint and Hardware, grabbed a cup of tea while we waited, and then drove round to the Holiday Park and booked in for two nights, on a powered site. We charged the ebikes the first day, and the van the next. Nice site, good facilities, but there was a Rodeo down the Road at Waipiata Domain, so a lot of the guests left a little to be desired. More shopping then off to bed.
Day 16 Sunday 28th February – Day 9 cycling – Ranfurly to Naseby return (28km)
Our trip to Naseby was a little out of the ordinary. We didn’t realise it was Sunday, so set off with expectations. Rather than using the main road, we took a parallel farm road almost all the way. Gravel, and a bit rough, and up hill all the way, it wasn’t exactly a challenge, just a bit tougher than we thought it would be. Its about a 200 metre climb over the 14kms.
Naseby however was shut, closed and very, very empty. We rode through the down, and even down to the curling rink, and we saw two women outside the kitchen of the hotel having a coffee, and that was basically it. Covid 19 (we were in Level 2 at this time) was hitting hard in places like this.
As there was no one on the roads, we took the main sealed road back to Ranfurly, parked up the bikes, and went for a walk to find some of the close planets. I think we got to Venus in both directions!
A quieter night was likely, as the Rodeo had been cancelled because of Covid 19.
Day 17 Monday 1st March – Ranfurly to Timaru
So we had five days to get home, and today was the first day. I had built a spare day into this part of the journey, just in case we strong headwinds, or heavy rain, or a faulty charger or two. So we needed to set off, but there was no panic.
The van was at 100%, as Ranfurly to Palmerston goes over a big hill, and is a bit lumpy too. In the end there was nothing to worry about, the RR metre said about 45kms when we got to the summit of the road, but it said 60kms or so most of the way to Palmerston. It was only in the last 20kms it started to show the correct range, and we got to Palmerston with 32% charge left.
The photograph above is of our growing collection of seals from the charging ports of Nissan Leafs. By the end of the trip we had five in total, we got them at Alexandra, Cromwell, Palmerston, Hampden and Raikaia. It was a very hot 3 weeks, and maybe the seals were softening in the heat, and sticking to the charging plugs when they were removed. Only two were stuck in plugs, the rest were left near the chargers.
A charge to 80% at Palmerston and a coffee at a local cafe, and on to Hampden, where we topped up at the free charger to 80%, and then took the scenic coastal route to Oamaru.
Oamaru, that free charger again. Sitting there, charging to 80% was a Kona, with over an hour to go. The owner took delight in telling us that he had waited until it got down low and had to come here to charge it, because charging at home took 28 hours! His justifications for hogging the free charger when he lived just a couple of kms away got tiresome in the end, and I may have been a bit rude about how it was time all free chargers were done away with, so that people with real needs can get on with life.
I hate SH1, and was doing my best to avoid it again, so the next charge stop was Waimate, and we cut across country a bit to get to it. More tea while we waited, and some shopping at New World too.
We stopped for the night at Glenmark Holiday Park at Timaru, and enjoyed another night of rain in our tent. Only two nights of rain, and both at the same site!
Day 18 Tuesday 2nd March – Timaru to Spencer Park
As part of my “I hate SH1” campaign, today’s trip is brought to you by Geraldine and Lincoln.
Heading north out of Timaru, Ashburton is the next stop of importance. We found on the way down, that traffic on SH1 makes us use a lot of power, and a charge at Temuka is necessary to get all the way there. I really enjoyed using Route 72 when we had our petrol car, avoiding SH1 and Christchurch all together, and I wondered if there was someway to use some of it. Unfortunately, some of the gaps going that way are too big for the van, but we came up with a compromise.
So at the southern end of Temuka we headed west to Epworth, and then headed north to Geraldine, which is about 40kms from Timaru. We had our first genuine charger wait here, a new style Leaf was charging when we arrived, and looked they had a while to go, so we went for a coffee while we waited, and 5 minutes after we returned, he completed his charge and left. This charger is very difficult to use in the van if someone is parked in the normal space to the left, and in the end I had to back in off the footpath to get sideways on, to be able to plug the short cable into the van. All good, we managed!
From Geraldine, we headed out on route 72, over the Rangitata River at Arundel, and a few kms later, turned off towards Maronan, and then went straight through to Ashburton. This was such a nice drive, wide well surfaced roads, mostly dead straight, that took us to within a couple of kms of Ashburton, without using SH1!
80% charge at the Asburton ABB charger, no issues again, and some Sushi from the shop across the road. Yum.
Not a lot of alternatives from Ashburton to Raikaia, but SH1 has good hard shoulders at this point, so slowing down out of the way of traffic was much easier. We plugged into the Rakaia charger by the Big Salmon statue, and two minutes later, the charger had thrown a communication error and stopped, and the van had a charging error also. I am getting really annoyed with these ABB chargers, their behaviour on my van seems completely random. I could have started the charge again, but my experience with this is that it is going to be tough getting a charge out of it.
We had 52% charge left in the battery, so we probably had enough to get to the next charger, so we set off. As we crossed the bridge over the Raikaia, I decided to go to Lincoln rather than Rolleston, as part of my “I hate SH1”. So turn right at the end of the bridge, then head to Leeston, then Springston then Lincoln. What we didn’t count on was just how much further that was than Rolleston. So after a lovely drive averaging about 40kph, we turned into the New World carpark in Lincoln just as the Turtle poked his head out of his shell, and looked at me sideways with one eye, as if to say, “what the hell are you doing now?” We actually had 10% left, so it was just well calculated on my part.
From Lincoln we headed up to Halswell, then across to Sydenham, around the CBD and up Marshlands Rd again to Spencerville, and onto Spencer Park campground, where we booked a powered site for the night, and charged the van to 100%.
A nice site this time, further away from the road and the geese than last year, so a bit quieter.
Day 19 Wednesday 3rd March – Spencer Park to Kaikoura
So with 100% in the van, we headed up through Kaiapoi, and instead of joining SH1 again, we headed in Rangiora, then up Route 72 again to Amberley, arriving with 48%. This is good as we have to charge to 95% here to have a bit of slack for the drive to Cheviot. When we got back from the Paris Bakery after breakfast, someone arrived and was waiting for us to finish charging, and as we were nearly at the required 95% (93%) we stopped the charge and left them to it.
Amberley to Cheviot is a nice enough drive, but because of the hills we need to take it easy, but we arrived with 23% remaining, pretty good going. Once again we plugged in and started charging to Max again (95%) and went off to find the toilets. When we got back, the same 40kW Leaf that we saw in Amberley was sitting next to us, possibly waiting for the charger, but as we had quite a way to go, we went for a walk, and they were gone by the time we got back and unplugged. Cheviot to Kaikoura is another big ask for the van, so we don’t take chances.
A nice incident free drive, plenty of space to pull in on this stretch of SH1. On the way down into Hundalee by Conway Flat we let a big truck past, and we caught him up going up the other side, and stayed behind him. We didn’t draft him, but we let him “slow” us down, saving power on the hills. Back on the coast he pulled away from us again, and we were back to letting traffic past.
We had a quick look at the Top Ten Campsite in Kaikoura, but once again it was aimed at vanners, so we went across the road to Alpine Pacific Holiday Park, which the web describes as “Exotic”. This site is a bit of a hidden gem, a bit small, but a beautiful grassy camping area, which was virtually empty, swimming pool, spa (both free) excellent kitchen, showers etc. The lovely lady at reception booked us into a non powered site, then let us park next to a Commando plug for $8 the night. As we were down to 20% and needed to be at 100% in the morning, this was great value. For the second time in 3 weeks, we bought fish and chips for dinner, but had fruit salad and yoghurt for breakfast to make up for it.
Day 20 Thursday 4th March – Kaikoura to Linkwater
Anybody who has done Kaikoura to Ward in a low kWh vehicle, such as an 80% SOH 24kWh Leaf, will know that it can be a bit nerve-racking. Last year we thought we had it sussed after charging to 95% at the iSite in Kaikoura, but then a headwind came up at Kekerengu, and we rolled into Ward with just 11% left. This time we started from just before the New World charger, with 100%, and had a glorious day all the way along the coast. At the top of the hill coming up from the coast just before Ward, we were able to let it rip and keep up with the traffic and still arrived with 20% or so. What a great day so far.
“The usual” stop at Ward, charge to 80% to go north, have some coffee etc, and off we go over the Weld pass. Much easier this year, no temperature problems to worry about, and a whole day and a night to get to Picton in time to try yet another new charger, this time at Pak’n’Save at Springlands in Blenheim, where we charged and shopped again. A normal sort of drive to Havelock to charge at the 4 square. This is possibly the most awkward charger in New Zealand, having to park sideways on and still bump up kerbs.
While charging we checked out the campsite at Havelock, and decided to hold it in reserve if we couldn’t find somewhere up the Linkwater Road.
OK, another little gem of a campsite, Smith’s Farm Holiday Park is close to being perfect, beautiful grassy garden to park in, free muffins when you arrive, free food to feed the goats (who really are too fat to be treated like this), and a walk through the farm to see the waterfall and glowworm grotto. I am a bit old to be climbing though gullies in the dark to see glowworms, so we gave that a miss. We charged to 100% here, even though we really didn’t need it. We had an earthquake during the night, the 7.3 off Te Aroha at 2:27 in the morning. It was noticable even in the tent and was to have repercussions on our last day.
Day 21 Friday 5th March – Linkwater to Picton to Wellington to Whitby
So our last day. Our ferry was at 7:00pm, but we were intending to get on an earlier ferry, and we set off for a really nice drive round Queen Charlotte’s Drive, and over the hill into Picton. At the Bluebridge Terminal, we put ourselves onto the waiting list for the 2:00pm ferry, and was told to come back by 1:00pm. After a stop for coffee at Gusto, we had a walk out along the path to Bob’s Bay, then headed back to the ferry terminal. Here we were told that we were on the 2:00pm ferry, but the port was closed temporarily because of currents and possible waves caused by the earthquakes happening near the Kermedecs. Eventually the port was reopened, and we were loaded on to the boat, and we departed some time after 4:00, and arrived in Wellington at about 8:00pm. Fortunately we had plenty of charge for the drive home, and we were home by 9:00.
This blog is now complete!
It covers our recent road trip in our Mitsubishi Miev Minicab down to Cromwell and back, and our 8 days cycling the Clutha Gold Trail, the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, the Otagao Central Rail Trail and the 30kms of the Lake Dunstan Trail that is completed (which we once in each direction.)
Some statistics to look at,
Left Whitby, Porirua 13/2/21, arrived home 5/3/21, duration 21 days. 10 days traveling to and from in the van, 8 days cycling, and a couple of days lost traveling between cycling trips.
Total kilometres in car, 2185.3 (driveway to driveway)
Total kilometres on bikes, 392.
Car charging stops (51 in total)
Grey Street Wellington (50kW Veefil, 95%)
The Warehouse, Blenheim (ts25kW Delta, 80%)
Flaxbourne Cafe, Ward (50kW Veefil, 95%)
New World, Kaikoura (50kW Veefil, 95%)
Cheviot Motel and Campsite (Blue Commando, 3kw, 100%)
Brackenfields, Amberley (50kW Veefil, 80%)
New World, Kaiapoi (50kW Veefil. 80%)
New World, Halswell (50kW dVeefil, 80%)
Info Site, Little River (50kW ABB, 75%)
Info Site, Little River (Type 2, 100%)
Fire Station, Akaraoa (Type 2, 1 hour)
Top 10 Campsite, Akaroa (Blue Commando 100%)
Info Site, Little River (Type 2, 100%)
New World, Lincoln (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Big Salmon Statue, Raikaia (50kW ABB, 80%)
West St car park, Ashburton (50kW ABB, 80%)
New World, Temuka (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Glenmark Holiday Park (Blue Commando, 100%)
Queen St, Waimate (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Bus Station, Oamaru (50kW ABB, 80%, free charger)
Hampden Takeaways, Hampden (50kW ABB, 80%, free charger)
Bond Street, Palmerston (50kW Veefile, 80%)
Water Street, Dundedin (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Four Square, Milton (50kW Veefil, 80%
Four Square, Lawrence (50kW Veefil, 80%
Beaumont Hotel (Blue Commando 100%)
Town Hall, Roxburgh (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Thompson Street, Alexandra (50kW Veefil, 80%)
iSite, Cromwell (50kW Veefil, 80%)
iSite, Cromwell (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Thompson Street, Alexandra (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Commercial Hotel, Omakau (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Maniototo Paint, Ranfurly (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Ranfurly Holiday Park (Blue Commando 100%)
Bond Street, Palmerston (50kW Veefile, 80%)
Hampden Takeaways, Hampden (50kW ABB, 80%, free charger)
Bus Station, Oamaru (50kW ABB, 80%, free charger)
Queen St, Waimate (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Glenmark Holiday Park (Blue Commando, 100%)
Cox St, Geraldine (50kW Veefil, 80%)
West St car park, Ashburton (50kW ABB, 80%)
Big Salmon Statue, Raikaia (50kW ABB, 2% – Charger Faulted)
New World, Lincoln (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Spencer Park Holiday Camp (Blue Commando 100%)
Brackenfields, Amberley (50kW Veefil, 95%)
Seddon St, Cheviot (50kW Veefile, 95%)
Alpine Pacific Holiday Park, Kaikoura (Blue Commando 100%)
Flaxbourne Cafe, Ward (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Pak’n’Save, Blenheim (50kW Veefil, 80%)
Four Square, Havelock (50kW Veefil 80%)
Smith’s Farm Holiday Park, Linkwater (Blue Commando 100%)
Bicycle camping and charging stops (8 in total).
Beaumont Hotel, charge in cabin
Clutha Gold Cottages Campsite (Blue Commando)
Clyde Holiday Park charge in cabin
Omakau Domain Camping Ground (Blue Commando)
Crow’s Nest, Oturehua (Blue Commando)
Daisy Bank Informal Campground (informal camping only)
Middlemarch Holiday Park, charge in cabin
Beaumont Hotel, charge in cabin
Just two nights of rain, but none during the day. Both nights were at Glenmark Holiday Camp, Timaru, on the way south, then 14 days later on the way north.