Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Lake Tekapo – Twizel – Kurow – Oamaru – Palmerston - Dunedin

The morning we left Lake Tekapo was cold. As we began our ride down to Twizel my fingers quickly became unbearably frozen. The wind chill had once again taken the temperature way down to -10 and my gloves just were not going to cut the mustard. I was lucky Mel had her extra wind-proof new gloves, a gift from Catherine in Nelson, to offer to me in exchange for my woolly ones. It appears her circulation is much better than mine these days, must be all the Yoga and ginger tea!

We arrived into Twizel sometime that afternoon and booked into the ‘High Country’ Motel and backpackers. We were the only people staying in the massive complex an after stocking up on some food and a few beers form the local bottle shop/pub, we settled in for the evening. I was pleased not to have to move too much to be honest. We had come down from 750 metres to 400 above sea level, but it was still so cold, it had turned my brain to mush and I was I just needed to veg out and watch some mindless NZ TV to recover for a while.

Twizel was not exactly a vibrant place but having the motel facilities to ourselves was pleasant. When we left at around 10am the next morning we felt ready to move on. We had suffered heavy head winds on the previous day, but we were fortunate enough not to be troubled at all during the stretch from Twizel to Kurow, indeed we were helped by an immense tail wind which blew us down the gently sloping road all the way. We flew past some stunning scenery, including an enormous dam at Waitaki, just a few km before we arrived at our destination for the night: Kurow.  We were both astonished at the colour of the water in all the lakes and waterways, an almost impossible blue. The sun was shining and the mountains around us were becoming less and less icy with each mile we covered. It was quite a long distance we travelled that day, at least 80 kms, but it felt like 20 with the wind behind us.

Kurow turned out to be a very pleasant small town. We put our ‘Kiwi Card’ to good use again as we booked into the holiday park, this saved us a few dollars on the accommodation that night and it made it one of the cheapest stays of the tour so far, just $34.50. The empty hostel come barn we stayed in had an enormous fire place, stocked with lots of great fire wood and we relaxed in real comfort in our 70’s style leather chairs, Mel knitting and me watching various different cooking shows on the TV.  Kurow had a nice selection of shops and even a small museum which we visited for a small donation. The museum was typical of such towns, a nice collection of the early settler’s everyday paraphernalia such as clothes and wash boards. There was even a pair of boots similar to those I wore as Captain Scott for ‘Terra Nova’ a few months ago.

From Kurow it was another 70-80 Km day down to the very attractive Oamaru. Mel and I chose to take the scenic route, riding inland at Duntroon. We had been told about some limestone caves which had some Maori paintings on the walls. We were able to see some of these, as you can see from the photos. The first ‘cave’ we visited had actually become too dangerous to get into, due to a rather large land slip, such a common feature of our travels round these islands. However, we saw some great rock drawings in another place, depicting animals and wakas, as well as a drawing of what appears to be one of the first fleet sailing ships.

During the ride down to Oamaru we were also able to stop and look at some interesting geological characteristics of the land known as the ‘Elephant Rocks’. You had to really use your imagination for these. I was in full agreement with an Irish traveller who passed us on the way into the attraction who said “I wouldn’t bother; it’s just a load of rocks in a field really!” We had a few steep hills to climb that day, eventually making into the town of Oamaru, featured in the movie ‘Bride Flight’, at around 2:30pm. We enjoyed a nice café lunch before checking in with our latest host on our tour; Peter.

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