Posted by: paulgilders | December 16, 2012

Danseys Pass

We were now on our way back north towards Christchurch. We had one final big pass to complete – Danseys Pass. It would be a two day ride over the pass – the first day going up the valley as far as possible to make the second, harder day less severe.

We had a luxury lunch at the Naseby Royal Hotel to stock up on calories.

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The initial section of the road up the valley was reasonably steady.
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We reached the last point of civilisation mid-afternoon – the Danseys Pass Coach Inn. With the campsite only 2km up the road, I enjoyed some sparkling refreshment.

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We stayed overnight at the Department of Conservation camp. Only basic facilities, but free and with a nice running stream to bath in. The following morning, we set out early to start the main ascent.

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We had expected to do a lot of pushing, but we managed to ride all the way up the main ascent.

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This is the top of the main pass.

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The descent down the northern side was much steeper – we definitely rode the best way, but the road was a bit scary in places.

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We descended for about 30 minutes and reached a small settlement, by the river. We thought incorrectly that our work for the day was done. Around the corner was another steeper ascent over a second saddle. We were forced to push the bikes.

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The rest of the day was flat riding. Unfortunately, we had eaten all our food and the café at Duntroon was closed on weekdays. As a result, we tucked into our emergency supplies (mostly chocolate as it turned out) and the rode a further 20km to the next town. Here is our camp at Kurow.

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Posted by: paulgilders | December 16, 2012

Central Otago

After so much hilly cycling, we left Te Anau relieved to have flatter terrain ahead. We sped across the countryside through Lumsden and Gore.

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The campsite at Lumsden was not crowded!
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We didn’t have good weather all the time – we stopped in the town of Tapanui, where we had thunder and hale. Fortunately, we met Jackie and Alistair, who stopped to offer us a bed for the night – wonderful hospitality!
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At Alexandria, we joined the Central Otago Rail trail – a destination for cyclists wishing to get off the road and enjoy some reasonable gradients.
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The route has many bridges – all a bit shakey on the bike!
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Of course, there are also tunnels – not very long, but very dark – we struggled to see even with our lights on.
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We eventually reached the small village of Oterahua where we stayed in the nicest backpacker/ campground. We were the only ones there.
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Posted by: paulgilders | December 16, 2012

Queenstown to Te Anau

Our route from Queenstown to Te Anau was on mostly dirt roads via the Mavora lakes. The journey starts with a trip over Lake Wakatipu on the steamship T.S.S Earnslaw – a fantastic experience in itself.

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On the other side of the lake we disembarked at Walter Peak and started cycling along the dirt roads on the edge of the lake. It is a perfect place for scenic mountain biking.

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We passed numerous herds of cows feeding on lush pasture.

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Eventually we headed away from the lake and up the valley. The initial gradient was easy, although the road surface reminded us of Chile – the grader had just been through.

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We hadn’t anticipated any ford crossing. It was a hot day and the water initially looked refreshing. Of course, by the time we reached the other side, our feet were stinging with cold. We had to cross another ford later in the day when the sun had disappeared, the wind blowing and we were more exhausted – needless to say, we were less than impressed!

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After the first ford we started the real climb. The combination of gradient and road surface soon saw us pushing the bikes – for about 30 minutes.

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The top of the pass was extremely remote, and the landscape turned grey under the cloud.

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We eventually reached our overnight destination – Mavora lakes. Our campsite was idyllic. What was less appealing were the sandflies, which later led to severe itching and scratching.

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The following day, we progressed rapidly down the valley to Te Anau – staying by the lake for a couple of nights.

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