Last Day on the Alps to Ocean Trail

Here we were in Duntroon, at the kawhai cottage in the midst of the most lovely garden, thinking that we had an easy 54 kms on our last day into Oaramu. Not leaving until 10am, with a 4.30pm deadline to return our bikes, we thought we had plenty of time...

Firstly, on our last day, we got lost and ended up in a cow paddock with electrified fences. We weren't very lost, as we could see that we needed to be on the road, right next to the fence. We doubled back and traveled up (and I mean up) to see the Elephant Rocks. Then we travelled upper and upper, meeting a talkative farmer on the way. 

Secondly, we had to get off and walk for 3 kms, as the track was under repair and they had just laid down 3 inches of talcum powder. 

Thirdly, after that nightmare we had to travel up again to Peaks Road, which was aptly named.

Fourthly, we travelled down to go through a tunnel, which was full of water and mud, so had to travel back up and through a steep paddock to get to the other end of the tunnel and back on track. 

Just when we thought the ups were over, there was a headwind and more ups. So, the estimated 4 hour trip took 6 1/2 hours. We just had enough time to rush down to the finish line and back to the bike shop to drop them off on the deadline. Ray then had to explain his saddlebag invention to the mechanic, before we dashed off to get some champagne to celebrate.

Our host from Old Bones, the name of the lodge where we were staying in Oamaru, and an apt description of how I felt, picked us up for the 6km trip. We had thoughts of walking back into town to see the Penguins arrive at sunset, but they were only fleeting. The call of a hot shower and cold champagne was too strong.

I have just spent a pleasant 3 1/2 hours on the bus to the airport, conversing with a lovely kiwi called Pete. I now know all about the earthquakes, art and retirement.

Catch you in Australia.
DUntroon Garden

A last look at the Duntroon garden. By the way, the name of Duntroon was given by a prominent local settler after his home town in Scotland. He then bought property in Australia to expand his pastoral activities and built a large homestead which he also named Duntroon which eventually became the Royal Military College.

Elephant ROcks

Many of the mountains in this area are limestone. Here it shows itself as an outcrop which is being exposed through erosion of the surrounding softer rock. Elephants Rock!!! yeah. Oops Elephant Rocks.

Elephant rocks

This is where Elephants come to rock.

Switchback trail

About 6 of the approximately 8 short and sharp switchbacks which took us UP after Elephant Rocks. They had been recently resurfaced, probably by the same contractors who were doing a crap job elsewhere along this trail.

Shingler mining

You may be able to just make out a river stone or shingle mining operation in this dry river bed. It was pretty basic probably so that the miners could get out of the way when the floods inevitably come.

Crap Trail Alps2ocean

This was a section of trail that had just been compacted (probably only minutes before). I use the term compacted loosely. You may be able to make out my tyre track in the mid foreground. We thought it was very ordinary until we came upon the contractors very soon after and we attempted the ride over the road base that had been just dumped there. There was no way Brenda could do it, so off the bikes we got and started to push. We came across more repaired later on in the trail and although you could tell it had only been recently done, it was pretty ordinary. We don't recommend this contractor for further remedial work on the trail.

Railway tunnel

The other end of the railway tunnel we didn't go into to. You can't see it, but the hill it went through goes up about 100 mtrs above the tunnel.

Wildings being exterminated

Radiata pine (from Canada) was planted in forests from around 60 - 70 years ago and it turns out that it really grows well in NZ. So well that it doesn't need much for trees to spring up like weeds all over the place. These weeds are called wildings (Brenda wanted to call them weedlings) and now the authorities have decided to do something about them because they are killing all the native trees along with the animals that the native trees support. The wildings actually look like plantations at times, they are so abundant. This plot of wildings have been exterminated. This was around the halfway point of our day and it had taken over 4 hours (28 klms) We had to be in Oamaru in another 2 hours or so, which meant no more pics on this ride.

Alps 2 Ocean conquered

Done. On time and on budget. We didn't muck around during that last 28 k. A kind fellow tourist took this shot of us at the ocean which could only mean one thing. We had biked, bumped, bounced, walked, waded, tripped, toppled, peddled, pushed, ploughed, spun and generally scratched our way from the Alps to the Ocean, a journey of around 312 klms give or take a few rough shingle paths. The young tourist laughed when I told her I would be posting it to Instagram immediately, probably thinking... "you wouldn't even know what Instagram is you silly old fossil". In the background you can see a pier that is covered in shags which was featured in an earlier blog about Oamaru (Om-ar-rew). Over that bluff and another 5 k down the road was our bed at the Old Bones Lodge.

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