Middlemarch to Owaka
Middlemarch 17th November 2012
Leaving Middlemarch for Dunedin, within an hour the weather’s clocking in.
After two big descents followed by two big ascents (not in that order!), plus been a tad wet, I spot smoke signals rising out of the chimney at Clarkes Junction’s tavern. I pop in to find the manager attempting to keep the log burner alive. Two sweet coffees, a great steak burger, followed by three jugs of beer while chatting to the manager and Mitch (local farm hand).
The rest of the day is postponed and camp is set in a soddened play area. I’ve a full belly, a warm sleeping bag, along with the weather throwing a hissy fit outside. Life’s good though.
The following morning I hum’n’r about whether to set out as the heavens are not looking promising. But, the need to be off is too great and I hit the road. In no time the gods strike back hard! The wind is cold, along with pumping driving rain horizontal. I briefly escape behind a row of trees while I dig out my cold gear.
I can’t find what I need. So I’ve to delve into my rear panniers, which entails removing stuff from the top. In this weather, just plain nuts! Why had I not sorted this out to start with….poor admin!
In driving rain I’m back on the road, head down and legs tuned to go, go, go! My digits succumb to the cold, but with major hills to overcome warm blood soon flows through and life returns. Strange how know one else is out!
After what seems like never ending BiG hills, plus a so called motorway (yes I did go on it!). Apparently not for cyclists! I hit Dunedin. Robert Burns country!
The Octagon square in the city centre offers free internet, it’s intermittent, so I give up and ride out of dodge. Already the city is not for me after two hours….just looks like Glasgow, cold, wet and windy!
Sophie and Dave (from Belgium) I’d met on the trail said I’d find wild camping spots at Brighton. There I head.
On leaving Dunedin a short but sweet hill gets the better of me, and it becomes the first dismount. Disappointed that I have to push, but gravity really sucks at times!
This is the first time cycling the coast for real since my arrival in New Zealand.
A nippy head wind still seems to be the order of the day. I soon find a spot at Brighton for the night. Secluded and right next to the shore line.
I try a new meal concoction as I don’t have any meat. Baked beans, pasta and a tasty curry block. Fills all the requirements….rocket fuel!
Onwards to Tairie Mouth.
To leave Tairie Mouth I have to climb the ridge on my right. WOW….6km’s of sheer climbing. Tough work, once again off the bike and pushing. The air is cool, not too hot though. It’s not tough work, just plod on and one will get there. Stopping, but also taking in the view behind.
The otherside is a fast descent into Waibola, well as fast as someone can go downhill into a headwind. Even then it’s a slog!
Now the relatively flat road to Balclutha. Yes you guessed it, a headwind. Beginning to feel I might be heading the wrong way, when you see lines of trees all slanting away from the wind and towards ones self!
I decide to route towards a lake on the map before Balclutha, hoping it would offer shelter for the night and some rest bite from the wind.
Dam stupid idea that was! Ended up past the lake as it offered no suitable ground for a tent, bog land! An extra 15km’s.
Eventually heading back up north to Balclutha. Stopping just out of town at a small location called Stirling.
I pitched my tent amongst a small clump trees. A railway line one side and a dairy tanker yard the other. Boy, the freight trains thunder through here. I can hear the crossing signal sound, ten seconds later the locomotive is scuttling through. No barriers etc….so be quick! Especially loud when ones ear is to the ground no more than twenty metres from the line. You can catch the train hurtling through next to my camp spot in the video below.
After camp is broken in the morning, I call into the dairy trucker’s yard to ask to use their toilet. I’m kindly offered a coffee after my morning ablutions. Good yawn too.
Flat 5km’s to Balclutha.
Balclutha offers the opportunity for supplies.
Calling into the I-Site (tourist information) for information on the best route/s through The Catlins. It also houses a memorial to fallen hero’s past.
Balclutha to Owaka: I’m advised the coastal road is the most scenic, but then it would be….stupid question on my part!
I ride the back roads to Owaka via Kaka Point. Obviously boar hunting is big round here! They are considered a pest, so hunting is legal.
Everywhere signs saying ‘No Freedom Camping’. Sod this, I climb out to Owaka and search out the YHA. I fancy a rest bite from the wind and know a YHA will have more to offer than some tardy campsite.
As I arrive at ‘The Catlins’ YHA I feel I could well be here for sometime. It’s an old hospital/rest home, so I feel quite at home!
Owaka Tuesday 20th November 2011 – 283 km’s