Blenheim 27th February 2013
The road out of Blenheim this fine sunny day was pleasingly flat, such a novelty!
My direction is the Taylor Pass and the back roads to the famous Molesworth Station. This been the largest station (farm) in New Zealand.
I pop into The Honey shop. More out of interest to see an actual hive section at work.
My camp spot that night was a bit of stealth camping, in what I think is private forestry land. So jump the gate, across a stream and up into the forest.
In the morning I briefly see of the remaining climb up the Taylor Pass, and re-join a tar sealed road. At this point I yum’n’r about whether it’s prudent to carry on down the Molesworth Station Road.
Firstly; the time it would take as I’m keen to arrive in Christchurch for the 4th March. Giving myself good time to sort a bike box etc. out. Plus, I’d like to visit Scott’s Last Expedition (Captain Scott of the Antarctic) exhibition at the museum.
Secondly; would my rack/frame (eyelet) hold up to the abuse of the long gravel roads that would be fourth coming.
I head towards the Molesworth Station! My adventurous side is too strong. Also knowing I’ll be well away from any form of traffic. That’s enough reason in itself!
The start of the road is flat and sealed. I’m thinking great, might get this all the way! It follows the river, which supplies Marlborough Oyster Bay vineyards. And it’s a big area, all draped as far as the eye can see in grapes.
Not before long I’m bouncing briskly over a graded gravel road, but still fairly flat. All this pleasant cycling though has been putting me into a false sense of; this is easy. As the sun starts to really beat down the gradients start to intensify.
Those heady easy hours are now over, it’s becoming hard going. Grind up one rise for thirty minutes or so in at times soft gravel, descend, then start again. My cycle computer is winding forward the kilometres at a snail’s pace. I switch the screen off so I don’t know!
My next concern is finding water. A few streams offer me some H2O. With what looks like no live stock around, this sound be fine to drink. But the further I go into the Molesworth, the more abundance the live stock becomes. This wouldn’t normally be a problem as I can boil the water, only my methylated fuel supply needs to be conserved. With the sun soon to drop over the horizon in the next two hours and no camp spot on the horizon, I need to make a plan.
I search a few places out, but nothing offering good ground with a decent water source near by. I ascend another rise. This one is a bugger as the legs are very weary, it keeps on climbing and switching back with no end.
Reaching the summit with an hour or so of daylight left, I soon find my spot for the night. Flat ground, nearly hidden and an acceptable stream next to it.
I rise the following morning to a nip in the air. Very welcome after the heat of the previous day. Not that this will last long.
As I turn a corner I’m amazed to see another cyclist approaching. I thought I was the only nutter out here on a bicycle!
He’s a South African living in Nelson. The accent is still strong. We natter for what must be thirty minutes. I’d noticed what looked like fresh bicycle tyre tracks the last few days. He tells me that these are from two girls cycling twenty or so kilometres ahead of me. It was really good to chat and exchange a few stories. Wish it was longer.
He very kindly fills up one of my water bottles as I’m fairly low. He’s using a sterilising pen (Steripen) which uses ultraviolet technology to sanitize most water. One can then pretty much drink from most water sources at ease. Not like me, having to go through the hassle of getting everything out and boiling. The pen just dips into ones water bottle, switch on until a happy face shows on the display and your done. It’s that easy. I want one.
I arrive at what is Cobbs Cottage on the Molesworth Station. To be greeted by the DOC (Department Of Conservation) ranger Bill. He brews me a cuppa as we both have lunch. He’s previously from Derbyshire (England), so always a good yawn or two.
I’m advised it’s 56 km’s to the next DOC hut at Acheron. If I’m still out on the road before 1900hrs he’ll have to pick me up in their pickup, as it’s not permitted to camp out on this Molesworth Station stretch. So I’ve two options. Set off and be picked up regardless (I would not make the distance) or chill with Bill? Put the bike in the truck and enjoy a leisurely afternoon. It’s not rocket science….I stick with Bill!
The plan is he’ll drive halfway to Acheron, then meet up with Richard, swap the bike into Richards pickup. Happy days.
I was so chuffed with this, as its saves me a day. Which I needed. A very smiley man I was too. That’s luck in my books.
Acheron been another DOC campsite so only NZ$6. Not always keen to pay money to camp, but was very happy with this one.
The next day after saying goodbye to Richard I notice my right crank arm was loose in the bottom bracket. This was cause for alarm. I expect it came from lying the bike down on it’s pedal in Bill’s pick up, as we merrily bounce along the corrugated track. What can I do? So I saddle up and get going. After a few miles it seemed to have tightened it self back in. We hope!
Other cyclists too out on the road. Sean and Kate. Their preparing their bikes for the Great Divide ride in the US. Cool.
I’m fortunate as I leave the Molesworth Station through Jollies Pass to come across the Molesworth manager. He’s on top of his pick up whistling to his dog somewhere down in the valley as they’d lost spooked cattle.
The Molesworth Station has only had three managers since 1942, so there a rare breed in deed.
The Jollies Pass was the shortest route to Hanmer, but not the quickest.
It was very steep on the descent and rocky. I had to walk most of the way down, about three kilometres. Next time chose the other route!
It might not look to bad in the photo, but I can assure you it’s steeper than it looks.
My arrival in the town of Hanmer was a quick awakening to populace. It been a spring (water) town, it was thriving with tourists, and the weekend market was in full swing.
The brief use of the library for wi-fi and stock up once again on supplies, I’m then soon out-of-town.
Hanmer 2nd March 2013 – 141 km’s
Video to be added at a later date when I’m not on the bike for an extended period. When ever that may be!.
You can click on each photo for an enhanced Flickr view or the above Flickr slideshow for further photos for this post.