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Edwins Bicycle Tour Downunder
Thursday, 3 March 2005
Katoomba, Waterfalls snakes and Lizards, Wednesday 2 March.

1) View from near Govetts Leap Lookout.

2) Horseshoe Falls

3) Govetts Leap Falls with spray blown upwards.

4) Lizard on steps down to falls

Today's ride was 8 miles north west further into the Blue Mountains to Blackheath and various walks from Govetts Leap Lookout. The weather for the morning was hot humid and sunny getting to 28C.

The view from Govetts Leap Lookout is outstanding with cliffs falling away to extensive Rainforest and views of waterfalls.

My first walk was on a quite difficult track down and round to the Twin Falls Viewpoint. This gives views of the nearby Horseshoe falls where the water plummets down into mist and rainbows and the more distant Govetts Leap falls. I returned the way I came to Govetts Leap Lookout. I saw 3 people on the entire walk which took about 1 1/2 hours. Most people arrive in coaches at the main lookouts and then leave.

After returning to Govetts Leap Lookout I headed off in the other direction on an easier track to Govetts Leap Falls.

Near to the falls I stopped and beat a hasty retreat on spotting a large reptillian head on the steps. The way it was lying the legs were hidden and as can be seen from the photograh it looked like the front part of a large snake. When it moved the legs became visible and it was clearly a large lizard. The Visitor Centre Staff later identified it from the photo as a Blotched Bluetongue Lizard. It stayed on the steps for several minutes long enough to take several pictures from a distance. The photo is with zoom and digital enlargement.

After the Lizard moved off I continued down to the falls. The wind was picking up and blowing water upwards from the falls in a fine spray

As I rode back the weather was quickly changing and a thunderstorm gathered. I was about half way back when the first heavy spots started to fall and I took refuge in a bus shelter for 40 mins of torrential downpour including hail.

Cycling distance was 17.6 miles with 1233ft of climbing and riding time of 1hr 44mins.

remote Posted by Edwin at 10:12 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 23 April 2005 11:22 PM NZT
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Katoomba,Wentworth Falls, Tuesday 1 March

1) Wentworth Falls

2) Queens Cascade

3) Empress Falls

4) Three Sisters

Today was a really good day with cloudless blue skies and temperatures getting to 26C. As with yesterday I used the bike to get to points of interest but much more of the day was spent walking up and down tracks than cycling.

My destination of the day was Wentworth Falls 5 miles east back down the highway. Most of the ride was on side roads avoiding the Great Western Highway.

Wentworth Falls is home to falls of that name and many other smaller falls cascading from the plateau to the remote valley below.

After parking the bike I started down the track to take in viewpoints of Wentworth falls and eventually down to the top of the falls where one track goes across using stepping stones. I took another track going up river alongside the Queens Cascade.

Back to the bike and a short ride on the road to the Conservation Hut Cafe for lunch. This has a terrace with great views over the Valley of the Waters.

In the afternoon I left the bike at the top and headed down a track with a long steep descent to the Empress Falls. A couple on the way up warned me of an aggressive baby snake on the track and that an adult might be near. Bearing in mind that the Blue Mountains has some of the worlds most poisonous snakes my descent was very careful and watchful but no snakes were encountered.

After returning to Katoomba I headed to Echo Point to take some pictures of the Three Sisters in the early evening light.

Cycling distance was 11.3 miles with 1145 ft of climbing and a ride time of 1hr 15mins

remote Posted by Edwin at 9:56 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 3 March 2005 10:42 AM EADT
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Tuesday, 1 March 2005
Katoomba, Monday 28 February

1) Three Sisters from Echo Point

2) Three Sisters Walkway

3) Laura falls from Bidal Veil Viewpoint

4) Laura cascades

5) Katoomba falls from Skyway Cablecar

The day started cloudy and after yesterday's drizzle I was worried I might not see too much of the Blue Mountains. However the sky gradually cleared to end bright and sunny and 21C.

This first day I decided to concentrate on the many attractions near Katoomba but used the Bike to get around. The Blue Mountains are essentially a partly eroded high plateau. The great Western Road and all the towns along it are built along the central ridge. The land either side is wilderness with some rainforest and is designated National Park.

My first visit at the southern end of town was Echo Point where the cliffs fall away and there is a view of the famous 3 Sisters rock pinnacles. I found a path going round and then steeply down to a walkway going across to one of the rocks.

Next a ride along the Cliff Drive Road and after a stop for lunch at a cafe a walk to the Laura Cascades and a little further on a viewpoint above the Laura Falls. Then I walked further round the clifftop path to the Bridal Veil Viewpoint. As can be seen from the picture the water of the Laura Falls flows over the rock to one side like a bridal veil.

I then cycled back on the Cliff Drive Road to the Scenic World Centre. This has various means of getting down to the valley floor. I took the Sceniscender down and then a short walk in the rainforest at the base and up on the funicular railway. This is the steepest in the world at 48%. I then took the Skyway, a cable car which goes to the other side of the gorge and back with great views including the Katoomba Falls.

I rounded off the day with a visit to the Katoomba falls lookout.

remote Posted by Edwin at 2:27 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 March 2005 5:10 PM EADT
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Sydney to Katoomba, Sunday 27 February.

Today was time to move on the Blue Mountains west of Sydney where I will stay 5 nights at the main mountain town of Katoomba.

By previous arrangement I left the bike box and some other bits and pieces at the B&B. Sydney spreads out a long way to the west and I decided to get a train to Penrith on the edge of the western suburbs.

I had noticed on my previous train trips that only some of the underground train stations had lifts. When I caught the train at Martins Place yesterday I took the bike down an escalator. This was fine unloaded but would not be so easy with Panniers. After catching the ferry to Circular Quay I rode about a mile through relatively quiet Sunday morning City Streets to Town Hall Station which has lifts.

After an hours train ride I got off at the western suburb of Penrith and had lunch there. To avoid a section of freeway I turned off the Great Western Road soon after Penrith on a side road to Baxland. This climbed over a ridge with very steep gradients of 12 to 15% and a maximum of 22% up to 790ft.

After turning back onto the Great Western Road the route continued to climb gadually to 3100ft at Katoomba. The road was a fairly busy duel carriageway but did have a hard shoulder. The day was cloudy and at about 2500ft I entered the cloud layer with a light drizzle, hence the dearth of pictures today.

Distance for the day was 30.7 miles with 3835ft of climbing and a ride time of 4hrs 9mins

remote Posted by Edwin at 2:18 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 March 2005 4:51 PM EADT
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Sydney, Taronga Zoo, Saturday 26 February

1) Koalas

2) Kangaroos

3) Circular Quay at twilight

Today I decided that as I would be unlikely to see a lot of Australian wildlife in the wild I would visit the nearby Taronga Zoo. This is on the next headland east from the B&B and I decided to go by bike. To get there involved a convoluted 2.5 mile road route.

I went to see Wallabies, Kangaroos and Koalas as can be seen from the above pictures. One open air enclosure involved 2 entrance gates and then the public could walk on a path among the Wallabies.

After lunch at the Zoo I rode back to the B&B and then went on foot to the ferry to the Centre. I went on by train and then monorail to Darling Harbour adjacent to the City Centre to wander around and shop. I bought a T-shirt embroidered "Australia Downunder" which I thought was a nice link with the website.

After dinner a few more evening pictures of the Sidney Skyline

remote Posted by Edwin at 2:12 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 23 April 2005 11:27 PM NZT
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Sydney, Royal National Park, Friday 25 February.

1) "Have Bike will travel" a "must take" view of Sidney Harbour.

2) "Martins Place" CityRail underground station

3) Royal National Park

4) Cronulla Beach

Over the previous 2 days my bike had been locked up under the outside rear stairs of the B&B looking rather neglected. Today I decided to give it a ride taking it to the Royal National Park just to the south of Sydney.

I rode the few hundred yards to the ferry wharf and caught the ferry to Circular Quay. I then planned to take it by train to get through the urban area. To avoid a change of trains rather than going from Circular Quay Station I cycled about a mile to a Station called Martin's Place. I am not sure what Martin did to have a Train Station named after him but anyway I took a picture of it for him to add to Martins Beach in Greece and Martins Bay in New Zealand.

The trains are very bike friendly and bikes can be taken at any time although there is a charge during peak periods. Bikes can be put in any carriage entrance but I found it was more out of the way in the front or the rear of the train.

I took a train to Cronulla a Southeast suburb and a 40 minute train ride. Then a foot passenger ferry from a wharf just below the station across the estuary of the Hacking River to Bundeena, a small town surrounded by the National Park. This avoids the usual entrance which is via a busy metro route.The National Park is a huge nature reserve which continues south for 20 miles. I did an out and back ride to return via the ferry.

Apart from the different types of vegetation there are many similarities to the New Forest with a ferry crossing of an estuary from a big city. The landscape is fairly flat with low rolling hills. On the route I took there was a gradual climb over 5 miles to 500ft. There are no ponies but I did see a sign warning of "wildlife crossing next 3 Kilometres" This set me to wondering as to what sort of wildlife - poisonous snakes?

After returning on the ferry I took a look at Cronulla Beach the longest in Sydney and another good surfing beach and stopped there for some sunbathing. After returning to the City I did some cycling around the City Streets until I found an Internet Cafe and sorted out the Blog website. The text and pictures are sent up using my mobile device but due to a fault which developed in the code of the website some weeks ago I have to send the text and pictures separately and combine using the editing facility available which is much quicker and easier to do using a full sized computer.

remote Posted by Edwin at 1:58 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 3 March 2005 10:47 AM EADT
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Friday, 25 February 2005
Sydney, Bondi Beach, Thursday 24 February

1) Bondi Beach

2) Circular Quay

3) Opera House with the Moon rising

Today was going to be a serious rest day with a trip to Bondi Beach. Weather was ideal beach weather being sunny all day and getting to 29C.

The journey there was interesting with first a ferry to the City Centre at Circular Quay and then a train on Sydney's Cityrail System to Bondi Junction. The Circular Quay train station is right next to the ferries and trains are double Decker's. The system is partly underground and partly overground especially in the suburbs

Bondi junction is about 3 miles from the beach so I got a bus from there. The bus station is built on top of the underground rail station. This is what I would call an integrated Transport system.

Bondi beach was as I expected a long bay of golden sands with lifeguards and lots of sunbathers and surfers. The rest of the day was given over to serious rest, sunbathing and wandering the esplanade.

I returned to Circular Quay soon after sunset for the now obligatory nightime photo shoot.

remote Posted by Edwin at 6:48 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 25 February 2005 8:52 PM EADT
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Sydney, Wednesday 23 February.

1) View of Sydney Opera House on the ferry ride from the B&B

2) View from the Skytower

3) Darling Harbour from the Monorail

4) Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge

5) Circular Quay at twilight

6) Circular Quay

Today was a day for exploring the City Centre, mainly on foot but with the help of ferry and Monorail.

First there was the ferry trip from the B&B to the centre with great views of the Sydney Skyline. I then explored some of the streets heading in the direction of the Skytower which at nearly 1000 ft is the tallest in the Southern Hemisphere.

I spent some time on the observation deck before taking the stairs one level down to the cafe for lunch which was certainly a more novel location than on Wednesday Rides back home. While there I replied to an email from John Maxim with my mobile internet device sending him as an attachment a picture of the view from the Tower. That makes for a pretty instant postcard.

After descending the Tower I got on the Monorail which does a loop from the City centre to nearby Darling Harbour and areas to the west of the centre. Next it was a stroll through some nearby parks with a stop for some Sunbathing and on to the Botanical Gardens. In one park there is a big colony of bats hanging from the trees and screeching.

I made my way down to Macquaires Point the location for taking the classic picture of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge in the same field of view.

Then a walk round the Bay still in the Park to the Opera House and a good look round. Then dinner at a Harbour Side Cafe and watch the sunset. Then more evening photographs of the City to round off a very full day.

The ferry ride back to the B&B is outstanding at night. The view of tightly packed lit skyscrapers are in the centre of the small bay where the ferries dock with the Opera House on one side and the Harbour Bridge on the other side

remote Posted by Edwin at 4:52 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 25 February 2005 8:54 PM EADT
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Christchurch to Sydney, Tuesday 22 February.

1) Flying over the Southern Alps

2) The Southern Alps

3) Clearing the West Coast

4) At Sydney Airport, City in distance

5) Night view of the City near Circular Quay

6) Night View of the City

7) Sydney Harbour Bridge

Today was a great day for photographic opportunity as can be seen from the pictures above. It was also a day for packing a lot in so it was just as well that with the time change it was a 26 hour day.

With the bike packed the previous day there were a few hours spare to look round Christchurch again and do a bit of shopping.

The taxi had been pe-booked by email 5 months ago to pick me up at 12.00 and take me to the Airport but they forgot but did turn up within minutes of a reminding phone call.

At the Airport one dampner on an otherwise great day was that the checkout lady required the bike to be put on the luggage scales. She then said the bike plus my other baggage exceeded the luggage allowance and there was an excess baggage charge of 170NZ$ or about 70 pounds. Most Airlines have a special allowance for bikes or don't bother weighing them. Moral of the story is avoid flying Quantas with a bike if possible.In our case we had to because they were part of the alliance of Airlines for the Round the World Ticket we used.

The flight over the Southern Alps was great for photography with skies clear apart from over the highest peaks near the West Coast.

The flight arrived in Sydney 10 minutes ahead of schedule and by the time I got to baggage reclaim luggage and bike were waiting for me.The bike had to be checked by customs/quarantine officers for any obnoxious soil or vegetable particles it might have picked up. This involved the box being opened and the bike checked. My other luggage was X-Rayed.

I had checked on some websites and as expected there was no problem getting the bike in a taxi with a number of Station Wagon Taxis available.

My accommodation for the next 5 nights in Sydney is a B&B called Cremorne Point Manor. This is on the north shore on the far side of the Harbour from the Centre but only a 10 minutes ferry ride to the Centre.

I got to the B&B about 6.15 but didn't want to leave the bike to the next day to sort out so got it out of the box and re-assembled.

I went a few minutes walk down the road to the ferry wharf to get the 8.15 ferry to the City. By this time it was twilight and the City's lights were coming on with a great view of the City Skyline the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.

The ferries run every 20 to 30 minutes and I had a great 10 minute ferry ride with views of the Opera House, City Skyscrapers and Harbour Bridge. When I got off I went into full photographic mode using railings and litter bins as objects to steady the camera for night shots. The moon was rising over the Opera House and scattered clouds above the City were lit up partly by moonlight and partly by the City's lights.

With all the time spent photographing and sightseeing the evening meal was a snack from the ferry terminal cafe/takeaway before another ferry ride back to the B&B.

remote Posted by Edwin at 4:29 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 26 February 2005 6:03 PM EADT
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Monday, 21 February 2005
Akaroa to Christchurch, Monday 21 February

1) Cyclepath on the way into Christchurch

2) Home Lea B&B in Christchurch

Todays ride was almost a repeat in reverse of the ride out to Akaroa. However instead of riding up the main road to cross the big 1500ft pass at Hilltop I took a side road from Duvachelle to the Summit Road. 3 cars passed either way in 45 minutes of climbing. From Hilltop there was a long fast descent to Little River and an elevenses stop at a cafe

The rest of the ride was now flat and I had a Carrot Cake stop at a cafe at Taikapu near Lincoln.

Coming into Christchurch it was notable how cycle friendly it was with thought given to the cyclist in road design. There were long stretches of wide cyclepath with car parking on the left so there was no problem of cars parked on the bike lane.

I got to the B & B early at 4.00 to give plenty of time to box up the bike ready for my flight to Sydney tomorrow.

Distance for the ride was 50.9 miles with 2677ft of climb.Average grade was 8% and average speed 9.5 mph with riding time of 5 hours 14 mins

remote Posted by Edwin at 6:44 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 21 February 2005 7:39 PM EADT
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Akaroa, Dolphins Cruise, Sunday 20 February.

1) Leaving the Harbour

2) Dolphins swimming under the rear of the boat

Today was an off the bike rest day. With the weather still calm and sunny I decided on a morning boat cruise of Akaroa Harbour with a firm called Akaroa Dolphins. I booked this about 45 minutes before sailing and luckily they had room. As the name suggests one of the main objects of the 2 hour cruise is to spot Dolphins.

Akaroa harbour is an ideal area for the Hector Dolphin the smallest in the world together with Seals, Penguins and Cormorants.

Soon after we left the harbour the Skipper spotted some Dolphins which at several stages swam alongside and underneath the boat.

Later we spotted a penguin in the water. I know Peter will be especially interested in this as he was anxious to see one on the trip. The penguin was nervous of boats so we couldn't get very close. I got a picture with the zoom lens of my slide camera but not with the digital camera so a view will have to await the slide show.

We also saw Cormorants and seals on a trip which went beyond the harbour entrance.

The ships dog was called Hector, a scotty who went crazy when dolphins were spotted and also had a specially fitted lifejacket.

The afternoon was spent lazing around the town harbour and beach doing some sunbathing. Back to the biking tomorrow with a return ride to Christchurch.

remote Posted by Edwin at 6:34 PM EADT
Updated: Monday, 21 February 2005 6:55 PM EADT
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Sunday, 20 February 2005
Akaroa, Okains Bay Ride, Saturday 19 February

1) Okains Beach

2) Top of the very steep Long Hill Road

3) Appropiate road name near Okains Bay

Today was again bright blue skies and temperatures rising to 23C I decided to set off for a beach. This was not however going to be a lazing around sort of day as the chosen beach was on Okains bay on the Eastern side of the Peninsular with a 2000ft barrier to climb over to get there and then again to get back.

I decided not to take the super steep Long Bay Road I tackled yesterday (once was enough) so headed along the main road near the bay for 4 miles to Robinsons Bay and then up to the Summit Road on the Okains Bay Road. This was a much more sensible gradient with the bike computer reading between 6 and 12% as opposed to between 10 and 18% on Long Bay Road.

Again there were geat views as I climbed. I crossed the Summit road and headed on down at a steeper gradient followed by a long flat road to the village of Okains Bay and then the beach further on.

The beach is on a wide sheltered sandy bay which seemed popular with surfers. As the day went on more cars arrived which parked on the sand. When I left I visited a very good Maori Museum which is one of only a few houses in the village.

The return back up to the Summit Road was easy at first and then very steep with grades between 12 and 17%. I took the slightly longer route back along the Summit Road with great views and then to the top of Long Bay Road and a steep descent to the smell of brake rubber.

Distance for the day was 30.2 miles but with 4780ft of climb (nearly 3 times the climb of an average 50 mile club ride) Average grade for the day was 9% with an average speed of 8.2 and ride time of 3 hrs 36 mins.

remote Posted by Edwin at 2:09 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 20 February 2005 3:06 PM EADT
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Akaroa - Summit Road, Friday 18 February.

1) Summit Road

2) Summit Road just before descending to Duvauchelle

Today's ride was without luggage doing a loop along the Summit Road which follows the ridges created by the old Volcano and then down to the harbour road and back to Akaroa. With a high moving in weather was wall to wall sunshine and temperatures of 24C.

I climbed out of Akaroa for a few miles on the main road and then turned onto the aptly named Long Bay Road. This was basically a pig of a climb. The road climbed from sea level to 2136 ft in 3 miles. The average gradient for the climb was 10% compared with an average of 6% on most climbs. There were many sections with grades of between 12 and 18% with a maximum of 20%

The reward was in the magnificent views of the harbour below and I had to stop frequently to take pictures (catch my breath!)

At the top the road turns and runs north along the summit ridge with views down to the harbour and the ridge on the far side of it. The Summit Road does a half circuit of the harbour far below. The road generally keeps its height but with ups and downs of about 300ft

There were views down to small bays on the eastern side of the peninsula. At one point as the route looped round Duvauchelle Peak views opened up of the far off ranges of the Southern Alps north of Christchurch.

I took a byroad descending steeply to the bay near the village of Duvauchelle and then followed the main bay road back to Akaroa.

Only 26 miles ridden but 3950ft of climb (equal to twice the climbing on a standard 50 mile club ride back home) Average grade for the whole ride was 9%. Average speed was 8.5 mph with 3 hours riding time.

remote Posted by Edwin at 12:18 PM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 20 February 2005 2:35 PM EADT
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Friday, 18 February 2005
Akaroa, Thursday 17 February.

Akaroa Harbour with cloud trying and failing to spill over the surrounding 2000ft peaks

Today is the first of 4 clear days I have at Akaroa a small town on a bay of a large harbour/inlet which goes into the middle of the Banks Peninsular. The harbour was formed by the flooding of a former volcanic crater and is almost surrounded by 2000ft hills. The area is in considerable contrast to the great flat expanse of the Canterbury plains in all other directions.

Akaroa was originally settled by the French and has retained French street names but its current residents are very much English speaking New Zealanders. It is a pretty small quiet town though with a lot of tourists. There are a lot of choices for bike routes during my stay with some very scenic and hilly roads in the area.

Today is a proper off the bike rest day. I made use of the motels guest laundry facility, caught up on emails and wandered round the harbour. Weather was sunny with some cloud and temperatures getting up to 26C.

remote Posted by Edwin at 3:29 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 18 February 2005 3:41 PM EADT
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Christchurch to Akaroa, Wednesday 16 February

1) View over Akaroa Harbour from the Hilltop Cafe at 1500ft.

2) La Rive Motel

I said goodbye to Martin who fly's to Sydney in the afternoon. I set off to stay 5 nights at Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula. This is a very hilly area to the east of Christchurch formed by volcanic action. The day was cloudy with sunny periods especially in the afternoon with temperatures up to 24C.

As with all main routes in and out of Christchurch the roads are very cycle friendly. There is the pavement and then parking bays for cars and then a wide cyclepath and then the carriageway.

I took the main route 75 to Akaroa . This is busy near Christchurch but then tails off to the level of a UK country B road. The notable feature in the morning was how flat it was. Despite skirting close to the edges of the Hills of the Banks Peninsula the road stayed pan flat with only 60 feet of climb in the 33 miles of climb to Little River.

I stopped for elevenses at a cafe near Motukarara And enjoyed a large Carrot Cake with cream. This was just about worked off as after Little River the road climbed steeply to 1500 ft. I stopped for lunch at the Hilltop Cafe with views down to Akaroa Bay.

After descending the road follows the Bay round with four 300ft climbs before Akaroa . My accommodation is at the La Rive Motel.

Distance was 50.4 miles with 2578 ft of climb. Average speed was 10.6 with riding time 4hrs 39mins

remote Posted by Edwin at 2:20 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 18 February 2005 3:35 PM EADT
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Christchurch Rest Day, Tuesday 15 February

Tram on New Regent Street in Christchurch

Today was a rest from cycling but not a rest as such as we packed a lot in. Martin fly's off tomorrow to Sydney and then Cairns. I stay in New Zealand for 5 more days before flying to Sydney to stay there and in the nearby Blue Mountains for 2 weeks.

In the morning Martin packed up his bike in the box which we had posted to the B & B from Auckland. I went down to the City Centre to pick up a package I had sent from the UK to the Christchurch main post office containing maps and guides for Australia and Singapore. I used the box collected to post home maps paperwork and guides for Chile and New Zealand to lighten the load.

In the afternoon we took a ride on the City's Trams visiting New Regent Street for lunch and then the Cathedral and Cathedral Square. We also visited the City's large botanical gardens with a stop at the cafe for drinks and Carrot Cake. We then caught the no 28 bus to visit the harbour at Littleton

After the evening meal I visited an Internet Cafe to update the websit

remote Posted by Edwin at 2:14 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 18 February 2005 3:23 PM EADT
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Lake Coleridge to Christchurch, Monday 14 February

Large sized Carrot Cake at Lunchstop

The day started with heavy rain and we delayed our start by half an hour to let this ease off. This was still only the second wet day in nearly 6 weeks of touring.

The rain eased off and stopped as we rode back down the valley of the Rakaia river. We re-joined the Inland Scenic Route 77. This was very enjoyable as the road slowly descended down a valley wth mountains to our left and our speed boosted further by a tailwind.

We stopped at a shop at Glentunnel for a snack for elevenses and then down to the plains to Darfield for lunch. I had a soup and a carrot cake. This was possibly the largest so far at about 3 times the measly portions served up in the UK for 3.50NZ$ or about one pound fifty. For one reason or another I had failed to get a carrot cake the previous 3 days so this adequately satisfied the cravings.

After lunch the waterproofs were required again as the clouds from a front coming in from the south massed. The road by now was pan flat and dead straight into Christchurch. We got away with light rain for the rest of the ride with the heavy downpour saving itself for evening.

For the evening meal we went to a pub/restaurant operating an all you can eat buffet for 19NZ$ or about 8 pounds for all courses. I was fairly restrained, only 2 main courses and 3 desserts.

Mileage for the day was 64.3 with 807ft of climb and 2066ft of descent. Average speed was 13.2 with 4hrs 47mins of riding time.

remote Posted by Edwin at 2:09 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 18 February 2005 3:17 PM EADT
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Tuesday, 15 February 2005
Staveley to Coleridge, Sunday 13 February

1)Viewpoint on track above Lake Coleridge

2)Martin on the road up the valley of the River Rakaia

Today's ride was quite short at 35 miles so we had a leisurely start. Catherine and Adrian showed us round the farm including the friendly goat, tame baby Deer and the calves they were rearing.

We headed north on the Inland scenic Route 77 which runs on a generally flat route parallel to the foothills of the Southern Alps. To our left rose the peaks of Mount Somers and Mount Hutt and to our right the great flat expanse of the Canterbury Plains.

The day was bright and clear with temperatures rising to 22C.

At midday we descended to the gorge of the Rakaia River with great views from the bridge over the river. The river generally flows in braids
across a wide valley but at this point narrows between rock walls.

We took a shortcut up an unmade road to climb back up away from the river with views of the azure blue river spreading across a wide valley on the Canterbury plain. We had been unable to find any cafes on the route so we stopped at the top for snacks from our bags

We were now headed inland up the valley of the Rakaia River into the depths of the Southern Alps towards Lake Coleridge. For the 12 miles up the valley we had a strong headwind but this did not detract from the magnificent scenery.

Lake Coleridge village is a small village situated about 400ft below the level of the Lake. We left our luggage at Lake Coleridge Lodge and headed on up the lake. This is accessed by a 3 mile long gravel road
with hairpin bends. As we climbed higher the views opened up below us of the azure blue river Rakaia with mountains rising up from the far side
of the valley.

We eventually reached a viewpoint looking out over the clear blue expanse of Lake Coleridge with snow capped peaks falling to its sides in the far distance.

We rode 38.1 miles with 2112 ft of climbing.

remote Posted by Edwin at 7:32 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 17 February 2005 9:58 AM EADT
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A Ride to Middle Earth, Saturday 12 February.

1) Martin on the track to Middle Earth

2) View of the valley of the Rangitata River

3) Lunchstop

4) Mount Sunday (Edoras)

Today was one of the highlights of the trip with a ride up a dead-end road into the remote reaches of the Southern Alps. The ride was up to the spectacular braided valley of the River Rangitata and an isolated rock called Mount Sunday. This was the site of filming of parts of the Lord of the Ring films and the Castle of Edoras capital of the realm of Rohan.

After yesterdays rain the day dawned bright and sunny. We were treated to a slap up breakfast at Awaiti Farm Stay and Catherine kindly made us a packed lunch to keep us going in the remote areas of the Alps.

From Staveley we headed down the road towards Arundel! At the small village of Mount Somers we turned west up the valley of the Ashburton River. The road gradually climbed with about a car every 5 minutes.

The first 20 miles of the route from Staveley was tarred as far as the village of Hakatere (a house and 2 barns) The road then turned gravel climbing up to Lake Clearwater. The scenery became more dramatic and remote with only dry and barren mountains around us.

Eventually we came to a ridge above the valley of the Potts River flowing as a tributary into the massive expanse of the braided spreadout Rangitata River surrounded by high mountains and with snow capped peaks at the head of the valley. This viewpoint had to be our lunchstop.

We headed on down on the track and across the Potts River on a bridge. The track headed on down alongside the Rangitata to the rocky outcrop of Mount Sunday. We stopped nearby for pictures and apart from the track we could imagine ourselves in the depths of Middle Earth.

We retraced our route on the track. By the time we got back to the tarmac at Hakatere we had ridden 29 miles on gravel tracks. On the 12 mile ride from Hakatere to Mount Somers village we were passed by only 2 cars.

We returned to Awaiti Farm Stay to a barbecue meal cooked by our host Adrian. We were entertained by stories by Catherine's brother and a neighbour who called in.

Distance for the day was 68.8 miles with 2342ft of climb at an average speed of 9.6 mph and a riding time of 7 hours 2 mins

remote Posted by Edwin at 12:06 PM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 15 February 2005 8:08 PM EADT
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Ashburton to Staveley, Friday 11 February

A meal at Awaiti Farm Stay. (Picture taken the following day)

Today the weather front which brought rain to Invercargill yesterday caught up with us and brought rain to Ashburton.

Our days ride was 25 miles so we were in no rush. I had a lot to do to bring the website up to date and that took care of the morning followed by a leisurely lunch while we waited for the rain to ease off.

Eventually the rain eased from heavy to light and we set off. The ride was not especially interesting, the road being dead flat and the scenery invisible. The rain became heavier as we approached our overnight stay at Awaiti Farm Stay. Staveley is a small rural community on the Inland Scenic Route at the base of the Southern Alps and just underneath Mount Somers.

Awaiti Farm Stay was the highlight of the day and the best accommodation I have stayed at during the trip. We were made welcome as if family members and treated to hot drinks and cakes in the lounge. Our wet gear was put in the tumble dryer and we had a substantial meal with our hosts Adrian and Catherine and 4 other guests from Denmark.

We were entertained by Adrians efforts to get across to the one Dane who had limited English the workings of the farm with a mixture of English and sign language.

remote Posted by Edwin at 11:30 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 17 February 2005 10:03 AM EADT
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