Cunninghams On Parade - 2017 New Zealand: Return to the Shire travel blog

We tried to talk the helicopter pilot into taking us the 70...

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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Twizel, New Zealand

TRAVEL QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Slow ride…..take it easy……” - Foghat

Okay, some of you won’t get that musical reference but for those that do… tells the story of the day!

What a night last night! Woke up about every 2 hours when our sound machine stopped playing our white noise for some reason. Never could figure it out so Art had to get up every time it stopped and restart it. Then, at 4:30am, the smoke detector decided the battery was done and started chirping….geeze Louise! But we did get some sleep and got up for the day at 6:45. Got breakfast (cereal for both of us, coffee for Art and tea for me), finished packing up our things for the trail today and headed out the door at 8:05. We are coming back to Twizel to spend the night in our house again so we didn’t have to do anything with the luggage this morning - hurray!

Got to Cycle Journeys; they had asked us to be there at 8:15 ahead of our 8:30 transfer up to Mt. Cook. The fellow ran a little late and got there at 8:40; he had several passengers he had picked up at Tekapo before getting us. Surprisingly, there were only the 2 of us from Cycle Journeys and we were the only 2 cyclists on the transfer. He loaded our bikes and we were off by 8:50. Had a beautiful morning, sunny and only a few clouds and only a little chilly to begin with (maybe 50F). It was a gorgeous ride up to Mt. Cook Village along Lake Pukaki - that lake is just gorgeous! The blue of this lake exceeds that of Lake Tekapo and is an almost mezmerizing shade of blue; I bought an A20 t-shirt at the Cycle Journeys place yesterday and it’s the same shade of blue - I love it!

The bus driver dropped me off at the Mt. Cook airport about 9:45. We were scheduled for a 10:30am helicopter flight across the riverbed to the trail and I didn’t feel like I had to start at the very most starting place and didn’t want to worry about biking the 6 kilometers from the Mt. Cook YHA and maybe missing the flight. Of course, Art wanted to go the very start at Mile Market 0 but there wasn’t time for that so he settled for going in the bus up to the Mt. Cook YHA where he was dropped off and then he raced back to the airport. He pulled in about 10:10 which worked out fine because I was just checking us in; I had been filming other people going out in helicopters and small planes to look at the mountains and glaciers, etc. since the day was so unbelievably beautiful. We did a safety briefing while they loaded our bikes into a big box suspended from the helicopter and the guy then flew them across the big braided river to the other side where we could begin the trail proper. Then it was our turn to fly across in the helicopter and it was so cool!! I have ridden in several already but this was pretty special; only about 10 minutes worth but we had great views! He sat down along the river and let us out; our bikes were there waiting. Then he flew away and that was the SECOND time I’ve been left in the middle of nowhere by a helicopter with Art! First was also in New Zealand on our 2008 trip and we managed to hike our way out of that one so this should be a snap! LOL. Okay, maybe it wasn’t a SNAP...

We took the obligatory ton of photos and finally pushed off about 10:55 down the trail. It was a beautiful trail but rough, lots of loose gravel and I mean big gravel that bogs your tires down. And several streams to run through so yeah, there were wet feet! But nothing we couldn’t handle and we were loving it. We biked to the Jollie Car Park area and stopped about 12:30 for a snack. Then we got onto a more washboard gravel road that was not so much fun; it was along the side of the lake but there were trees most of the time between us and the lake so we could have been biking anywhere. Stopped at 1:30 for lunch at a little picnic table by the lake and had our ham and cheese sandwiches. Art got his feet in the lake and it’s not as cold as you might expect, really kind of pleasant. It was a pretty picture perfect picnic spot and we had it all to ourselves! That is what I love about New Zealand - spots so pretty they can take your breath away and you don’t necessarily have to share them with another single person!

Then lots of kilometers on this washboard gravel road…..not too fun. I didn’t think it would ever end and then finally we hit some pavement! Finally, a break from the bone-jarring ride! I had some suspension in my bike but poor Art did not so he reallyl felt every bump and pothole the whole way - but he did great, he’s such a badass on his bike! I never cease to be amazed at how fit and exceptional a rider he is! Sadly, the pavement didn’t continue for the rest of the way. We stopped and I ate an apple and Art had another sandwich about 4 and shortly thereafter, we were back on a gravel trail. Luckily, this went down and followed the lake edge so it was much nicer. No washboards and we had the spectacular views of Mt. Cook we’ve been enjoying all day.

By about 5, I was feeling the wall coming for me…..I was pretty spent. It wasn’t the miles this time although we had ridden quite a few. It was just the general jarring and energy expenditure of riding through gravel for so long. It was hard riding. We still had 8 k to go to get to Twizel and I thought those were the longest freaking kilometers of the day! LOL. We FINALLY got to Twizel about 6 - hip hip horray! Biked to the 4 Square grocery again and got 2 more pies for dinner tonight. I’m more tired than hungry so dinner is not an imperative tonight for me. A shower and bed….yes, that’s the ticket!

Got to our house about 6:30 and for the record, I rode 72.7 kilometers! My ride time was 5:12 with an average speed of 13.9 kilometers per hour. For you Americans like me, that means I road 43.6 miles!! Hurray for Penny!! Of course, Art did those PLUS the 6k from Mt. Cook YHA - gotta give him credit for those miles!

We dusted ourselves and our bikes off - man, were we DUSTY! Got showers, ate the two meat pies from the oven and then I caught up on this blog while Art was looking at our pictures to share with you. We have a ton of beautiful ones - too many! But you may want to see a couple here, right? I thought so… one can say no to the blue of Lake Pukaki and Mt. Cook!

Finally turned into bed at 9:45pm - whew, what a day! Art stayed up a little bit later working on getting the pictures for the blog and finally turned in about 10:30.


mileage: 72.7kms

ride time: 5:12

average speed: 13.9kph

max speed: 50.8kph

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