Part 1 – Christ Church to Omarama
After a four day stay in Christ Church to put bikes together, adjust to the new time zone, and buy warm clothes and camping equipment we headed west on Hwy 73 towards the Inland Scenic Route. Memories of the first day cycling in NZ include stopping at our first tavern for coffee, heavy cross winds on Hwy 77 as we turned south towards Glentunnel, and pitching our tent for the first time. We also learned that the Dairy (a small mini-mart) does not carry beer or alcohol and that a 3 km drive back towards the package store seemed too far for the pleasure of a beer.
Other stops on this ride included Methvan where we discovered an excellent bicycle store, ordering parts overnight, and having a mechanic going out of his way to fix Eric’s bike. We also enjoyed our first pub meal, and discovered the Postie for mailing packages and for buying cute post cards and souvenirs.
The ride to Geraldine was scenic but long, windy and slightly hilly. Rain was forecast so after tenting the first night, we splurged on a cabin for the second. Two days in one town lifted our spirits and gave us the rest we needed to continue onwards. In Geraldine we enjoyed going to the old cinema and sitting in the comfort of well-used Salvation Army quality sofas.
A beautiful ride along the canal to Lake Tekapo and onwards to Lake Pukakai where we caught our first glimpse of Mt. Cook made for a beautiful day. About 10 kilometers before Twizel, Eric’s back tire blew so we improvised a patch with a tube patch and lots of duct tape. The hardware store in Twizel actually carried spare 26-inch bicycle tires so we set up camp in that town and replaced Eric’s tire.
Our next stop was Omarama where we met up with tons of supported cycle tours on the Alps2Ocean route. It was here that Eric also had his first glider plane ride to celebrate his birthday at the world renown glider training center. Omarama was a big cycling decision time. We could have headed east to Oamaru by following the A2O trail or turn inland over Lindis Pass towards Queenstown. We choose the Queenstown option because we were anxious to meet up with some cycling friends and get information for the rest of our trip.
Eric was also itching to cycle two great mountain passes, Lindis Pass and the Crown Range, enroute to Queenstown.