Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cycling Dunedin Palmerston Oamaru Kurow Oamarama

November 1st Dunedin – Palmerston 66km

Ok today I went the wrong way.  I like it much better when there is only one road, it makes getting lost far more difficult.  We did ask at the hostel but got duff advice.  What made it worse is Maria said we should check with the tourist information and I said we will be alright. 

We left the city in the right direction but the highway doesn’t allow bikes which is where the problem starts.  We took Pine Hill as advised but after a hill so steep it felt like my heart was going to jump out of my chest an old guy came out of his house and said that the road we were on lead to an aerial tower and then stopped!  Well at least we didn’t find out the hard way and he was nice enough to point us in the right direction.   He said he used to be a keen cyclist in his day and had come out of his house to help when he saw us looking at the map by the side of the road.  Now you wouldn’t get that happening very often in the UK.

So about 40 minutes out of the way but the rest of the trip made up for it.  A bit of climbing but all manageable and the views were stunning.  The sun shone despite the weather forecast and the wind blew from behind on the home straight.

Palmerston however doesn’t have a campsite and the 2 hotels were full, bugger.  All was not lost though as the one hotel which mainly caters for truckers and miners let us put up the tent for $10 and use the showers.  This meant using the stove for the first time and it was incredibly powerful for it’s tiny size.  I made a small cooking shelter out of the tarp and the tent poles I had salvaged from the old tent, perfect.  We did opt for dinner at the hotel which is also the local pub though.

We did find out from the super market that another 20km down the road is a nice campsite by the beach, now with the tailwind we would have been there 40 minutes but the tent was pitched so I guess we’ll stay put now.

November 2nd Palmerston – Oamaru 73km

Everything was damp in the morning after rain last night so no sitting on the grass cooking.  We set up the stove on the veranda outside the cabins which seemed to work well.  They must have had a hell of a party last night with pissed up blokes shouting and revving cars until the early hours. A little worrying as most of them seemed to be driving trucks today!

We packed up and left in good time, the road was pretty flat and little wind had us making good time.  The first stop was at Moeraki Boulders.  These are spherical boulders which have been left on the beach as the cliff has eroded around them.  We were there at high tide so couldn’t get full benefit but they were interesting for sure.

We headed on hoping to take the coast road but missed the first turning, by the time we came to the next turning we had missed most of it, the last part of the coast road had fallen into the sea so it had just been closed and traffic now travels more inland.  We still managed some good views though.

As we headed into the town we were surprised by the size of the place, expecting a small town and confronted by street upon street of houses.  We visited the tourist info then headed to the YHA.  This time the YHA looked a little ropey, it wasn’t a proper YHA but an associated one and was just small and a little run down.  We opted for a cabin in the Top 10 campsite at $60 a night.  A dvd tonight and a day off tomorrow.

November 3rd Oamaru

Lots of things to do here but the main thing is the Blue Penguin Colony.  There is a grandstand on the beach where you can sit and watch them come ashore but that is not till 8pm.  We booked in for a tour which picks us up at the campsite for the evening viewing so we went for the day time viewing where you can see the penguins in the nest boxes.  Not allowed to take photos but I saw a 2 day old chick when mum had a quick shuffle around, she normally stays over the top of them until they get a bit older.  It looked like a little black ball of fluff.

The other things Oamura is famous for is the white stone still quarried today, the Victorian quarter complete with penny farthings, the cheese factory and steampunk.  Well the buildings are impressive mainly in the Victorian area, the penny farthing shop was shut unfortunately but we did visit the cheese factory, had a look at where they made the cheese and more importantly ate some.  My favorite surprisingly was made with sheep’s milk and nice and strong.

Ok so that leaves steampunk, which is modern art I suppose but in a Mad Max style theme.  Mainly made of old bits of machinery and vehicles.  I liked it have a look at the pictures and see what you think.

So back to the penguins, the guy who runs the tour is the guy who originally set up the colony.  We went for a drive around the towns historic buildings, then to the yellow eyed penguin colony.  Surprisingly the penguins nest really high up the cliffs, I was amazed they could get up there.  Next to the Blue penguins where we watched about 80 of the little things come out of the sea  and run along in front of the grandstand, ashame we couldn’t take photos.

Finally we went back to the campsite via the steampunk train complete with flames and sountrack!

The forecast is for snow tomorrow so I am voting for another day off but I doubt it will snow.

November 4th Oamaru – Kurow 73km

We had decided to lie in but I was sure Maria wanted to move on, I looked out of the window at 9am and as it was bright sunshine we decided to go.  It wasn’t until 10.30 we finally left and made our way out of town.  Wind was the main focus of the day, it made progress painstakingly slow and when the rain and freezing gusts started I think Maria wish she had stayed in Oamaru.

Eventually we rode out of the other side of the rain and back into the sunshine but the wind didn’t relent.  By the time we reached Kurow it was 5pm so we called it a day 27km short of the target.  Anyway $42 for a cabin, dinner and bed.

November 5th Kurow – Oamarama 53km

Bright and sunny but still windy, 10 to 15 kph are knocked of your speed with this kind of headwind making the ride time nearly double.  The hills today were gentle and we decided to only cover just over half the distance we wanted to.  We passed a couple of hydro plants and the wind was blowing the water over the dams.  The water was an incredible color, check out the pics.  We have stayed in a Top 10 again this time $55 for the night in a nice cabin.  Back into the wind again tomorrow!

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