Hanmer Springs to Kaikoura via the inland road/Mt Lyford
When carol, Janette and I woke at Hanmer Springs on Wednesday, we opened the curtains to a red sky morning and the trees moving with quite a strong wind – things weren’t looking that great for our day ahead. Off we went for breakfast, and when we returned, the wind had dropped and was almost non-existent.
We kitted up, got our bikes from the garage and assembled in the car park for a few words before departing in our groups. Our first stop (and only food/drink stop), was at Waiau – we all arrived at pretty much the same time and we found the only cafe and headed in to place our orders. The poor young guy behind the counter seemed to be a bit overwhelmed and confused with 30 or so food and coffee orders – probably the biggest rush this little place had seen.
After fueling up, we were off – I’m not sure that any of us had driven this road, let alone cycled it, so we had no idea what we were in for, apart from what we’d been told by a gentleman in Waiau – that there were 5 decent gully’s that we would cross. Early on we came to a small descent, about 200 metres of flat road and then a small climb out – I hopefully asked Rob if that’s what he would consider a gully, and he dashed my hopes that we’d be in for an easy ride by quickly saying no. Not long after, we arrived at Mt Lyford Lodge, hopeful of the carbs that a beer would provide, but sadly they were shut. After a photo stop we carried on, and once the gully’s arrived, they didn’t disappoint, long flowy downhills with spectacular views, and climbs out the other side with views just as magical. It was those magical views that took our minds off the climbs – New Zealand certainly has some stunning scenery. I never counted the gully’s, but I’m sure they gentleman in Waiau was right and there were 5, after the last one, we had a long straight in to Kaikoura, and what felt like the wind picking up again.
We got to accommodation, and cleaned up, sorted our washing and cleaned our bikes. There was no meal arranged for tonight, so everyone had a ‘free night’, group 1 decided to head off for a feed of fish and chips – a great choice in a sea side town, and the majority of group 1 and 2 headed in to town to see what we could find to eat, while a couple of the more ‘mature’ men among us found themselves at an alternative poetry evening, and from what I’ve heard they had a very interesting evening being educated on a number of things – I’m sure Wayne, Wal and Dennis would be only to happy to share the experience
Day 6, Kaikoura to Picton
Kaikoura treated us to a stunning morning, and we headed up State highway 1 toward Picton. A number of us on this trip had travelled in the opposite direction early in 2016, the same year as the Kaikoura quake, and weren’t really sure what to expect. There were still a number of stoppages for roadworks, but while stopped we got to look out at the dolphins playing, and really appreciate the beauty of our surroundings. We also got to see how much damage the quake did and just how much work has been put in to getting the road operational again – they are doing amazing work. While riding, we spotted the iconic Ninn’s Bins Crayfish caravan, and decided that we couldn’t come to Kaikoura and not get crayfish. A phone call was made to the support van to collect, chill and transport the crayfish and a deal was done. We carried on to the beautiful Kekerengu Store – those of us that were in the trip in 2016 were stoked that the weather was 100% better this time, and that we got to see it in all it’s beauty.
After lunch, we headed back out – somehow, while stopped for lunch, the headwind had returned with a vengeance determined to make up for its absence in the last day or 2. We had a few big climbs that we needed to conquer, and while stopped at Ward, the Harris sisters decided to enquire at the local service station if there were any more hills before Picton. After explaining which direction they had come from, they were politely told they hadn’t done any hills yet, and they were still to come.
We stopped in Seddon for coke and ice cream before heading off to battle the headwind again.
After navigating our way through the traffic and maze of Blenheim, we stopped at the Grove Hotel for a beer before tackling the last 25kms in to the headwind to Picton. Due to the wind, our arrival in Picton was a bit late, but as dinner was to be an informal one of fish & chips with the crayfish it didn’t matter too much. All of our accommodation has been really good, but this one had a beautiful harbour view, with a nice outdoor area for our dinner. As it was our last meal together, we shared a few stories and memories from the trip before locking in the plans for our final day
Day 7, Picton to Palmerston North
The final leg of our ride didn’t end as we had planned for some of us – due to travel, mechanical and weather issues.
We knew on Thursday that the forecast wasn’t looking great, but adding to our troubles, the ferry was more than an hour late arriving in to Wellington. By the time we had disembarked and sorted ourselves out it was 1pm, and the bad weather was closing in fast.
Group 1 headed away, they didn’t get the rain until the Akatarawa’s and it cleared for them not long after Waikanae. They were the only group to complete the journey back to Palmerston North in their bikes – well done guys
Groups 2 and 3 struck the heavy rain on the Hutt Motorway, this is also group 2 got our 2nd and 3rd punctures of the whole trip. On the Akatarawa’s we got another 2 punctures – the rain and punctures slowed us down so much that it was after 4pm by the time we reached the summit, and after 4.30 at Waikanae with the rain slowing our descent.
With 70-80 kms still to ride, and there being no improvement in the weather looking possible and our remaining daylight fading fast – in the interests of the safety of the group, the difficult decision was made to call it a day and end the ride.
Calls were made to arrange transport for the 20 riders and bikes, while we waited for them to arrive, we headed in to the Salt and Wood Collective at Waikanae for a drink and something to eat. The team there were outstanding hosts, and even offered us their keg room to change out of our wet riding gear – thanks guys – and if you’re ever down that way, pop in and check them out.
We’d like to say congratulations and well done to everyone – even though the ride was cut short, we completed 7 days riding, almost 950kms and 8,500 metres climbed, that’s a fantastic achievement.
A big thank you to our support crew Neil and Jayne, but most of all, a huge thank you to our organiser Rob Ryan, without whom none of this would have been possible – lots of us have ideas, and talk about epic rides, but without Rob taking the time to organise this event – we’d still be talking about it rather than talking about the amazing scenery and memories we have made over the last 7 days – thanks for another awesome ride Rob
We would also like to once again acknowledge the valued support of our generous sponsors, and encourage you to support them where you can
Derek Harris – Odds & Sods
Derek, Selena, Coral and Robbie McNabb and their team at the Rosebowl Bakery and Cafe
Steve Harley – Central Plastering
The Adecco Group
Brush Strokes – Signwriting and Custom Graphics for the design of the logo and kit
Garry Buys – Bike Barn
Rob Ryan and the team at Palmfeild Motors
And Mazda New Zealand for their extremely generous sponsorship of our kit, ensuring we looked great while training and on the 1001 Climb to the Top