Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ashburton to Dunedin.

____Out of Ashburton, bright and early on New Years Day. Highway 1 southbound is deserted except for me and the milk tankers. The flat Canterbury Plain seems to have as many cows grazing the grass as there is sheep. Through Temuka and onto Timaru for the night as the road again starts to follow the coast. Timaru, much like Taurango in the north, a busy container port and sea-side resort with a traditional carnival in town.

____ The flat road riding comes to an end when Canterbury turns into Otago. Also at Glenavy, the rain returns. I rent a cabin for the night at Oamaru, a remarkable town of splendid limestone buildings that seem unjustified by it’s size. A handy quarry with quality white stone and the proceeds of a long gone gold-rush are the reason for the unexpected architectural extravagance.

____ A wet morning dries by the time I reach All Day Bay, as the coast road switches between the beach and the cliff top. It’s hard going, after the flat roads of Canterbury, only compensated by an excellent fish and chip lunch at “Lockie’s” in Hampden. I knew it would be could when I saw the queue, a sure sign of a good chippie, the world over. An early finish, as I camp at Moeraki and head off along the beach to investigate the Moeraki Boulders; the Maltesers of the Gods, according to Maori legend.

____Moeraki to Dunedin and probably the hardest day on the bike so far. Beautiful coastal scenery on minor roads that twist and turn; climb and swoop. It’s signposted as a cycle route to Dunedin and as the Highway 1 is closed to bicycles, it’s the only way to go. Mount Cargill Road is long and winding but then drops me down into the city at the speed of sound. I book into an hotel for the night, quite near the city centre; in the morning I have to be up early because I have a train to catch.

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