Well this week has been fairly lazy and gluttonous. Although doing our usual Christmas activities just doesn’t feel right when it’s 30°C.
We reached Dunedin on Christmas eve, after some winding coastal roads and a good long gravel climb. The sun was now out and we haven’t had any more rain, hurrah! After checking in to the holiday park, and a very stressful trip to the supermarket, we settled in to relaxing.
For a special Christmas treat we cycled up the steepest residential street in the world, with a steepest gradient of 35%. Jim made it all the way but I only managed about half way up, and the last 20 meters. We followed this with a swim in the very rough Pacific. We even managed a Christmas roast!
Boxing day was another day in Dunedin, so we rode out along the peninsula to the albatross colony, where we saw some sea lions, and had a mega headwind on the way back. Without the bags we were flying along. We also managed to cycle over to visit some family friends, had another swim, and scoffed ourselves with homemade pizza for dinner.
After our few glorious Christmas days off, we headed onwards. We had some big climbs out of Dunedin, heading into central Otago, the countryside was just beautiful rolling hill after hill, dotted with rock formations.
Here we started the Central Otago rail trail, one of the most popular cycling routes in New Zealand. We saw tons of cyclists, on all sorts of bikes, on this lovely, easy, cycle trail. We climbed up steadily most of the day before getting a fun, flowy descent through a pretty amazing gorge.
We stayed on the trail till Alexandra, where we left behind the easy, and joined the main road for some more big hills. With the hot and sunny days, we have embraced ice cream stops, and the New Zealand ice cream is fantastic.
In Roxburgh we joined the Cluthra gold trail, another rolling trail along the river. We camped at an amazing free site here, next to a big pond where we enjoyed an afternoon swim.
We continued along the Cluthra gold trail before crossing the river on a tiny old suspension bridge then having to hike-a-bike over a very steep, narrow, walking track. This intense “shortcut” was pretty tough going, and also involved a trek across a field of huge thistles. We rejoined the main road for some more hills and ice cream before rolling into Pukerau where we found a lovely home from home in the converted shearing shed belonging to Sue and Derek, two incredibly kind and interesting cyclists on warm showers.
This week I have also been completing the Rapha Festive 500, 500 km between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. This year, away from the freezing cold weather in Yorkshire, and on tour in the summer sun, was the easiest Festive 500. I will think back fondly next year when I’m slogging away in the rain.
Jim’s words – Shop, Sheer, Sealion, Carriage, Stamp, Pond, and Bridge.