Our third and final day on Alps2Ocean dawned clear and with much less wind than the previous day. I’d barely slept as the room was hot and also above the noisy bar; but that mattered little as there were plenty of distractions on an easy day’s riding. After a full-English breakfast (or close to) we set off for the flat riding down the Waitaki valley to Duntroon, all on cycle trail – some down by the river, some alongside the road, and parts joining the two.
Dad joined us for the first twenty-two kilometres of the day. He and Adele chatted while I tried to ride slowly taking photos and otherwise distracted.
Until the previous night, I’d not known there was local wine (very good it was too). The trail had been cunningly routed through a vineyard, past the shop.
Dad rejoined Mum in the car just before Duntroon as Adele and I wound our way back to the riverside and then up to the town. From here on in, we were on a more familiar route – Adele and I having ridden from Duntroon down the trail for a couple hours and back some two years before. Not much had changed from what I wrote then.
We made the small climb up to Elephant Rocks, where Mum and Dad met us for a picnic lunch in amongst the limestone looking at the sunny view. Very pleasant it was too. As I had my mountain bike (as an aside, it was much more comfortable to do long days on than I imagined) I amused myself riding over and off various rocks that my ability could cope with.
A destination for boulderers and such people that like to climb things, there weren’t many around that day unfortunately.
The lunch stop was about halfway up the first of the day’s only two climbs worth mentioning. The trail departed the roadside and we had about a hundred metres to climb below pleasant limestone outcrops.
The trail summited that climb, opening up big views south.
Descending quickly to more farm buildings I do remember a significant water bar in the trail that I flew off of. Good fun. We rejoined the quiet backroads to start the only other climb of the day – this one only slightly higher.
Back into farmland we followed the route of the old railway (Tokorahi branch line) before starting the climb.
The clouds were light that day and with the wispy patterns, quite interesting to gaze at as the wheels rolled easily on.
It seemed less onerous than two years before.
Back on gravel roads the ascent carried on until we reached the point where it was pretty much down all the way to the ocean for thirty kilometres. Tunnel Road was the point we’d turned around the previous time – and also the point I got to from the following day having ridden from Oamaru on another out and back ride. We whizzed down the gravel and rejoined the rail route and were upon said tunnel.
It was suitably dark and dripping wet – but we found our way just fine to the light at the other end.
Reaching the road again, Dad had driven back from Oamaru (having dropped Mum off in town) to ride the section through all the diary farms he’d been so heavily involved with. We coasted down to Windsor and through many farms that all of us feel some connection (of varying degrees) to. Pleasingly, since I rode this section two years before, the trail has been routed off the roads and mostly through the farms. At the appropriate place, we got a little explanation of how excess irrigation water is discharged to the Waiareka Creek before winding past the old buildings on Elderslie. I was able to spot particular fields and other areas I’d worked on during early university holidays.
Dad left us at Enfield, Adele and I left to complete the final twelve kilometres into and through Oamaru to the Pacific coast. Following the little A2O signs, the route seemed to go all over the place through the public gardens. Finally we were gazing up at the large Victorian era stone buildings Oamaru is somewhat known for. Enjoying the last metres and the sunshine, the stiffening sea breeze didn’t seem to matter much.
Just like that, 290 km of riding in two and a half days was done. A great, easy trail with tremendous views; great riding buddy too.
Celebratory photos taken and with dolphins viewed in the Pacific, we made haste to the nearby Scotties for beer and pizza.