Thursday, April 17, 2014

Day 44: Lake Tekapo to Omarama

April 17th 2014
Distance cycled: 70 km
Total distance to date: 2702 km

Much to my amazement, I actually woke at 7 this morning. I beat the rush of other backpackers to the kitchen and made myself some oatmeal and a few crumpets (with butter from a single-serve packet I picked up at the bakery in Fairlie. What a luxury!). Many of the other backpackers were part of a bus tour called the Kiwi Experience, meaning they had to be out the door by 9:30. It was a flurry of activity as everyone rushed to eat their breakfast, strip their beds, and get on the bus. I calmly packed up my bike and headed in the opposite direction towards Lake Pukaki and Twizel. 

On my way out the door, I bid farewell to Lake Tekapo. It was too cold to linger for very long. 

Mt. Cook is supposed to be visible from Lake Pukaki. And the road that runs along the canal is supposed to be fabulous for cycling. However, the canal road was closed and the weather was crap. So just imagine a giant mountain in this picture where all those clouds are:

I have to say, Lake Pukaki was pretty awesome even with the cloud cover. Look at the color of that lake!!

There was an info center at the lake, at which I spent half an hour warming up and eating my lunch. I thought about buying one of the two products on offer - coffee or alpine farmed salmon - but decided against both. I decided I would stop for coffee in Twizel. I set off on a portion of the Alps2Ocean trail that took me through the Pukaki Flats on a very rocky bike trail. 

Ten kilometers later, I was in Twizel. It was 2pm. Among the many bakeries and caf├ęs I found one with free wifi. Excellent. I resurfaced around 4pm after checking email, Facebook, sending Warm Showers requests and researching my route and places to stay

Shortly before going to the cafe I had met another touring cyclist, Peter from Bautzen, Germany. He said he was staying at a backpackers south of Twizel on the way to Omarama. My plan had been to find a place in Twizel for the night but after last night's crowded hostel, I thought staying somewhere more rural might be more to my liking. I decided to call and see if they had dorm space for one more. They did.

At around 4:30, after picking up ingredients for dinner at the local shop, I headed out again in the light rain. The highway was pretty flat and I only had 20km to go. The shoulder was there but quite narrow. Still, it was an enjoyable bit of road riding, and when a guy in a van slowed down and offered me a lift, I politely declined. I was having too much fun!

After about an hour of uninterrupted riding, I showed up at this farmhouse that looked nothing like a backpackers. But it is. It is amazing. It looks like a family house, complete with nice china and family photos about the place, but is totally designed to accommodate guests. There's all sorts of people staying here. A Belgian family with two sons, aged 3 and 6. A German expat from Hechingen with his 11-year old son. A Kiwi guy originally from the area down to visit family. A Canadian hippie couple living in Christchurch. And of course Peter is here. It's been quite a nice evening talking to everyone and enjoying their company.

We're about 10km outside of Omarama. Tomorrow I'll ride into town and decide how I go from there. My book describes a really adventeruous route that will get me through to the Otago Central Rail Trail. I think I'll go east first and then come down near the coast, but if I get a wild hair, I might decide to take the adventeruous route.  


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