Let's be honest, today's ride is all about lunch...
I was back on En-Trance Rob, although quite a lot of tarmac today there is enough gravel trail to keep it happy. Besides, ~90km is a bit far for me on a two-speed, due to still broken gearshift, gravel bike!
Another calm morning ride towards Benmore Dam. The weather was overcast, cool again (10°C), but forecast to improve and warm up.
Love this view even with the hydropower infrastructure in the foreground.
Lake Benmore, calm.
Benmore Dam lookout, today it's downhill on the other side of the dam and along Te Akatarawa Rd towards Aviemore Dam & Kurow. Although a road ride there is almost no traffic, only a few cars and farm vehicles both times I rode it today.
No concerns about frost, and only got to about 60km/h on the hill. En-Trance Rob is a 1 x 12 speed but optimised for climbing trails more than racing downhill. I run out of RPM at about 45km/h on it, the rest of the velocity was down to gravity!
There was a rather 'ripe' dead (roadkill?) wallaby here in 2019. This pile of bones...?
Lake Aviemore view towards Aviemore Dam.
You cross Aviemore Dam to rejoin bike trail alongside the Otematata-Kurow SH83 Highway.
View from the dam towards Lake Waitaki.
First a memory...
In 2019 our Alps to Ocean trip departure was adjusted to ensure we stayed at Waitaki Braids. My first visit but having experienced Kate and the team's wonderful hospitality I understood why. We stayed overnight, a wonderful dinner and breakfast the next morning.
Watching the sun rise on the nearby mountains was memorable. Our weather adjusted riding meant we ended up having the takeaway brown bag lunch they prepared back at the cafe. Bas had rung ahead and arranged it but remember odd looks from other customers when a bunch of cyclists BYO'ed lunch to a wonderful café!
Our stay was late in the season and the brilliant barista, Daniel, was heading off on an OE to work in London. You could sense the affection and how he'd be missed.
There are no photos between Aviemore Dam and Kurow as I was racing uncertainty and the clock. I couldn't remember if Waitaki Braids closed at 14:00 or 15:00; it was about 13:15 when I left Aviemore. I'd checked the night before but forgotten and couldn't get a data connection to confirm while riding so just put my head down and pedalled.
Even so it was still after two when I arrived, glad to see them still open. I was looking forward to lunch after the 45km ride, with another 45km (uphill!) back to Otematata ahead of me.
I was surprised, two years and COVID craziness, later to see Daniel back from his OE. Mentioned the previous stay and it was like time hadn't passed. It's amazing how memories of an evening in a wonderful place with great friends lingers long.
Lunch was well worth the journey, superb Eggs Benedict & salmon, iced coffee, a brownie and hot coffee to finish...
It you are anywhere near Kurow: stop, dine, and (if you can) stay, here!
Leaving Kurow, for now...
It was after three when I set out to Otematata. Kurow was quiet but I had seen quite a few cyclists, including a couple of cycle tour groups, on the trail.
I was riding towards blue sky, with a nice tailwind to help push me along. Time now for photos and to take in the trail sights on the way back.
Looking back down the Waitaki River towards Kurow.
Snapped a cycle tour van, saw several including Adventure South but nobody I recognised.
Despite the distance could clearly hear the whistles, and dog barks, from the Hakataramea Huntaway Dog Trials across the river. The right photo is 10x zoom on the phone.
A cute little stop
I recall a sign but didn't photograph it. While trying to find more about this on the web discovered this land was for sale in May 2022 but couldn't find anything more. One-bedroom, rose garden, and a little vineyard behind seems kind of perfect... but might be a bit cold in winter.
Waitaki Dam turbine house has quite an imposing design, those tall arched windows would look good from inside.
Closed for COVID?
This odd little village, remnant of the power projects, was once tourist accommodation. It was closed, a no vacancy sign, I wonder if just due to COVID or more?
Love this Lake Waitaki viewpoint, stunning views in every direction.
When I zoomed past this earlier a couple of artists were sketching and painting, watercolour by the looks of it.
Heading back towards Aviemore Dam, the weather was lovely, now sunny, and warm.
Back across Aviemore Dam, it's a long ride.
The Alps to Ocean (A2O) trail can be ridden both ways but seems more sensible to go Mountains to Sea!
Lovely evening ride back along Te Akatarawa Rd, even better, a tailwind!
Te Akatarawa Rd, Lake Aviemore evening
Back to Benmore, my last visit here on a bike this trip.
Last ride for this leg finished with a stunning Otematata evening
It was about 6pm by the time I finished riding. Cleaned the bike, more dusty than dirty, and lubed the drivetrain so it would be dry before putting in the car tomorrow. It would be in there about two weeks by the time I return from Auckland for the next leg.
I had a late-night walk down to the golf course; it was clear, and the stars & Milky Way were a great sight. Even a handheld mobile phone photo captured some it.