I decided on a road ride today, revisiting Waiau but not on roads I'd ridden before.
Several of the South Island group rides I've done ended near Waiau after riding the inland road from Kaikoura. It was a great lunch stop before heading back to Christchurch (in the support bus), 2011 photos below, as the rest of the route down SH1 highway is not a fun ride.
Got most of the ride on Strava, but missed the last 15km as tracker went flat.
Took the gravel bike today, although mostly tarmac a couple of the back roads showed a gravel stretches.
Stunning weather, took the back road out of Hanmer Springs as have not ridden, promised to have less traffic (was a Saturday so most would be incoming) and different views.
Turns out the road was closed, but not for bikes, so apart from locals heading to their homes there was no traffic at all!
The closure was due to recent storms scouring out this ford, it was perfectly walkable. Rode the wider part of the stream OK but a deeper section was just too soft for thin gravel bike tyres. Seal Skinz socks meant the foot I had to 'dab' getting wet didn't matter!
Leslie Pass Road (L) and River Road (R), Hanmer Forest
Hanmer Springs International Airport...
Hanmer Springs, the 'Waiau Ferry Bridge' and some amazing views. No filters needed for these pictures!
After re-joining the State Highway 7 (SH7), called Mouse Point Road?, I headed towards the coast. On average it is downhill but there are a few undulations along the way.
The Waiau River has a strange diversion channel through what looks like solid rock. Probably wouldn't have noticed but stopped for a drink and noticed the odd rock pillar in the middle. Riding the highway was fine, most of the minimal traffic was heading the other way, and the rest (including trucks) were all good about passing.
After about 15km on SH7 turned onto back roads, Leslie Hills & Emu Plains, to go through to Waiau. There's an irrigation water intake by the bridge, pity as otherwise would be good for swimming.
The roads are mix of tarmac and gravel with stunning views over farmland and, despite the 'hills' name, all but flat. Again, there was little traffic (just two cars and one truck) which was good as the gravel was dry and dusty.
Just 13km to lunch!
Home Stream Bridge, River Road, on the back road into Waiau.
Waiau Lodge Hotel Tavern
The Waiau Tavern is near the site of the former historic hotel which was destroyed in the Kaikoura Quake (and fire after). Sad to see the bare site but glad the locals still have 'a local'.
Waiau Lodge Hotel: What once was...
Photo from my third visit there back in 2012.
in 2019 I passed by Waiau Pub on my South Island Abarth road trip. Sad to see it still broken by the Kaikoura quake, while its fate was being decided. A later fire ended any hope of structural repair.
The new tavern is now alongside the former site. Lovely weather meant outside dining, courtyard or terrace, wasn't a problem
I'd had breakfast early, about 6am while watching F1 from Saudi Arabia, so ordered Blue Cod, Chips and Salad for lunch. A literal mountain of delicious food arrived which mean no danger of bonking on the ride home!
Had some great chats with the owner and other customers, mix of locals and visitors, before setting off back to Hanmer Springs. The term 'tavern legs' came to mind but the first part of the ride was flat so getting back to riding wasn't too bad.
Waiau River Bridge is long!
Waiau River Bridge is long and single lane. When I got there it was clear so raced across and took the photos below looking back towards Waiau.
The length is due to the meandering braided river. Although a trickle during a dry summer it becomes a raging torrent in winter floods.
"Extensive braided river systems are found in Alaska, Canada, New Zealand's South Island, and the Himalayas, which all contain young, rapidly eroding mountains." (Braided river | Wikipedia).
I remembered why some of the 2014 Himalayan cycle ride views (below), although on the other side of the world, seemed so familiar.
Back to the highway on Rotherham Road with views to the hills and everchanging cloud formations kept me entertained on the flat straight roads. I'd rather ride hills than plains any day.
Heading back to Hanmer Springs (SH7) was again quiet, those heading to Hanmer Springs likely already there.
Tekoa Range & Waiau River, Hanmer Springs is on the far side of the hills in the middle of the photo.
Waiau Ferry Bridge
Because, New Zealand, a high bridge over a river comes with both bungy jump and jet boat river ride operations. It was quiet by the time I got there, about four pm, but one group had just finished their 'leap'. I just took in the views, no desire to fling myself into them.
The last few kilometres up to Hanmer Springs Rd was not busy! Although the day had around 400m climbing it was all so gradual, and fuelled by 'Fush 'n Chups' power, I really didn't notice the climb.
Before heading back to the motel had m y, now traditional, Hanmer Springs post ride gelato. Then cleaned and packed the bikes in car ready for tomorrows drive to Picton.
I forgot to restart the Relive after lunch, so it only shows 56km (Hanmer Springs to Waiau) of the 107km ridden.
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