Saturday, 15 March 2008
Monday 3rd March 2008
I'd enjoyed my stay in Dunedin, the people there were really friendly and the fact it was a student city gave it a bit of extra oompah. I packed up after an early start and headed north-west, bound for a little town called Naseby, halfway between Dunedin and Queenstown. Enroute I managed to squeeze in a bike ride (only number two for the 575 due to the crappy weather).
This ride was supposed to be a technical singletrack ride through the recently built tracks of Bethunes Gulley.. However, I followed my nose, and despite it only being short and stubby it tends to get me into all sort of trouble. I cracked on up Mount Cargill Walkway (the name should have give it away really). After about an hour of hard slog on well graded but very steep and seemingly endless switchbacks I eventually summited the damned mountain as it brought me out at a large telecommunications tower. The views were pretty good, it always helps with orientation to see a place from way up high. Mount Cargill is around 650 meters above Dundedin, you can see the whole bay from here, it's pretty impressive. I met a couple of Scottish pensioners at the top (as it turns out I could have driven up here!) who informed me that on a good day you could see the snowcapped Southern Alps from here. Not today though e!. The descent down was quality, pretty gnarly at the top with the steps (I jumped off twice to my disgrace, but I would have made a mess of myself if I hadn't and it's too early on my trip for that sort of thing). About 200m from the bottom I found the Bethunes Gulley singletrack and bombed down that, then crossed the river and did some more, it was really slippy after the rain, it made the tracks virtually impenetrable to all but the luckiest riders. Twas my lucky day.
Dunedine to Naseby Packed the bike up and heded to Naseby. The scenery is fairly epic as you climb up onto a 2000ft high plateau. Ahead in the bright early evening sunshine is the snowcapped Dunstan Range, immediately to the right are the huge, pennine-shaped (ie rounded tops and less aggressive slopes). Enroute I passed through a few humourously named places, none more so than Shag Valley. I was keen for a photo opportunity but I guess someone had made off with the sign, no surprises there then. The valley flanks a river by the same name, who thinks of these things? Must have been a bloke. After a drive that Colin McRae would have been proud of I turned off the main road past Ranfurly (an Art Deco town that looked a bit dull) and skidded into Naseby, a town of 100 full time inhabitants. The sign said 'Welcome to Naseby, 2000 feet above worry level'. The Pulsar was shifted out of hyperdrive and I pootled up the High Street to Kila's (pronounced 'Keela') bike shop, based in an old Masonic Lodge building. It was open but closed. Cruised around the town (hamlet we'd call it in England), trying to find the most suitable place to stay. If in doubt, ask a local I thought, the only place open seemed to be the Cafe, and that was just closing. I pumped the lady for info on the local bike tracks, she told me to go and find Kila who was probably either out on his bike or asleep. I found the dude, he looked like he'd been having a post-cementing nap, he gave me a map of the trails and looked genuinely gutted he had to work tomorrow rather than show me his hand build trails. Not to worry, I'll find my way (yeah right!). Of Mice And Men Some deliberation (and perhaps dare I admit it a little bit of 'are you an outdoor man or what?'-type self questioning) I checked in at the Larch View Holiday Park. It was almost as quiet as the rest of the town. I paid $11.50 for my tent pitch and busily erected my one-man tent, after consulting the instructions ofcourse. This is the first time I have ever camped on my own and indeed the first time I've ever put my own tent up, usually Cleggy has done the honours whilst I've been busy either studying maps or setting fire to things. Anyway, the tent was up, the blow up matress inflated and the sleeping bag ready for action. My little tent was the only one on the whole camp site, most people had opted for basic chalet type accommodation - cheating!
Crime Free Zone
Cracked on down the hill on the 575 and ordered a slap up meal and bottle of wine at the Royal Hotel which probably would have paid for 3 cabins! Not to worry. Met a few riders taking on the Otago Rail Trail, a bike track converted from an old steam railway, it's about 150k long and a gradual gradient. If I was 30 years older I'd be having a go at that, but I'm not. Maybe do it in a oner tomorrow! After unlocking my bike (apparently there has never been a bike stolen in the towns entire history - and that doesn't surprise me as there's no one around to steal anything!), I biked up the hill and after being treated to the most glorious star strewn sky you could possibly imagine (I have never even seen half that number if stars in the sky before), launched myself into my sleeping bag. Went to sleep with a sense of self-insignificance and about half a dozen mozzies. Halfway through the night I woke up cold. This coldness continued until dawn when I got up and put a jumper on. My tent and car had frozen up, apparently this was the first frost of the Autumn, lucky me.