Wednesday, 26 March 2014

ALPS to OCEAN BICYCLE TOUR - Day 1, Christchurch to Tekapo, New Zealand

Having spent a great night at the YMCA in Christchurch, I have to tell you that I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the accommodation, although basic, it was clean and comfortable and with ensuite. There was a coffee shop and a separate restaurant serving modern Asian which was well above par.  The service was good and you had almost as many amenities as you'd find in a 4* establishment. Very impressed.

It's hard to suppress excitement in a group especially in a restaurant surround. The noise was deafening but the staff coped well considering we failed to notify management that a hungry horde was going to descend on them at such an early hour and expect breakfast.

Our Trek hybrid bikes loaded and ready to go.
Adventure South sent two small buses to collect this unruly mass of humanity and transported us to their home base where we collected our bikes and helmets and received a briefing on what to expect from our two guides, Pip and Fiona.

It was to be a two hour drive to Temuka where we had a coffee break before starting our ride. Well! what a way to start, home made cakes, biscuits, pies and an assortment of other delectable fare, all made on the premises at the 100% Homemade Cafe.

Although the bus trip was 2 hours, it went quickly as our guide/driver explained a number of points of interest on the way and we just took in the scenery and relaxed, after all, we were on vacation. A nice way to start the tour.
Mapping technology supplied by Map my Ride...

This mapping technology supplied by Map my Ride..        

Our first glimpse of the Alps
Easy on the eye
Pip giving directions
The first ride was from Temuka to Gudex Road via the Opihi Winery, a distance of almost 47 km and everybody was fired up and ready to go. Although the gain in elevation was 285m, the rate of elevation never exceeded 3%, a nice steady climb. I was back in New Zealand, one of my favourite places to tour. Overall, it is a set of two small island but there is so much of interest to suit every taste, that it appears vast and here I was once again doing what I love, cycling and photography, as happy as a pig in ......well! you get my drift.
Clifton Cottage Cafe, Opihi

Our riders climbing past the vineyard, Opihi

At a little over the half way point, we stopped for lunch at the Opihi Vineyard and Cafe, another fine choice by our touring company and
you can read all about it by opening the above link. It's the type of joint that you could quite contentedly ensconce yourself in for the afternoon with a good book and a glass of red or two.....well maybe one if you are driving or two if you have an understanding driver.
One of the great things about an organised conducted tour such as this is that everything is done for you including taking away that awkward time reading a menu and making choices. I think that in this day and age, there are too many choices and perhaps that is why I have an aversion to large shopping centres.....everything is similar and it's bloody hard to make a choice.
The Kiwis are renowned in these parts for a fine roast lamb

For a moment, I thought I was in Vietnam, in the rubber plantations......probably my vivid imagination

A very long tube of ensilage wrapped in what appeared to be gladwrap made for long tubes of ensilage.

There are a few cases of wheat beer or loaves of bread in these fields

After lunch we rode for another 21 km. I think the guides thought we had had enough for the first day so we hopped onto the buses and were driven to Tekapo. I'm not lying when I say there is just one opportunity after another to snap that precious moment in time all the way to Tekapo.

Lake Tekapo

Tekapo is such an amazing place as to warrant it's own blog post and therefore, I'm going to do a special post just on Tekapo with it's hot springs and beautiful lake.

Cheers and safe riding

Jimmy Bee

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