Wednesday, 9 April 2014

ALPS to OCEAN BICYCLE TOUR - Day 2 - Tekapo to Twizel continued, New Zealand

The new Zealand Alps
Continuing on from my last post where we had an off road adventure cycling around part of Lake Pukaki, we received the message that Aoraki (Mt. Cook) was beckoning us to come and pay homage to this beautiful mountain. There is something about magnificent mountains which goes way beyond the spiritual, almost like a siren from the deep. The Maoris who call this 3724m. mountain Aoraki,  (meaning cloud piercer in their language) have always known of the spiritual significance of this mountain. To learn more about the legend, open the following link

On the way to Mt. Cook (Aoraki)
The best seat on the bus was in the front next to the driver and as it was my turn, I had the privileged position to capture the alps as we approached.

Mount Cook National Park covers approximately 700 square kkilometres with the alps running some 450 km north to south with 16 of the mountains exceeding 3,000m.

Those of you who live in or visit regularly Alps in other countries, will probably be thinking , "nice pictures but not much snow and ice", and I agree, but these photographs were taken in early March and that is the very start of Autumn in this part of the world. Imagine, what it is like in the depth of winter. A lot of readers would not know that these alps run in a range some 450 km long and cover most of the south island of New Zealand.

It is said that the mountains are still growing by 5-10 mm per year....awesome!

There are also some 3,000 glaciers larger than 1 hectare (2.2 acres) covering 40% of the entire area of the Mt. Cook National Park. The information on Mt. Cook National Park courtesy of Wikipedia. For more information on the subject please open the following link -

Each day, our lunch breaks were different and comprised of either having a picnic by a lake, overlooking the sea or at a restaurant. Having preordered lunches was a blessing as we didn't have to waste valuable time browsing menus or waiting an eternity for everybody to receive their meal. 

There is nothing quite so rewarding as sitting in front of an open fire after first having satisfied the hunger pains and then consuming a nice hot cup of coffee before hitting the open road again.

These eager pilgrims were climbing a hill to secure the best position to view and photograph the Tasman Glacier. Their efforts would not be in vain.

This is one of the lakes that used to be fed by the melting glacier but now is no more than a mere pond whose emerald green colour is due to the green algae which thrives from the warm rainwater now feeding the lake.

The contrast of colours in this enlarged version of the lake with it's etched pink borders of stone makes for wonderful photographic subject.

In this photograph, you can see the forward face of the glacier at the top of the lake. It is retreating back to the mountains at a fast rate somewhere between 477 and 822 metres each year and has retreated about 180 metres a year on average since the 1990s.

There are large chunks of the glacial ice floating in the lake particularly up closer to the face of the glacier but it is difficult to distinguish these from the tourist boats except that the boats are yellow in colour.

Looking at the above photograph, it is quite easy to see where the glacier has been and retreated from in the near past.

This picture of the three tourist boats in formation on the grey glacial lake makes a nice contrasting photograph. The size of the boats also puts into perspective, how high above the lake I was standing when taking the picture.
Having done the tourist bit it was time to get a little exercise so off came the bikes and we were soon on our way, leaving the Southern Alps and heading towards Twizel. Down hill they said, an easy ride they said, strange sense of humour these Kiwis have. They seem to take great delight in telling you that it's all downhill, well maybe a little undulation but nothing to worry about they chorused, grinning from ear to ear. However, we were a little wiser as we had heard it all before when we had our little jaunt around Hawkes Bay last year. All downhill they said but conveniently forgot to add that first you had to climb up this bloody great mountain and then you could cruise for miles down the other side. What they refer to as mere hills, we refer to as mountains here in Oz.
Actually, the climbing under normal conditions would not have been so bad had it not been for a biting headwind of some 20 -25 km per hour. Personally, I don't mind climbing the hills because you know there is an end to it and you can pace yourself but riding into a headwind that's another matter, it's soul destroying, it's relentless and just when you feel it is easing, it hits you again and again and again, never giving up and so it was for the next 40 km. For every negative, there is a positive and for us it was the spectacular views to be had at the top of each hill and of course, not to be dismissed, the glides down the other side. Pain is a funny thing though, the memory of it tends to diminish with time.........I would do this ride again to-morrow if I had the chance.
Another thing, a good hard ride deserves a good hard thirst and I could feel a nice cold beer coming on and as soon as we got to Twizel, I headed to the local supermarket to buy some beer. A strange thing happened......they wouldn't break open a carton of local beer to sell me a 6 pack but they would sell me a 6 pack of Australian VB.......I don't know how they work that into their local economy but I do know that it tasted really good.

I use Map my Ride for simplicity and elevation information. Become a member (free) and find similar rides within the area and elsewhere.

I really appreciate receiving good, constructive and polite comments.
Cheers and safe riding,
Jimmy Bee


  1. Hi Jimmy

    Loved your blog. I'm Val from Adventure South and I was wondering if you would be happy for me to add links to your blog posts on our website. Love your stunning photos, wow and fantastic commentary.

    Warmest regards

    1. Hi Val,
      Thank you for the comments and I would love you to add links to my blog post. Adventure South is an excellent adventure company made even better with a more than competent staff . Hope to use your services again in the not too distant future.
      Cheers to all and safe adventure........Jimmy Bee