More Geological Marvels

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06/03/08
Hello rock-hounds. I have another day full of rocky miracle stories to share with you today I suppose. My trails today took me 87km from Waianakarua to Kurow, along the way passing some mighty impressive rock structures, including the Elephant Rocks, some Maori Rock Art, as well as some very amazingly shaped rock cliffs. Now I’m by no means a geological expert, but I certainly appreciated seeing these things, even though it meant I had to take another ‘scenic’ route, which meant a whole pile more of climbing as well as twists and turns, narrow roads, and even a gravel section due to a slight navigational error on my part (actually turned out to be a distance shortcut, but the speed was much slower). To learn more about my day, read on, and to see just where I saw some of these cool rocks, don’t forget to check out the map I’ve got up for you as well. Who loves ya, babies? Oh, by the way, big congrats out to Alyssa and Greg, as well as Trevor and Julie on their recent arrivals! Best of luck sleeping 🙂

Last nights’ sleep was extremely restful. One of the best I’ve had the whole trip. I think it had to do with the cool night air, cozy sheets, and the right firmness of a mattress. There was only Rainer and I in the dorm room, so we had plenty of peace and quiet. I suppose it helped that I’d pretty much worn myself out throughout the day, right? I set the alarm for 7:50, allowing myself extra sleep in the morning as well. Although I wasn’t exactly sure where I’d end up, I knew that there would be fairly little to do in the evening, so showing up later would be just fine. I also decided that I’d wait for Rainer and we’d start the day together and see how that went. After all, we’ve been shadowing each other for a week or so now. He starts a bit later than I like to, so we weren’t on the road until around 9:45.

By 10am, we were separated! I had stopped to take off a layer, as it was warming up already. He kept going, and that was the last I saw of him for the day. No idea where he ended up. Fair enough. Guess I should’ve just left at my earlier time. Catching up was a no-go, as I was having a few bike issues and had to stop to do some roadside repairs anyway, taking me about 20 minutes. By then, I knew I wouldn’t catch him. Also, there were a number of different back road options for the days ride, and I had no idea which he had taken. I picked the one I thought the hostel owner had suggested, and vanished into the hills.

These truly were back roads. In the first 60km or so of the day, I probably was only passed by about a dozen cars. It was awesome. I even did the unthinkable. I put on my ipod and listened to tunes while rolling along in the pleasant high country farmland. It was only at low volume, and I could still hear everything around me, so I figured I was fine. It made the day quite enjoyable. Rather than just sing to myself, I had a backing band for most of my singing. Sweet! The weather was on my side today as well, the sun was bright and there were very few clouds. However, it still remained cool enough that I kept the arm warmers on. It appears as though the seasons have definitely started changing, as normally, this type of weather would have had me sweating buckets. It was a nice change. Guess I’ll have to start wearing my cycling gloves as well, to keep fingers warm. After all, I’m heading straight back up into the Southern Alps the next couple days, up to Aoraki (Mount Cook).

The first rocky views were of some really magnificent cliffs of worn down limestone or something. I snapped a picture of an interpretive panel which can give you all the details. At any rate, these cliffs were worn so that you could see all the various layers of rock signifying millions of years of evolution. This is the path of the Vanishing Trail, which is a preservation society collecting samples from here and finding things like ancient bones and such. Either way, these cliffs were really neat in some spots. My pictures don’t do justice, and I just plain didn’t even snap some of the best shots as I was just cycling by in awe. They were also the canvas for a couple places where the Maori had done some rock art. The Maori are unique in that they have no written language, so even finding rock art can be quite telling to how the ancient Maori lived. My untrained eye could only see a few squiggles though, so I’m afraid I have no further insight on the ancient Maori ways. Cool nonetheless.

The next big geo-wonder are the Elephant Rocks. I can’t really describe them all that well, but the map will show you a few pictures of them. They were really neat, as they were just out there, in the middle of a farmers field. Unfortunately, they were also in the middle of an entire tour bus of Asian tourists, so I had to wait a bit just to get a moment to myself there. I can’t blame them for stopping there, as this entire area that I cycled truly was a very neat ride, and would make an ideal side route for a tour bus rather than take the busy highways. After sitting for the obligatory contemplation for a little bit, and eating a Moro bar, which turns out is just a Mars bar, I rolled on to the crossroad town of Duntroon, where I had contemplated stopping for the night. However, one look around told me to keep moving on the 25km up the road to Kurow. Duntroon is a one horse town, and he was out in the fields I think.

I did manage to stop long enough for some lunch at the Flying Pig Cafe, recommended to me by the last hostel owner for their pies. Sadly, they had only 1 pie left, and it was Mince, so I skipped it and ordered a la carte instead. Beef and Bacon BBQ Panini with Salad. It was quite yummy, and I finished off with a white chocolate and macadamia cookie, as well as a litre of water. That was just the stop I needed to refuel for the final 25km push. Luckily, the remainder of the trail was pretty much non-hilly, just steadily climbing, which was just fine. I was able to average around 20km/hr on this bit of road, which brought the smile back to my face. Perhaps it was the rehydration kicking in as well, but I felt great and was thankful for the great day on the bike. My faith has been restored in cycle touring again 🙂

Pulling into Kurow, I could see this was a much better stopping place. There were numerous eateries, a couple hotels and motels, as well as a nice holiday park that has backpacker accoms. For 17NZD I have a whole bunkroom to myself so far. I was also told I could take my bike right in the room, so I’ll be ready to roll early in the morning. Also.. they have Internet!! How crazy is that? Almost middle of nowhere, and I find a connection. Thank goodness, I can finally share my last almost week’s stories with you all. As such, I’ll sign off for the night, and start posting. Tomorrow, I think I’ll be staying on a Merino Sheep farm just north of Omarama, but I might just push on to Twizel. All depends on weather, and what I learn from the locals about catching transport up to Mount Cook. The last couple days have been good riding, so here’s hoping the trend continues. Soon I’ll be tramping around the highest mountain in NZ. Wish me luck!

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