Te Araroa Trail Lake Tekapo to Ohau and beyond…
I woke early today as I had a big day of cycling between Lake Tekapo and Lake Ohau. The water was back on in Tekapo after being shut off early last night, so I cleared 40 people’s worth of washing-up from in the sinks, stacked it all neatly on the side and washed a bowl, cup and spoon for my breakfast.
Cycling from Tekapo
Today’s adventure began by picking up my bike from Cycle Journeys at 7.15 am. Cycle Journeys took my big pack to drop it off at Lake Ohau lodge, a couple of kilometres off trail at my destination. I carried a tiny backpack. The bike was great – a cross between mountain bike and road bike. The only dodgy part was the seat – small, and very very hard. I thought I’d remembered reading in the blurb about a comfortable seat… hmmm.
Weather-wise there was some light rain, leading into a generally overcast day with hardly any wind. It was was perfect cycling weather.
The track itself was very easy, and very flat, which was lucky given that I had around 80kms to cycle. Wayne from Alps to Ocean Tours had given me some tips on the best route – cutting out Twizel completely and sticking to the canals. Firstly I headed along Tekapo canal to Lake Pukaki, via the salmon farm. Then I continued on to lake Ohau via the Pukaki canal. The road was mostly sealed with only a few stretches at the beginning on gravel, and then again on lake Pukaki and Ohau foreshore tracks.
Rabbits and more rabbits!
Wildlife along the trail consisted of very many rabbits (it must be a Canterbury thing) and sheep which were exactly the same colour as the grass they lived in – a kind of dirty brown as opposed to white. There were plenty of fish in the canals judging by the number of families fishing, and the few I saw leap out of the water from time to time (fish, not families).
The views across to all the nearby mountain ranges in all directions were spectacular even though it was overcast. I couldn’t see the mountain tops, and missed out on seeing Mount Cook NZ’s highest mountain.
Lake Ohau Lodge
I had a few 15 minute breaks and got to Lake Ohau Lodge at 2.30pm to drop off my bike and pick up my pack. I dread to think how long it would have taken to cycle if there had been a headwind. Having the wind behind me was certainly a blessing!
However despite this, I was in a large amount of pain when I reached the lodge. I had terrible pain in my shoulders, back, inner thighs, knees and lady parts, from the extremely hard seat. I’ve got to walk up an over an enormous mountain tomorrow too, I have a feeling I’ll hardly be able to move – yikes!
That said, I would definitely recommend biking this section, as it’s really long. I thought to myself that it’s the Canterbury equivalent of 90 Mile beach – beautiful, but long, large straight sections and flat. It would be the kind of walking where you feel like you’re making no progress.
At the Lake Ohau Lodge I had a rubbish toasted sandwich and hot chocolate, which was double the price of the same meal at the Tekapo hot pools yesterday and nothing like as good. At least I was able to charge my phone there, and it was great to rest.
Onwards to the Freehold Creek Track
At 4.30pm I walked back a few Kms along the A2O cycle trail to Sawyer’s Creek along the Tarnbrae track, then the Freehold Creek track. This beautiful area leading up into to Ohau mounting range is part of the Ruataniwha conservation park.
I read that there was a nice little wild camping opportunity past the last rock fall and just before the tree line 3kms away, uphill on the Freehold Creek track. After battling with myself all the way re. being able to make it (whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right…) I found it at 6.30pm.
I found the perfect spot for my little tent just above the river. I set myself up, ate, stretched, and went to bed. That’s easily the biggest day I’ve done yet!