Posts tagged: Hakataramea Pass

Kurow to Christchurch – Wednesday 11 March

Great news this morning. I woke to blue skies, sort of. Rain looked highly likely but it wasn’t raining yet.

I asked at the motel about the road conditions on the Hakataramea Pass road According to the motelier’s husband all rivers on the route were bridged. This contradicted what little I had read on the web, so I tried to confirm that at the garage when I refuelled.

“Mate, don’t worry. The fords won’t be deep. You’ll get through no probs. That’ll be $17.63.”

Great. Conflicting reports. I chose to mentally prepare myself for the garage owners version.

The road was sealed for about 25kms then turned to easy gravel. About halfway (40kms) I came to a gate. On the other side there were five 4WD vehicles and around 20 fully armed army personnel in camo. It was a surreal site – they blended perfectly with the surrounding landscape. Body-less arms waved me through.

The road narrowed, markedly, and a sign warned of steep grades, fords and unpredictable weather conditions.

As I climbed upwards an army truck rattled by, and then later three more 4WD’s with more army waving me on. The temperature dropped further and a light dusting of snow became apparent on the tops of the surrounding hills.

I crossed five or six fords, one of them giving me a bit of a fright and a flashback of my experience the day before.

At the pass (965m) snow was falling, lightly, but enough to leave a dusting on the ground.

Hakataramea Pass

Hakataramea Pass

I was nearly at the other end. The last ten kilometres was almost the worst of the trip. A wide, open and flat road but absolutely no formed tyre tracks – just a two or three inch layer of gravel. It was like riding on marbles.

Hakataramea Pass, Mackenzie Country

Hakataramea Pass, Mackenzie Country

Once off the track it was a 26 km trip to Fairlie. I stopped at a café and warmed my feet near a two bar heater.

My last detour of the day took me on the inland scenic route via Geraldine and the Rakaia Gorge. I wanted to visit Mount Somers. My great grandfather opened the first general store there in 1892 until he sold it in 1923.

The current store was not the original. In fact it wasn’t even in the same location. But I asked the lady that owned it about William Thomas Doak. She phoned a lady who was a volunteer at the local museum. That lady would meet me there in 15 minutes and show me what they had on my long lost relative.

William Thomas Doak, Store-owner, Mt Somers

William Thomas Doak, Mt Somers

When I arrived at the museum her brother turned up as well. He had photographs of my great grandfather – a sepia of him standing outside his store with a small child, and a wedding photograph. I also discovered there was a rail siding (now dis-used) named in his honour – Doak’s Siding.

From Mount Somers it was a quick dash via the Rakaia Gorge to Darfield. A pie and a flat white and the last 30km into Christchurch.

Then it rained, and rained, and rained. I’m hoping it’s rained itself out and that tomorrow will be a clear run through to Picton.

Rain warnings for Nelson

The trip starts at lunchtime today – looks like I’m heading into a severe rain forecast for Nelson Lakes. Bugger.

My route will take me from Picton to St Arnaud in the Nelson Lakes. The Antique and Classic Boat show is held there every year on the first weekend of March. This is their tenth anniversary, and I have photographed the event nearly every year.

St Arnaud to Fox GlacierOn Sunday I’ll leave there and head for Fox Glacier – this is a long ride, but because I have done the West Coast many times I won’t feel the need to be stopping to sight see.

Fox Glacier to Jackson Bay to QueenstownMonday is an early start – trying to get as far south as Jackson Bay (the furthest south you can drive on the West Coast). Google maps suggests a two hour driving time one way Haast to Jackson – so maybe time will be against me as I’m trying to get to Queenstown for Monday night. I’ve never done the Haast highway so I’m looking forward to that. 5 day forecast doesn’t look too hot for that region – more rain.

Queenstown to Lake Tekapo, via Danseys and Hakataramea PassTuesday I’ll leave Queenstown and head for Tekapo. Depending on local intelligence I’ll either do the Lindis Pass (easy) or Dansey’s Pass (easy too but gravel all the way). Danseys Pass will bring me out near Kurow where I can either do the Hakataramea Pass road (this is where I’ll need the help of the locals due to having to cross river fords). If it’s been raining then I might go via Omarama cos the last thing I want to do is tip the bike over in a river, especially since I’m travelling solo.

Tekapo to Christchurch via Mt SomersWednesday travel from Tekapo to Christchurch via an inland Canterbury route. Keen to go via Mount Somers – my great grandfather had the first general store there so it’s my whakapapa.

Thursday will be a leisurely ride up the coast back to Picton for an early evening sailing on the Interislander.

I’ll be updating this blog via my cell phone – unfortunately this means no pictures, but I’ll update the posts when I get back.

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