Day 3: Camden Cookshop to Hanmer Springs - From Ship Cove to Milford Sound: the length of the South Island the hard way - CycleBlaze

March 8, 2023

Day 3: Camden Cookshop to Hanmer Springs

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that a pic from yesterday's ride has mysteriously disappeared from there, only to turn up on this page. I should point out that this is not Bruce's fault; rather, it's the ghost-writer's ignorance of where the lumps and bumps actually are in that vast Marlborough hinterland known colloquially as 'the Molesworth'.

It was a 6am start this morning for most riders, in preparation for a huge day in the saddle. Bruce noted his appreciation for the interesting back-country scenery as dark turned into dawn. Almost immediately, however, he faced a grinding climb towards the Upcot saddle, one that will forevermore be immortalised in the annals of Bruce's Brutal Climbs. "You are riding along and the road ramps up in front of you. Straight and up. After the first corner,  it gets even steeper. And when you go over the top there is a downhill and then a repeat of prolonged uphill. " We get the picture. And speaking of which, here's the picture in its proper place:

Oh, there you are, Upcot Saddle!
Heart 6 Comment 0

Carrying on in Bruce's voice:

"After more undulations, you arrive at Molesworth Station where a depleted water supply is topped up. Then it’s back to climbing up Wards Pass. I had to pull over for a truck carrying four horses on an open deck. It was fenced but the horses were just like dogs on the back of a ute. I met three workers at the top who took my photo and suggested we were all mad."


Second climb of the morning...Wards Pass
Heart 5 Comment 0

Molesworth Station is New Zealand's largest farm and has been in Crown hands since the 1940s when harsh conditions forced the previous run-holders to walk away. It's now managed by the Department of Conservation. The through road, a key part of the S2S route, is open only during the summer - and can be closed at any time if the fire hazard is too high. Fortunately, we've had enough rain to alleviate this risk.

It's an unsealed road, according to the DOC website, suitable for 2 wheel drive vehicles. 

Bruce's take: "A steep descent then theoretically the rest of the run down the sparse valley was slightly downhill. It was hard to tell. Most of the gravel road had good lines for cycles to follow, but the parts with unavoidable corrugations were slightly annoying."

The Molesworth cob cottage, built in 1885 as accommodation for station workers and later as a store shed. It has now been restored and managed by DOC.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Eventually, Bruce reached Acheron Station, crossing over the Clarence river that marks the border between Marlborough and Canterbury, straight onto the final hurdle for the day - working his way up Jollies Pass. "The road was rough. It appears that they have written that route off and money was not going to be wasted on maintaining it. . .A long descent, some of it quite technical, into Hanmer Springs.

"Finally I was on tarseal and off to my cabin accommodation with a hot shower." Drawing a veil at this point, I can report that the tired, hungry but squeaky-clean adventurer took himself into the town centre for a well-deserved meal of fish and chips, and a beer. 

 A final reflection on his first time riding through the Molesworth: "It's a very special part of the world - and more appreciated on a bike."


Heart 1 Comment 1
Dawn HunterDaunting distance!
Reply to this comment
11 months ago

Today's ride: 130 km (81 miles)
Total: 326 km (202 miles)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 8
Comment on this entry Comment 2
Rachael AndersonWow! You are amazing.
Reply to this comment
11 months ago
Rich FrasierThat is a BIG day on the bike!! Impressive!
Reply to this comment
11 months ago