Day 4: Hanmer Springs to Christchurch - From Ship Cove to Milford Sound: the length of the South Island the hard way - CycleBlaze

March 9, 2023

Day 4: Hanmer Springs to Christchurch

Bruce was unsure where he would be stopping tonight. Predicted bad weather, old mate Head Wind - yet to make an appearance - the legs . . . these would all have their say when it came time to make that decision. 

As it turned out, he made it all the way to Christchurch, possibly his longest day ever on a bike. Bruce takes up the narrative:

"I left pre-dawn with Mark to do the 37 km down the State Highway to Culverden.  It was slightly downhill, and like the rest of the day, with tail winds. This meant speeds we could only dream of (over 20 km/hr and up to 30) down the Molesworth valley.

Pre-dawn shot of Hanmer's thermal springs complex
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He saw yet more grapevines. "It seems that there is some grape variety you can grow in most corners of NZ. We grow a lot of grapes. There must be a lot of wine drunk."  Good analysis, Bruce. And I've been doing my bit in your absence.

"Coffee in Culverden - my first since Blenheim. I was supposed to head inland but my considerable mathematical ability told me that the hypotenuse is shorter than the other two sides. 13 km versus 26 km. So I cheated and continued straight to Hurunui, where I teamed up with Jude to ride the Pyramid Valley. Her husband was in charge of the motorhome and the dog. (That was our original plan too.)

"Pyramid Valley has undulations. It’s also off the beaten track. The track was gravel road. There were lots of pine plantations and very green farmland. Jude proved too strong for me. I get to a stage in the day, especially with lots of undulations, that I like my micro-breaks. 

The historic Hurunui hotel, serving guests since 1868
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Pyramid Valley, a part of the country well away from arterial routes
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"So I was by myself to Amberley where I found another excellent café. I considered permanently retiring from cycling on way to Rangiora but fortunately met up with Jude again and we both got a new lease on turning the cranks over. Turning for Kaiapoi and gaining a tail wind on a very smooth cycle path helped. I parted company with Jude in Kaiapoi and felt rejuvenated enough to strike out for Christchurch. 

"The new bike path alongside the Expressway made things easy and I  was impressed with the number of road cyclists using it for training. Not so impressed with those on ebikes going too fast - over 32 km/hr (Ed: most ebikes in NZ are speed-limited by the controller to 32 km/hr.)

"Having been through the Molesworth just yesterday, it was amazing to be in Cathedral Square. Looking at it, I still disagree with the move to restore the cathedral. (Ed: The city's landmark Anglican cathedral was all but destroyed in the tragic 2011 Canterbury earthquake. The church has spent the last decade deciding what to do with it and, finally, the rebuild is underway.)

"A lot of the credit for the 180 km must go to Tail Wind. My family sent positive messages which made the old boy feel good." 

The old boy indeed did well.

Christchurch's landmark Anglican cathedral
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Scott AndersonI’m impressed!
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11 months ago
Robyn RichardsThanks, Scott. Will pass this on. Not many of us would be hankering to do this ride, but we can enjoy it from afar!
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11 months ago


Today's ride: 182 km (113 miles)
Total: 508 km (315 miles)

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