It is Easter and we have decided to set up for Otago to cycle the Clutha Gold Trail – one of New Zealand’s Great Rides. This is one of 22 Great Rides in NZ – download the App – Search for Great Rides.
First Night Lawrence – It’s Easter – Let’s Stay in a Church!
It has been moved 20 kms on to its present site as part of the Marama Lodge complex.
We booked it on Airbnb for our stay in Lawrence at the start of our first day cycling on the Clutha Gold Trail.
I idly move the open pages to the first Good Friday story. That and the chocolate Easter eggs we have brought are our nods to Easter celebrations this year.
My bag is set out under the pulpit, and I like the juxtaposition – spirituality is a journey for me.
Exploring the unknowns of the inner and outer worlds that we inhabit and which inhabit us. Opening to new experiences and challenges along the way.
Tomorrow it is 22 kms from the outskirts of Lawrence to Beaumont – Grade 2 easy it says, taking 2-3 hours – hopefully there might be coffee there, but we have packed some lunch in cases. Then another 20kms to Millers Flat, same grade and 2 hours. We will time it as we are on electric bikes.
Lawrence to Millers Flat
Showers were predicted today, and so it was – it was raining when we got up, and by the time we left it was still looking like that might be the order of the day.
Our lovely host Marie offered to recruit one of her children and drive our car to Millers Flat. With the weather looking the way it was, we suggested the half way point of Beaumont might be a better option.
So off we went, cycling through Lawrence – thinking to ourselves we should have allowed more time to explore the village, and making a mental note to say longer next time.
The route takes us past the old historic Lawrence China town from gold rush days. The route has some great info boards along the way, all worth stopping and reading about the story of the settlements we were passing through.
The best part was the long tunnel – a little nerve racking as we could see very little but the pinprick of light at the end. But it was all a very easy riding surface, and as long as you kept to the centre of the tunnel, it was good riding. Glad I had a good light on my bike!
The Beaumont Hotel is a a little past the trail, but a good spot to stop and rest. They offer coffee and hot meals as well as accommodation and clearly the bike trail has been good for business.
I drive the car on to Millers Flat, then ride back towards Beaumont until I meet Cynthia. Beaumont to Millers Flat is a alongside the mighty Clutha river, though it is often hidden from view. There are a few tight turns and steep bits, but it is an interesting ride, and every now and again you get a beautiful view of the river and it’s rapids.
Millers Flat is home to the Faigan’s Cafe everyone raves about on the trail, but unfortunately tomorrow is Easter Sunday, so it is closed :). Dinner is courtesy of the Millers Flat Hotel which is crowded – I have a very satisfying feed of ribs and chips – just the thing after a day in the saddle.
We are staying at at B&B Ashworth Gardens right opposite the cafe in the centre of the village. Alan and Isabel have created a lovely garden oasis and the sound of bellbirds echo through the garden.
Trevor and Mary from Sumner were also staying – they have done 16 of The Great Rides – we have only done 6 so far and are keen to do more.
Electric bikes on this section – all good, though sometime we had to dismount on very steep and sharp corners. Generally I think the electric bikes shaved 15 minutes every two hours off the trip.
Millers Flat to Roxburgh Dam
Gorgeous ride beside the Clutha River today – sometimes beside it, then climbing to the next terrace and overlooking it.
Cynthia had a flat tyre so was on driving duty. She stopped at Pinto’s pond and walked down the track to meet me, before heading off to Roxburgh.
It is Easter Sunday, so the chance of finding someone to help fix the tyre is slim – but joy oh joy we discover Alistair the local chemist in Roxburgh who is open, and hires bikes and yes, despite having his arm in a sling from a biking accident, he would help us fix the tyre. Back wheel of course, electrics in back wheel of course, gears on back wheel…. Cynthia provided an extra pair of hands when needed.
Then down the road to a fabulous little cafe The Store that is bursting at the seams. We take back a coffee and snack for Alastair as a thank you, he did not charge us nearly enough 🙂
Another 10kms along the river and we are at the Roxburgh Dam. We are met by friends from Alexandra, who leave a car there, so that we can do the Roxburgh Gorge trip tomorrow.
The only sound being when it hits some shallow water and forms rapids. It is a huge but largely silent presence which has left it’s mark on the landscape – lush river terraces growing the fruit for which this region is famous.
The Roxburgh Gorge Trail is stunning!
REMEMBER – you have to book the trip ahead. $95pp and worth every penny 🙂
There are 8 of us – half with electric bikes. Lawrence is amazing – oozes with stories of the gold mining days, and stops regularly to point out some feature – an old general store, miners shelters in the rocks, and a miners cottage built by the Herons.
Mrs Heron being the only woman who worked the gold in the area.
I hope they never finish the trail, because the boat trip is very special and memorable part of the journey for us.
The next 10 or so kms to the Roxburgh dam is an up and down and zig zag challenge – I am glad I am on an electric bike.
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