Zen On Dirt

Leaving Wanaka – into the unknown

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New Years eve. Da-yum. How did that get here so fast? I feel like I should take some time for reflection on the year in this space, but I’m afraid that the bugs are going to drive me crazy before I get the chance. Maybe time for reflection will be when this trip is over in a mere 11 days.

For now, we celebrate finally leaving Wanaka. I think it’s been seven sleeps in this area. I probably could have spent the rest of the trip in Wanaka and the surrounding areas and been perfectly happy, but the New Years revelers were filling town, and it was getting a little crazy. Crazy to the point that the lines in the main grocery store were backed up through the aisles to the back of the store. From what we hear, Wanaka is a pretty sleepy little town most of the year, but during summer holidays (Christmas until a bit after New Years), it goes crazy.


With a forecast calling for rain starting at 9am, we actually set an alarm so that we could get up and get to town before it started to rain. When we woke up, it didn’t look particularly threatening, so we drank coffee and ate breakfast before heading out. We were tired. Our plan of resting up in Wanaka for the last leg of the trip got completely derailed by our Grandview mini-epic yesterday, and there wasn’t much pep in the legs of enthusiasm of the soul going on in the morning.

We had three main goals in town: Wait out the rain, send a box of stuff forward to Christchurch, and buy food for the next leg of our trip towards Omarama.


The rain never materialized, so that was great. The post office was closed on Saturdays, so that wasn’t so great. And the lines at the New World were crazy, so that wasn’t so great either. Luckily, there was a smaller grocery store that had what we needed without the hour wait in line.

I also bought new socks. My old ones had lost all elasticity in the cuffs and had a huge hold that had been repaired. I guess nearly 2 months of constant wear through mud and wet and high UV will kill any piece of clothing. Happy New Years Eve present to me!


We eventually escaped the chaos of town, stopped by the postal service store in Albert Town to see if they could send our box (they couldn’t, at least not with tracking), and rode back to camp to gather our belongings.

Our bikes were so heavy. There was a fair amount of griping and complaining as we loaded up. I though for sure I’d be able to forward my rock collection to Christchurch.


Then it was off down the Clutha River on lovely singletrack aided by a tail wind. We soon forgot about the heavy bikes and enjoying the riding. Then a slow grind up a false flat towards Lindis Pass, and a free DOC campsite by the ruins of an old hotel from the first gold rush in Otago. It ran for 70 years and now is a lovely little freedom camping site.

In the end, with our commute to and from town, we put in 45 miles of pedaling today. Not exactly the rest day we were hoping for, but it puts us in primo position to get to some cool huts tomorrow in the Ahurirri (ah-really) Valley.

Onwards into the new year. I’m excited to see what it’ll bring.


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