After leaving our good buddy, Emmitt, we headed up to Oamaru for a night before heading to Lake Ohau. We stopped by our favorite brewery, Craftworks, to have a beer and some of the super yummy cheese. The bar tender remembered us and how much we liked the cheese and helped up choose again. It was scrumptious. Afterward we headed to Cucina for dinner as it was the only decent restaurant in Oamaru open on Tuesdays. I would say it was just ok. A bit of a let down after the cheese. We both concluded that we did indeed really like Oamaru. It was such a cool funky little town.
The next day we drove the 3.5 hrs to Lake Ohau. The property management company was annoying as usual and was acting like we couldn’t check in early even though nobody was there. Whatever. We opted to go get a few supplies in Twizel to kill some time. I am still not sure if it is pronounced “Twhy – zel” or “Twiz – ul,” but it’s a functional little town that services a lot of tourist destinations and is along the Alps-2-Ocean bike route. It’s got a few hotels, a restaurant, a few outdoorsy stores and two 4 Squares….does that make it an 8 Square?
We got to the house before our allotted time and of course it was empty and clean. It was mostly unlocked too. Such a diligent management company. Doh. The place was a nice 3-2 and had some wonderful views. The weather was good, so we decided to head out for a wee stroll along part of the Alps-2-Ocean trail that ran along the side of Lake Ohau. The views were pretty amazing and it was nice to stretch the legs.
The next morning I headed out for a bit of a ride on the Alps-2-Ocean trail before our Zoom call with some friends in the States. It was a nice section and was “the big hard climb” on the trail. Compared to some of the sufferfests that I have been doing in Otago, this was easy peasy. The views were awesome. I turned around before the summit as I was running out of time and the back tire which I had been too lazy to fix was getting very gooey. I really want to come back and do the whole Alps-2-Ocean as a dedicated adventure. Really great riding.
Hopkins Valley Hike: After our Zoom call, we headed up the road toward the mountains to a trail the went up the Hopkins valley. It was really a 4×4 road….although not one for Otis. The weather was a bit blustery with a chance of being soaked to a squishy. We decided to just walk until the weather looked too iffy or we got tired. The glacial valley and braided river bed were classic. You could just visualize the glaciers moving through the valley scouring away the sides of the mountains.
You hike this valley back about 30 miles and get into the high mountains where Mt. Aoraki is located. There are a bunch of huts along the way and numerous valleys you could do hikes into. I guess a lot of people ride their mountain bikes up the road and stay at the huts; that seemed like fun!
The hike itself wasn’t overly interesting, but the views were worth it. The wind was howling down the valley and you could see the rain building. We carried on for an hour or so and then decided to turn around and head back to the car before we got soaked. All in all, it was a pleasant hike and fit the bill for what we were looking for.
Greta Hike: We had heard from the Facebook group “Tramping in New Zealand” that the Greta track was one of the best in the Lake Ohau area. We picked a day when we knew the weather would be good and targeted the hike for that day. It’s a pretty big hike (10 miles and 3000′ of climbing) so we wanted to get started early since it was supposed to be pretty hot.
Sadly, we didn’t get going as fast as we wanted to and then had to stop off in Twizel to get rid of the rubbish since there were annoying signs around the Airbnb that we were supposed to deal with our own rubbish. This made Susanne very irritated and I would have to say it rubbed me the wrong way too.
After the rubbish drop-off and the hour drive to the trailhead, we got on the trail at about 9 am. There was one other group there getting started about the same time. It was already feeling pretty hot. Bummer.
The trail started climbing pretty quickly and was tucked into a tight little valley which made it even hotter.
The first part of the trail was a bit annoying as the grass was quite tall and the views weren’t anything to write home about. We were both sweating buckets, too. As we climbed though, the views started to get quite good. I was a bit worried about Susanne in the heat, especially since we still had a lot of climbing to go. She kept moving along, though, so I figured we would go as far as we could go.
We finally broke out of the grass and the valley and picked up at least a little bit of breeze. Both us let out a big sigh of relief when ever it would blow. It was way hotter than what they had forcasted and there was no shade along the trail at all. You could look up and see where we were needed to get to and it was still quite a ways to go.
At about 2400′ of climbing and with about 300′ of steep climbing left, Susanne decided to pull the plug. It was just too hot and there was no need to suffer. I always appreciate that she is very smart about that. Heat exhaustion can come on quickly and you can go from “fine” to “in trouble” in no time. I decided to continue on and do the climb to the top of Ben Ohau.
I boogied up to the top of the peak and took in the view. I decided that I would try to shoot a video with my good camera. I clicked it into video mode, hit the button and I heard a weird sound. It then informed me that I had “Error 20.” Hmmm. I tried in regular mode. No go. “Error 20.” Bummer. After a quick bite to eat, I warned my poor, old, beat-up knees that they were about to endure 3000′ of steep downhill. They protested, but I ignored them and headed down. They were not amused.
Part way down I came upon a couple with a cute border collie. I asked them if they had seen Susanne and they said that she had told them to tell me she was good. Whew. I always get nervous splitting up the party. As I was coming down it got unbelievably hot. In the grassy valley it was well over 100. Ugh. We did not sign up for this!
I finally made it down to where Susanne was relaxing in the shade of a big tree. We both lamented that we should have started earlier. We got to Otis, blasted the AC and headed to Twizel for a quick stop at the store. The temperature gauge registered 35 degrees C. WTF.
The next day the weather had completely changed and it was rainy and cold. I feigned disappointment that I couldn’t get out for a bike ride, but my knees were pretty sore from the long descent down so they were happy. It was also Waitangi day which marks the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. In that year, representatives of the British Crown and over 500 Māori chiefs signed what is often considered to be New Zealand’s founding document.
A down day seemed good to both of us. I researched, as one dude put it, “The dreaded error 20.” A small rod which controls the mirror had broken. I watched one video that showed “how to easily replace your control rod.” It went on for 40 minutes and involved completely disassembling the camera and a million tiny screws. Negatory. Nothing easy about that. Bottom line, good camera is out of commission until I can get it fixed in Nelson. Bummer. I guess it can happen from “heavy use, especially videos and long exposures.” I guess those thousands of aurora pictures took their toll.
For all intents and purposes, that was the end of the real fun in Lake Ohau. After the rain cleared, the wind blew and blew and blew and blew. We tried to get out, but hiking in 40 knot winds just wasn’t much fun.
Outside of the annoying “take your rubbish with you” signs, the house was nice and we just enjoyed hanging out watching the world go by. It is a gorgeous spot, but it would be tough to live there full time. Next up on fun parade is our hut-to-hut hike in Four Peaks.
In the end we left the last bits of our rubbish, as the town dump in Twizel did not open until noon and we would be long gone by then. Sorry. Very non-Kiwi of us.
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