Back to bonnie Clyde

After a long night's sleep we woke up to a dry morning with new snow on the mountain tops.
From our Lake Roxburgh Lodge we biked up a steep hill to enter the Clutha Gorge Trail.
First stage would be just 13 kms but the trail surprised us because it was exceeding steep in places and with many and daring switch-backs.
We adjusted speed and vigilance accordingly ...
... and stayed on track.
Lake Roxburgh is a dammed part of Clutha River. The lake is a reservoir for the hydropower plant at the Roxburgh dam.
The Gorge Trail runs along the west side of the lake. The scenery is literally gorgeous and as a biker you have to be "on your toes", because a moment of inattention could easily lead to a long drop over the edge.
The trail ended at Shingle Creek where we had a rendez-vous with a jetboat at 11:30.
The local "taxi driver" Dave gave us and the bikes a 23 kms ride upstream ...
... while he was telling stories, pointing out interesting stuff in the landscape and putting the area and its activities into a historical perspective ...
... like this abandoned homestead dating back from the 1870s and left empty but otherwise intact ...
... and the tiny stone caves used by Chinamen during the gold rush era. 

At Doctor's Point Dave put us ashore again and waved goodbye.
We resumed our travel along the Gorge Trail ...
... which now had even more daring stretches. Not recommended for children or the weak-minded vertigo-prone bicyclist.
Eventually we reached the town of Alexandra and the end of the Gorge Trail. The last 10 kms of our biking holiday were spent on the River Trail leading to Clyde along the Clutha.
We crossed the river at Clyde, biked to our accommodation at Dunstan House in downtown, turned in the bikes and the panniers – and got a couple of well-deserved coffees with some homemade software in a nearby café.
After a warm bath it was time to document the effect of Coriolis' Effect on the water draining out of the bathtub. The rotation or spinning of the Earth gives rise to an effect (first described in 1835 by French scientist Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis) that accelerates draining water in a clockwise direction in the Northern hemisphere and appears to accelerate draining water counterclockwise in the Southern hemisphere. – But if you could look at the draining water in our Clyde bathtub from below, (actually simulating being in the southern hemisphere as opposed to the northern) you would see the draining water spinning in a clockwise direction. 
Et voila! There is no real Coreolis difference between the hemispheres, it just appears to be so.
. . . . . .
Tomorrow we will get on an intercity bus and after 5 hours we will be relocated to the coastal town of Oamaru. – Stay tuned !


Lake Roxburgh Village

This Wednesday turned out to be a thoroughly wet and windy day, just as the forecast predicted.
Nevertheless, after a filling and healthy breakie we donned all our rain gear and faced the trail weather.
The stage today was only a modest 34 kms along the east side of Clutha River so that shouldn't be too bad.
Eva almost at the start of today's stage.
However, after a short while the driving rain had entered our garments here and there and the bike tyres sprayed us from below with yellow trail mud.
We decided to cut out of the agenda a visit to Roxburgh town and headed for our final destination: Lake Roxburgh Village a further 12 kms along and on the west side of the river.
We found the bridge across Clutha River impassable !
However, it was the wrong bridge, – but two specimen of the uncommon dark morph of New Zealand Fantail, sometimes called "Black Fantail", made themselves visible at the bridge spot, – so that saved the day.
Drenched and muddy, we arrived at Lake Roxburgh Lodge around midday.
We borrowed a garden hose and hosed each other clean and then the bikes. That done, we got our room and began the lengthy and damp process of drying up while it continued to pour down outside.
. . .
Tomorrow will be our last biking day on the Otago trails, – and it should be a dry one.

Miller's Flat

Eva was busy in the kitchen from early morning making us some French toasts.
We then began our travel on the 85 km long Clutha Gold Trail from Lawrence towards Roxburgh.
Shortly after Lawrence we passed the Chinamen's cottages from the gold rush era 150 years ago. This was the only restored building.
The Pukeko or Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio melanotus).
This proudly looking large bird marched in front of us on the trail – until it took to its small and rather ineffective wings.
This old homestead was probably what a real estate dealer would call a good offer to any do-it-yourself carpenter looking for a quiet place in the countryside.
As usual we spotted quite a few Kaahu / Swamp Harrier (Circus approximans) circling the landscape but this one came close enough to allow a photo of respectable quality.
This mellow mare is for our granddaughter Abelone to enjoy.
Achieving the summit of the Gold Trail was 'celebrated' with a 440 m long, dark and wet tunnel ...
... and once we were on the other side of the tunnel it was all downhill – and more sheep farms.
The name alone of this village along the trail made us decide to stop for some coffee. However, we were thoroughly disappointed about the amenities and we quickly deserted this misnomer.
The trail now followed the Clutha River and we enjoyed the gurgling water sounds accompanying our pedaling.
A strange and ominous-looking cloudscape was brewing above our heads ...
... but the weather stayed dry.
Around noon the sun came out and we picnicked alongside a tiny, derelict shelter with a bench appropriately placed.
This was our view while lunching. God only knows how many years have passed since this vehicle was last auto-mobile.
Warm and sunny weather prevailed during the remaining 1-2 hours before we reached our overnight destination "The Quince" just outside the township of Miller's Flat.
We were heartily welcomed and served some afternoon tea and homemade cake.
Fruits of Quince / Kvæde (Cydonia oblonga).
The B&B owners were ardent gardeners and had a big and very productive vegetable section as well as several old quince trees with lots of (yet unripe) fruits.
This rose in the garden had the looks very similar to a quince flower.
. . .
In the evening we were treated to a deluxe gourmet dinner and by 9 p.m. we called it a day.



It rained all night and when morning came, the weather had turned cold and windy.
However, we left our B&B in Middlemarch with spirits high.
We had to cover only 33 kms during the morning hours, ...
... but the terrain was a vast highland with hardly any trees, ...
... lots of strong headwind and occasional showers.
For once, our route was on a public asphalt road so we saw mostly dead wildlife like this hedgehog (an imported European species now considered a pest) ...
... as well as this possum (an imported Australian species since long declared a pest and a vermin in NZ widely trapped/poisoned/shot or road-killed. "A good possum is a dead possum" is a common mantra among Kiwis.
The big challenges on today's stage were, however, the ups and the downs of the road (especially the ups).
The last hill before our midway meeting point was particularly cruel with a 10-12% upward slope for almost 2 km.
The former owners: Mr. and Mrs. Clarke.
We reached "Clarke's Junction" where we were supposed to wait for our transfer car to take us and the bikes the last "bit" to Lawrence. We were told that there was a restaurant-hotel at the junction where we could wait and have lunch. However, the place was closed and the new owners were renovating everything inside. – Eventually, our driver arrived, picked us up and drove us on super-hilly, washboard gravel roads the remaining 50 kms to the small village of Lawrence. We were indeed thankful to not have to bike that stretch !!
Our driver used to be a shearer and he took us to a sheep farm along our route where a shearer team was busy shearing 3000 sheep. 
Each shearer get 2 NZ$ per sheep and will shear around 300 sheep during an 8-hours workday.
Each meat-sheep like these young ewes will provide c. 1 kg of wool that sells for around 2 NZ$ ...
... so for the sheep farmer the shearing costs are balanced with the income generated by selling the wool. (Merino sheep wool will sell for 12-14 NZ$ per kg)
Waiting more-or-less patiently to be sheared.
We are presently in a B&B in a small township called Lawrence where we enjoy a day off; just strolling around the six streets and saying "Helloi" to the friendly Kiwis. – Good on us, mate!
Lawrence now has a few hundred inhabitants but in its gold rush heydays it boasted 12,000 (incl. only 150 womenfolk)!
A core family of early town people in Lawrence in the 1870s.
Gabriel's Gully 5km from Lawrence. This was where gold was first discovered in New Zealand back in 1858. The valley bottom sediments are being dug up, turned over, sifted and sluiced in order to locate every nugget and flake of gold. The white spots on the valley sides are the gold diggers' tents.
We struck gold in a backyard in town. Frank ought to restore this beauty of a vintage version of today's RV monsters – and then explore the Otago country roads.
However, we settled for exploration by bicycles just as the gentlemen did back in the days before automobiles.
. . .
Tomorrow, we will mount our bicycles again and head north on the Clutha Gold Trail.