Wine and cheese tasting

(48 Kms)

Tuesday, 12 Jan, 2016

Queenstown - Gibbstone - Queenstown

Up at 7.30 to allow plenty of time for the Gibbston leg of our travels so we could enjoy wine and cheese tasting. Jonno decided that we would be cycling far enough not to need an early morning run so we were wheels rolling by 9.30. A quick detour to the service station to pump up tyres (including my lovely new ones) and a reccie for the Frankton bus shelter which is our departure point for tomorrow, and we were on our way.

The commuter route was well signposted out of town, which meant that we were soon at the Shotover Bridge. The next stage of the commuter route was much less well signposted which helped to explain our inability to find it on previous travels. At least the start was easy to find, and after a few wrong turns we found ourselves back at the river, having missed the series of switchbacks that had so challenged us on Sunday.

The ride along the river was glorious and the weather, though slightly cloudy when we left had cleared to a beautiful day, no doubt assisted by my quick return to the house to pick up our raincoats when I saw the full extent of the glowering skies prior to departure.

However it was not long before we hit the hills. A slow grind up to the top afforded spectacular views down river, and equally spectacular views of our next hill (more like a mountain). Getting there required us to travel back down to the river then up again and again and again, making our previous experience with switchbacks look tame.

Down the valley with the big climb looming

Shotover River

A group photo at the top and we wound our way down to the intersection of the Arrowtown and Gibbston routes. Heading towards Gibbston we crossed magnificent Edgar Suspension bridge then cycled on to the A. J. Hackett Bungy site, with loud, upbeat, no doubt motivational Bungy jumping music (ie I will jump so I don't need to listen to it any more, music). We watched a few jumps, but weren't keen to spend $195 for 2 minutes of falling and dangling above the river.

Made it, and no one got off their bike

Crossing the Edgar Bridge

Nicky and Malcolm had recommended Chard Farm as a good place to visit so we ground our way 2km, mostly uphill to visit. The views en route were spectacular. We had lunch overlooking the winery, then tasted our way through their collection on Pinot noir before settling on the first one we tried, as well as purchasing a lovely Pinot Gris.

Lunch stop in the distance

Back down to the main road, we headed on to Gibbston Valley wineries to sample their cheeses. We had tried the Nevis yesterday, a cross between a Gouda and a crumbly vintage cheddar. This time we settled for the New Balfour Sheeps cheese, a gold medal winner, and the Mt Scott Harvati. This required us to sample each cheese in the range multiple times to ensure we made the right selection.

We headed down the trail a little further but as it veered away from the river, we decided to have a quick look down a walking track before turning back. No cycling allowed so we all left our bikes, except for Simon who pushed his a little down the track. There was not much to see, so we returned to the start and as we got ready to get back on our bikes, there was a loud Whoosh sound and Simons tyre deflated as we watched.

Kawarau River

Track side assistance

The tube changed showed that it had ruptured completely, so we had an extra incentive to get back to Arrowtown before the bike shop closed. We covered the same ground back to the intersection and then headed into Arrowtown crossing multiple bridges and enjoying glorious mountain views in the late afternoon sun.

Heading into Arrowtown

By the time we reached Arrowtown we had cycled 48km and were ever so glad that I had booked a bike taxi to take us back. He was already waiting, so once Simon returned with extra tubes, brake and gear cables and some lubricant, we were heading home.

Dinner was simple oriental butterflied lamb baked in the oven with veggies, and then the challenge of packing the panniers ready to leave for Lawrence tomorrow and the start of the Clutha Gold rail trail.