Birthday celebrations


Thursday, 21 Jan, 2016


Another glorious day, and another very leisurely start. With such beautiful views there really was no need to rush. The house itself is very well set up, and the beds super comfortable, another reason for taking our time. Except that at some stage we needed to get moving to cycle to Oturehua for lunch.

Simon was very pleased with his birthday accommodation, and the kids agreed it was the best yet, rating it 9.5 out of 10. Apparently it lost points for the climb up the driveway and the shower. The en suite shower was fabulous so I have given them the option to shower there tonight to see if I can boost the rating to a 9.75. There is nothing I can do about the driveway, given that it is the height from the road that enables the magnificent views. From our verandah we can see all the way across the Ida Valley to the Hawkduns and the Remarkables range above Queenstown.

Down the Ida Valley towards the Remarkables

Looking up the gorge

The cycle into Oturehua was much easier without any gear, and we stopped at the Gangers hut to learn more about the area. Once in the village (just a few buildings), we assessed our dining options. There had been two plus a cafe at the historic Hayes Engineering site (which served coffees and cake, so not really ideal for lunch). However, Idas Valley Kitchen had recently closed, leaving the pub. So the decision was easy.

We checked out Gilchrists store and marvelled over some of the old wares, including an ancient calculator. We needed cereal, milk and an onion, all of which were available amongst the very limited stocks, so vowed to return after lunch.

Gilchrists store

We set ourselves up in the Oturehua hotel beer garden, enjoying a Wasp, a local beer, whilst the kids had locally produced fruit juices. Jonno enjoyed a massive big bike burger, Georgia had lasagne and Si and I had lamb pot pies. All good. According to the publican the pub had been on the market for a year, if we were interested in buying it. Made us think what it would be like running a business that largely relied on passing cyclists, as there is not much else in the area. We bought Si a souvenir black t-shirt as his birthday gift, listing the names of all the stops on the cycle trail.

Oturehua hotel

Lunch in the beer garden

After lunch we returned to Gilchrists, bought our supplies, and ice cream cones. Maybe not as good as Patagonia ice cream, but at $3.50 for two scoops, it was half the price.

We took the publicans advice and cycled on a km or so to visit the site of the Golden Progress mine. It was an interesting short walk around the site where an old miners hut had been restored, and the original poppet and some of the boilers still remained.

Golden Progress mine poppet

Back on our bikes, the wind had picked up and we were glad of the slight downhill gradient as we cycled towards home. We stopped briefly at Hayes Engineering, an historical site, where the wire strainer has been invented. Something still used today to tension fencing wires (not, as Georgia thought, the worlds first sieve).

I was under instruction to complete the blog whilst Jonno did his maths homework to ensure that we had plenty of time for cards tonight. The kids are going to teach us Big 2, as a change from 500, and want to make sure we are awake enough to learn the rules.

Birthday Boy and his t-shirt