Clinging to the Cliffsides

(71 KMs)

Saturday 11th March

Omarama - Kurow

The Oasis cafe proved to be a disappointing source of ready made options for lunch so we continued down the road to the Wrinkly Ram which offered an impressive array of rolls except that they were laden with red onion.  I gratefully accepted their offer of making me a roll without red onion.  We also stocked up on some sweet treats for morning and afternoon tea.

We were on the road by about 9am and it was another beautiful day.  The first part of the trail took us down the Waitiki Valley and to the top of the Chain of Hills around Lake Benmore which was very peaceful in the morning sun.  

After leaving the Sailors Cutting campsite area, the trail started to wind uphill and became quite narrow in parts as it clung to the edge of cliff sides with only occasional barriers at the highest points.  The track was very undulating and quite rough in parts. 

There were a lot of cyclists on the track, and most were on Ebikes.  I confess to being a little envious of their motors as I struggled up some of the hills.  But the views were magnificent. We stopped for morning tea at a particularly scenic table with views up and down the lake and chatted to a couple of women from Seattle who we had met on Day 1.  One had since reverted to an Ebike after an exhausting first day.

Eventually we reached Benmore Dam and found a bench overlooking the dam infrastructure for lunch.  It wasn't particularly scenic, so we agreed to find a second lunch stop for our tea and fruit.  We joined the Te Akatarawa Road which wound around the shores of Lake Aviemore. We passed a few camping sites before finding a lovely spot by the lake for our second lunch.

We made quick time along the road and were soon crossing the Aviemore Dam.  We then picked up the gravel trail again, passing an empty looking motel and houses - a real ghost town. The track was reasonable quality as we passed lake Waitaki and the Waitaki Dam before reaching Kurow. 

The Wild Sage cafe offered a most delicious looking lasagne, so we bought some for dinner together with some salad and picked up some beers and snacks from the 4 Square.  

Our accommodation at Settlers View was another 1.5km and we were glad not to have to head back into town for dinner, particularly given the glorious views across the valley.  A perfect spot for cheese and crackers and another excellent Pinot Noir.