Twizel to Omarama
We left the campground at Twizel on a quiet back road. After a few miles it crossed the highway and led us to a canal road similar to the one we took from Lake Tekapo. Once again the road alternated from sealed to gravel. After we reached Lake Oahu and crossed a dam our path became a nice gravel track along the lake, and after the Oahu weir the trail turned into well groomed single track for 7km along the lake. This was a great ride.
From the lake we once again had views of the mountains. After the trail we were back on a sealed road and starting to fight a strong wind. This went on for 6 or 7km as we wound around the southwest side of the lake. I became very dispirited fighting the wind, especially because I knew the direction we wanted to go was behind us but the route had been built to funnel people to the Lake Oahu lodge. I wanted nothing to do with the lodge, but Jelle wanted to have lunch, so I went on alone, knowing he would catch up to me at the top of the 10km climb we had ahead of us.
Back on the trail the surface was good, the grade was gentle, and the wind was at my back. The trail climbed the side of a big ridge, never going over it. It was built as a mountain bike trail, and for that it was a very good one. For a loaded touring cyclist it was very enjoyable for about 7km at which point it started getting really rocky. I could handle the grade, or I could handle the rocks, but not both at the same time, so I started getting of and walking when it got too bad. Soon I started getting passed by mountain bikers. I caught up with more of them at the top. They were part of a big group of friends that were riding the whole A2O fully supported by a tour shuttle. I reached the top at 900 meters and stopped to rest and wait for Jelle.
As expected Jelle caught up to me at the top and we started back down. It was still very rocky so it was a difficult descent until it finally smoothed out. It was a long way down and kept winding around, and then when you though it would join a road it cut back up a little valley, once agin into the wind. I was thoroughly beat by then. The trail finally came to an end at an old sheep shearers shack where the tour bus was waiting for the mountain biking group. It was just for support as they were all riding on into Omarama. We could have camped there, there was an outhouse and a stream for water, but we were assured Omarama was an easy 23km downhill with the wind at our backs.
So off we went on a nice gravel road. At first it wasn't all downhill, but soon the few little hills ended and then it was. The problem was deep loose gravel. There was a well worn track in most places but sometimes it funneled you into the gravel. Sure enough I got caught on the edge of the road and plowed into a deep pile which brought me down. Fortunately there was a bit of a bank and I just got a few scratches. I jumped up and continued riding, but at a slower more cautious pace. It was a long 23km and I fell pretty far behind. By the time I caught up with Jelle in town he had already polished off a beer, so I didn't waste any time getting one myself. That was followed with some fish & chips before heading out to the holiday park for the night.
Also met a Scottish cyclist name Christine. I can hardly understand a word she says but I love the sound of it. She is traveling self supported but caught a ride with the tour bus as she had a very difficult time riding the trail with her narrower tires. We caught back up with her at the campground.