Duntroon, NZ to Kurow, NZ

16.8 mi / 9.2 mph / 308 ft. climbing
Home: Kurow Holiday Park

The Alps2Ocean is such a destination route that it publishes a fancy brochure with detailed maps, breaking it down into 7 riding days (I usually avoid carrying paper, but when I saw the brochures available at a gift shop in Oamaru, I figured it might be useful). Our first two days are matching the recommended last two days (since we’re doing the route “backwards”), but it’s quite an imbalance. RideWithGPS predicted that yesterday’s 35 miles would take 3h35m of pedaling time, while today’s 18 miles would take just 1h38m (and it’s not just because we’re doing it uphill; RWGPS’s predictions for the “downhill” direction are 3h22m and 1h33, respectively). I guess that’s just how the towns to stop in are spaced, but for us it was actually ideal to have an unusually-short day after yesterday’s long tough ride.

The off-road trail restarted immediately from the campground, so we ended up seeing precisely nothing of the town of Duntroon. The trail started smooth and fairly flat, much easier riding than most of yesterday, making the path it wove half-a-mile away from (but parallel to) the highway not feel too stupid.

By day 2 of “Ocean2Alps”, we aren’t quite in “the Alps”, but big mountains are already beginning to surround us.
More cutting-across-someones-farm riding, though not nearly as remote-feeling as yesterday.
Easy riding on the Alps2Ocean trail.

Eventually we got routed back to a roadside trail, which then made us feel a bit more stupid, torn between the slow speed gravel and the smoother road right there. We stuck with the gravel, and eventually waved goodbye to the road again. But this offshoot wasn’t nearly as nice as the previous one, and we soon found ourselves riding (no, walking) through multiple channels of a dry riverbed, across large, ungraded river rocks. Then even after the trail smoothed out again, there were still odd sections of suddenly-deep loose gravel that we would need to get off and walk through. So when the trail returned to the highway for a second time, we switched to pavement, and skipped the third-and-final offshoot on the entrance to Kurow.

Riding right next to a much-smoother road. If it was the US and we didn’t need to cross over to the left side of the road, we might have gotten off the trail.
This mountain was extremely blue for a mountain.
Rett cutting back off the highway to treachery.
At least before we hit the riverbed we got this cool forest section to ride through.
Blue mountain and blue flowers.
This wasn’t nearly as bad as the river-bed section, but still an idea of how the trail can change to smooth to rocks in no time.

There is a winery just short of Kurow that is an official sponsor of the Alps2Ocean trail, so the trail loops a bit out-of-its-way through their property. This was perfect, since the short ride meant we would need to kill some time before being able to check into our room anyway. Except, today was the one day all year that it was closed for some reason!

Rett riding through the trees hedging the vineyards.
St. Alban’s Chapel and Vicarage, just outside of Kurow.

When we rolled into town, the first lunch possibility had a lot of bikes in front of it, generally an argument in its favor. But then, so did the next place. And the next one! Clearly a lot of Alps2Oceaners were stopping here. We ended up parking the bikes and checking out all four possibilities on foot, settling on Waitaki Braids, a relatively-upscale cafe that zig-zagged a drizzle on the plates of our toasties. The table behind us was a group whose dress suggested that they were on a lunch break from their high-rise downtown office jobs. Except Kurow has no high rises, and likely no offices. The fact that it was Saturday only deepened the mystery of why we saw more collared shirts at one table in this small town than we’ve likely seen in the entirety of the South Island!

On top of our short day, we were making it even more restful by staying for two nights under a roof. We ideally would have taken a day off in Oamaru, but the wind forecast didn’t approve of that schedule. So we delayed our break until now, where we could get this two-bedroom standalone “house” in the Kurow Campground for a quite-inexpensive US$86/night.

A sign showed that the campground was for sale, and when I saw the mom-and-pop owners (who are closer to grandma-and-grandpa) keeping the park ship-shape despite their mobility issues, it was clear why. But who in a town of 390 people decides that they want to buy an aging holiday park? And if the answer is “no one”, then the Alps2Ocean trail will need to remake their brochures.

Inside our utilitarian but entirely functional and comfortable “tourist flat” at Kurow Holiday Park.
Left: the campground kitchen/laundry. Right: our “tourist flat”. The former isn’t accessible from the latter unless we walked all the way around to the entrance of the campground and back this way, so at one point Rett passed laundry through the window for me to hang on the line behind our flat.

Day 2

It rained a bit yesterday (surprisingly re-wetting the rainfly I had been trying to dry out, twice!), giving our roof slightly more value. Otherwise, beyond laundry, and a run to the Four Square grocery, we just stayed in the unit, finally achieving a proper rest in a place without anything to draw our tourist interest.


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