(Well) off the beaten track

(Well) off the beaten track

After my albatross encounter in Kaikoura, I had to drive down to Christchurch stopping off for a night to stay with family on a sheep farm in North Canterbury. As I had plenty of time for the trip, I decided to take the Inland Kaikoura route.  This very scenic drive starts at Mt Fyffe, takes you past the Mt Lyford ski area through Waiau and on to Culverden.  Here is the start of the journey, looking back at Mt Fyffe:

But it got better!

My destination was about halfway between the small village of Motunau and the coast.  The obvious way would be to drive to Culverdon, then continue on Highway #7 down to Waipara, where it joins up with the main road again, then back up Highway #1 to Motunau.  A close look at the map showed that there was an alternative route.  A small road called Kaiwara Road wound its way over the hills, meeting up with Highway #1 at Greta Valley just north of my turn off to the coast. I decided to see if I could find it.

It turned out not to be too difficult despite the lack of signposting.  The seal ended not very far from Culverdon so I found myself on a gravel road. This eventually reached the hills and a fairly steep climb up a beautiful valley.  (Click on the ‘terrain’ option on the Google Map for that last link – you will see there is some reasonably steep country here). One observation to make one pause slightly: there was quite a lot of grass growing in the centre line of the road.  It’s not exactly a four-lane.

Then I reached the first of about nine gates. No problem, although the exercise would have been much quicker if I had a hitchhiker on board.

The next hazard was a flock of sheep making the most of some shade. They were very obliging and stirred themselves to let me through.  Quite a few more encounters with sheep and cattle followed.  Second gear nearly all the way, and of course it took me at least twice as long as the regular route.  I was in no hurry though.

Conditions were not good for landscape photography, the sun was much too high in the sky and the light was too harsh. However,  I’m determined to get back there in the autumn.  Scenes such as this old house have great potential, photographed close to dusk with the trees showing their autumn yellows.

My hosts that evening were impressed at my enterprise. They knew that road well. They explained that it used to be a very popular route for a very specific group of travellers: people who had spent too long in the pub in Culverden but still wanted to drive home.  Don’t think I would have wanted to be a passenger!

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