Thursday 13 January 2022

Bikes, brrrrm and a barrel

With thanks to Tourism Central Otago for their help

Such a good day today, activities and locations blessed by absolutely glorious weather. The Queenstown famil done and dusted, we drove to Cromwell to visit my cousin and have a bit of a taster of this generally overlooked little town. What has, though, earned it some attention lately is a newish cycle trail along the edge of Lake Dunstan that has some properly spectacular sections suspended from the cliffs. Kitted up by Colin on an e-bike, and accompanied by Michael, we drove around to the other side of the lake to do one of its most famous sections.

At Cornish Point, we mounted up and set off along the remarkably busy track. It was a beautiful summer's day, and still holiday time, so there were lots of friendly people out enjoying it all. As did I - blue lake, golden hills, black rock, a good path that had some exciting drop-offs (not literally, fortunately), a few moderately puffy climbs with correspondingly steep downhill rewards, and three clip-on sections. These were very impressive engineering achievements, hugging the curves of the cliffs, and looking airy and non-invasive - if somewhat snug to cycle along.

We rode 5km to the coffee boat, an enterprising local's business that has done so well that there's now also a burger boat, both moored stern-in and welcoming a steady stream of customers keen for a break. The track continued past them along to the head of the lake and beyond, but we turned around here and cycled back to the car, from where Michael and I, both novices but keen, returned to Colin's by bike.

It was a lovely ride, just demanding enough (e-bikes for the win) and with lots to look at: rocky hills, boats on the lake, blue river, neat and very inviting vineyards, open grassland, wooded bits, and a fun bridge where the bike section was a clip-on. The track was mostly well away from the road, well maintained, and really enjoyable for both the physical (un)demands, and the views. The final section was riding past Cromwell's Heritage Precinct, which is full of lovely old buildings. There was some serious family discussion at the end about how far we'd ridden - 40km was reluctantly agreed on - but it really didn't matter, because it had been so pleasant.

The next thing was a visit to Highlands Motorsport Museum just outside town. This was yet another of the many car museums I've had to go to for work and, again, somewhere I've ended up having more fun than I expected. It's a really professional set-up, no expense spared: big modern museum filled with classic and rare cars worth millions, café overlooking a 4km+ racetrack with all the straights and bends, an exciting go-cart track and, most fun of all, Loos with a View. 

There are six of these, each jokily different, and they're such a feature that it's perfectly acceptable to go into the opposite sex's (empty, natch) ones. There are even squeezy bottles to fill with water in one of the men's toilets, to squirt into the urinals shaped like musical instruments, to make them play a tune together. Fun though that is, that particular loo is dominated by a separate urinal which, the label claims, is a caricature of a local. Really?

That night we went out to eat at the Stoaker Room in Cromwell, where they cook the meats in a combination smoker/steamer/bbq they've made out of a wine barrel. We sat on benches at a long table in a marquee, and had an equally long and chatty family dinner (pork belly ciabatta for me, very nice). Afterwards I got called back by the waitress for overpaying by 50c.

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