The horses trekked across the Otago goldfields and the cyclists pedalled.
The high country ahead was a long stretch, rugged, and beautiful.
Early in March, the Goldfields Cavalcade transported horse riders, walkers, runners, and 51 cyclists back to the days of damper and mutton for lunch, saloons, and gold pans slung over luggage.
The Cavalcade is many things. A get together. A healthy dose of nostalgia. An immersion of nature.
A test of one’s endurance. And an escape to golden rural Aotearoa.
While participants revelled in carrying back to basics equipment on the most basic of transport, community groups pitched in to cater and provide extra transport. Each group, sorted by their choice of transport, travels along a different trail at their own pace. And any cyclist knows you won’t be moving through the Mackenzie and Waitaki Districts without making the most of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail.
Every year the host town changes, which recharges the atmosphere among the party. This year that distinction belonged to Twizel.
Ever popular after 1991’s inaugural cavalcade, which saw riders retrace Cobb & Co’s journey from Dunedin to the Dunstan Goldfields, around 640 were expected to experience the wilderness, traversing different trails across the Waitaki and Mackenzie Districts to Twizel. But Covid-19 meant countryside connoisseurs from Auckland were asked not to attend. The parade welcoming the riders to Twizel, where thousands were set to gather, was cancelled.
However, the Pukaki Pedalers was the largest group of cyclists the cavalcade has seen since cycle trails were added to the journey, 21 of which were e-bikers. Cycle Trail Boss for the Goldfields Cavalcade Mark Horrocks detailed the journey that started in Twizel and circled back, “When we got to Tekapo we did stargazing tours in the evening. We rode to Braemar Station, with a detour up to Landslip Creek, that had amazing views of the top of Lake Pukaki. Our group stopped in at Tasman Downs for a quirky farm tour, then followed the amazing Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail to Lake Pukaki spillway and onto Rhoboro Downs Station. Day Six saw us ride back to Twizel.”
Here’s hoping next year flashes back to the days of old without any present day interruptions!