After a short stretch of main road we turned off down the canal road, the canal forming part of a hydroelectric scheme. We had the road pretty much to ourselves, almost level but with a stiff headwind, cycling next to the clear bright turquoise ribbon of water with Mt Cook rising high above the lesser mountains. Passing rivers and lakes, this was a marvellous start to our holiday, cycling in the warm sunshine of a peaceful late summer day.
Later we learned that glacial sediment was responsible for the exotic colour. The rivers fed directly by the glaciers were pale milky grey from suspended rock dust generated by the grinding effect of the ice. This settled down to leave the lakes and this canal a beautiful turquoise.
At the small village of Twizel we checked into our double room in a backpackers lodge, cooked and had yet another early night as tomorrow’s bus trip was to start at 06:45.
In case you’re thinking this is looking like a coach tour, don’t go away – it gets better! We just had to see Mount Cook from close up and to have spent a day cycling up the dead-end road to Mount Cook Village and another day cycling back to the main road would have been a waste on a three week trip. This was a holiday, so we used buses, boats and trains where it suited us.