Guardian On Tour – Day 4

3.00 pm

The 50km sign into Rakaia was the most welcome thing we’ve seen all day – after two hours of battling a screaming southerly, we are buggered.

On the way into Rakaia we found mum Angela Mattson and her daughter Melissa feeding their horses, also retiree Neil Robinson picking up windfall pears.

We checked out Rakaia School and were impressed by the Year 5 students and their skills with the new iPads.

Full stop at the Rakaia South Hotel.


2.00 pm

The long wind down the road to Rakaia is taking its toll as the southerly wind is unrelenting ruing the chance to enjoy the downhill biking.

The road is empty but we managed to find a crew from McMillan Engineering drilling a 228m irrigation bore with mud and water everywhere – including on us.

Earlier we had chased Alistair Clemens into his yard where he was greasing up his header for a busy afternoon harvesting.

Apparently plenty of farmers are planning to burn off some stubble this afternoon but this strong southerly might put a stop to those ideas.

We are hiding behind a row of pine trees catching our breath out of the wind before a final decent into Rakaia.


1.00 pm

The magic is gone.

A screaming southerly is blowing right in our faces.

We made a quick stop at Barrhill for lunch and found about 90 WI women enjoying their founders day celebrations.

Back on the bike a bit further up the road we found the boy’s from Southern Traverse Homes busy building a new home.

Back on the bike to battle the wind.






12.09 pm

Sitting outside the gatekeeper’s cottage at Korwar, where my grandfather was born.

It’s magic out here today, apart from the sound of thousands of bird-scarers in the paddocks.

We’ve been chasing farmers down in paddocks and in their yards, and had a chat with Gavin Blackwell who was baling pea straw. He’s the gardeners’ friend because he makes small bales.

Now we’re heading to Barhill.



10.40 am

Back on the road after touring Methven – don’t ever call that place a sleepy hollow; it was booming!

We called in at Our Lady of the Snows school, where we chatted with a group of five-year-olds test tasting apple cucumber from their garden.

Perfect biking conditions, out amongst it with the farmers on the road from Methven to Rakaia.




9.47 am

It’s taking us a while to leave Methven this morning – too many people to talk to; too many things to see!

We had a chat with Daniel, who was up to his neck in a trench for water mains – and he provided great entertainment for Wendy Fitzgerald and her grandchildren.

We had to fill our tummies at Four Square, and now we’re off to Our Lady of the Snows school.






7.43 am

It had to happen. I checked the clock. 6.20am. Great, another 20 minutes in bed. Aaagh… 7.20am. The rush to be out the door while still half asleep is testing multi-tasking to the limit.

This morning we’ll be collecting our bikes in Methven and doing a town tour, checking out the locals at work before heading out into the country.

Today we anticipate a fast run downhill to Rakaia – hopefully beating the forecast rain. There will be no escaping the Guardian On Tour team today. If we see you, consider yourself caught.

Our plan is to ride out via Barkers Road and take Back Track. We’ll then wind our way out to Barrhill and down to Rakaia.