Our night out at Fisherman’s Bend campground just beyond the Aviemore Dam on Lake Waitaki was downright chilly. Night time temperatures hovered just above freezing and the rain was icy cold. When we emerged from our tent in the morning, the snow level was merely meters above us on the hills surrounding the serene valley. We decided to take our morning tea at the next town (see from Rugby to Sausage for details) and cycled on down the valley.
After a short refuel at the Flying Pig Café in Duntroon (yes, pigs can fly), we headed south towards the Danseys Pass Holiday Camp, 14 km up the hill. We had planned on taking the next day off the bikes at the campground. Cycling past one of the Extinct Archeological sites, we noted the head wind had increased and become much cooler. Then we spotted the fast approaching rain like Orcs charging in for the kill. The rain was coming from the pass – not a good omen for our ride.
We opted to turn around, and after a quick visit to the Maori painted rocks, decided to camp at the Duntroon Domain campground – a nice but simple facility, hot showers and a basic kitchen – enough to keep us happy. And the Flying Pig Café was just around the morning for breakfast treats!
Another wet and cold night was greeted with brilliant sunshine in the morning. Our tent dried out nicely and we were ready for the short climb to the Holiday Park after a quick stop at the café for a yummy cream cheese raspberry muffin. On our way up we were passed in the opposite direction by at least 20 old American hot rod cars, going out for a Saturday morning cruise on the delightfully sunny morning. “Cool, I wonder if they are camped at the Holiday Park, that might be fun” I noted as we continued up the hill.
We arrived at the Holiday Park and were told by Scott, the owner, that the hot rodders were certainly staying at the camp, in fact they had exclusive rights to the campground for the weekend and he could not offer us a camp spot – not even an iddy biddy one for our iddy biddy tiny tent. We could tell that Scott wanted to let us stay – but he had made a deal.
Seeing as it was a beautiful sunny, windless day and it was only noon, we decided to forgo the night off and tackle the pass but not before resting up a bit and consuming our raspberry treats. As we were contemplating the ride ahead, a man, Kevin, and his daughter stopped by to see who these strangers were. It turns out Kevin is one of the Whitestone Rodders group leaders and the group’s cook – and he had the authority to grant us a camping spot for our tiny iddy biddy tent. As long as we didn’t complain about the noise – the live band might go until the wee hours of the morning. Sounded fun to us!
We had our most beautiful camp spot yet, right along the banks of the river. And, because all the hot rodders were in the cabins, we had the whole river front to ourselves. Score. Another set of bike tourists came through on a tandem and were told they could not stay – Margie (Scott’s wife) found them accommodation at the lavender farm just up the road.
It turned out to be a fantastic evening for us. At about 5pm, Kevin came down to our camp spot with two beers and welcomed us to join the group for their pig and lamb roasted dinner. We toured all the hot rod cars, and listen to stories about folks visiting the US. “I’ve been to the US, I went to Las Vegas. I love the US”. A small group had gathered to play cricket and were short of players, so I (Janet) offered a hand – even though I have no idea how to play the game. I bowled fairly well – even hit the wickets once and got a player out. Then I batted, which did not go so well. My first ball earned us two runs – then I managed to back swing right into my own wickets – oops. I was out just in time for the band to start.
Kevin and Bruce took it upon themselves to make sure we were well taken care of. We were welcomed with open arms into their group – most of them kept trying to convince us to move to New Zealand. After a few songs we started to agree with the band when they kept saying “the more you drink the better we sound”- as we weren’t drinking, we opted to go to bed as we had an early start to a long climb over the pass.