The Mission - 3 crusty old cronies who went their separate ways after surviving 5 years of Papanui High School in the 70's get together to mark their 50th birthdays (!) with a 4 day ride on the Otago Rail Trail.
The protagonists: David, George & Your Author (whom we shall call 'Bruce' - for it is he)
Truth is I'm pretty inexperienced at organising a mission like this, particularly an overseas one - but ultimately it was rewarding to have an itinerary fall into shape. Everyone I contacted, from bike hire to accommodation, could not have been more helpful.
Itinerary: Friday, 27 November
David & Bruce fly out of Kingsford Smith
Flight EK 418
Depart 10:15 am
Arrive CHCH 3:15pm
Snow-covered alps! And a long white cloud - one's dusty old NZ recognition neurons start to fire up...
Have a good look at the old Control Tower ("Control Tower" - incidentally, being my first words - in English - apparently) - it's being superseded by something new that couldn't possibly be as stylish.
Itinerary: Saturday, 28 November
David, George & Bruce drive to Clyde in Finchmobile
Starting the expedition proper, we load up the "Capsicum" (as I believe the green Corolla is nick-named), pick up George and head across the Canterbury Plains. After constant typically gloomy rain on the flat, we climbed up Burkes Pass and burst out into a brilliant sun-soaked vista.
The glorious weather showed off Lake Tekapo at its most picture-skew as we stopped for a lunch of fish (sorry "fush") & kumera chups - yum!
A spectacular drive followed with the clear air giving us a grand view of (the now 20 metres or so shorter since the landslide) Mt Cook (or "Aorangi" to the types that call Ayers Rock "Uluru").
We arrived at Clyde in the early arvo to find an unbelievably quaint and charming olde town situtated an unnervingly short distance downriver from a dirty big dam.
Our digs, Ye Hartley Arms, was the epitome of charm and a jolly pleasant end to the day was spent in the sun-dappled garden.