Rakaia Gorge and The Mt. Sommers Track New Zealand


Rakaia Gorge

We are off and biking!  Monday morning we were dropped off by our gracious hosts, Ross and Ginny just on the outskirts of Christchurch.  We biked late mornig until late afternoon to reach Glentunnel.  The weather was challenging with rain, wind and cooler temps, but overall it felt wonderful to be biking.  I did a short run and saw “Glen Tunnel”, which is a tiny tunnel now closed that was creted so a farmer could avoid paying a toll to travel over a neighboring farmer’s land.  Tuesday morning I did a nice 11 mile tempo on some gravel roads around White Cliff and was pleased by my splits and effort levels.

Wednesday we biked a shot ride accross the beautiful Rakia River and Gorge.  The camping was splendid and so was the short 12k run up the gorge.

Thursday we continued to Mt Sommers where I ran the Mt Sommers track.  While the scenery, terrain, track and solidarity was great, things didn’t go as planned.  First big mistake was not researching the track and details regarding starting point access.  We ended up following a Mt Sommers track sign from Mt Sommers that ended up being a 12k up hill push with 3k on gravel roads when we actually stayed the night before (check the story on Maggie’s blog soon, but we stayed with a NZ celebertie, one of the “Top Twins”) just a couple kilometers from the standard start.  The starting point I used required an extra 5k of running, to include a very steep (650ft in less than a mile) start to just get to the track.

I was rushing, planned on just running around 14 miles and assumed that the loop AROUND Mt Sommers wouldn’t have too much climbing and thus only brought the camera for this 2:30ish run.  In reality, the run had over 6,000 feet of total climbing, was 18 miles via the Woolshed Creek Car Park, it was cold, the mud was overwhelming and the track was very techinical in many areas and finally, took about 4 hours.


I planned on drinking from the streams, as New Zealand doesn’t have as much giardiah issues as North America and water access wasnt’ a problem, but unfortunatley I had no Vitargo and was really hurting energy wise from about 2 hours until I finished.  I stepped into mud shin deep frequently during the run.  The south side of the track’s footing was difficult with so much spiney brush covering the trail and tons of rocks.

I have very rarely seen such a diverse range of forest, plains, bush and high alpine environment in one run.  The scenery was epic.  The track reaches 2,700 feet, where there was a touch of snow, at the high point and goes down to 450 feet at the low point.  I was cold and hot back and forth all day and had a fall, which hasn’t happened in some time along with an incident of running into a leaning tree.

Truly an epic adventure run, but I should have been better prepared so that I could enjoy it more.  After the run I had nothing to eat but an apple and then had to bike 12k back to camp making it a very long day… all this after a half day of bike touring.

We are now in Geraldine enjoying a weekend festival before heading towards Mt Cook and the surrounding lakes.  Feeling pretty good and I’m very excited for Kepler.

Correction, we are now in Fairlie on our way to Lake Tekapo…. we didn’t have access to internet to post yesterday.

P.S.  The fabled and now extinct (from the USA) Teeter Totter is alive and well in New Zealand.  God bless the Kiwis for keeping this “dangerous” playground legend alive.  We, Maggie, Felix and I, have enjoyed three different Teeter Totters in our travels thus far.  This one was the best:

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