Diary for Debbie does...round the world

The Rainbow Road - Canterbury to Marlborough


Daylight savings ended overnight so i had an extra hour's sleep which I was very happy with. Left Hanmer being fortified with a brought muffin and coffee and MR drove up the Jollies Pass Road - definitely 4 wheel drive. He stopped before heading up to show me how to turn the Paj into a 4 wheel drive vehicle - turning of the things on the front wheels and using the extra little gear stick - slightly technical but Im sure I will manage. Road was narrow and steep in places. Again a few photo stops and ended up on the side at the ford where I had stalled the previous day. MR insisted I do it again and talked me through it this time. In second gear and let the vehicle take itself down - no clutch and brake - and then hit the accelerator once the Paj hits the water and safely and easily up the other side. Was so excited and happy I did it again. 

The Hanmer to St Arnaud (the Rainbow Road) is 112 kms long - definitely 4 wheel drive high vehicles only although 2 wheel drive as far as Lake Tennyson would be ok. They say its a wilderness driving experience and you need to be prepared for sudden weather changes and be self sufficient. Apart from the first part it is definitely more technical than the Molesworth Road and a few parts I wouldnt have wanted to drive where there have been slips. This is a toll road - $25 for cars - pay at the far end of the road.

I did the driving for this part thru the St James Conservation area. Found some more fords to drive thru - love them - some longer, some shorter and all sucessfully traversed.Easy driving to start with. Stopped just before Lake Tennyson for a cuppa. Hardly any one on the road. Then onto Lake Tennyson - think of my ex work colleague Ron whenever I hear the name as a place he loved. Definitely planning to come back here and do some camping. Also spied a few other 4 wheel drive roads off the main road to go and explore. Went on throughthe Island Sadlle with glorious views both ways and some blue sky - 1347m and is claimed to be the most highest publically accessible road in New Zealand. Tis also the boundary between Marlborough and Canterbury and the bit between the Clarence and Wairau Rivers.

Stpped for lunch at the turnoff to the Sedgemere Lakes - sleepout is here that you can stay in. Next year plan to do the Sedgemere / Severn Road. From here on the road got more technically difficult. Pleased I wasnt driving although would give ita go next time we go through. Few stream crossings and slips along the way and a lotof timein second gear. Nice wee stop at Coldwater Creek - little camping area - and met our first cyclists who looked knackered. Differnt scenery and the start beech forests etc. Went thru the toll gate meeting the lovely lady there - had a good natter and she told us about the swingbridge further down the road which we otherwise would not have known about. I tend to forget with these things that I am not amazing with heights and I get halfway across and realise Im a bit nervous. MR hops and skips across climbing the large rock at the other end for photos and to give me an encouraging wave. Then on through the valley and finally out back on the State Highway and back home.

Wonderful weekend and one I want to do again in the opposite direction with some camping and going off the road and a bit of tramping as well.