There are eight power stations in the Waitaki Power Scheme however, the largest of them all is at the Benmore Dam. It’s the largest earth-filled water-retaining structure in New Zealand to hold Lake Benmore’s 1.25 billion cubic metres of the liquid stuff – water. To compare, it’s about 1.5 times as much water as Wellington harbour.
The last 800 metres riding up onto the dam itself was a slog. Sweat glistened the forehead and dribbled down skin. Moments of clenched teeth was share guts and determination to conquer Ben without stopping or walking. The reward breathtaking. Lots of breath taking actually, sucking in the oxygen to recover.
To the right and at the bottom, Lake Avimore where hordes of water craft of all sorts were making the most of summer; to the left and at the top, Lake Benmore where you could have easily been somewhere in Canada with the trees sewn onto the landscape right down to the waters edge. The water, tranquil and inviting. And deep. Very very deep.
Ominus clouds above the mountain skyline signaled a possible change in weather. We skirted Lake Avimore into a head wind that kept the temperature decent, with the sun still casting shadows where we rode.
You could smell them before you saw them. This part of the country is the habitat for introduced wild wallabies. And some took their last bounce off a vehicle to die where they landed. They reaked of road kill stench and it was frequent. Body odour had a more pleasantness about it, that’s for sure!
The Waitaki Dam was crossed and then it was head down pedaling into the head wind that had picked riding State Highway 83 on into Kurow. There was little distance between us and traffic passing so this is where you have to trust your wits about you and just go for it. And bugger me, just 500 metres to reach the Kurow township welcoming sign, another puncture.
The smell of rain was eminent. So too the remembering our night at Aoraki/Mount Cook with the lite sleeping bags, all apparel worn and fetal position. We took a motel room and had no sooner unloaded and the heavens opened up.
Turning a light switch on and off knowing no battery was needed was bliss being in hydro country.
Sleeping stretched out semi-attired was also good y’know.
The arguement started with who was going to turn off the friggin light!