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Touring NZ (Rainbow & Acheron Roads)

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Touring NZ (Rainbow & Acheron Roads)

Old 12-07-06, 03:42 PM
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Touring NZ (Rainbow & Acheron Roads)

My wife and I are planning a trip to the South Island of NZ with the intention of riding from Christchurch through Kaikoura and then on to doing the Acheron Road to Hanmer Springs and then the Rainbow Road to St Arnaud and then probably ride back to Blenheim & train it back to Christchurch. Problem is, now my work has stuffed things up and we can't go until the last week in February. As I understand it, the Rainbow Road closes the first weekend in March so we may have to change the direction we ride in. I have a few questions either for locals or those who have done these roads before:

1. I know the weather in this area is changeable (heck we rode from Reefton to Maruia Springs on boxing day a few years ago in hail & sleet), but is the end of February or early mark a bit risky to ride these routes given the altitudes that the roads go up to as well? We intend to leave ourselves some spare days so we can sit out really bad weather in safety if we need to.

2. Is there a better direction to do either of the two roads, either for winds or gradients or anything else?

3. Has anyone obtained permission to ride the Rainbow Road after the first weekend in March? (in case we were looking like missing out by a few days to a week).

From the photos I've seen this looks like a fantastic trip. Any other experiences people would like to share on travelling these routes such as what the camping areas were like & so on would be greatly appreciated as well.
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Old 12-08-06, 08:53 PM
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You should get a response if you go to vorb.org.nz

Here's a nice thread https://www.vorb.org.nz/ftopict-40368-molesworth.html

I'm off to NZ mid January ... still trying to decide road tour or MTB or big tyres on the road bike.
The Rainbow road and Molesworth look fantastic.
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Old 12-11-06, 10:08 PM
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My wife and I are planning a trip to the South Island of NZ with the intention of riding from Christchurch through Kaikoura and then on to doing the Acheron Road to Hanmer Springs and then the Rainbow Road to St Arnaud and then probably ride back to Blenheim & train it back to Christchurch. Problem is, now my work has stuffed things up and we can't go until the last week in February. As I understand it, the Rainbow Road closes the first weekend in March so we may have to change the direction we ride in. I have a few questions either for locals or those who have done these roads before:
*The Rainbow Road doesn't really close, unless the army are using it or the station is mustering or something ... the owners are really nice people and are very approachable ... i rode it about a month ago on my triumph tiger ... it does cost you $5 per bike from memory, but it is a private road and it is worth it ...
*The molesworth road/acheron road closes to cars in march or if there is a fire risk etc, but cyclists can easily obtain an out of season permit and still go down through there if they aren't mustering or doing some other farm activity that would prohibit your travels ... again, they are very accomodating but they like to know who is on their property and where ... i was thinking about going down through there early november which was out of the normal access dates, and sent in a permit via email, and the manager rang me up and said it was no problem, just needed to pin down a date rather than the 2 week range i gave, but i went on a motorbike trip instead ...
*have a look at this .pdf file, its an online brochure, it has a wealth of info on themolesworth and rainbow routes, it has contact details of the farm managers, distances, useful advice, etc and also check out the DOC [dept of conservation] molesworth webpage ... you can contact the south marlborough doc office from the link on the right hand side of the page to get more info on travelling through the molesworth, and also ask for a permit which they can email to you ...


1. I know the weather in this area is changeable (heck we rode from Reefton to Maruia Springs on boxing day a few years ago in hail & sleet), but is the end of February or early mark a bit risky to ride these routes given the altitudes that the roads go up to as well? We intend to leave ourselves some spare days so we can sit out really bad weather in safety if we need to.
*i must have been on the road at the same time as you, as i got horribly wet in that region too!!! february should be ok, but bear in mind that daylight hours are getting shorter everyday ... it can turn nasty at any time of the year, so take warm clothes, and wet weather gear, a tent to shelter in would be a good idea too ... although having said that, it can get very very hot in the clarence valley as well ... if there are dark grey/black or big fluffy white clouds coming up from the southwest, start looking for shelter asap ...

2. Is there a better direction to do either of the two roads, either for winds or gradients or anything else?
*in my opinion, both roads are better done from north to south, but are still quite good going the other way ... the molesworth road done this way has the added incentive of the hot pools at the end, but then it has all the vineyards at the other end too!!!
*on the rainbow road, take the time for a small detour and stop off at lake tennyson, that is just before the grind up island saddle ... magic place, awesome scenery


3. Has anyone obtained permission to ride the Rainbow Road after the first weekend in March? (in case we were looking like missing out by a few days to a week).
*as above ... you will be ok riding through there at this time

From the photos I've seen this looks like a fantastic trip. Any other experiences people would like to share on travelling these routes such as what the camping areas were like & so on would be greatly appreciated as well.
*it is an awesome trip, but it is miles form anywhere, so you do need to be self sufficient.
*suitable camping areas on the rainbow road would be lake tennyson, awesome place but a little exposed, and cold-water creek just over island pass ... both have toliets and running water ...
*on the molesworth road you are restricted to the campsites at each end of the station, as camping on the station property is forbidden ...
*from hanmer springs, you can get a van to take you up to the top of jacks pass for $15, well worth it in my opinion, because it is a heck of a grind, and it gets hot there too ... when i came down there on the motorbike, it had just been gravelled and it was like riding on marbles on ice ... scary!
*i have some awesome pics of the rainbow road and st. arnaud if you want to email me and i can send them to you ...
*when are you going and can i come too???? LOL

Last edited by hoogie; 12-13-06 at 12:41 AM.
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