There will be a neutralised section on the road from the Church of the Good Shepherd (the official start/finish point) till hitting the trail proper. This is to allow all riders to safely cross State Highway 8 in Tekapo township. The start could have been down an obscure track but the shores of Tekapo set the scene much better!
The track exits the streets of Tekapo and follows power project roads to the Tekapo river (riding alongside the Tekapo/Pukaki Canal).
The next section is a more vague track alongside the Tekapo river as you head towards Lake Benmore. There will be a little navigating your way around the informal summer campground at Haldon Arm before heading towards Black Forest Station proper. When checking the course, this section was under water as water was being spilled from Tekapo for the first time in 12 years (fingers crossed 2012 won't see a repeat!)
|Haldon Arm - Lake Benmore|
Once approaching Black Forest Station you will hang a sharp left after crossing a small bridge to begin the climb into the hills. Some spectacular views over the heavily turquoise waters of the Lake await (and the odd hill). This is a remote section on private land so it is important to stick to the track and travel through as quickly as possible. Little drinking water available from Haldon Arm onwards until you pop out at Benmore Dam so prepare to carry what you need.
A quick cruise across the top of the dam and downhill to Otematata (campground, small shop) and your first 100kms should be behind you. It will be a long first day but with extended daylight hours, and good roads, it will be achievable.