Cyclist's adventure quite an education

South Canterbury primary school teacher Andrew Oliver had the Haast Pass road almost to himself yesterday. Photo by Mark Price.
South Canterbury primary school teacher Andrew Oliver had the Haast Pass road almost to himself yesterday. Photo by Mark Price.

In driving rain, on a road littered with tree branches and covered in places with waist-deep gravel, a cyclist was probably the last thing road maintenance crews expected to see yesterday.

But Andrew Oliver, a teacher of 9- and 10-year-old children at Waimate Main School, thought nothing of it.

The rain he took in his stride, the hills he seemed to be enjoying and, as for the slips, he simply got off and pushed.

Mr Oliver's adventures began soon after setting out from his South Canterbury home more than a week ago.

He crossed Arthurs Pass just in time to find the Wanganui Bridge at Harihari, south of Hokitika, washed out.

At some point, and in circumstances he did not wish to elaborate on, a friendly man in a digger swung Mr Oliver and his bicycle across the chasm left by the washout.

That presented him with several hundred kilometres of relatively straightforward cycling - until he reached Haast.

Unaware of what the rain was doing to the rivers and hillsides along the Haast Pass, he set out yesterday morning for Makarora and, in more circumstances he did not wish to elaborate on, was not halted by various obstacles he encountered.

Safely past his last major obstacle, a 50m slip at the Gates of Haast Bridge, he headed towards Wanaka.

- mark.price@odt.co.nz