9.30pm Pleasant Flat camp, Haast Pass
We (Rex, David and I) have had a good day and covered about 97km. We stopped in Haast Township for quite a few hours too so it felt more like two cycle rides. First ride was from Lake Paringa to Haast. After making scrambled eggs we said goodbye to our English and kiwi friends from last night ( funny …the French couple didn’t even say au revoir). The ride was pretty easy going along lovely rain and swamp forest until Knights Point where you go up and down over the base of the mountains which at this point descend straight into the Tasman ocean. David was still having a few issues with his gears even though we’d given his chain and gears a good clean and lube. David is making me feel great as I zoom ahead of him up the climbs and have to wait for him to catch up. I’m not sure how much of this is his bike or whether I am fitter than him, so because it stokes up my ego I’ll make believe its my fitness despite my being twice his age.
We are getting along pretty well and having some good conversations as we ride, David is quite thoughtful and likes to ask me about things too. I think he likes being with me ( well, more than being alone anyway). We’ve had a couple of laughs too e..g. about whether “Albert” had false teeth and if “Alp” is a German word (sorry, you would have to have been here).
It took us about 3.5 hours to get to Haast. Stopped at Ship Creek to feed the sandflies (to evenly spread our blood to those that we hadn’t already donated pints to at lake paringa). We started to get really hungry when we began seeing signs for whitebait patties and talked about what we could eat. This fantasy menu included obviously whitebait patties but also giant sausage rolls, any nz pies, chips etc and so eating was just what we did in Haast. I had 2 whitebait patties and chips, David had a whitebait patty, pie and chips plus a double scoop hokey pokey ice cream. This boy can eat like me too!
We went to very nice backpackers so I could use the internet and upload photos. We’d visited the info centre early on and learnt that the sandflies are not really sandflies but a type of blackfly, and it’s only the female that bites as she needs blood from a mammal to lay her eggs. Her favourite mammal is humans!
By the time I’d downed a couple of flat whites we’d been in town over 4 hours
We then met Brad and Sue who were from New Hampshire and on a tandem going North. They were lovely and said the ride up the Haast Pass is absolutely adorable.
Our second ride was longer than we thought to this DOC site at Pleasant Flat. Turned out to be 47km rather than 30km but it was fairly gentle gradients and I didn’t have to wait for David too long! Some stupendously steep and high mountains with waterfalls pouring off them, and the still snow capped peaks looked stunning so we inevitably stopped a couple times for photos. We didn’t get here until after 7pm so just enough time to pitch tent (patching up another broken pole with strapping tape) and then getting a brew and our dinners on by time it got dark.
We’ve got a tough start in the morning as the steepest part of the pass starts almost straight away and is really “get off and walk’ steep rising 450m in elevation.