6.45am Wanaka camp site
Euch , its raining hard here in Wanaka this morning and forecast is saying set for the day. But today is not what this blog is about, you want to be brought up to date on how we fared on the imposing “Gates of Haast” and all the rest yesterday don’t you?
The days are certainly getting shorter here and not much light before 8am and dusk sets in around 7pm. We had a long days cycling today and were stretching it to maximum of that available daylight. After a feast of bacon and eggs we were fuelled, packed and mentally psyched up for the Haast Pass by 9am. A light drizzle had set in but this did not deter us. The going was okay for five 5km and then the valley narrowed and the ascent began in earnest. Boy it was tough. I soon left David behind and maybe managed the first km on Rex but the angles got steeper, the lungs got fuller, the knees got creakier and even the machines that my legs have become got wearier. I had to dismount and use the powerhouse calf muscles to get up the next 2km. The angles lessened a bit and I remounted Rex and we got to the landslip area which has been there since September and closed the Pass for weeks. Even now the Road is down to one lane with manned signals and the pass is closed every evening from 6pm to 7.30am. I was reassuringly told that I’d done the steep bit and was flatter from now on. Phew! It wasn’t too bad from then on and even the sky started to brighten up as if to lift the mood. I stopped and waited for David at Fantail falls and we worked our way together up to the top of the pass. All in all took about 90 minutes to get the 14km from pleasant flat!
The sun was now out and we were rewarded for our extreme efforts with the most glorious of downhill rides to Makarora, the valley opened up and it was classic Southern Alps beauty all around. A pleasure to behold and again all the more so because of the effort involved. Anticipating further glorious spectacles exceeding those viewed from the road we hopped skipped and jumped to see the miraculous blue pools of the bluest bluishness. Only to be a tinge disappointed that they weren’t as blue as the bluest bluishness nor did they have they frequently to be seen trout especially in the autumn.
Our spirits were soon revived on a more basic level at the first cafe in Makarora. It was pretty good I thought (it had been badly reviewed in a cycle website I’d been reading but this was a few years ago). The home made pie of the day was bacon and egg but hey can you really have too much? The spring onion and cheese scone was the size of a small loaf and the flat whites were good enough for a second dose. Heaven to be sat in the sun eating and reading the papers. One article was a bit worrying, it was highlighting the number of incidents involving newly arrived Asian drivers. Two nz cyclists had been killed by a chinese girl who had hired a car and skidded on gravel coming round the corner and careered into the cyclist. She had been in the country for less than 24 hours. Another 2 accidents involving inexperience newly arrived Asian driver were luckily not fatal but the coroner had called for a review of hiring cars including restricting those who had been in the country less than 24 hours, additional guidance on the dangers of NZ roads and driving on the left.
Waiting a bit longer for the chinese family to depart we resumed our panoramic ride to the lakes of Wanaka and Hawea. These lakes were bluey blue and perfectly framed by the rock faced mountains they were enveloped by. There were quite a few uppy downys so David soon lagged behind ( I’m loving this concept of being fitter than someone half my age so going to keep milking it!). He caught up eventually while I was waiting eating pounds of blackberries at the roadside. Got to lake Hawea township and I bought David an ice cream, he then bought mevhot chips so we indulged in our joint favourite pastime of eating until about 6 when we thought we’d better get on to Wanaka. A couple of people suggested going on the Hawea river cycle trail to Albert Town and pick up road to Wanaka there so that’s what we did. Bit longer and slower as I wasn’t sure if Rex would cope but like the faithful steed he is he took it in his stride. No tent spaces at the YHA so we ended up at the holiday park. Just about got tents up in final light of the day and had a shower before hitting the bright lights of Wanaka.
Wed seen an ad for a new Mexican place, los amigos, and the holiday park had a ten dollar off voucher so that settled it, David had been talking to me about tequila and margaritas so we ordered a jug of it, salty glasses and all, toasting our good health “sante amigo” Food was a lovely combo of burrito, quesidilla, and tacos but don’t ask me which was which!
Our appetites finally sated we meandered back to camp and i , like the trooper I am, uploaded the photos to this blog until the wee hours before collapsing tired but fully satisfied with my lot! Enjoy!
Brought forward 622