Day 7: April 25 – Wanaka to Haast*
Daily Distance = 62.00km, Trip Total = 131.83km, Today’s Climb = 713m
*Cycled Wanaka to Makarora, drove Makarora to Haast
Today I had over 150km to cover to our next available accommodation and about 10hrs of daylight (it’s generally light enough to start cycling around 7:30am and gets dark after 5:30pm). I usually assume I can cover about 10km/hr and cycling in the dark in the mountains is out of my comfort level so, mathematically the numbers didn’t add up. Fortunately I have parents who have a vehicle with me for this stretch of the trip! So we agreed that I would head out in the morning and then I would stop cycling at 3pm, they would pick me up wherever I was at that point and we’d drive the rest of the way to our next night’s stop.
After a bagel and Nutella for breakfast, I was on the road by 9am. I took Hwy 84 out of Wanaka and in a couple short km’s I turned left on Hwy 6.
My view as I turned on to Hwy 6: mountains coming through low hanging cloud
Although the weather was a bit chilly in the morning, it was completely clear when I left. Within 5km’s I ran in to a pretty heavy fog…
Bridge in Albert Town through the fog
And on the other side of the bridge the fog got heavier, but I could see the sun starting to peak over the mountains so thought it would burn up quickly.
I debated briefly picking up a trail that runs from Albert Town to Lake Hawea. However after checking out the trail I thought it would be best to stay on the road. While I was checking out the trail, the tour cyclist I met yesterday went rolling past with a wave!
Once I got back on the road the fog quickly dissipated. After some small climbs and getting passed by a cyclist out on her road bike I found myself at a rest stop in Hawea where I grabbed a quick snack and carried on.
Looking over Lake Hawea from my rest stop in Hawea (still some low hanging clouds)
I continued up Hwy 6 and pulled off at another scenic lookout overlooking Lake Hawea where I had a brief chat with an elderly man from the north island.
Another view of Lake Hawea
Here’s the general view on this part of the highway; mountains to one side, road, lake to the other side
The next 5km’s or so I felt the need to stop at every possible pullover and lookout point there was. At the time I couldn’t understand why; but when I got to enjoy about 10km’s of pretty steady downhill later in the day, I realized I must have been climbing earlier!
The road veers from Lake Hawea and picks up the north shore of Lake Wanaka pictured here
Another view of Lake Wanaka
Around the 40km mark I started to realize I was running out of water. And because I was carrying limited supplies as the majority of the gear was in the campervan with my parents I didn’t have my water purifier on me. Fortunately I was able to pick up cell reception at a lookout point at Lake Wanaka and text my parents to let them know where I was (this is a remote area, so I’d lost cell reception for a couple hours until this point). I biked another 10km’s or so (mostly the downhill noted earlier) and with only 1/2 a bottle of water left I decided to stay put at a picnic/lookout area approx 50km into my ride. Within 5min my parents pulled up and re-filled my water. Note to self: going forward I’ll have to keep extra water or the water purifier on hand.
Mom and dad kindly cooked up some soup for lunch and about an hour later I was back on the road. I was able to make it to Makarora by the time 3pm rolled around and we packed the bike into the van for the rest of the drive to Haast.
Waterfall at a scenic pullover point along Haast pass
Snow topped mountains in the distance
Haast is a pretty small town (300 people), so we were a bit surprised when our GPS took us past Haast and off Hwy 6 down a small sideroad about 13km’s where it told us our destination was located in a random field with some logs. We continued down the road another couple hundred meters where we saw a house with a little sign indicating this was our motel for the evening. Our hotel consisted of two small buildings each having 2 units. The place itself was quite nice other than having spotty wifi access (apparently it has been an issue for about 4 wks, but given how rural they are, they are not high on the priority list). I will say, these accommodations where probably just a little too remote for my liking. It seems at this point I still like to be amongst people!