Archive for New Zealand – South Island

Ferry Ride

Day 16: May 4 – Picton to Wellington

Daily Distance = 2.97km, Trip Total = 527.81km, Today’s Climb = 10m

We had an early morning today to catch the ferry over to Wellington and the North Island.  It was a bit chilly in the morning, but we opted to sit outside on the ferry ride – it’s always nice to get the fresh air when possible.

The ferry ride was about 3.5hrs, it took over an hour to get out of the Marlborough Sounds.  And then across Cook Strait which was a bit choppy today.  We have learned that Cook Strait can be known for having strong currents and rough waters.  This area is subject to high winds from both the North and the South.  A local mentioned that the ferries will be closed on average about one day every couple of months due to rough waters.

Spotted my first train of the trip while waiting to check in the vehicle at the ferry in Picton

Spotted my first train of the trip while waiting to check in the vehicle at the ferry in Picton

A view of Picton from the ferry

A view of Picton from the ferry

It was a bit chilly, but still worth sitting outside :)

It was a bit chilly, but still worth sitting outside :)

A couple houses nestled in the hills

A couple houses nestled in the hills

Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds

Say g'bye to South Island

Say g’bye to South Island

Cook Strait

Cook Strait

 

When we arrived in Wellington we made a beeline for a parking lot where we unloaded my bike and said a temporary audios to my parents.  They were going to head north a bit and I was going to spend a few days in New Zealand’s capital.

I quickly picked up a bike path along the waterfront and cycled the few km’s to my accommodations for the next few days.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing and getting acquainted with my surroundings in the downtown core.

I was happy to recently receive a few photo updates of Dash from her sitters while I’m travelling, so thought I would share them for those who miss all of the Dash pics :)

Dash in her temp home

Dash doing well in her temp home

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Queen Charlotte Drive

Day 15: May 3 – Nelson to Picton*

Daily Distance = 39.9km, Trip Total = 524.84km, Today’s Climb = 522m

*Drove Nelson to Havelock, cycled Havelock to Picton

The original plan was to cycle out of Nelson as far to Picton as I could before daylight was lost, but given the feedback that I would be sharing Hwy 6 with the logging transport trucks I decided to change the plan.  Instead I got a lift to Havelock where I was able to pick up a secondary road called Queen Charlotte Drive.

But first my parents went on a hike to a lookout point in Nelson while I vegged at our Airbnb for an extra hour before hopping on my bike to go meet them for the drive to Havelock.

This entire area of the bay is tidal water, probably one of the largest stretches of tidal water I have seen

This entire area of the bay in Nelson is subject to tidal water (this pic is at low tide), probably one of the largest stretches of tidal water I have seen

Pelorus Bridge - a scene from the Hobbit was filmed here, do you recognize it? Hint, it involves barrels floating down the river

Pelorus Bridge – a scene from the Hobbit was filmed here, do you recognize it? Hint, it involves barrels floating down the river

A view of Havelock from the peacefully quiet road of Queen Charlotte Drive

A view of Havelock from the peacefully quiet road of Queen Charlotte Drive

 

The ride along Queen Charlotte Drive was very peaceful and scenic with lots of turns in the road as well as views and lookouts over Marlborough Sounds.  Our tour guide from the Milford Sound excursion early on in the trip explained what a ‘sound’ is as it relates to a body of water, but I’m not sure that I can properly explain it.  So I’ll leave that to google should you wish to check it out!

Today was a short ride with grey skies and the promise of rain looming all day, so I only took light pauses to look at the views.  Otherwise, I was pedalling in the hopes to beat the rain.

Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds

Another view overlooking Marlborough Sounds

Another view overlooking Marlborough Sounds

One of the few straight stretches of road on today's ride

One of the few straight stretches of road on today’s ride

Views along Queen Charlotte Drive

Views along Queen Charlotte Drive

And a picture with my bike to prove it was there ;)

And a picture with my bike to prove it was there ;)

I ended up getting a light sprinkle for about 5min, but it resulted in this vibrant portion of a rainbow

I ended up getting a light sprinkle for about 5min, but it resulted in this vibrant portion of a rainbow

Ah-ha! That's where all those logging trucks on Hwy 6 are headed!

Ah-ha! That’s where all those logging trucks on Hwy 6 are headed!

Overlooking Picton from Queen Charlotte Drive

Overlooking Picton from Queen Charlotte Drive

We had a beautiful view from our room today

We had a beautiful view from our room today in Picton

 

I was able to arrive in Picton and get settled into the hotel about 1/2hr before the skies opened up and started raining – good timing!

After I got cleaned up, we headed out for dinner and landed at a fish and chip spot.  We’ve come to learn that fish and chip portion sizes are excessive (specifically the chips portion).  So between the 3 of us we ordered 4 pieces of fish and 1 order of chips, it was just the right amount!

When we got back to the hotel I started sorting my gear in my panniers as my parents and I would be parting ways for a few days.  This means I’ll have to start carting more of my own stuff around on the bike.  It’ll be interesting to see how much it changes my ride as I haven’t shlepped this much gear around on a bike for several years…

Organizing my gear amongst panniers

Organizing my gear between panniers

Wine Country, My Country

Day 14: May 2 – Nelson

Rest day, no cycling

Anybody who knows me, knows that I enjoy a good white wine or two.  So when I heard that Nelson was wine country I had to make sure I spent a day and partake in a wine tour.  Fortunately there was a tour running and I got to enjoy the day with a great driver/tour guide Owen and 4 lovely people from Miami who quickly took me into their group for the day.  Owen picked me up at the Airbnb just before 11am and dropped me off just before 5pm.  We were able to stop at 4 wineries for tastings, had lunch (kindly covered by my new Miami friends) and also stopped at a couple places for some quick shopping opportunities.  Owen informed us that the majority of the wineries in Nelson are still family owned, mostly serving restaurants.  The next county over (Marlborough), has much more commercial wineries and is what will be more commonly found in liquor stores worldwide.

A quick stop at a lookout in Nelson, overlooking the Tasman Bay

A quick stop at a lookout in Nelson, overlooking the Tasman Bay

My partners in wine for the day

My partners in wine for the day

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A kiwi fruit tree

A kiwi fruit tree

A bottle of Nelson grown Late Harvest to have after dinner with my parents

A bottle of Nelson grown Late Harvest to have after dinner with my parents

 

Great Taste Trail

Day 13: May 1 – Murchison to Nelson*

Daily Distance = 72.77km, Trip Total = 484.94km, Today’s Climb = 425m

*Drove Murchison to Glenhope, cycled Glenhope to Nelson

Good news, the dehumidifier worked like a charm and my cycling gear (shoes included) were dry this morning!

We quickly made our way to Glenhope where I got back on the bike and caught the tail end of a climb to a lookout where we could see mountains in every direction we looked.  We were told that some of the mountains got a dusting of snow the previous night.

Mountains in the distance at the lookout

Mountains in the distance at the lookout

At the lookout

At the lookout

More mountains within view of the lookout

More mountains from the lookout

 

After a quick snack and look around I was back on the bike and enjoying a glorious downhill ride.  Well, almost glorious.  This stretch of the road had a few more transport trucks on it than I would have liked.  Mostly double trailered logging trucks.  And although they were good about slowing down and moving over for me I couldn’t take in the scenery around me and enjoy the ride as much as I would like.  When I later talked to some locals in Nelson, they indicated that Hwy 6 between Murchison and Picton has become much more busy (especially with logging trucks) since an earthquake on the East Coast last November has closed down parts of Hwy 1 between Picton and Christchurch.  As a result, traffic between Picton and Christchurch needs to detour through Nelson and Murchison.

This area of the road had a very strong pine smell

This area of the road had a very strong pine smell

On Hwy 6 between Glenhope and Kahuto

On Hwy 6 between Glenhope and Kohatu

 

So while taking a break in Kohatu I decided to get a quick lift a few km’s up the road and spend the rest of the day riding along parts of the Great Taste Trail, which I had come across in my google searches the night before.  The Great Taste Trail is a 174km loop within the Nelson/Tasman area that passes a few wineries.  That sounds like my kinda trail!

Some info on the town Brightwater. But I mostly stopped here to get my bearings on the Great Taste Trail which I would be taking into Nelson

Some info on the town Brightwater. But I mostly stopped here to get my bearings on the Great Taste Trail which I would be taking into Nelson

A cycle/pedestrian bridge on the Great Taste Trail

A cycle/pedestrian bridge on the Great Taste Trail

 

The rest of the day was spent joyfully cycling along a well used cycle/pedestrian trail.  In some cases the trail ran along the service roads of wineries, in other areas it went through quiet streets in small towns, along the bay heading into Nelson and in Nelson the bike trail was converted from a former railway track.  This trail conveniently enough came within two blocks of our accommodations for the night.

Do you see what I see? Wine country!!!!! :)

Do you see what I see? Wine country!!!!! :)

Enjoying the Great Taste Trail

Enjoying the Great Taste Trail

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Taking the trail heading into Nelson

Taking the trail heading into Nelson

Converted railway trail that takes you into Nelson city centre

Converted railway trail that I was able to take into Nelson, pretty much right to my accommodations for the evening

 

After getting showered and cleaned up, we headed into town for some quick groceries and then back to our Airbnb for a drink in the hot tub, dinner and a board game.  Pretty good way to finish the day :)

Buller River

Day 12: April 30 – Westport to Murchison*

Daily Distance = 48.32km, Trip Total = 412.17km, Today’s Climb = 361m

*Cycled Westport to Inangahua, drove Inangahua to Murchison

 

As forecasted, today started out pretty grey with off and on showers.  When I first started cycling the showers were off, however within about an hour or so the showers were on and remained pretty consistent for the next couple of hours.

Today’s ride started in Westport and continued inland following the Buller River up the mountain range valley.

Downtown Westport

Downtown Westport

I've started seeing signs for trains and train tracks in the last few days, but haven't yet spotted a train!

I’ve started seeing signs for trains and train tracks in the last few days, but haven’t yet spotted a train!

Farmland and mountain views just east of Westport

Farmland and mountain views just east of Westport

A sure sign that we are headed for some remote areas again....

A sure sign that we are headed for some remote areas again….

Buller River to the left, which we followed for most of the day

Buller River to the left, which we followed for most of the day

 

Prior to heading out this morning my parents checked the local website for road closures and came across a road closure on our intended route.  Our hope was that by the time we got there (in approx 3hrs at my cycling speed) it would be cleared out and the road would be open again, otherwise we’d have approximately a 2-3hr detour to drive.

Following the river today was a scenic ride, however it was hard at times to fully enjoy it as the rain continued and the temperatures were a bit on the chilly side.  It was at this time that I realized I might have to re-consider my rain gear for cycling at these temperatures as my feet were frozen after about an hour of cycling in the rain.  And it was also around this time that I realized I didn’t pack an extra pair of shoes….ooops!

They cut out the rock in this area to create a 1 lane road to get through (I wanted to get a pic straight on, but stopping in that area was a bit treacherous)

They cut out the rock in this area to create a 1 lane road to get through (I wanted to get a pic straight on, but stopping in that area was a bit treacherous)

A closer shot of the cut out rock with a car driving through.  It's hard to see, but the rock actually completely overhangs the road/vehicle

A closer shot of the cut out rock with a car driving through. It’s hard to see, but the rock actually completely overhangs the road/vehicle

A rainier view of Buller River

A rainier view of Buller River

 

 

After just shy of 50km I decided to get dried off and catch a ride for the rest of the jaunt to Murchison.  Fortunately, I had stalled on my bike long enough that the previous road closure was now cleared so we didn’t have to detour our route!

This is the point I decided to call it a day on the bike and enjoy the comforts of a vehicle and roof

This is the point I decided to call it a day on the bike and enjoy the comforts of a vehicle and roof

 

On our way into Murchison we stopped at a swing bridge.

Murchison swing bridge

Murchison swing bridge

 

Unlike Canada, I have not found South Island New Zealand to have much information about it’s history posted at lookouts, trails, towns, etc.  So when we stopped at the Murchison swing bridge and there was a board describing some of it’s past, I had to take a picture (or two!).  In a nutshell, much of their history in this area is shaped by earthquakes, goldmines and floods.

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Shortly after we arrived at our accommodations for the day the rain became much heavier for a couple of hours.  I was pretty relieved that I wasn’t on the bike and could let the remainder of this system pass from the comfort of indoors.  I’m not usually opposed to cycling in the rain, but I do find constant rain under 10-15 degrees uncomfortable.  I’m certainly becoming a fair weather cyclist!

Lucky timing, our accommodations for the evening actually had a dehumidifier in the unit.  So I was able to hang out all my wet cycling gear, turn on the dehumidifier and hope that in the morning it would be dry.

West Coast Life

Day 11: April 29 – Greymouth to Westport*

Daily Distance = 58.02km, Trip Total = 363.85km, Today’s Climb = 639m

*Cycled Greymouth to 18km north of Punakaiki, drove remainder to Westport

There was a heavy fog this morning, but fortunately I was having a bit of a late start and by the time I was finally ready to get on the road the worst of the fog had subsided.  Within a few km’s I was riding along the coast and had clear views of the Tasman Sea.  Although Hwy 6 runs up the west coast for the most part of South Island, often times the water can’t actually be seen due to the terrain such as trees, hills, etc.  Today however was an exception, today about 40 of the 50+km that I rode had visible coastline views.  I can’t even begin to describe how much I like being on and near water.  Seeing it, smelling it, hearing the waves – all of it makes me instantly calmer.  Today was one of my favourite rides so far, simply for the water.

Coastline riding - this is bliss

 

Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea and the coastline ride

 

About 40km later I was in Punakaiki where my parents and I checked out the Pancake Rocks.  These were definitely the highlight of the day, and maybe even the west coast for me!  They are essentially a bunch of rocks/cliffs in the water that are being eroded away in time by the force of the water.  There are several gaps and formations between them which causes the water to move in dramatic ways when waves come crashing in.  With some of the bigger waves it would even make a loud boom sound almost like thunder when it struck these rocks.  And in several cases the waves would crash with so much force into these massive rocks that spray would come out between the rocks like a whale spraying out of a blowhole.  We probably spent about an hour here watching the waves.

Entrance to Pancake Rock trail

Entrance to Pancake Rock trail

A form of palm tree - these are everywhere in Punakaiki

A form of palm tree – these are everywhere in Punakaiki

Watching the waves come in

Watching the waves come in

Pancake rocks - according to the info posted, they haven't quite been able to explain yet why the rocks is formed in layers

Pancake rocks – according to the info posted, they haven’t quite been able to explain yet why the rocks is formed in layers

A surge pool in the pancake rocks

A surge pool in the pancake rocks

 

The next series of pics were taken from the same location pre/during/post wave:

Pre wave

Pre wave

During wave

During wave part I

During wave part II

During wave part II

Post wave

Post wave

These were kinda cool formations - do you see the lion head just right of centre?

These were kinda cool formations – do you see the lion head (with your imagination) just right of centre?

 

We eventually pulled ourselves away from the pancake rocks, grabbed lunch and I continued on my bike while my parents headed down the road a bit and hiked another trail.  I continued riding for just shy of 20km where I called it a day and got a lift the rest of the way to Westport.

More coastal riding

More coastal riding

A small rockslide had the road down to one lane in this area

A small rockslide had the road down to one lane in this area

 

My parents scouted out the town for a place to eat while I got cleaned up.  Then we headed out to a local takeout spot for chicken, brought it back to the B&B we were staying at and chatted briefly with our host.  She warned us that they were calling for a lot of rain in the next day and even snow overnight in the mountains.  Dad has been checking the weather along our route, so we were aware of the upcoming rain forecast.  But given our daily temperatures are still mid-teens I was surprised to hear the forecast of snow.  I guess I’m just not used to how quickly mountain weather can change yet!

 

Flat Roads Ahead

Day 10: April 28 – Franz Josef Glacier to Greymouth*

Daily Distance = 87.08km, Trip Total = 305.83km, Today’s Climb = 323m

*Drove Franz Josef Glacier to Kakapotahi, cycled Kakapotahi to Greymouth

 

We had a lot of ground to cover today to our next night’s accommodation so I opted to get a lift the first 85km and got dropped off on Hwy 6 near Kakapotahi.  According to my phone there appeared to be an alternative route to Hwy 6 in this area for about 5 or 10km which I eagerly started following.  However after a mere 200m I came up to a ‘no exit’ sign.  So I quickly turned around and went back to the highway.

Here is the road ahead where I was dropped off on Hwy 6 near Kakapotahi

Here is the road ahead where I was dropped off on Hwy 6 near Kakapotahi

 

The previous day I had asked my parents if dotted lines on the road in New Zealand mean the same thing as in Canada.  Ie. dotted line is ok to pass safely, solid line is not.  They confirmed that is the guideline, but I have to say in my travels so far I have seen very little solid lines.  Even though many of the roads I have been on have been both hilly and bendy.  Often at the same time!

Notice the dotted line as you go around a blind bend and down a hill....

Notice the dotted line as you go around a blind bend and down a hill

 

In no time at all I found myself sailing through Ross which is a former goldmine town.  I’m realizing now I didn’t stop to take a picture of this town which has noticed a significant decrease in its population from its former glory days.  I guess I was so excited to see flat roads ahead I forgot to stop for a photo op!

And grey skies ahead

Finally flat roads….oh how I have missed these!

 

Several km’s ahead I stopped briefly at a kiosk pullover where my parents were chatting with a man who used to live in Canada many years ago.  I grabbed a quick snack and continued on my way.  I had a determination about me today to make good time on the road!  Shortly afterwards I was in a town called Hokitika where I stopped for some cheese and crackers before it started raining.

Main street in Hokitika

Main street in Hokitika

 

When the rain started I quickly packed up and headed back on the road.  Just north of Hokitika I passed a water basin with several black swans!  I actually had never seen black swans before and always thought they were a bit of an anomaly.  Unfortunately the pictures are from a bit of a distance.

Black swans

Black swans

More black swans swimming

More black swans swimming

 

We had a decent amount of rain overnight, so now many of the bridges that I’m passing actually has water coming through whether the river/creek is big or small.

Not just rocks and river beds, but water now too!

Not just rocks and river beds, but water now too!

Honey is readily available in the South Island

Honey is readily available in the South Island

I was relieved to spot this sign for cyclists as I approached this one lane bridge

I was relieved to spot this sign for cyclists as I approached this one lane bridge

The road was pretty busy here, so I'm not sure traffic would have appreciated me taking up the whole lane!

The road was pretty busy here, so I’m not sure traffic would have appreciated me taking up the whole lane!

The ride from my safe cyclist lane :)

The ride from my safe cyclist lane :)

 

With flat roads and little wind to speak of I made really good time today (over 20km/hr moving time)!  After getting showered up at our accommodations for the evening my parents and I stepped out to re-stock on some supplies (mostly groceries) and treated ourselves to a fish and chip takeout that was recommended by our hotel owner.  We weren’t sure what to expect when we stepped in as the takeout counter was located in a convenience store, but the place was super busy with locals, the prices where cheap, the portions were ridiculously filling and most importantly the food was fantastic!

Fish and Chips takeout

Fish and Chips takeout

Glacier Sightings

Day 9: April 27 – Fox Glacier to Franz Josef Glacier*

*Got a ride for this 23km

After some decent climbs over the last few days, I decided to make today a rest and sightseeing day.  We had a late start to the morning which allowed me to spend a bit of time working on the blog and getting some pictures uploaded (depending on wifi speed this can be a lengthy process, fortunately this morning I had a good connection).

Around 10:30am we packed up and headed down the road to take a look at Fox Glacier from the viewpoint recommended by the lady who owned the hotel we stayed at.  We tend to agree that this was the best view of Fox Glacier out of the two viewpoints we went to.

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier and the snowcapped mountains to the right are Mount Cook

Fox Glacier and the snowcapped mountains to the right are Mount Cook

Fox Glacier from the second viewpoint we went to

Fox Glacier from the second viewpoint we went to

 

After exploring Fox Glacier, we drove the 23km to Franz Josef.  We directly headed to the glacier hike where we spent a couple of hours.

Start of the Franz Josef Glacier hike

Start of the Franz Josef Glacier trail

Our first sighting of Franz Josef Glacier and the riverbed where the glacier used to reach many years ago

Our first sighting of Franz Josef Glacier and the riverbed where the glacier used to reach many years ago

 

It sounds like the glacier has receded quite a bit in recent years.  This sign showed the amount it had receded in just 4yrs between 2008 and 2012:

It might be hard to see from the two inset pictures, but from what we could tell they were taken from the same general location. That is a lot of deteriorating of the glacier in just 4 yrs!

It might be hard to see from the two inset pictures, but from what we could tell they were taken from the same general location. That is a lot of deteriorating of the glacier in just 4 yrs

 

A waterfall as we hiked the trail for a closer view of the glacier

A waterfall as we hiked the trail for a closer view of the glacier

Continue to walk to get a closer view of the glacier

Continue to walk to get a closer view of the glacier

At this point we are where the glacier extended to in 2008

At this point we are where the glacier extended to in 2008, it’s hard to believe this would have been the glacier less than 10yrs ago

This is the view looking back from where we came

This is the view looking back from where we came

This is as close as we could go to the glacier via the trail

This is as close as we could go to the glacier via the trail

And a closeup of Franz Josef Glacier

And a closeup of Franz Josef Glacier

 

After the glacier hike we checked into our accommodations for the evening; a cabin at a Top 10 Holiday Park chain.  I settled in and started uploading some pics (my connection was much slower today) while my parents went into town to check things out.  They came back with some hokey pokey ice cream for me, which is apparently a flavour of ice cream (I thought it was a brand).  I have now learned that hokey pokey is honeycomb toffee.  It was yummy!

 

 

The Edge of Wilderness

Day 8: April 26 – Haast to Fox Glacier*

Daily Distance = 86.92km, Trip Total = 218.75km, Today’s Climb = 570m

*Cycled 13km south of Haast to Bruce Bay, drove Bruce Bay to Fox Glacier

 

One thing I have noticed that now exists on google maps which I didn’t realize with the last trip: is the bike option which shows elevation ascent and descent.  For example, here’s the google cycle route from Queenstown to Wanaka:

It's probably small and grainy, but on the left hand side of the screen you can see the elevation ascent and descent

It’s probably small and grainy, but on the left hand side of the screen you can see the elevation ascent and descent

 

I’ve only been on the road two days, but every night before the next days ride it has become a necessary habit to check out the following ride.  How much does it climb?  Where are the climbs?  Is it gradual or quick?  Given our spotty wifi last night and no cell service to create a hotspot for my laptop (I’ve only been able to get this info using my laptop, I can’t seem to find it on my iPhone or my folks tablet).  Regardless, I wasn’t able to get the info for the upcoming day and felt a little lost.  I knew the first 13km would be flat because I’d be backtracking the road we came in on.  After that it’s hard to say.  Terrain can change quickly with each km in the mountains.

So I headed out with the mindset that every km of flat and downhill is a bonus!

One lane bridge and flat terrain south of Haast

One lane bridge and flat terrain south of Haast

 

Mom had noticed the previous night that some of the trees along this stretch of the road must really feel the impact of a dominate wind as they have a lean and in some cases are barren:

I wonder which way the wind blows here?

I wonder which way the wind blows here?

 

Shortly after I got back on Hwy 6 I came up to a rather lengthy one lane bridge.  I usually ride right down the middle of these to prevent vehicles from trying to edge past me.  Fortunately this bridge which was probably just over 1/2km long had a couple of passing bays.  This is a pretty remote area, so I only encountered two vehicles while on the bridge and fortunately I was close to a passing bay at the time so I didn’t have to slow traffic down too much.

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View of the river from the passing bay on the bridge

View of the river (or the rocky bed of the river) from the passing bay on the bridge

 

We have also noticed between Queenstown and here that the majority of the rivers are currently without water and mostly just rocky footbeds.

My route for the next several days

Heading to the glaciers

I say a few of these signs along the west coast, all with slightly different wording

I saw a few of these signs along the west coast, all with slightly different wording, like ‘NZ roads are different, allow extra time’

 

Around 25km’s into my (so far flat) ride my parents had passed me and were pulled into a rest spot.  I stopped to chat and grab a quick snack and they told me they had stopped at an I-site (tourist info) in Haast.  They asked the lady working there to bring up the elevation info between Haast and Fox Glacier and took a picture of it for me.  I now had intel on the ride ahead!  We didn’t stop for long as we were getting bitten like crazy from sandflies.  This would be the trend for the day.  Fortunately they didn’t bother me when cycling, but at almost every stop they were there!

About 5km’s later I was climbing again until I reached Knight’s lookout which was a pretty busy spot.  Mom and dad were chatting to a group that they had bumped into at a previous lookout point earlier in the day.  Apparently there was an area that a pod of dolphins could be seen, but I completely missed it.

Starting to get glimpses of the Tasman Sea

Starting to get glimpses of the Tasman Sea

The road ahead

The road ahead

Knight's lookout point

Knight’s lookout point

 

From Knight’s lookout it was a blissful descent followed by lots of flat road.

Another rocky river bed

Another rocky river bed

 

Given the lack of daylight hours compared to when I had done the Canadian trip and the number of km’s between towns in this area, the days on the bike feel a bit rushed.  It seems almost like a bit of a race to get as much cycling in during daylight as possible and still reach our destination during daylight as well.  I’m hoping when I get to the north island there will be more towns closer together and I don’t have to worry about covering as much ground in a day.  At my slow cycling pace it would be difficult to cover this area of the country on my own at this time of the year.  I would definitely have to split the days into shorter distances and camp along the way.  Fortunately I have my parents with me and I get a more spoiled version of the trip: I can hitch a ride when I want, I don’t have to carry my gear, I have meals made for me, etc.  Thanks parents! :)

A view of the mountains while taking a break on the side of the road

A view of the mountains while taking a break on the side of the road

 

When I arrived in Bruce Bay, we packed the bike in the car and drove the last stretch to our accommodations for the night at Fox Glacier.  In Fox Glacier we had the luxury of having cell service and wifi again!

Haast Pass

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.

The mountains coming through low hanging cloud

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 mist

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.

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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

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

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

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

The road veers from Lake Hawea and picks up the north shore of Lake Wanaka pictured here

Another view of Lake Wanaka

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

Waterfall at a scenic pullover point along Haast pass

Snow topped mountains in the distance

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!