Otago now

Otago here I am

Did I do well or did I do well not going anywhere yesterday. Today stage was what all stages should be like, a bit of flat a killer hill and a dazzling descent all completed under a warm sun.

I am now not only getting south but getting into the mountains. In New Zealand terms this is heading for the cold. I hope I have not left it too late coming out here and bad weather will not spoil the rest of the return trip up north.

Moonrise over the camp just before I got to bed.
Moonrise over the camp just before I got to bed.

I could not leave before 8 this morning. I had been awake since 6:30 but I remained in the tent for an additional hour, it’s incredible how homey I find it now. From a certain point of view I feel less in transit in this leg of the trip than I felt when I was going through Europe.

While I still sleep in a new place every night at least there is the continuity provided by the same bed and the same bedroom, which I did not have in the previous stage. You might think that those were real bedrooms and real beds as opposed to the termarest mattress and the tent, but once you’re used to it, it’s no big deal.

Something told me from early on that there was going to be mountaineering involved today
Something told me from early on that there was going to be mountaineering involved today

The reason I could not leave before 8 was that I had to hand back the DVD I watched last night and get my deposit back. Once that was done I was on the road. I stopped in Haast township for breakfast, coffee and muffin, and I picked up some tips from a family of kiwi that were just leaving.

Stupid picture, but I had to take it. Do you see the name?
Stupid picture, but I had to take it. Do you see the name?

The son told me that it was a waste of time to ride between Dunedin and Christchurch, it is flat, uninteresting and full of lorries. Better option is to get a bus back up to Wanaka and go to Christchurch the back route, hilly, yes, but much more fun. I’ll have to take it under review when I know what my post Invercargill legs are like.

On the Haast River
On the Haast River

The first half of the ride today was a shallow ascent following the course of the river Haast. I covered the first 32 miles in a bit more than two hours at an average speed of 12 MpH. I did however stop many times to take pictures as the scenery was just fabulous. The heavy rain of the past few days had filled the hills and there was a whole lot of water coming out of the ground, sometime in very spectacular ways.

Just a water out of the hills
Just a water out of the hills
And some more
And some more

Looking at the mountains though I find it quite difficult to fathom where the water is coming from. They are not that high, I’d say the ones that surrounds me were no more than 1500 feet above me, and the top is devoted of vegetation. None the less there are big waterfalls all over the place.

Mountaintops
Mountaintops

The first proper Waterfall I met was the Thunder Creek Falls. I went through the short path with the bike and took a few pictures, just in time, as a bus load of people were approaching.

Thunder Creek Falls
Thunder Creek Falls

Leaving the Waterfall also meant getting on the road for the 3 miles of mountaineering of the day. I think the stretch of road betweenThunder Creek Falls and Diana Falls is easily between 15%. I had to stop many times and any opportunity for a picture was taken.

River getting faster.
River getting faster.
and then faster still.
and then faster still.

The other thing I had to do in places was to zig zag using the whole width of the road. This is a last resort type activity that requires a great deal of attention as traffic can find you where you’re not meant to be and, more critically, where they do not expect you to be. It took a good 40 minutes to do the three miles in question but eventually I got to the second waterfall that I had yesterday identified as the end of the wall.

Panorama0063copy
The great roadwork at the top of the cliff.

 

Hidden away between great slabs of rock
Hidden away between great slabs of rock

Diana falls is really a river rather than a water fall. I assume there was a waterfall at one point but it must have sided away with the massive landslide that they appear to be in the process of fixing.

It was good to get there and it now allows me to be proud of myself for having done it. the road proceeded uphill but at a much gentler rate until the next set of falls, Fantail Falls. As before I ventured on the path and even took the bike down on the river bed for a picture. There I found the couple that were in the camp ground in the morning with which I had exchanged a few words. They were intent in erecting a pile of rocks like there were many already and once they did they took a picture and left.

Funny rocks formations, all man made
Funny rocks formations, all man made

It turns out that these rocks …… well there is no answer on the internet and therefore you’ll have to find an answer yourself if you want it.

From there it was a short ride to Haast Pass. I got there and took picture but neglected the 30 minutes walk to the lookout point. I thought there was little to see that I had not seen already and the path looked terribly steep.

Had to jump onto a parked van to take this.
Had to jump onto a parked van to take this.

From the pass the descent to Makarora was in two parts, the first really steep but straight, the second just flat following the banks of the Makarora river. Being able to see what was coming ahead allowed me, in the steep bit, to let the bike go, at one point clocking 44 MpH which, given the load, felt a lot more like 144 MpH.

When at the bottom of that I calmly peddled the rest of the way ending up tin the camp for just after 15:00. the camp is quite basic but it’s also cheap. I pitched, had a shower and had some protein + muesli.

Getting spoiled with these benches
Getting spoiled with these benches

The lady at reception told me that the bar/Restaurant has a happy hour at 18:30 so I think I might just go along and see what’s good to drink around here.

Route 2,921,091 – powered by www.bikemap.net

 

Tomorrow it’s off to Wanaka and then in another day I’ll be in Queenstown where I might just do a crazy thing or two.

If one of these or both start in the morning there will be  no need for the alarm.
If one of these or both start in the morning there will be no need for the alarm.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Andrew Clowes says:

    Crazy things ? Have a Central Otago Pinot Noir or buy another chair!

  2. julca says:

    Davvero spettacolare, tutto!!!
    Meraviglioso persino il camping minimale,perfettamente integrato nel paesaggio! Niente baby dance e musica a palla fino a mezza notte, immagino!
    Alex,per piacere,trova un difetto a questo paese meraviglioso. Altrimenti carico la tenda, la Franci e parto anche io!
    Kisses

    1. Alex says:

      Il difetto unico e’ sempre lo stesso, questo posto e’ in culo ai lupi. Non si va da nessuna parte in meno di 4 ore d’aereo e per arrivare in Europa ce ne vogliono 29.

  3. julca says:

    Sono pile di ciottoli zen!
    Trovi che il luogo non fosse abbastanza mistico?
    Domani provo a farne qualcuna anche in ceramica a vedere se la trasfigurazione funziona!

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