TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 2008
Wanaka to Haast - A lot of Km
This day’s ride took us first to Lake Hawea via gradually climbing hills. We followed along Lake Hawea with it on our right, giving us something cool and calm to gaze at while our (ok - MINE) thighs burned. Morning tea with some great gingerbread and cookies was at the top of the lake, with the mountains as a backdrop. A folding lawn chair was an improvement over a saddle.
After tea commenced the afternoon’s punishing uphill ascent past an elk farm, water falls, and signs with falling rocks up to the Gates of Haast (personally, I think it should be the gates of hell). That’s one looong and steep hill. Many grannies. I’ll even admit to walking a bit. Alison, one of the guides, came by in the van at one point and said “You’ve not much further to go. It’s just up and around that wiggle and then just a little way further.” And I and the Aussie couple believed her. But when we got to the top of the next “wiggle” what did we find but another jog. Groan. Keep going. Get around that “wiggle” and then there’s Rachel with a camera and Alison half way down the jog cheering us on as if it’s a marathon. Gotta have a good finish you know, so the thighs be damned, I’m off. I’ve got to tell you that there’s no cool overlook, no stunning views and I wouldn’t have known I was there except that for a sign and Alison and Rachel telling, no promising, me that there wasn’t any more uphill. I guess that means you’re at the top. Photos all around.
And then we get to the good part. A really really steep and long down hill that curved and curved and gained more speed and then there was a runaway truck ramp (you know it’s fast when you see those) and another curve and then a really cute one lane bridge that you prayed no one was going to come through. And then we stopped for the photo ops that presented and then there was yet more downhill. Not like a rollercoaster where it’s done all to soon. And it didn’t stay as steep as the first part, but it definitely was still downhill a good 4Km. Alison picked us up at the bottom at a stop where there were stunning views of the mountains enshrouded in clouds with mist coming off a lake.
Further down the road, we stopped for a short walk in a rainforest area of Mount Aspiring National Park and then had lunch on the banks of the Landsborough River. A team of kayakers were just steaming by as we ate.
At the end of the day’s cycling we arrived at the hotel about 5PM, very tired. After a shower and cup of tea, we headed to dinner at a restaurant festooned with antlers draped over the rafters. As this is a seacoast town I ordered
the local fish, grilled. It had been panfried, but no matter - I just wanted to eat. It was still tasty. Alison took a lot of good-natured ribbing over the “last wiggle” and we all recounted the days events and the next day’s ride.
After that, all I wanted to do was go to bed.