As I zoomed off in search of Niel up ahead, it started to rain. Actually that is pretty normal for the west coast, we have had great weather up till now, so we should consider ourselves lucky. I found Niel and we rode in the wet and now very cold temperatures to Haast - the last bastion of civilisation before heading over the Haast Pass to the sunny side.Niel made it 200kms to a haven called Makarora. A restaurant / cafe/ Pub/ shop, with a camp ground, chalets, and cabins. In Australia it would be called a Roadhouse. We got a cabin, - the cheaper alternative, and warmed up with two heaters going full tit, and drying everything out.
|Our Cabin at Makarora.|
Niel had had such a horrendous ride getting here, that it was decided that he could have a shorter 130 km day over the Crown Range, [New Zealand's highest and steepest highway] and have a bit of a sleep in. That meant I had time for my own bike ride if I got up early enough. So I was up at 6.45am and off for a couple of hours down the road and back. This is the dry side of the pass and it was looking like it was going to be a hot dry day.
|My bike ride around the shores of Lake Wanaka.|
|Artistic shot of the mountains.|
Lake Wanaka is a tourist town, and it was chock full of people. It felt like culture shock after days of wilderness and having the road to myself. There were cars pulling out of side streets, people milling around everywhere, including jay walking into the road, there were kids riding full tit down the middle of the road on scooters, you name it and it was there. I parked outside the information kiosk and waited for Niel. I lost count of the number of people walking around my bike and taking photos of it, at one point I was talking to a guy who had a Harley Davidson shadow, and we were complimenting each other on our bikes, he said something that stuck with me and I like. "Life is too short to have dull and boring".
The Crown Range was scary. It was so steep the Vespa felt like to wanted to conk out, and had almost no forward momentum. I thought that was bad, the down hill was even scarier. It had 97,000 hair pin bends [ just a slight exaggeration], and I had to alternate the brakes as I thought one might fail and I'd be free falling 12,000 meters down. Good old fart bottom made it though, unlike Niel.
|Top of the Crown Range looking down to Queenstown.|
So much for Niel's easy 130 km day. Just out of Wanaka, his bike had a major mechanical problem. For those of you who know a bit about bikes, his rear derailleur ripped out of the rear drop outs of his frame. Luckily he managed to salvage some chain and join it together to give himself a 3rd gear, and he had to ride 70 kms in this gear up horrendously steep roads, and then very slowly at 13 km/hr on the flat bits to Queenstown.He would 've been up the creek without a paddle if he didn't have his mechanical knowledge, or it would have been a really long walk.
We will need to take a day off to fix Niel's bike, lets see what a new day brings.