After a couple of nights layover at my brothers in Cromwell 🏠 along with getting my barnet (hair) cut, I set forth towards the West (Wet) Coast. No amount of people have informed me, you’re going to get wet and bitten to hell … we shall see! The days are a lot more stifling now, so that sprig of hair had to go!
In no time at all I’m meeting fellow bicycle warriors 🚴♂️ More than I’ve met on my whole cycle travels in one day. I’m always up for restraining a cyclist to chat, even though they might seem reluctant at times. I’m in no rush, but still some cyclists still seem to be in the express lane of life, even on a bicycle. A young German 🇩🇪 had his front-rack held on with jubilee clips (hose-clips). He started out farther up the south island, but said he hated this cycle-touring-crap and was looking forward to it to been over. I believe more the case of struggling with a poor set-up. But then he’s out there, so that’s what counts.
Never considered what latitude 🌏 I may be on, therefore a pleasant surprise to find the 45th parallel. Thanks to some Japanese 🇯🇵 tourists for capturing the photo. How excited they were to support someone touring on a bicycle? They were nearly hysterical!
A brief stop to survey aircraft at Wanaka airfield. As pilots do 👨✈️ After filling up with water at the airfield, I’m not long on the road until I find a perfect spot for the evening. I’m getting significantly competent at this wild-camping-malarkey 🏕️ A sweet spot on the banks of the Cardrona River. Included was a pleasant evening walk down the dry riverbed. Reminds me of Namibia 🇳🇦
The next day, a short stop-over in Wanaka. Wanaka is a more compact version of Queenstown. A lot smaller, and far more pleasant, i.e. unpopulated. Nice to see a touch of snow still on the peaks overlooking the lake. Before leaving Wanaka I call into the Department Of Conversation’s visitors’ centre. Superb information to be had and a place to book those mountain huts 🛖 if out Tramping (Kiwi term for hiking 🥾)
Before long I’m meeting more cycle tourists. Travelling very light, on a road bike and a small back-pack as luggage. Not sure about the back-pack. Each to their own. David owns a bike shop in Cumbria. These guys do some high mileage per-day. 100 km’s plus. I don’t get anywhere near that … Pole Pole! Every so often it’s worth stopping and taking in the vista ⛰️ As I step down onto the beach, who’s there, but David. Enjoying a crafty 🚬 roll-up! He makes me one too!
Not far up the road after my collection of water from a passing store, I find my rest spot for the night. On what looks like a road builders gravel yard. Offers extensive views over Lake Wanaka.
The morning promptly serves up another couple of cyclists. Forgotten their names, but from the US 🇺🇸 Again, travelling lightish and putting the miles in per-day. Not like me!
Haast Pass has been talked about as a serious climb. Strange how it seemed over before it started! Must be me rolling those mountains into hills! A stop is made for lunch 🥪 with what seems a tougher hike to the summit of Haast Pass’s lookout rather than the ride.
Something about riding a bridge over a gorge. It feels alive, even though it was dry!
On striking the other side of Haast Pass at Pleasant Flats, I truly encounter the only real predator in New Zealand: sand flies 🦟 And boy, they’re in numbers here. With a bite to boot. I initially looked around the D.O.C campsite at Pleasant Flats, but seems the sand flies 🪰 have an aversion to human habitation i.e. camper vans! Therefore, I soon scarper off to find my own more peaceful setting further along the Londsborough River.
My mossie net soon became my best friend. Especially in the mornings. It becomes a genuine challenge to attempt any kind of morning ablutions 💩 with sand flies around. My tackle takes a beating or even a biting! I typically don’t win the battle!
Life is extremely pleasant once back on the bike and away from The Sand Fly. Downhill all the way following the tributary to the Haast Pass township.
Haast Pass maintains a well-stocked store. It’s here I learn from the guy in the stores on how to defend oneself from sand flies. Three quarters Baby Oil 👶 to one quarter Dettol 🧴 Soak this on a clean rag, leave in a bag, then apply liberally. Hey, at least if all else falls, I’m going to be soft and smell lush!
I stock up well from the stores and set about preparing my lunch on the bench outside. Then, my worst enemy rocks up. A coach 🚌 gorged of travelling young’uns! Generally gap-year-back-packers. Most completely spurn me as I’m looked on as some kind of vagrant and not to be approached. It’s either the bike, the hair (just escaped) or I smell like a hospital! Probably all!
I soon pack up and leave the Kiwi Xperience to their own lifestyle and mine to mine.
The journeyman rides on 🚵♂️
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