New Zealand, Haast to Queenstown

We woke to another cold, wet day but even then we weren’t downhearted, we had a tough day ahead and that was taking centre stage !!
From Haast to Makaroroa it’s 81km, not so bad a hear you cry…but wait, between them lies the Haast pass, a 600m monster !!
We said our goodbyes to Aran and wished him well with his journey, saddled up and set off, the first 55km were on rolling roads, not flat and not hilly but enough to give the legs a little workout. The damp air and low hanging mist added a dramatic air to the already beautiful scenery. You wind your way up the valley, climbing ever so slightly as you follow the river. We had company during the ride, the cyclists we’d met that were on a supported trip were also on there way up and over the pass. It was actually quite good to have them around as they provided all the encouragement we needed to get over the pass ourselves.
After about 50km the road swings left over a bridge then turns right and carries on up hill, just a little steeper now. After another 5km you enter the Gates of Haast and swing right over the Haast Bridge then left as you come of the other end, now the fun really starts !!
We were already in crawler gear and the road just ramped up a couple of notches, I was having to push really hard to keep going forward now. I’ll admit we stopped a couple of times and each time we did we were encouraged either by our friendly cyclists, motor cycle riders, motor home drivers or just about anyone else πŸ˜‰ It certainly makes a difference to your morale and with that we just kept on turning the pedals. There had been a huge rock fall at the Diana Falls and they were still clearing it, the road is down to one lane with traffic lights…I was thankful for the “stop” light πŸ˜‰
Our friendly cyclists yet again encouraged us for the last effort to the top and were kind enough to offer water, such lovely people !
We’d made it, well almost, it’s actually a false summit and after about 5km of rolling hills along the pass you make the last climb to the true summit, there’s even a plaque to make sure you know !!
So, we took photos, drank some water then took the plunge down the hill towards Makaroroa, another 18km further on. It’s a fantastic descent and it brings you out onto some incredible flat lands along side a river but surrounded by brooding hills. After the flats it’s more rolling hills before a final descent into Makarora.
We stopped at the only place in town, bar, shop, cafe, restaurant, tourist information, petrol station, motel and camp ground !! Coffee and cake swiftly dealt with we headed for our cabin, on the way we bumped into Richard and Katy and promptly turned round and headed back to the cafe for more coffee and a catch up. As we were sitting there another couple of cyclists turned up, a French couple that we’d not met yet but Richard and Katy had. They’d cycled with them for a couple of days already, so more coffee, more chat and then the four of them left to head towards Wanaka while Naomi and I stayed in Makarora.
We had a great night in the bar and treated ourselves to fish and chip suppers and a few beers…we’d earned it !!
Well here you are, pictures from the days ride….
A tough day at the office !!
The ride from Makarora to Wanaka was 64km, definitely not flat but only a couple of large hills and the rest just the usual rolling hills. Again we’d follow the river until it becomes Lake Wanaka. You then follow the lake for a fair while until the road turns left up a hill called The Neck (quite steep) and at the top you can see Lake Wanaka behind you and in front is Lake Hawea.
The views are incredible, I know I keep saying that but I’m running out of superlatives here, everytime I think I’ve seen the best New Zealand has to offer it just ups the level a few notches !!
Anyway from the Neck you descend to the lake and follow it around the right hand side all the way to Hawea. It’s a tough road with a few good climbs but the scenery keeps you interested and some !! With 15km still to go you reach the turn off for Hawea, we took it and indulged in coffees and lunch in a lovely little cafe called Sailz before getting back on track to Wanaka. 5km out of Wanaka you enter Albert Town, now really a suburb of Wanaka and at the T Junction you turn right for the last few km into town.
We quickly found the iSight and enquired about camps and cabins, yet again they were fantastic and very quickly we had a cabin at a camp less than one km from town πŸ˜‰
We dumped our kit, sorted the washing, showered and ate before riding into town for a quick look around and to do some shopping. Another great day in paradise πŸ˜‰
Best show you a few photos then….
I did say it was incredible, I wasn’t lying !!
The following day we walked into town after what I must admit was a late breakfast. We were heading back to the iSight when we stopped to talk to a guy with a motor cycle trike who was doing local one hour tours, we thought it would be a great way to see the area so climbed on board !
Warm jackets were provided and with helmets with intercom we were able to hear the drivers narrative. He stopped at all the best locations for photos and gave up us both a great tour not to mention some good memories !!
Well back in town we finally made it to the iSight to enquire about hiring a car in Dunedin, just for once they couldn’t help us πŸ˜‰
We had a good old mooch round town, did a little window shopping then ended up in the Speights Ale House for lunch and a few beers πŸ˜‰
Back at camp later we heard from Richard and Katy, we planned to meet them later for a beer and we’d be taking another friend with us. We met John in the camp kitchen, he’s a Brit and had cycled all the way from the UK to Singapore then caught a flight to New Zealand, impressive ride !!
We had a great night out, swapping stories, telling tales and drinking beer but both Naomi and myself called a halt before it got out of hand as the following day could well be our toughest day yet !!
But first some more photos….
Wanaka, I can see why people get here and don’t want to leave !!
The time has come, we’ve been thinking about it, worrying about it and to be honest getting very excited about it….The Crown Saddle !!
Wanaka is at 300m and from there you follow the Cardrona Valley all the way up to 1100m, it’s a 45km ride to the top !! It starts quite steeply just to get out of town, then drops into the valley, turns right to follow the river and starts to climb. It’s really gentle to be honest and by the time you’ve reached the famous Cardrona Hotel we’d covered 25km and were at about 550m. We still had most of the climb to do and less than half the mileage.
We stopped at the hotel for coffee and cake, we got lucky, fireside seats πŸ˜‰
After warming up we were back on it, from here the road starts to climb steeper and every couple of km it gets steeper, crawler gear again !!
The last couple of km really did test us and there was a lot of huffing and puffing as we manhandled our heavy bikes to the summit. What a relief, our toughest climb was over, time to take photos and enjoy the ride down. What a ride, you can see the road weaving it’s way through the valley, clinging to the rocky outcrop as it hurtles down into the valley over 1000m below.
It levels out for a while then you find yourself at a viewing point….and what a view !!
Below is this fertile valley with a lake way of in the distance and Arrowtown nestled in there somewhere. Between that and you is this amazing series of hairpin bends writhing it’s way down the hill, we could barely wait to get started.
What a rush, with the roads almost empty of cars we had a ball, taking the corners wide to keep our speed up and get the most out of the descent !
At the bottom is a T junction, turn right and almost immediate right and your heading to the gold rush town of Arrowtown. It’s a heritage town now and I have to say it’s very quaint, expensive and quaint !! We found a campsite, pitched our tents and showered before heading on into town to have a look and grab some lunch. We walked the Main Street, checked out the shops and dreamed a little πŸ˜‰
There’s an old Chinese settlement in town and it’s been preserved now to show respect for the early Chinese prospectors who braved immense hardships to come looking for there fortunes. We took a look and although there’s not much to look at you can tell how hard it would have been here during the cold winter months.
Back at camp we caught up on email, Facebook and writing blogs (this one ) !
So best take a look at some photos…..20140215-212411.jpg20140215-212424.jpg20140215-212435.jpg20140215-212447.jpg20140215-212503.jpg20140215-212550.jpg20140215-212602.jpg20140215-212615.jpg20140215-212631.jpg20140215-212645.jpg20140215-212656.jpg20140215-212711.jpg20140215-212723.jpg20140215-212740.jpg20140215-212805.jpg20140215-212820.jpg20140215-212831.jpg20140215-212844.jpg20140215-212908.jpg20140215-212920.jpg20140215-212933.jpg20140215-212948.jpg20140215-213013.jpg20140215-213023.jpg20140215-213110.jpg20140215-213127.jpg20140215-213139.jpg20140215-213153.jpg20140215-213205.jpg
Great little town, fantastic ride with epic views and amazing descents !!
There was festival in Frankton, not to far from our campsite, and a few revellers came back quite late and making lots of noise. Despite this we slept well and woke quite late for us, we only had about 25km to cycle so were in no hurry. While we had breakfast we left the tents drying in the sun as we wouldn’t need them for the next three nights. We left at about 9.30 and took Malaghans Road out of Arrowtown as we wanted to get to Queenstown via the Shotover jet boats and Arthur’s Point. It starts with a short downhill to a cross roads where you turn right, this will then take you all the way into town. The route is through a large open valley, dominated by the hills in the distance. The colours in the rural landscape are fantastic and we stopped quite often for photos. It didn’t take to long to arrive at the Edith Cavell bridge, the location for the Shotover jet boats, they have a cafe here so of course we stopped and took photos, drank coffee and ate yet more cake !!
It amazing to watch the boats hurtling through the narrow canyon and under the bridge, they really throw those boats around !
After the excitement of jet boats we were back to the sedate travel of push bikes and one last big hill before arriving in Queensland. We stopped on the way in at the iSight, we needed directions to camp, luckily for us though we couldn’t check in until 2.00pm so we stopped at the pub for a beer and lunch πŸ˜‰
The camp is a Top 10 site and is very busy, just as well Naomi booked our cabin over a week ago ! It’s a great room and you don’t even have to go outside for the toilets and showers…how posh is that !!
We dumped our kit, locked our bikes in there storage facility and headed into town. Naomi needed some new cycle shorts and this town has plenty of sports and outdoor shops. Well she found a pair but I fell in love with an icebreaker jacket…..I think my credit card hates me now !!
We like Queenstown, it’s got a great vibe about it and it’s a beautiful setting being surrounded by mountains. So much activity here as well, bungy jumps and swings, jet boats, horse rides, mountain bikes, paragliding, rafting, sailing, kayak, boat trips, fishing, four wheel drive tours….the list is endless and you could spend thousands of dollars on it !! Were just doing a trip to Milford Sounds, it’ll be a long day but if the weathers good it should be beautiful.
So here are the last photos for this blog…












I make no apologies for the last photos, it’s been digitally enhanced but I think it looks great !!
Well folks, that’s the end of yet another blog / diary, I hope you’ll keep reading, liking and commenting πŸ˜‰
Take care


About John Chevis

I'm a forty something single guy who spent far to long depressed, but luckily for me I found an answer in the form of exercise !! I started running and cycling on a regular basis and now two and a half years later I'm cycling the world !!
This entry was posted in Cycling, New Zealand, south island, world cycle tour and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to New Zealand, Haast to Queenstown

  1. Graham says:

    Hi Both of You, loving the blogs and photos as always. Reminds me I need to get out more! Take care Graham

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