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Published: November 3rd 2007
Managed to cycle from Hokitiki to Franz Josef Glacier in two days. This included an overnight stop off at a place called Harihari. This part of the trip was memorable for one reason, this been that the bike did not give me any gyp. Whilst I am sure that this scenary is spectacular it has become the norm so it kind of loses its effect after a while sadly. As is to be expected of this part of the NZ it rained all the way. Contrary to my initial expectations the tent withstood everything and only let in a few rogue drips. It gets pretty cold at night, managed to remedy this problem with a good five layers, scarf around my face and a wooly hat. This leaves just the nose exposed for obvious reasons.
I got to Franz Josef sometime around mid day. As is the norm when I stop cycling the sun comes out. I am not bitter, fair enough if the big man wants to play it this way! Franz Josef the village like other parts of NZ I have visited seems to exist to service the tourist industry. For a place that seems to exist for
this purpose it is still quite a nice place really. Amazingly whilst I was in Franz Josef it didn’t rain. This really is quite amazing as Franz Josef receives about 11 meters of rain a year. I am now in Queenstown which is a few days cycling away and they get about 2/3 meters a year. It shows in the landscape as well with Franz Josef area been a rainforest and the Queenstown area been quite desolate in places.
I did a half day walk on the Franz Josef glacier with a group and to be honest it was a bit boring. I felt like a bit of an arse as everyone else was ranting and raving about how good it was. Granted it does look pretty spectacular from a distance. However when you get close vast swathes of the lower part resemble a murky slush puppy. I am starting to think because of cycling on my tod around NZ that the pre arranged tourism thing is fast losing its appeal. When I am cycling on my own I expect the unexpected and it often happens for one reason or another. To a large extent I enjoy this and
This is actually the highest point I cycled too. 1063 m. Its between Wanaka and Queenstown. Id like to believe it is still arthurs pass. Not quite the same in the sunshine though
it’s all completely free, apart from the wrath the NZ landscape incurs on my bike. After all that id probably walk on the glacier again. I did find out in Franz Josef that Americans don’t eat maple syrup with bacon. This erased one of my most common misconceptions about this country, America that is. Franz Josef did serve a purpose after all.
I spent the next day cycling between Franz and fox glacier. It only takes about 2 hours but is probably the toughest 30km I have done on the trip so far. Up hill down hill no respite. Once again the rain revealed its ugly mug. It was nice to find a hostel at fox glacier that had a nice warm fire place. The bloke who ran the hostel was like most Kiwi’s. He was into his outdoor pursuits and talked to me at length about white baiting, turns out this is pretty lucrative. From what he was telling me things can get a bit heated on the river bed. Sounds like a bit of senor whoppy episode to me. It also turns out that he hates Kea birds as well (good man) he had the look of
someone who carries a gun or 10. He could have come in quite handy on Arthur’s pass.
From Fox it was on to Haast Pass village. 130km south of Fox, but the roads were pretty kind and I was motoring along. I got to about 110 km and BANG. This was the ooooo so familiar sound of a buggered wheel and inner tube. It wasn’t as if I was miles away from my destination so I decided to walk the remainder with my bike. This probably took me ages but it seemed to be over in a matter of minutes. It was good to have a problem at the end of the day rather than slap bang in the middle of the day for once.
I got into Haast pass village and after walking around for about 1 minute I realized there was no bike shop or any other shop for that matter selling bike paraphernalia. This shouldn’t have been a shock but it was. This confirmed my fears that I was going to have to make an effort at the hostel to make myself known. This was in order to get a cheeky lift to Wanaka over
Looking down from lower part of glacier
the Haast pass. Just as it happens I got chatting to Bill from St Albans who was a mortgage sales person. Turns out that contrary to his chosen career he was ok. Anyhow I casually dropped into the conversation that my bike was buggered. I think the fact that it was raining outside just added to the sense of my helpless situation. There it was a lift over Haast pass secured with Bill and his merry family in a Maui campervan. This thing was a beast and had ample room to store my bike. Im not sure that his wife and daughter were too chuffed about having a muddy mountain bike cramping there foot space. Nevermind, I don’t think our paths shall ever cross again. Bill took me all the way to Wanaka (1st inhabited place with bike shop) he is now a legend in my eyes.
Wanaka is a great place. Huge lake, nice beaches, snow capped mountains and to top it all off boiling weather. O and one bike shop. Stayed in this place for one night, carbed up and re discovered my Zest for cycling after a few crappy days.
The next day I set
murky slush puppy
not exactly attenborough terminology but it will do
off for Queenstown. This was the 1st time since my painful 1st day on the saddle that I had chosen to take a scenic road as designated by the map. This is purely because I find that scenic roads seem to induce Dr Pain. To a degree it was a bit painful but no where near as much as I expected. If I had been cycling the same road but the opposite way round it certainly would have been painful. For the 1st time on my trip I found myself in the company of other cyclists. All of these crazy people were riding the opposite way to me though, absolute glutens for punishment. I don’t think anyone could pay me to cycle up that steep one. Anyhow it was nice to be able to shout out words of “encouragement” at my fellow cyclists, rather than been on the receiving end of it which has oo so frequently happened on this trip. After this little episode my karma has probably once again returned to par.
I am now something like 180km from Bluff (revised finishing line) so in theory i could be there on monday/tuesday. BUT i am taking the
Its a mirror lake. i am sure the one in witherslack does the same? maybe im wrong or just dreaming
long way around the Caitlans so i can feast my eyes on a bit of NZ wildlife. So close yet so far indeed.
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