CYCLE TOUR - SMALL ENCOUNTERS


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Oceania » New Zealand » South Island » Wanaka
March 13th 2010
Published: March 13th 2010
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Alan And AngelaAlan And AngelaAlan And Angela

At a cafe at Haast. Angela the tour guide asked Alan the tractor driver how much money they'd raised for children with cancer. He said he wasn't supposed to tell, but told us anyway. It was nearly twice their original target.
A quick apology. I'm sorry, some subscribers may have received a second email re my blog about the kotuku, white herons, near Okarito. There was a little glitch in the system, and my efforts to correct it resulted in the second alert. Hopefully, it won't happen again. Now read on.

People and Places



We were a strange threesome to wash up at the same café table in Haast.
There was Angela, the young American cycle tour guide who was on a day off. There was Alan, the not-so-young southern farmer who was taking part in the tractor charity ride to raise funds for children with cancer. And there was me, trying to drag myself away from the conversation and start my day’s riding.
Alan was chatting about elderly tourists on the sightseeing coaches that do the lengthy return trip beween Queenstown and Milford Sound.
“It’s a wonder some of the old folk don’t kark it along the way”, he said using that kiwi expression.
Angela looked at me and there was a tiny flicker of bewilderment. Then she got it.
“Kark it?” she said using her hand to slice an
A Familiar FaceA Familiar FaceA Familiar Face

Tour guide Neville steped off this coach at Pleasant Flat, near the Gates of Haast. He's an old friend of Judy's and it was great to see him.
imaginary knife across her throat. I nodded in confirmation, we laughed and both turned back to Alan who was still in full flight.
They were delightful company, and just two of a blur of faces I’ve met over the past few days as I’ve travelled down the west coast from Hokitika, over the Haast Pass and now to Wanaka.

Great Cycling



The people have almost overshadowed the scenery, though not the riding. It’s been perfect. The days have varied in length from 45 kilometres to more than a 120. There’s been lots of sunshine, as well as the inevitable headwinds and even a little rain.

Encounters to Remember



But it’s the people that will remain with me. For example, the motorcyclists I’ve met. My interest in motorbikes makes it easy for me to start conversations and within moments I’ve found myself deeply caught up in the merits of various machines; single cylinder BMW Dakars, Honda’s twin cylinder Transalp and even Harley Davidsons, which I dislike for all their unnecessary American flashiness.
And then there are the cyclists of the pedal variety, like myself. Dozens of us have been
Tractor TrekTractor TrekTractor Trek

The tractor trek from Southland has been raising funds for charity, and doing a fine job by the sound of it as well as having a lot of fun along the way.
sweeping up and down the west coast, and at the very least there’s a wave, a shout of acknowledgement as we pass in opposite directions.

And Then A Familiar Face



And at a tourist pullover just before Haast Pass, I received a real surprise when a man stepped off a coach and shook me by the hand. It was Neville, an old school friend and former flatmate of my wife’s. It was good to see him, but he’s a tour guide and he had a busload of passengers waiting. It wasn’t long before he had to climb back on board, promising he’d ring Judy and tell her I was ok.

As Kiwi As Pavlova



Now I’m in Wanaka, and the annual A & P Show is underway, with the Topp Twins performing. Predictably, the conversation in the campground kitchen is about farming; lamb prices, the difficulties of working marginal land, the extra paperwork farmers face these days and, of course, the weather.
And last night, one farming couple introduced me to a kiwi expression I’d never heard before. It’s ,”the hundred k critics”. When I asked what it meant,
Bikes Rule The Roads!Bikes Rule The Roads!Bikes Rule The Roads!

Well, not quite. But at a cafe on the way to Haast, two big groups of cyclists arrived in a short space of time. They were all on two tours, and must have been good for business.
I was told they are motorists who dob in farmers for all sorts of reasons - for example, having unfenced waterways that allow stock to pollute rivers and streams.
“100 k critics”. Well, it’s a new one on me. I wonder if Angela the tour guide has heard it?





Additional photos below
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Jana - Cool Chick With SunniesJana - Cool Chick With Sunnies
Jana - Cool Chick With Sunnies

From Frankfurt, Jana is enjoying NZ so much she's contemplating how she can stay. We met on the road to Makarora, when both of us were battling a headwind. We stayed at the same (only) campsite and I was impressed by her ability to eat. She's a six-weetbix-for-breakfast kinda girl, and put away a bowl of pasta in the evening that might have challenged even me.
Shovelling Down The FoodShovelling Down The Food
Shovelling Down The Food

I usually find that 90 minutes after breakfast I'm ready to eat again. Here I am having two sandwiches and a piece of carrot cake at a lookout at Lake Hawea. While I was eating, people were pulling up in their cars and camper vans and taking snaps of the view without even getting out. Somehow we cyclists feel we get more out of our surroundings by working our way through them, rather than sitting on our backsides.
Makarora RiverMakarora River
Makarora River

On the occasions I've been on tramping trips in this area, we've always used a jetboat to cross the Makarora. But this time it looked (almost) low enough to be able to ford it on foot. Last time I tramped here, our jetboat driver retrieved a body from the river the day before he picked us up. We'd got ourselves stuck trying to cross a tributary and had to pitch our tent rather than reach a hut for the night.
Wilkin River ValleyWilkin River Valley
Wilkin River Valley

A beautifull valley that leads up to a glacial lake, as well as allowing access to and from the Young Valley and (in another direction) over dangerous Rabbit Pass.


13th March 2010

Wilkin River Valley shot
What a lovely photo...looks almost like a painting! Am really enjoying your SI journey...pre Alasdair and Fiona I would go to the SI every year, tramping...not as strenous as you and Judy, you understand! Mind you, I still seem to find excuses to get there...Enjoy.
14th March 2010

Such a delight ...
... to read you and see your photos - "Shovelling Down the Food" has such a fantastic background. I sit and sigh at the beauty of it all. And I loved the Kotuku bulletin. Hope you got my reports that the climb went fabulously well - postcard sent to Summer Street. Will send more detail/photos to Judy. xx
20th March 2010

Nice to hear from you!!!
Hi Margaret, Lovely to hear from you. Yes, I remember meeting - we were trying to work out which native trees we were standing under! Will keep an eye open for you next time I'm in your patch. regards, Mike
20th March 2010

African Escapade
Hi Mel, Have had brief details of the adventure - sounds fantastic! Demand full details asap. Regards Mike

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