Tandem Turners Westside

Lovin' it

The cycling in New Zealand really stepped up a notch after we reached Lake Wakatipu – the riding harder and the views more spectacular. In fact, I have had a stupid grin on my face for the last two weeks. It’s been bonkers – the mountains, the waterfalls, the grey wild Tasman sea, rainforests and glaciers ripping through the land. We have had some of our best camping here too.

The descent from the Crown Range was an exciting rim melting ride as our happy faces show outside the famous Cardrona Hotel. Hooch really does handle well – which is good because our loaded tandem and trailer is like a runaway train on the big downhills.

The other side of the Crown Range

After watching the sunset behind Lake Wanaka we camped by a river in a place called Albert Town – it was a fitting end to a brilliant day – with Katherine cooking up one of her carb-filled banquets.

The camping maybe a bit rough - but we eat like kings!

The spectacular dawn sun that cut through the freezing river mist was a sign of another great day ahead.

A freezing but stunning start to the day - Albert Town

It started with the little used road along the side of Lake Hawea, with the sun warming our cold limbs. The silence of the glassy lake and gentle hills meant the morning drifted past in a dream-like way.

Lunch spot by the lake

 

Great views all the way

 

Notice we now have funky new shades from Queenstown ($5 bargains!)

After a short climb back over the saddle, called the Neck, we were back hugging the jagged mountains along Lake Wanaka. When crossing the Neck we passed ten minutes chatting to a road worker who had the job of watching the day’s sun rise and fall over the lake while turning a stop/go sign now and then – no-one seemed to mind stopping for him to drink in the views. With no desire to rush on we found a quiet a little beach where we could camp called Boundary Creek.

Setting up camp - Lake Wanaka

While Kat did some practical things, I felt the call of the wild and went for a wash and swim. The silent views were breathtaking as was the icy water. I told Kat to join me using the phrase ‘I feel so alive’ – my blue tinge told her exactly what this meant. This is everything I hoped a simple life on the road would be – a perfect day.

 

Washing in Lake Wanaka

Day 34 took us away from the lakes and finally over to the West Coast, twisting and careering through the thick forest over the Haast Pass. Waterfalls poured out of the rocky walls of the forest and high above water projected out from the vertical green faces of the mountains. It was a rush to slalom down the tight drops, with raging rivers directly below and the moving shadows of the mountains from every turn and angle.

Loving the twists and turns of the Haast Pass

 

Mountains and waterfalls everywhere

 

Waterfalls at the roadside

On Kat’s suggestion we pushed on further than we planned. We knew the thick forest would end and we would come out at the coast – but when? As dark came in and rain came down thick and hard from the hidden mountain tops, it was a tense moment, reminiscent of the Catlins a few weeks before – but this time we held it together, joked through the situation and arrived soaked and cheeky grinned in Haast Village. The West Coast.

An amusing evening was spent in the camp kitchen, as it was taken over by a 4WD club who were spending the annual Queen’s birthday bank holiday weekend driving their big toys along dirt tracks. While we tucked into our pasta, they eagerly watched back videos made that day of winching each other out of bogs, chainsawing trees across their track and riding through rivers that came over their bonnets.

Day off - Kat hangs up the washing

We were promised spectacular scenery and rain on the West Coast and it delivered both as we headed north.

Engulfed by rainforest on Highway 6

 

Taking a moments shelter - the Tasman below

One morning we woke to a little deer munching near our tent.  The next day we arrived in Fox and cycled 20km down a one-way track through steep forest to avoid expensive camp fees – Gillespies beach was pretty remote…

Morning deer

Desolate campsite - Gillespies Beach

Another wet soggy start to the day - Gillespies Beach

Although we knew that there were glaciers flowing into the forests of the West Coast, it was still surreal to cycle up to the face of Fox Glacier.  It was nice to spend an hour off the bike – walking up the ragged valley cut by the ice over the years.

Near the face - Fox

Tramping to the face of Fox

After a few wild nights camping in a damp tent, it came as a wonderful relief when a holiday camp in Franz Josef gave us a gravelly, but super cheap site for the night.  Not only this but their sympathies stretched to a free private spa pool and sauna for the evening.  It was bliss to sit in the hot bubbles to ease our aches and pains for a while.  A romantic bottle of wine brought colour to our cheeks – though we had to drink it from our camping cup…

And finally…

We all have a creek with our name on it

 

 

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5 Responses to Tandem Turners Westside

  1. veronica nickels says:

    such a lovely suprise to see your splendid pictures this morning, the views are truly amazing and you both look so well, i hope your knee has improved. the weather still looks pretty bleak as it is here, rain and more rain, back into winter clothes this morning. remember i told you i had emptied the fish pond, well it is now full to the brim or rainwater, so perhaps i will treat some fish to a nice pond. also over the weekend i put the step ladder out that you got for me and it looks very good with an array of pots and plants, thank you for that. anyway, as i said it was a suprise to see your pictures and read your stories, keep up the good work and look forward to hearing from you again soon.

  2. Elaine Nicholls says:

    Hi Mr & Mrs T
    It’s a real treat to read your journal and to see photographs of the places you are visiting . They bring back lovely memories of our family trip to NZ (only ours was in the comfort of a people carrier!) I think you are an amazing couple and send you my very best wishes.

  3. Amie says:

    Happy birthday steve!!! Have you got anything special planned for today? Maybe splash out on a fancy hotel for the night?

    Well done on conquering the south island already! At this rate, you’ll be home in no time at all!!!

    Xxx

  4. brother/brother-in-law says:

    HAHAHA – the last picture is great. You do suffer from really bad wind. But hopefully that will speed you up. Oh and you do talk a lot… lucky Stephen.

    Happy Birthday Stephen

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FchMuPQOBwA

  5. shenel says:

    Amazing pictures. Missing you both lots xxx

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