Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Queenstown to Haast

Dos Amigos
 ____Away from Frankton at 7 o’clock ready for a long day to Wanaka; firstly following the Kanwarau Gorge as it takes the waters of Lake Wakatipu down to Cromwell. Down hill amongst the vineyards before turning north along the west shore-line of Lake Dunston and it’s cherry orchards. Into a headwind and not a pub or café for over 100 kilometres. A night at the Southern Matterhorn Backpackers, a reference to the pinnacle shape of nearby Mount Aspiring, in Downtown Wanaka; a kind of mini-Queenstown.

____Another day of constant head wind, from Wanaka to the banks of Lake Hawea before changing to the banks of Lake Wanaka for the northward slog to Makarora. Two Spanish guys catch me up, also cycling to Makarora. One has a profile map book showing all the hills that are to come. The other has GPS on his camera and knows exactly how far we have to go; but neither has a substitute for pushing the peddles round and getting us there any easier.

____A big day riding over the Haast Pass, one of three road crossings of the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Up to a height of 564 metres and after only twenty minutes out of Makarora; it starts pouring with rain. Soaked through and with no place to shelter, I push on over the top in Westland. At Pleasant Flat Shelter comes a place to rest but it’s full of cyclists from a tour company having lunch spread out for them at the only picnic table.

“ On days like this we’re all in it together,” says the tour guide lady, “ help yourself to sandwiches and fruit.”

That’s all the encouragement I need to start hoovering up what the wet and bedraggled cycling tourist don’t need. They are having their bikes loaded on to the top of their minibus and are going over to Makarora in the warm and dry. From the rest area, I push on, non-stop, to the township of Haast and book into the warm and dry Wilderness Backpackers.

____Julius Von Haast gave his name to the Haast Pass in the 1860’s. along with the Haast River, Haast Junction and the Gates of Haast; the road was first opened to vehicles in the 1960’s. Herr Haast’s other great claim to fame is that he once bought a genuine Egyptian mummy for only $24. I would have loved to have been there when he rolled up at an Antiques Roadshow with that little beauty.

No comments:

Post a Comment