The Best of Many Countries. Te Anau to Wanaka

Saturday, March 21st. Te Anau to Mavora Lakes.  74 Km (37 Km gravel)


   When I was young and growing up in the small country towns of Northern California, we would spend most of our days outside, riding bicycles along the dirt roads down which we lived. I’m having a second childhood.  Except that now I have to prepare my own meals.   

  We ended the day at a campsite in the mushroom forest around the Mavora Lakes with curious birds following our moves as we set up the tents and our first attempt at using the camp stove.   

Run kids!!  Run for your lives. The roads aren’t the world’s safest.   

Sunday, March 22nd. Mavora Lakes to Arrowtown (via Queenstown).  78 Km (58 Km gravel)  

We met a local guy who said that you could recognize a bit of many countries in New Zealand. Today it was Iceland, mountains in Scotland and lakes of Switzerland. It was also one of the most spectacular single days that I’ve ever ridden.    A red bellied hawk followed us for two Kilometres flying from post to post, keeping a short distance in front of us and looking out for rodents that might be stirred up by our passing.     It had poured all night and we woke up in our campsite to a wet, almost icy, grey morning. The clouds hung down over the mountains leaving us to guess what was above, much of it looking vaguely familiar.  A fair bit of The Lord of the Rings was filmed along today’s ride. In 58 Kilometres of gravel we saw three cars and a lone Canadian cyclist with an alarmingly sunburned face. I put on more sunblock as we spoke. We groused about the high prices then she carried on pushing her bike up the long, steep hill.  

  After a smooth ride across the lake on the steamer Earnslaw, we rode another 20 km to Arrowtown, stopping, exhausted at the first restaurant we found just before dark.  


Monday, March 23rd. Rest day in Arrowtown. Hiked the Sawpit Gully Trail. 2 hours

Small ski town with a Colorado mountain feel and prices. The trees were teasing with hints of the golden fall coming in a few weeks. Great food and a new tie for best carrot cake at Provisions Café and its Meryl Streep in Julie and Julia, owner.  Great place to chill out and avoid the backpacker crowds of Queenstown. 


Tuesday, March 24th. Arrowtown to Wanaka via Crown Range. 55 Km. 

Cycled New Zealand’s highest paved road today. Three steep hours to the top then downhill to Wanaka.  


 Seemed shorter as we stopped to take photos constantly and had an excellent lunch at the Cardrona Hotel. 


Wednesday, March 25th. Hiked to Rob Roy Glacier.  3 hours. 


 Rest day and our last day of travel with Rodney. Took a van to the Rob Roy Glacier trailhead and tried to enjoy the scenic terror ride along the lake with our crazed Palestinian driver doing 90 km per hour on the gravel roads, passing Chinese tourists with their totalled car sliding sideways and taking one lane mini bridges at 80.  Would make a lovely bike ride if there weren’t cars throwing rocks out like lawn sprinklers as they screamed by. We survived and had lunch under the glaciers to the sound of a small avalanche and a high school class of girls in estrus and the male mating call of “ya bloody goose chaser.”  The meaning of this escapes me. Great day hike and would make a beautiful bike ride. 


Spent the evening with Kirsten and Jamie Roy who graciously cooked up a BBQ feast for us and had some excellent travel advice. 


Thursday, March 26th. Rest day in Wanaka.  

Still feeling lazy and sad to see Rodney off. Two weeks went by too quickly. Rodney graciously carried more of my unused stuff back to Hong Kong. Got rid of my laptop, a jacket and wool cycling shorts and jersey.  Yeah for the extra room in the panniers. 

Met up with Baz and Ellen from the Milford Track and  watched “Wild,” our first movie of the trip.  Sympathy as she struggled with the weight of her pack and leaving books behind.  

Friday, March 27th. Wanaka. Hiked Iron Mountain.  1.5 hrs. 


 Hiked up Mt Iron with Kirsten and Jamie for a late sunrise and the launch of a NASA weather balloon.  Smaller than expected but still impressive and worth it just for the views. 




Afternoon was spent off balance and lost in the maze at Puzzling World with Baz and Ellen. Must do in Wanaka. 



Get me out of here!  


Saturday, March 28th. Wanaka. Rain day

Rainy morning so we decided to have some more R&R in Wanaka. There are worse places to sit out the rain and spend the day café and carrot cake hopping. Impressive showing by the carrot cake at Relish Café on the lakefront. 

Map of our route.   

 Photos of fungi found this week. The first is an unusual morel like mushroom that I’ve never seen before.  It’s not in my Mushrooms of New Zealand book.   


Parting shot.  Not everything is expensive in New Zealand.    


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