Sunday, 9 November 2014

Day 4: Fox Glacier to Queenstown via Haast Pass and Wanaka 364 km

It is a glorious day for a ride in South Westland.

South Westland and Fiordland have the highest rainfall in New Zealand.
We are blessed today.
The weather maps for today show us that it is the only region of the country that is fine.

We begin with a sumptuous breakfast at the Lake Matheson Cafe.  Again we feel as if we are overseas. The staff are from various countries and they provide marvellous service.  The  mountain view from the cafe deck is beyond description.   We have walked around Lake Matheson -'The Mirror lake' before so we decide to head to the mountains.

After breakfast we adjourn to the Helicopter office and sign up for a flight to Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. It is a perfect day for a helicopter ride.  We land on Fox Glacier and are awed by the peace, serenity and magnificence of the mountain scene.

The hosts at Lake Matheson Motel suggested we go toward Gillespies' Beach to the mountain view point. We are glad we follow their advice.  We can see Fox Glacier.
The viewpoint has a poignant memorial to people who were killed in a nearby aeroplane crash in 2010.

We ride south to Paringa and stop for lunch at the Paringa Salmon Farm. We stop here every time we come this way. Good food and a wonderful welcome.

Onwards through the forests to Bruce Bay and Haast,  then  east to Makaroroa over the Main Divide, Lake Wanaka, Lake Hawea,  the Crown Range to our southern home in Queenstown.

I have posted lots of photographs to share this magnificent day.

Mt Tasman dominates the mountain scene from Lake Matheson Cafe..

Which mountain is Mt Cook?
Dick will know... he climbed Mt Cook in January 2000.

 Check the gnomon...

Not one of us.

Typical wetlands near Paringa where we stop for our annual salmon lunch and for smoked salmon. Great place for a stop.
The Tasman Sea - pacified today.
The Southern Alps
Roadside mowers at work.

The Haast River lures us eastward.
Until today the Haast Road has been closed from 6pm-10am while major repairs have been done in several places - in particular here at Diana Falls where an massive landslide across the road washed away a vehicle in 2012.
A walk in the forest at the Main Divide.
Along the shores of Lake Wanaka where we encounter rock falls.
Rock falls have been a feature of the last couple of days.
The recent heavy rainfall has caused rock and mud falls on the roads south of Murchison.
It reminds us of the roads in South America.
Along the shores of Lake Hawea

To the summit of the Crown Range road...
 and over the other side.
It would be even more exciting if slow vehicles would refrain from speeding up on the straight roads. This vehicle crept down the hair pin bend section and sped up to 120km/hour on the straights.

We are acutely aware of the high accident rate of rental car drivers in this southern region.
Earlier today we followed a black APEX rental car driver who alternated driving on both the left and right side of the road. When he tried to turn into the Paringa Salmon Farm he overshot the turn and almost ended up in the ditch.

I am glad that my driver is very alert to other road users.

Hair pin bends take us to the Wakatipu basin where...
...the peonies are in bloom and we are at our southern home.
A superb day on the road.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Day 3: Picton to Fox Glacier via the Buller Gorge and Westport 577km

We make an early start from the Ferry Link Motel, Picton and ride through the Koromiko Valley to Blenheim.
It is sunny and cold this morning. 7 degC

We stop for Breakfast, a wonderful breakfast, at Raupo cafe on the banks of the Taylor River. It is on the site of the aviary whose inhabitants amused me and my brother and sister when were children. There used to be monkeys, birds and a sulphur crested cockatoo with a extensive vocabulary of swear words.
Nowadays the entertainment is people watching - school girls cycling along the path along tow path, along with runners, dog walkers, and a bronze sculpture of two beavers.

Once we leave Blenheim and head up the Wairau Valley (we are actually heading south) we ride through many miles of vineyards.
Further on we encounter many  loaded logging trucks hurtling down the Wairau Valley.

We stop for a break at Lake Rotoiti. Our annual photo stop.

All is quiet at 7.30am in Picton.
The perfume of the flowering broom reminds us of Patagonia. One of the many differences about travelling on a bike is that it is a multi sensory experience. In this case it is smells - the floral smells, or it might be someone baking, fresh mown grass or sometimes it is less pleasant smells - silage, someone smoking or diesel fumes.

The clock tower in Seymour Gardens, Blenheim.

Wairau River
Lake Rotoiti, is part of  Nelson Lakes National Park which incorporates the northernmost mountains of the Southern Alps.
If you are walking the Te Araroa Trail you will walk through this region.
We have hiked up the shores of the lake and over the Travers Saddle and back to Lake Rotoroa.
The water taxi is waiting for passengers but we have other plans for today.
The Rainbow mountains

Tame eels at the Rotoiti jetty.

Buller river is born out of Lake Rotoiti. We will follow through the gorge to Westport.

But first we stop at Beechwoods Cafe Murchison for coffee.

I was surprised at the reaction of a couple of fellow bikers here. They  ignored Dick as he went into the cafe. In my usual friendly style  I  greeted them. The suspicious and doubtful response was 
"Where are you from?" They had seen some of our american stickers and had been offended by our South Dakota sticker "God, Guns and Guts made America great". Things thawed and we had a friendly chat with them. I think that once they had established a link with Ken we were OK. There aren't many degrees of separation between kiwis. There are fewer among the population of bikers.
We also had coffee with a Nelson chap who had ridden 200,000km  in New Zealand on his 2004 BMW.

Abundant broom in full flower.
The narrow Buller River Gorge road. One way in some places.
The first time I ever rode on  motorcycle - January 2010 - the flood waters had just receded and the road was open.
Coal along the hill sides south of Charleston.
The stormy weather that preceded us created magnificent seascapes down the west coast.
Beech forest, punga, nikau and very tidy berms - freshly mown in the style of the Blue Ridge Parkway in The Carolinas, USA.

The Punakaiki Rocks - always worth the 20 minute walk.

Upthrust rocks at the entry to Greymouth.
One lane bridges are common along this route. Trains get to share this bridge.

White Bait fisherfolk on the Hokitika river. The season is nearly over.

 The lush pastureland supports a thriving dairy industry on the slopes of the southern alps.
We are very fortunate that we escape the rain.
The temperature falls as we approach Fox glacier.

The green paddocks give way to a monochromatic mountain scene to the east.

This has been a wonderful day for a ride through some of the South island's most spectacular scenery.