A warm welcome from Gavin’s cousin, Sue, and husband, Pete, was very much appreciated after a tiring twelve hour journey down the west coast of the South Island, to the lakeside town of Wanaka. Having emigrated 8 years ago, Sue and Pete have built a magnificent house with glorious, panoramic views over the lake and the surrounding mountains.
Keith left the next morning (Thursday 2nd March) to explore Christchurch and Westport before returning to the farm to spend more time with his son. Gavin and I took the morning to explore the bustling town of Wanaka and further along the lakeside path; much needed relaxation after such a long drive. A very pleasant walk in the forest above the house with Sue, Pete and their extremely well behaved and endearing Border Terrier, Baxter, rounded the day off perfectly.
Very trustingly, Pete and Sue loaned us their 4 wheel drive truck to venture into the Mount Aspiring National Park, some 2.6 million acres, 10% of NZ’s land mass. After several miles on a bumpy gravel road through a glacial valley, alive with herds of fat hereford cattle, thousands of sheep and farmed deer, we parked up for a 6 mile walk to view the Rob Roy glacier. Despite low cloud and high winds the glacier was an awesome sight in a hanging valley of the main river gorge. A pre-dinner game of frisby golf on a lakeside course proved hazardous for people’s knees and heads; great fun but the professionals don’t have anything to worry about!
Saturday morning, taking our leave of Pete and Sue’s wonderful hospitality, we stashed a parting gift of a picnic lunch in our panniers to start the long pedal north. A super ride, with stupendous views, along the Clutha river then the bank of lake Hawea, was compromised by fierce headwinds as we turned west along the northern end of Lake Wanaka. It took all our effort to complete the last twelve miles to Makarora where we gratefully laid our heads in a delightful A frame cabin.
Thankfully, the wind had abated to more acceptable levels for Sunday’s fifty mile ride to the coast at Haast. Still in the Mount Aspiring National Park, the road led us up and over the Haast pass to the little township of Haast on the wet and wild west coast. Water flowing from high in the mountains creates many sheer waterfalls before joining the main river via a series of creeks. Melt water from the glaciers gives a unique blue hue to the exceptionally clear rivers.
Happy Birthday Dad for 6th March, we will be thinking of you xx.