It couldn't last for 8 days

Here we are in "central" Haast, holed up in our motel room with the rain coming down. It is two kms to the nearest and only shop and 300 m to the hotel with a great fire and crap food. We know about crap food as we went there for lunch. I ordered pumpkin soup and got potato soup with a rolled up bit of white bread with melted cheese inside, at least I think it was cheese. Ray had calamari, which was crumbed within an inch of its life. We decided to go in the rain to the shop to get pies for dinner only to discover that they had sold out of pies. So we got a bottle of wine instead. We are now tossing up whether to go to the other pub, also two kms away in the pelting rain or just make do with cheese and biscuits. Did I mention that it is also rather cold outside?

anyway, there was no story yesterday as we had no internet at Lake Paringa. As we set off from Fox, the day was glorious. I had an early morning walk in the glow worm forest from the night before, just to see the amazing forest trees in daylight. We then had the most scrumptious muffin and great coffee to start us on our 75 km journey. Two kms out of town we turned off to go up the view road to see the glacier before we left. There was much discussion about steepness and length before we committed. But it was worth it. It truly was a fantastic day,sunny and cool with a very easy ride to the lake. However, there were no toilets along the way. We had hoped to stop half way at Pine Cove, but there were no facilities. Successfully managed to avoid passing cars whilst visiting the green toilet! Just half an hour from our destination we came across a cafe and salmon farm. I had my first whitebait sandwich there. It was delicious.

When Ray said that the accommodation at Paringa was basic he was not wrong, but our cabin looked straight out onto the lake. It was very beautiful. We arrived whilst the manager was out, so chatted with a couple of characters who were about to go huntin'. It's either huntin' or fishin' in them there parts. We were also greeted by the sand flies and had to borrow some spray, but it wasn't enough. After unpacking, we walked 10 meters down to the lake and sat on the two chairs that were nailed to the pontoon. We were soon covered in sand flies so retreated to our cabin. We spent a very quiet night disconnected from the world. 

Rain was forecast for today, but we set off from the lake in sunshine. However, a few kilometers down the road it started to drizzle. I finally broke out my wet weather pants and soon after we met a pair of cyclists travelling in the opposite direction. There are at least four crazy people on the South Island. We had ridden up a few hills, but then came across a stinker at Knight's Point. It was 190 meters straight up, I swear. I still had my rain pant s on, but it was really a sauna suit. When we made it to the point, I took them off. They were wetter on the inside. We were enjoying the loo and view when we were once again attacked by sand flies. Little did we know that the point was only half way up. It was really hard work. Somehow we both managed to survive and 12 kms from Haast, we stopped for another whitebait sanga at a tiny fishing camp. Apparently there is a 10 week season for whitebait. 

And so here we are. Haast heaven. I have been trying to talk Ray into catching a bus tomorrow to avoid Hell (sorry, Haast) Pass. Apparently it is much harder than today's climb. And it might rain or snow. I can hardly wait.


The Bella Vista in fox where we stayed. Not sure about the great view as it overlooked the service station, but it was pleasant enough.


The previous night after dark we ventured into the glow worm path with our trusty bike lights which were doubling as torches. When I went to turn mine off after an initial burst, it sent it into flashing mode and so I copped a blast from Brenda. The next three times Brenda went to turn hers off the same thing happened. I dare not say a thing. The glow worms were quite good all the same. It is pretty incredible in the daytime as well.


Just about everything in the forest is covered in moss. It is a very wet area, rain wise, but also the humidity is often quite high.


After leaving fox on our bikes we saw a sign for a glacier viewing point. We took the turn and started riding then decided we should investigate how far (and how far up) we had to go to reach the advertised spot. After about 10 minutes of discussion centred around a google maps view that would not give the distance, we decided to give it a go. As you see from this pic we had to start by going up. This theme continued for the next 20 minutes and 2.5 klms.


It was only a view of the top of the glacier, but we were happy to have made the effort. Apparently both Fox and Franz Josef glaciers have moved back up the glaciel path a considerable distance over the past few years. When travelling between the two glaciers on the bus, our very friendly and helpful driver explained that a church, built on the banks of the Franz Josef river used to be able to see the glacier through a specially built bay window at the front of the church. The end of the glacier is now a couple of kilometres away.


So I saw the sign and was immediately on high alert. For the next 1.5 klms I kept my eyes peeled but was disappointed not to spot even a passing glimpse of what the region had to offer. Just after I got over the let down, there was another 2.5 klm section with the promise of more. Again, years of evolution kicked in and my senses went into overdrive once more. Oh how I wish every 2.5 kilometre section would go so fast.


As we travelled along the tree lined highway and I finally accepted the fact that the only tits to be seen would be those on the sign, Bruce Bay opened up before us. It was quite spectacular.


Brenda taking in the Lake Paringa ambience. Note the long pants and shirt. The big sandflies are back with a vengeance.


Its little gems like this that make travelling 70 k with a sore arse, worthwhile.


Our modest lodgings at Lake Paringa, right in the midde of nowhere, had a great morning wake up view. This little cloud was hovering just metres about the lake at around 7.30 in the morning as we got up and were still in the warmth and safety of the lodge.


After we climbed our first big hill we came upon Knight's Point, our lookout perched about 100 mtrs above sea level. There were to be a few more significant ups and downs before we were able to settle into some rythmic peddling on the flatlands.


The scene from our room out into the Haast landscape. Maybe its the rain and cold, but despite its World Heritage status for the surrounding area, the Haast township is pretty basic. I am tempted to call it a miserable hell hole, but I won't do that. At least we are dry and warm in our room. Unfortunately, just about everything about the place annoys the hell out of me. Maybe my expectations were just too high and i was always going to be dissappointed, so just to get it off my chest here are my gripes. Let me know if I am being too harsh.

  • Haast is not one quaint village, but three distinct and separate crappy collections of buildings. Even the new buildings seem crappy.
  • When went into the local tavern to get some lunch hoping for a simple pie. I knew we were in trouble when the sign above the door of the tavern said "Beyond Your Expectations"
  • Could not really find anything on the menu we really wanted, so ordered Moroccan Pumpkin Soup and Salt and Pepper Calamari. Out came potato soup and Calamari that look liked had been reheated from the night before.
  • We decided that we really didn't want to come back so decided to pedal down to the "township" 2 klm down the road in the rain to buy some supplies from the local store. Things looked promising as out the front a sign indicated the establishment was a proud stockist of Jack's Delicious Pies. We couldn't wait to get our hands on some of those babies, but alas, after searching various fridges and displays where one might expect to find such things, we were forced to ask the shopkeeper if any of these delivious pies were in stock. Na. The concise reply spoke volumes.
  • As we rode back to the Haast River Motels and Holiday Park  in the rain, I couldn't help but wonder if the people of Haast really wanted World Heritage Status or whether that would have been much happier catching whitebait and hunting deer and not have to worry about pesky tourists.

I haven't finished yet...

  • One hook in the whole unit - one hook?
  • No bench in the bathroom

Tired now...


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