Rocky Ride to Wanaka

After leaving gorgeous Queenstown this morning, we set our sites on Wanaka, stopping at another gold town, Arrowtown, on the way, for coffee. There were lots of Chinese tourists, and it suddenly dawned on me that they are interested in the gold mining history, as many thousands of Chinese followed the gold strikes. Duh!

We dragged our motor home over a mountain pass,complete with snow, and arrived to the most amazing scenery by Lake Wanaka. The day was sunny and almost warm, 20 degrees. We decided to scout around for a free campsite (if you have a certified motor home, you can camp for free in designated areas). We didn't find a suitable site, but decided to go for a ride along the lake for 12 kms, back into town.

How hard could it be along the shoreline? Unbelievably hard. You need to be an experienced mountain biker, because the track (I wondered why there were so many riders on the road) consisted of thick gravel, or jutting out rocks and sharp corners and steep inclines and sheer cliffs and sheep. We turned back when we realised that it would take four hours for the trip. I had to have a swim in the lake on return to the van, just to wash off the blood. A Belgian girl was standing in ankle deep water, just waiting for me to dive in. As it turned out, the water wasn't that cold, l didn't turn blue and she joined me for a dip.

Pretending it was summer, we returned to Wanaka for an ice cream. People were everywhere along the shore, enjoying the warmth, at 6pm. We finally found an ice cream vendor and after getting our Peruvian chocolate and lemon sorbet cup, they closed up. We pored over the phone to find somewhere to stay, and eventually found a spot along the river, where for the first time, it was warm enough to have sunset drinks outside. We dined at 9 pm and the light faded by 10. Oh why don't we have daylight saving?

Off to Lake Takapo tomorrow for our last night in the motor home. Ray is just dying for another ride along the shore. I'm just dying.

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Quite a steep winding road was the first thing we experienced when taking the "scenic route" out of Queenstown to Wanaka. Numerous steep switchbacks  lead us to this look out. A pommy bloke in a hire car asked us if it was like this all the way to Wanaka. I should have said "No, the easy bit finishes up in about 10 ks then we hit the real mountains" but i didn't. Instead... "wouldn't have a clue Maaate". The ride along the valley road that he was hoping for eventually showed itself to our front number plate.P_20171113_131150

Not mucking around, we got straight into the Wanaka lifestyle, enjoying the place which was described by a friend as the place Queenstown used to be.

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Diamond Lake near where where we were planning to camp for the night.  Until...Lake Wanaka

A quiet corner of Lake Wanaka immediately prior to the bike ride from hell. It all started off simple enough, a relatively pleasant trail through the lakeside vegetation. But then we hit the trail of the rocky outcrop, which was very substantial. Very steep and rocky inclines of tracks perched precariously 50 metres above the lake and on the side of the outcrop, very difficut to get traction even in the lowest of gears. My cunning plan to get Brenda to plunge into the icy waters below never came to pass. We abandoned the attempt after about 7 or 8 ks and turned back, whereupon we met a couple of confident young blokes coming the other way. As it turns out, not long after we got back those same young blokes followed us back into the carpark. Sorry, no photos of the broken pride.

 

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