The route for Day 22: Lake Paringa to Lake Hawea
Distance 180km. Ascent 2041m. Calories used according to Strava 6429cal
Pies 1 at Makarora. Best yet!
The decision to stay at Lake Paringa was an excellent one. I was able to get away just after 7am and while the ride to Haast was cool the mist slowly lifted revealing fresh snow on the mountains and clear blue skies. The road was almost deserted and I startled a deer browsing the road side. I cleared the forest crossing the Haast River to spectacular views.
As I had ridden 53km to Haast township by 10am it was time for food. I had a big day planned so called into the Hard Antler hotel. 100's of deer antlers adorned every available space.
It was a typical fried breakfast with half a tomato wedged between a sausage and an egg to make it a nutritionally balanced meal, I added sauce to help.
The ride up to Haast Pass climbs 100m over 50km so is gradual. I would have made better time but the views were magnificent. Towering glaciated bush covered walls with waterfalls cascading down at regular intervals to flow under the road to the Haast River. I finally ceased stopping for photos.
The road steepened and the valley walls closed in as I passed 'The Gates of Haast ' where the real climb starts. I renamed it 'The Gates of Hades' such was the gradient. The steepest section was only a kilometre, so I was able to get out of my granny gear and pick up speed.
With covid and few tourists there weren't many cars about but I was surprised to encounter a mostly full carpark by a nice waterfall near the top.
On gaining the top I donned my vest for a rapid but cool descent to Makarora for a very late lunch. I missed the blue cheese & beef pie but the lamb one was superb, best yet. They make them onsite so I made sure to pass my compliments to the chef. I could have stayed here the night as the next stop is Lake Hawea 50km distant but I was feeling good and the next 20km looked enticing, unfortunately the following 30 was hilly.
It was now 5.30pm and I like to be sorted for accommodation by now. My 2 contacts in Wanaka were not currently in Wanaka so I opted to camp amongst a vast horde of fishermen & women in Hawea for a competition. It was a good call, as I've managed to wash my riding gear that stunk after being confined to a sweaty riding jacket for a couple of days.
It was nice to share conversation with a family from Waiheke Island touring around. I consider it good parenting when teens can hold meaningful conversation with strangers. The 2 daughters did this admirably. Another movanner couple who have had a number of biking adventures also chatted.
I'm a bit unsure of tomorrow's plan, I don't need to rush, but I'm enjoying the riding and don't want a night in Queenstown with my contact there away tramping. It is 100km to get there, so I'll aim for the 2pm boat across Lake Wakatipu and see what happens.