Arrowtown to Mossburn via Queenstown & across Lake Wakatipu.
Distance 139km biking. Ascent 1261m.
1 pie at Ferg's Pastries, Queenstown. Best yet!
The TSS Earnslaw was due to sail at noon from Queenstown 36km away via gravel bike tracks so I had plenty of time, but my body clock had me awake at 6am. With nothing else to do I packed and did a short loop through the historic heart of Arrowtown. The building style has been kept in the era that the town was initially constructed and looks really great. Some businesses were thinking about opening and the early morning joggers were starting to clutter the track.
The bike track runs all the way to Queenstown and has river views most of the way. First the small Arrow River, which flows into the Kawarau River that drains Lake Wakatipu. I also cross over the Shotover River that is normally reverberating with jetboats. With so many tourists normally around it is a good idea to construct these tracks and keep them off the busy roads.
The dry hills are an ideal rabbit breading ground, which the local population seem to be very proficient at judging by their numbers.
It is a good day for biking with a cool breeze and high cloud, unfortunately the light doesn't make it that great for photography. Normally the Remarkables live up to their name, but today the rocky mountain range appears a bit distant & gloomy, unlike the author, who is keen to hit town and converse with people after a night alone. Alas the maddening crowd is intent on procuring their first flat white of the day to wash down their Danish pastries, so they reflect the Remarkables and I remain alone.
Never one to be deterred, I join these people in their search for happiness, finding it in the best pie of the trip so far. Great pastry, tender & tasty filling, consumed from the paper (not plastic) bag, standing on the street. Surely this will fuel me for the rest of the day. Thank you Fergbaker.
Boarding time looms, so I dutifully line up to stash my bike on the historic steamer the TSS Earnslaw. Coal smoke wafts about the wharf, as I befriend a couple on a motorbike heading the same way. We end up at a table together swapping stories. The trip across the lake to Walter Peak Station takes 45 minutes and is fairly full of day trippers. There is some wind about keeping the day cool so I keep my vest on which helps to cover my travel-stained bike shirt.
The next section of the route is fairly isolated. It is a dead end gravel road that seems to service 3 big stations. The big challenge is called Von Hill which is very steep. A banana and 2 snickers bars provide fuel to get me out of the steep sided Valley onto the rolling tops. Close views give way to vast vistas.
At about the 50km mark I spy a red car unloading a mountain biker. He looks intent on having a chat, which I am quite partial to. As I roll to a stop I recognise him, it is James Bruce's (who runs ABS) dad, Collin. He & Lynette have come out so I can have company for the next 50km.
It is a bit windy and gravel noise makes conversation difficult, but it is nice not to be alone. We keep a good pace as his E-bike can do about 35km/hr. The gravel runs out but the route now follows the 2nd flashest bike path so far, the first being a section down to Matamata. It rides well, apart from it following a stream meandering through farmland with many fine gravel corners. We eventually reach Mossburn and I accept their invitation to stay with them for this last night of my ride. It is nice to have company again.
PB is almost at the end of the cycle trip! Pop over here to top up his donations >
Keep an eye on the map tracker (linked below in pic) to see when he'll finish!