There is only one way south from Ross and that is along State highway 6, a nearly 300km stretch of sealed road before I could get on the next trail, the Hawea river trail through to Wanaka.
The redeeming factors were; the lack of traffic, the fabulous weather and, as a result, the stunning scenery. The snow capped alps were my companion when I was not riding through magnificent stands of Rimu and Kahikatea bush or around edge of bush enclosed lakes.
The threat of approaching bad weather meant a change of plans and I decided to combine two of my rides into a long 120km day from Fox Glacier to Haast. Apart from there being little accommodation still operating on this stretch, it allowed me to get over the Haast Pass a day ahead of the next bout of heavy rain. The terrain looked reasonably friendly except for the hilly section around Knights Point which was encountered after 100km of riding. I was pleased to see the sign informing that my destination was only 6km away but they were a very long 6km. Sleep came early and easily that night.
The next day I had the 83km ride over the Haast Pass and like the day before, the pass comes at the end of the ride. I have ridden over the pass on an electric bike which protested at the very steep start of the climb. Laden and without pedal assist, that section was an even bigger challenge, not helped by roadworks. It was a single lane, traffic light controlled, section of about 1km. There was no hope of getting up the steep gradient in my allotted time so I had to dodge the odd oncoming vehicle. I got out of the traffic lane and rode inside the cones as far a I could. Once off the bike the gradient was simply too steep to try and get any forward momentum from a standing start. I pushed the bike about 50 meters to a slightly better slope and I was away again. The night was spent in yet another deserted tourist accommodation operation where the previously busy restaurant and bar was mothballed. It was another uninspired dinner & breakfast.
I couldn’t avoid the rain but having got over the alps it was far lighter and I soon left it behind as I headed into Hawea and finally got back off road with a pleasant trail that followed the Hawea river down to the Clutha and the rode up the Clutha to its source, Lake Wanaka.
A former work colleague offered me her spare bedroom and I have had three days here in Wanaka. Jane is an outdoor enthusiast and had some rest day activities organised. On Saturday we scaled the 1578m Roy’s Peak and on Sunday, unburdened by my luggage we did a circuit of the Clutha river to Luggate – real mountain biking.
I spent the day cleaning up my chain and drivetrain before it gets a good coating of dust as I follow the Clutha bike trails through to Lawrence – will arrive there on Friday.