January 20, 2006

1/21/06 Makarora NZ

80.1 km / 1045 km total

Thomas woke up early to see us off. He was especially amazed at seeing how George packs. [laugh] A bit cloudy and very cool as we set off.

Dressed for rain, just in case

Basically, we had 40 km of gradual climbing before we hit the really steep road to Haast Pass. The first part had us hugging the edge of the Haast River Valley. Because the valley walls are so steep, there were tons of waterfalls. But the vegetation was so thick, we heard more waterfalls than we could see.

Had our first real bad encounter with the 'infamous' sandflies. Near Pleasant Flat, we decided to stop for a lunch break so we would be ready for the climb up to the pass. But as soon as we stopped moving, the sandflies descended on us. We ended up walking, stomping our feet and waving our arms, all while we ate. What a sight that was, three grown men dancing around with sandwiches in our hands.

Soon though, we crossed the Gates of Haast bridge. You could hear the roar of the river as it cascaded down among car-sized boulders. Mike and George took off while I snapped a few pictures. But once across the bridge, i found it too steep to keep pedaling. There is no shame in pushing a bike.

Eventually the steep grade eased up a bit and I was able to get back onto the bike. Stopped at the Thunder Creek Falls and saw Dan and Hamish again at Fantail Falls.

Thunder Creek Falls

Green, green, green!

The final climb was anticlimactic compared to the initial steep ascent. Too bad all that climbing didn't give us much of a downhill on the other side. But I did get my top speed up to 72 kph (45 mph).

Mike, George, Jim, Dan, Hamish at Haast Pass

The last stretch of very different landscape
was straight as an arrow to Makarora

Still cloudy and cool as we rode into Makarora. George wanted a cabin, so we're in an A-frame cabin. Basically the town ins the motor camp. Had a pretty good AYCE dinner buffet before heading for bed.

The only problem is that it stays up so long, sitting around 10PM. Hard to get used to.