January 22, 2006

1/22/06 Wanaka NZ

70.0 km / 1115 km total

Rained early this morning, but as we packed up to go, it was dry. Behind us towards the pass definitely looked like storm clouds. And up far down the valley, you could see some mountains washed in golden morning sunshine.

The surprise was a tailwind, our first real one since starting from Picton some two weeks ago. In that first hour, we must have averaged 30 kph.

Generally, we had rolling roads, short hard climb followed by fast descents, as we paralleled the river, then Lake Wanaka. We ran into Dan and Hamish at the crossover point towards Lake Hawea. Words are hard to come by that can describe the whole picture of blue waters and majestic mountains.

Up and down a winding road along the lake, with a tailwind!

Ran into the whole gang near the 'Neck'

It was on this stretch of road, from the Lake Hawea lookout, that we all clocked our fastest speed. I hit 86.9 kph (53.9 mph). Stopped for a snack at Lake Hawea township before doing our last 15 km to Wanaka. The geography changed so that now we were battling some pretty fierce headwinds up a few hills.

The sun is finally coming out at Lake Hawea

Final goodbye lunch with Dan & Hamish

Looks more like the American Southwest

On this side of the Southern Alps, you can definitely feel the changes in the landscape. It's dry here, so much so that the fire danger is at it's highest. Gone are the lush rainforests of the West Coast. We should have a hot clear day tomorrow as we bike over the Crown Range to Queenstown.

Wanaka is on the end of Lake Wanaka and it's a big summer playground. Kind of touristy but in a low-keyed way. Lots of families down along the waters edge with sailboats and skiers cutting through the blue waters, with snow covered peaks in the distance.

Sunday at the beach on Lake Wanaka

We're renting a cabin again tonight. I think we've only tented two or three nights this whole trip. Makes me wonder why I've carried this tent all the way from Picton.