Saturday, March 17, 2012

The "Crowning" Glory

I managed to leave a tiny bit earlier this morning. I wanted to get to Queenstown early to book the jet boat. Also, I was hoping to beat the rain.

As it was going to Haast Pass, it was a long time on mostly flat road (except for a steep climb out of Wanaka). I made it to Cardrona at about 11:00ish. I had mistakenly thought Cardrona was the top. Oh no, it was well before even the beginning of the climb!

I took a photo of the historic Cardrona Hotel. I think it is a requirement for cyclists. I had a little snack of trail mix and continued on. The clouds were starting to roll in.

There was a bit of a hill which I thought was "the climb". Nope, wrong again! However, I did notice I was gradually going up. About an hour later (after I crossed the Cardrona River 11 times!) I came to "Chain up Bay No. 1. Okay, now the climb starts! I decided to pull off at the bay and fix a little lunch of peanutbutter and Nutella sandwich.

Back on the road I had indeed reached the climbing portion of the Crown Range Rd. As I was making my way up, I just kept telling myself it wasn't as bad as Haast Pass. Then, when it WAS as bad as Haast Pass, I kept telling myself it wasn't as bad as coming up the other side from Queenstown (so I had heard anyway). It finally started raining so I stopped and put on my rain jacket. I didn't care if my shorts got wet.

Up and up I climbed, resting when I had enough space to pull off the road. Finally, I could see what appeared to be the top. Of course, then I told myself it wasn't so bad!

At the top, the view was incredible. Even in the rain, the Crown Range was spectacular! I could see all the way down to the lake and Queenstown. The Crown Range Rd. is the highest sealed (paved) road in New Zealand at 1076 meters.

I pulled on my rain pants and gloves for the ride down. It was pretty chilly at the top. The descent was steep and winding. Near the bottom it became even more winding with about 7 or 8 switchback turns. The brakes definitely got a workout!

As I reached the lower elevation it warmed up and mostly stopped raining. At the bottom back on SH 6 I was able to take off the rain gear.

I rode another 13 km to Frankton (6km outside Queenstown). Diane, who I met at Fox, said the QT Holiday Park was really expensive ($42 for a tent!). So, I decided to stay in Frankton at the Motor Camp instead ($18/night). Plus, it is only 2 km from the airport.

I paid for my three nights and also booked the Dart River Jet Boat Safari for tomorrow at 12:00. The shuttle will even pick me up in Frankton! It is a 6 hour roundtrip with a jet boat ride, forest walk, and 4WD Safari. Should be fun. Weather is supposed to be getting better tomorrow.

There is a great cycle path along the lake into QT that I will do on Tuesday. I will check out QT then.

I'm hoping Pauline and Dick will be in QT on Tuesday also. It would be great to see them one last time.

My last day of riding was definitely a "Crowning" Glory!

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