The title tells it all. Day two was one of wet weather. Day three was much nicer. Much nicer.
I woke late, like I’ve been doing lately, and go the information I needed to find my way. The first destination was Franz Josef Glacier, and we’d see from there. I was already in the town named for the glacier, and it was only a few klicks to get there. Signs in the parking lot warned of vehicle theft, so I chose a route that was shorter (and recommended by the hostel manager for being a better view.) Tell me if he was right.
Did I mention I was in a rain forest? It’s green here! I totally love the mountains covered in trees. It’s what draws me to the Appalacian mountains and now here. Add to that a beach just 2 miles away and you’ve found paradise. New Zealand it definitely a must see.
The road from Franz Josef to Fox Glacier is a nice and twisty path that cuts around the mountains and gives bikers something to keep their mind off the scener. VROOM! A couple of times that day I was so engrossed with the road I forgot to look up. That’s the life. At least every time I did look up it was a gorgeous sight.
I decided against hiking up to Fox. It may have been different enough, but there is a famous lake nearby, and I enjoyed a hike around that instead. (glaciers are cool, but after a month of living next to one the novelty wears off). The lake turned out very nice, and the warm sun really refreshed me. There is a spot on the trail called mirror island. During the right conditions the mountains show up nicely in the reflection.
Did I mention I was in a Rain Forest? 😀 The view was great. And although clouds obscured the tops of the mountains I still really enjoyed the sight. A couple at the stop complained. I think they wanted the picture perfect poster photo or something like that. I suggested they buy the poster – that guy probably waited weeks or more to get the right shot. I was happy with this one.
There are several good ones. Here are a couple; and one of me enjoying the view. It’s hard to get out of the “rush to see everything” mode.
Plus a couple of neat things on the trail
And then it was back on the road. Only this road led to the beach 😀
I took this time to read and take a nap. That sun felt great. From here it was a long ride to Queenstown, and I didn’t take many photos (read: was enjoying the road) A Toyota Corrola thought it would be fun to try and keep up with me. The curves posed problems though as I left him pretty easily. He’d catch me on the straight but only cause I didn’t want to speed too much.
The road to Queenstown was paved with good intentions: intentions to arrive early, intentions to take the best route, …. Well, I found myself running later than planned (the afternoon nap seems always to creep in there even though I still don’t plan for it). I made a quick, and wrong, turn in Wanaka, famous for beautiful scenery and aerial adventures. On the way out of town I realized that my tank was low and it was a still a long way to Queenstown. As I slowed to turn around I recognized one of my roommates from the hostel the night previous. His was a German named Alec who was hitchhiking around NZ, and today his destination was Queenstown. It was an amazing coincidence that I had already started slowing when I saw him.
Well, he had way too much gear to carry a long distance, but on his advice I decided to take the other route (the one that saved .5 hours and was much more scenic – the one also he wanted to take). I offered a ride back to town where he could then get a ride in a car. So we teamed up – he with directions, and me with transportation – to arrive back on the correct road and fully fueled. I left him there halfway expecting to see him in the next day or two in Queenstown. That never realized, but I got some amazing riding in in the mean time.
I’m still uploading too many pictures, so here are only a few of the better ones from the beach to Queenstown.
Of course there are more sheep. They are everywhere. This sight really caught my eye, and I even stopped and turned around to go back and get it. There were sheep nearer me, but they were afraid of the sound of the bike and moved away. I just love the snow capped mountain in this one with the warm pasture surrounded by trees in the foreground. There were probably 20 of these – this one being best.
That was taken heading down a hair-pin road into the final stretches before Queenstown. That sight made me pause for quite a while. The camera cannot do it justice; it was too much to capture.
This was the most spectacular ride I’ve had in a long time – it’s really not fair that I get to enjoy all of this. The truth is it’s kind of an overload in beauty. I’ve become slightly desensitized. This post is being written several days after the photos were taken, and today I didn’t even take many. If I stopped for every amazing photo I would only progress one curve at a time and would never get anywhere. You’d need months in this country to take all the photos you wanted.
Lastly, after arriving in Queenstown I met up with 5 kids from Dunedin who were enjoying the weekend in a party town. 3 girls, and 2 guys who were all about 19 years old took me around town and got me drunk. Alcohol was actually cheap (Queenstown is known for highly inflated prices), and I had plenty. The kids were a hoot: one of them, nicknamed ADD – look there’s a rabbit – took 14 Jagerbombs in front of me throughout the night. These aren’t like American Jagerbombs; they fill a tall glass about halfway with Redbull and drop a shot of Jagermeister into it. They were nuts.
I skipped a lot, but in doing so I realized that there is too much to discuss. There will be times in the future to remember them all. Until then you can check out all the photos (about 140 if you can) in the photo album.