CYCLING NEW ZEALAND – days 2/3 Wanaka to Fox Glacier

Is there any better way to start a day than with a ride along Lake Hawea?

I don’t mind admitting I suffered on Day 2.

The distance (about 80km) was not the problem, but two solid climbs, first to The Neck and then to Haast Pass, sucked the energy and enthusiasm out of my legs, lungs, stomach and all other parts of my body and brain. I tried eating my own fat, but even that gave only temporary relief.

The day started quietly enough, with a roll up and down those NZ ‘undulations’ beside lovely Lake Hawea.

The trouble started with the climb over the col to descend back to the northern end of Lake Wanaka…

Pretty scenery, but the climb up to the Neck is better not described on a family website.

…and things only deteriorated when the option was offered to climb the Haast Pass. Not everyone took it on, but this time I had to test myself.

This is what pain looks like at the top of the Haast Pass. (Thanks Ian for taking the photo.)

The hard antler moose.

From there it was a gentle roll down the hill to Haast, but by them my body had had enough.

The village of Haast has a population of 4 million. 200 of these are human residents; the rest are sandflies. It is mainly notable for the Hard Antler bar and restaurant, where a moose keeps watch over the flat screen TV.

DAY 3.

It was a relief to start out of Haast on Day 3 with 18km on the more or less flat, but it wasn’t to last.

Four of us took on the sharpish three stage climb…and bloody hell, David from Belfast, into his eighth decade, is unquestionably the fittest of all of us.

He answered every challenge Hugo and I could throw at him on the 9km climb to Knights’ Lookout, reached the top ahead of us, then rode on past the designated stopping point to add rather a lot of extra kilometres to his daily distance. He definitely owns the yellow jersey and shows no signs of relinquishing it. ‘We say we’re not competitive,’ he says, ‘but…’.
I wanted to get to the top first too, but he was too good on the day.

Doping officials will be checking his water bottle.

David successfully defends his yellow jersey.

The writer was the guest of Adventure South.


Filed under Cycle touring, Cycling

9 responses to “CYCLING NEW ZEALAND – days 2/3 Wanaka to Fox Glacier

  1. steven

    great photos Richard, beautiful scenery, not a car in sight, and a moose! You’ll be ready for any Australian hills by the end of this tour.

  2. Stick in David’s slipstream until the final sprint.

  3. The scenery looks grand. The pain sounds very real. Good on ya, Richard, for showing us how it’s done (in words and deeds and pics.)

  4. Caroline Whiteside

    Missed you at the Whiteside/Tulloch extravaganza on Friday night, Richard. Pleased to know it’s all in a good cause though.

  5. Thanks for the comments, Stephen, Pat, John and Caroline.

    Yes, Stephen, I’ve made it up every hill since that first one, and feel as fresh as a…brown banana.

    Pat, sticking the slipstream is David’s trick. There’s no point trying to stick in his – his wiry body doesn’t punch a big enough hole in the air. He managed 30km or so longer than the rest of us today, after we’d already rung up our century.

    David, it is the most beautiful country I’ve ever ridden in – at least from a pure nature point of view.

    Caroline, I heard from an attendee that the party was great. See you soon.


  6. You know haast is almost never a good idea, Richard. 😉 But what a gorgeous country!

  7. Tim

    Oh my God, you are mad! We overnighted in Haast – the archetypal one-horse town if ever there was one – but did the same trip as you are doing by car, and I remember those gradients. At this rate, you’ll be wearing yellow in Paris at the end of July ….

    • Thanks, Tim.

      We were told there was no road into Haast until a gravel and mud affair was inserted in1969.

      Even for years after that, Haast residents used to take the kids on holidays so they could see bitumen.

      I think David might wear yellow in Paris one day, and all the rest of us would then qualify for young riders’ jerseys.

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