Today promised to be a hard day on the bike. Our goal was the tiny town of Makarora, 78 km SE of Haast, but up in the mountains. After our usual breakfast of Bircher's yogurt at the backpacker, we went for our customary Espresso and said goodbye to another biker we had been crossing paths with. The first 10 km were beautiful. Clouds threatened,
but we believed the nasty weather was north of us. We were riding up the Haast River valley, which was absolutely gorgeous.
The geologic hazards were everywhere! There were three places the road had been recently taken out by landslides, warning signs for rock fall everywhere, evidence of recent debris flows, and I can only imagine what the flooding could be like.
The rains last night made the waterfalls extra spectacular.
We must have seen 30 waterfalls today.
Speaking of rain, it did. Not a pouring rain, but steady, for 3 hours.
At first, I didn't care. My tendon was feeling much better, I was riding with my honey on Valentines Day in a beautiful country. What's a little rain?
But when we couldnt even stop for lunch because the sand flies were biting Drew too bad, my gloves soaked through, and the road turned upward, I started to get a little cranky. I needed a sign to cheer me up. Here it was.
We had to tackle Haast Pass. At only 564 meters, it wasn't any bigger or necessarily steeper than climbs in Utah, but with loaded touring bikes and wet rain, it wasn't fun either. But we made it!
We are in Hobbit country. This is where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed. Drew was certain he could hear them in the shire.
Over the pass, the vegetation changed quite a bit. It was still more lush than our mountains back home, but the ferns tapered off, and there were some open areas suitable for grazing. This was the first sheep we had seen in a couple of days.
The last 18 km to ride to our stop for the night seemed extra long, which made our ultra cute and cozy A-frame backpacker cabin for $75 (no bathroom or kitchen - that would cost us $125) the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!
78 km today in 3:21 ride time (-about 4.5 hrs total time) is a respectable day. We earned our real dinner consisting of fish and vegetables for me and chicken schnitzel and fries for Drew, plus we were just in time for happy hour!
So we had a jolly time chatting it up with 4 Kiwis who were motor biking around the island. They had ridden in one day what it took us 5.5 days to ride! Fine chaps they were. Now if I could only remember the jokes they told us.