New Zealand Tandem Tour

29th December 2003 ~ 18th January 2004

Week 1

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All photos are by Neville and Tricia unless otherwise stated. The narrative is by Tricia.

Day 1 - Monday, 29th December 2003 - Queenstown
St Moritz Hotel, Queenstown
St Moritz Hotel, Queenstown
showing Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables

Tandem assembly in the St Moritz Hotel garage area
Tandem assembly in the St Moritz Hotel

Sunny & hot.

Having flown from England to Auckland 2 days earlier, we arrived at the St Moritz Hotel in Queenstown in time to join Tim de Jong's of Pedaltours initial briefing to be greeted by Mel & Barbara Kornbluh of Tandems East, our friends for several years now and companions on our previous NZ adventure in 1999/2000, and introduced to all the other (21: 19 Americans & 2 Canadians) participants in this special Tandems East NZ Tandem Tour (comprised of 11 tandem couples, 1 couple on solo bikes and 1 single man, totalling 25 people with 2 New Zealander guides from Pedaltours bringing us up to 27). Down to the garage area to build the tandems - quite a hive of activity. Just time for a bath before all walking down into Queenstown to the Boardwalk restaurant beside Lake Wakatipu for an excellent dinner. A short walk around Queenstown (a fine looking town) before going back up the hill to the hotel and bed.

Evening sun over Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown
Evening sun over Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

Day 2 - Tuesday, 30th December 2003 - Queenstown
On the glacier at Mount Tutaka
On the glacier at Mount Tutaka

Pedaltour's trailer
Pedaltour's trailer with special fitting
for T & N's 'non standard tandem'

Sunny & hot.

Free day. We awoke to a beautiful view over the lake from our bedroom window. Breakfast in the hotel restaurant and greetings exchanged with other members of our tour. Options available on this free day before the cycling tour started were numerous: to take a flight to Milford Sound and a cruise, a trip on the Earnslaw paddle steamer on Lake Wakatipu, ride the gondola to the top of the hill overlooking Queenstown and maybe tandem parachute down or ride a luge part way down and to try out the bikes, shopping, etc, etc. (T & N helicopter trip with Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters to Milford Sound and glacier landing (Mount Tutaka) - magic! - thick snow.)

T & N sorted out with Tim how our 20mm front wheel through-axle mountain bike tandem would be carried on Pedaltours' trailers which only accommodated quick release front wheel axle fittings. Finally it was solved: both trailers would be taken into town and each have 4 holes drilled into the "running plate" long mudguard so that toestraps could be passed through them to secure our tandem's wheels: permission was received from Richard Oddy, owner of Pedaltours, in Auckland. On the test ride to Glenorchy we were reminded of New Zealand's "trick" roads - they look as though they are going downhill when in fact they are going uphill! - we became exhausted very quickly and returned to the hotel after only cycling 7 miles - it didn't bode well for the next 18 days!!! A quick shower and change to re-group for the walk down to Queenstown to Fat Catz restaurant for a pasta dinner - not a fancy restaurant as the previous night but tasty food. After dinner we wandered around a buzzing Queenstown again (New Year's Eve was the next night and the town was very full) before retiring to bed with the prospect of the real cycling starting the next day.

Route mileage: today 0, cumulative 0
N&T's cycling mileage: today 7, cumulative 7

Day 3 - Wednesday, 31st December 2003 - Queenstown to Wanaka
Enjoying an icecream in Arrowtown
Enjoying an icecream in Arrowtown

Mel & Barb en route to Wanaka
It was all their idea - Mel & Barb en route to Wanaka

Sunny & hot.

First day of tour. Breakfast briefing. Bus practice would be for them both to be available to "lift" those people who didn't want to cycle, after lunch one to be the sweeper at the back whilst the other one took the luggage on to the hotel and delivered it to individual rooms. At no time would people need to feel they had to struggle on as they could ride in the bus.

Left hotel 08:30hrs. Across Shotover River (famous for bungy jump) (shiny adjustable spanner on road - Mel?) to Arrowtown, attractive old gold mining town - delicious boysenberry ice cream. Very long and steep climb (with hairpin bends) up Crown Range mountains - T & N's granny 20 tooth ring enabled them to be the only people to ride all the way, some people got "lifted" by the buses over the steep, hard parts. Good whiz down to Cardrona Café for lunch. Along a lovely flattish road with lovely flowers to the Mount Aspiring Hotel at Wanaka. Dinner in hotel restaurant. Tim gave out Vegemite prizes for good riding, etc. Mel gave T & N the "wrench" for being the only ones to cycle all the way up the Crown Range. Those feeling fit and awake enough went into Wanaka to check out the New Year happenings, music and fireworks.

Route mileage: today 50, cumulative 50
N&T's cycling mileage: today 50, cumulative 57

A few of the hairpin bends ascending the Crown Range
A few of the hairpin bends on the ascent of
the Crown Range. photo by: Mickey Elsberg

Day 4 - Thursday, 1st January 2004 - Wanaka
Strange buildings at Puzzling World
Strange buildings at Puzzling World

The Leaning Tower of Puzzling World
The Leaning Tower of Puzzling World

Sunny & hot.

This was a "free day" to enjoy New Year's Day and to recover from the shock of such a hard first day's cycling! There were various options of walks, mountain bike riding, visit to Puzzling World, museums at airport, shopping. After our breakfast Tim dropped a group of us off at Puzzling World, where we wandered happily around the eccentric, illusionary objects until Tim came back for us and dropped us back into Wanaka. We joined Mel & Barbara and some others for lunch in Slainte Irish Bar and then went for a wander around the town and walked alongside Wanaka Lake back to the hotel. The buses then took us to Relishes Restaurant in Wanaka for dinner, after which some people went to sample the circus which had just arrived in town but we went back to the hotel and had an early night.

Route mileage: today 0, cumulative 50
N&T's cycling mileage: today 0, cumulative 57

Evening view from the Mount Aspiring Hotel
Evening view from the Mount Aspiring Hotel

Day 5 - Friday, 2nd January 2004 - Wanaka to Makarora
Makarora
Makarora

Tim presents the Vegemite award to Diane
Tim presents the Vegemite award to Diane

Sunny & hot with a strong headwind.

Day's briefing from Tim at breakfast. A lumpy ride along SH6 to alongside Lake Hawea and up a steep bit to the Lookout. Puncture for T & N: Dave of Mount Aspiring Hotel returned Mel's trainers found under bed: Louise & Paul Rogers from England caught up with T & N for a chat, they were cycling in New Zealand for 3-4 months on solo bikes. Across The Neck to the northern end of Lake Wanaka for a picnic lunch stop at Boundary Creek - thought we were never going to get there with the strong headwind but excellent spread when we did. A lovely ride through the Makarora valley with mountains on either side. Ice cream stop at garage/store. Makarora Chalets: mainly various sizes of A-frame chalets but T & N were in an old cobwebby bungalow up the back opposite the village school - it wasn't as bad as it sounds and we were actually quite comfortable there with lots of room and enjoyed a good soak in the bath and a nap before dinner. Several went for a thrilling jet boat ride up the Wilkin River, others napped. Dinner in the Makarora Café, open especially for us. Now established Vegemite prizes and briefing for next day. Buses to Blue Pools, off Makarora River: across swing bridge, forest walk to Blue Pools, stone skimming and cairn building.

Route mileage: today 41, cumulative 91
N&T's cycling mileage: today 41, cumulative 98

Photographing that essential view
Photographing that essential view of the
Makarora River and Mount Mcfarlane

Day 6 - Saturday, 3rd January 2004 - Makarora to Haast
Waterfall at Depot Creek
Waterfall at Depot Creek

By the Tasman Sea at Haast Beach
By the Tasman Sea at Haast Beach

Sunny & hot. Cloudy late afternoon.

A lovely ride continuing along beside the Makorara River and then a steady climb up to the Haast Pass (562m). Gradual descent to Fantail Falls then very steep descent, with some gravel road where road building going on, round bend past Thunder Falls to Pleasant Flat - first serious encounter with sandflies - awful. A good fast run beside the Haast River to picnic lunch at Depot Creek with a pretty fall. Flat road into Haast and McGuires Lodge. T & N had coffee and cake in café, others did hot tub. Bus to beach for walk beside Tasman Sea, lots of interesting driftwood, sky had clouded over, turned cooler. Dinner in McGuires restaurant, venison on offer - deer in field out back, briefing and Vegemite awards.

Route mileage: today 51, cumulative 142
N&T's cycling mileage: today 51, cumulative 149

Lots of driftwood
Lots of driftwood

Day 7 - Sunday, 4th January 2004 - Haast to Franz Josef
By the beach at Ship's Creek amongst the flax
By the beach at Ship's Creek amongst the flax

Lunch at the Salmon Farm
Lunch at the Salmon Farm

Sunny, changing to overcast.

Various "lift" options were available for this long, hard day, some opted to ride out of Haast, others took the bus up to Knights Point, stopping off for a walk along boardwalk on the beach at Ship's Creek amongst the flax. Bikes and people were offloaded at the top of Knight's Point, a steep hill followed and then a downhill turning inland on an undulating road to Lake Paringa - good boysenberry pie at this café. Good flat, rolling cycling to lunch at the Salmon Farm by the Paringa River. Lovely rolling cycling past flax, rata, rain forest, over several rivers, back to the coast at Bruce Bay where the sea looked grey and not very friendly then inland again to the town of Fox Glacier but no chance of seeing Mt Cook as the cloud was too low. All loaded onto the bus and "lifted" over the 3 rather nasty mountains, narrow, steep, twisty road, between Fox Glacier and Franz Josef, except Mel who crazily rode these on a solo, to Punga Grove Motel and Forest Park Tree Lodges. Cute outdoor spa to ease the aches. Walk to The Landing Restaurant for dinner with Vegemite awards and briefing/planning for free day.

Route mileage: today 91, cumulative 233
N&T's cycling mileage: today 58, cumulative 207

Wild lupins
Wild lupins
photo by: Rick Cathers

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