We had a very cozy quiet night at the camp on Lake Hawea and woke to sunny skies. The forecast is for high winds and some clouds today and the storm is supposed to hit late tonight and tomorrow. We rode back the 7 km with no vehicles ahead and so the dust was better, but Sara managed to ride thru a fresh cow pie that splattered allover her boot and lower pant leg DUH.
We rode down to the next village and there was just a corner store there. We have not seen a town with services beyond a gas pump or cafe since we left Greymouth.
We continued the 16 km to Wanaka and got some breakfast and fuel. It is only 54 km from here to our destination of Cromwell, but we will ride 120 km south to Garston and then ride off road the 80 km diagonally on the Nevis River road thru the stations to Bannockburn.
This is just 7 km from Cromwell and is paved from there. For the ride south from Wanaka we used the Cadrona Valley road to Queenstown and this passes over the Crown Range summit that at 1076 m is the highest sealed road in New Zealand.
We got lucky with very little traffic on the curvy ride up.
It is very windy at the summit and dusty in the view point. The ride down into Arrowtown there was a huge line of cars following a slow moving camper thru all the switchbacks. From here we got on the 6 south to Garston. It is very very windy and when we stopped in the village for a cold drink the bikes were being buffeted by the wind in the parking lot.
The Nevis road is about 2 km north of the village and is flat for the first 2 km thru some houses until the gate. Here the sign warns that the road is closed in winter, that it is not suitable for cars, that 4WD may be needed, and that there are numerous fords. Sounds a bit ADV!
The road is good gravel almost all of the way, and very firm on the 20 km at each end. The central 30+ km is where most of the water crossings are and we did about 16, with only 3-4 being deep or long.
The road initially rises over switch backs and it is blowing a gale and traversing the ridge line was a fight for sure.
The road then drops into a wind shadow for most of the rest of the way until the last 25 km where it was Patagonia strong and blowing you around, but not off the road. It was too windy to stop for many photos here despite the incredible views. There are a number of gates to open and close, except for the last 30 km, which is thru private land and they have cattle gates. The last 15 km to the tar seal was a challenge with the gusting wind and not so much the road surface or steep inclines.
Well it was a very good decision to book into a motel and stock up with supplies today, since the weather turned horrific the next day. We took advantage tonight and went out for Mexican food! There was high winds and with torrential down pours. We did not even leave our room for 36 hours. The rain did finally stop and we did a walk to the historic old town.
The sun is out today, but it is 14 degrees! We rode 45 km west to Arrowtown thru the Kawarau canyon and then up the Coronet Peak Road to the base of the ski lifts for a panoramic view.
You ride almost all the way back to the main road and there is a cut off for the Skippers Canyon road where the sign says “ Caution back country road, conditions vary, and vehicle damage possible.”
This is the New Zealand road where rental car insurance is not honored, Skippers Road’s 16.5 km is mostly one-way, narrow and steep with sheer drops of several hundred meters.
The surface is good gravel for most of the way the last 5 km is dirt and would be challenging after wet weather. The first 5 km the road is steep and narrow and we were happy to only run into 1 vehicle. We were lucky the rest of the way as we did encounter 2 others, but never is a one lane section.
The main road ends at the cemetery about 2 km past the bridge.
On the way out we did have to wait as we saw a truck coming down a long winding 1 lane section. The mid section of the road runs along the river. 2 km from the end is the Skipper’s bridge. The road ends at a car park where you can access back country hikes and there is a historic cemetery.
All in all we had 3 days to catch up on email and blog, photos, and uploading, as well as read and relax. We also did a bit of maintenance and cleaned and polished the boots and seats, washed the suits, and repainted some of the rusty metal on the light protectors and mounts for the accessory lights.