January 14: Wanaka to Queenstown

After a delightful breakfast put on by the proprietors of the B & B it was off down the road across the Crown Range and up the Cardroom Road. The countryside now has drastically changed to a brush cover landscape minus the signs of population. An occasional farm or pull off might be passed, but for the most part the road just seems to amble through the valley between two mountain ranges. Mother Nature has blessed the group with sunshine but doesn't want to make it too easy, so has turned the wind back into a headwind keeping the pedaling a challenge. The road twists and turns as it climbs to the historic Cardronna Hotel situated at about 600 m above sea level. Having started the day at 300 m it was a gentle increase hampered only by the added touch of Mother Nature.

Continuing up the mountain range brings one to the Summit (1100 m) with the first views of Queenstown far below in the valley. The mountains surrounding this fantastic view are The Remarkables and are true to their name. High ridges next to fir covered mountain peaks; sharp drop offs, gentle slopes. And then there is the Descent!! Switchback after switchback, some at 180 degree turns over a 8 to 12% grade for the next 15 kms with a head and cross wind pounding each rider as they hung on for the ride down. Some due to the severe wind chose to pick the minibus as a mode to descent and some chose their bike. Both had an exhilarating trip down. The road edges are sheer and with only a low guard rail to block the way, each turn pumped the adrenaline a little harder.

Safe and sound at the bottom it is picnic time in Arrowtown, a quaint old town that now draws the tourist buses! Another 20 kms to Queenstown, so once refueled the group is off and pedaling again. The road beneath Coronet Peak, a winter ski area, is relatively flat until Arthur's Point where it climbs and crosses the Shotover River with it sheer rock sides and rapids. Then it is on down the other side to Queenstown. Queenstown is a city of approximately 13,000 sitting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, which is Maori for "space of the giant". It is New Zealand's third largest lake . Queenstown is a popular year round resort. The Maori had long visited the area in search of greenstone (jade). The Europeans arrived around 1860 and once gold was discovered in 1862 the population skyrocketed.

The wind again has forced some to permanently stay in the minibus and others to try their luck at making all the way. Mother Nature is giving it her all again to challenge each rider, but as with pervious days, the score at the end is Riders = 12, Mother Nature = 0! As much as she tried to dominate, the riders pushed back and won!!

Tonight is the last night as a group. Tomorrow some fly back to the States, others head to other parts of New Zealand and others stay an extra day before heading out to Australia. The biking portion is over but the memories of each push of the pedal will linger on for eternity. New Zealand is a beautiful country and a biker's paradise. Challenging in terrain and weather, but worth every calorie burned in crossing the countryside. The Kiwis have a treasure here!

Sue & Lauren: "Ready To Do This?"

Mary Jo: "I Need My Wind Pants!"

Lauren Off and Pedaling

Merino Sheep Grazing on the Hillside


Lauren About To Go Over The Edge!

Mr. Hedgehog


Another Farm Field

Fence of Bras!!!


Hotel Cardrona

One Last Look at the Map!

Sue & Mary Jo: "Does That Look Right? It is Straight Up!"

Up We Go

Okay -- One Down But One Still Has To Pedal Against The Wind!

Okay, Group Do We Go Over The Top?

Sue & Sue At The Summit

Down We Go Into The Wind!

AND More Down AND More Wind!

Queenstown -- Our Destination

Picnic Time

Well Earned Lunch

A Guide's Work Is Never Done!


Yea! A Downhill, but That WIND!!



Captain and 1st Mate!

Jackie: "What A Great Group!"