January 8: Arthur's Pass to Hokitika (Total ascent 1568 ft.; Total descent 3566 ft.) (Total mileage = 90 km)

Today's itinerary has a long day's route starting with a climb up and over Arthur's Pass named after Arthur Dudley Dobson, the first person to open the way to the Goldfields in 1864. The pass is dominated by Mt Rolleston (2270 m). The road is narrow with little to no shoulder so pedaling is going to be side by side with every car, truck, bus and double trailers going up and over. The ascent is steep, but the descent is almost vertically down! A 16% grade with hairpin turns and no shoulders to speak of is not a welcoming sight. Under the strong advise of the guides it is decided that pedaling is not the safe mode of transportation especially after yesterday's rain which makes the road surface a slippery, oily playing field. With everyone safe in the minibus the day starts with the ride over the pass and through a gorgeous Otira Gorge -- then the pedaling begins!! Mountains seem to rise up on all sides -- each blanketed in greenery, with an occasional waterfall seeping out of the sides among the many ferns and beech trees. All is quiet and still with only an trill of a bird or the rush of the falling water. At times the road oscillates like a wave over the ocean. For every gentle climb there is a corresponding decline. The pedaling is not easy, but the road has points of relief where one can coast and rest the legs. Following the Taramakau River the group passes through native forests on to the town of Kumara. All of a sudden after miles and miles of mountains, there sits the sea. A turn to the south and the road becomes relatively flat as the last 20 kms follow the shoreline to Hokitika and the resting point for the night. Hokitika is the center of the New Zealand Green Stone (Jade) , which is collected from local river beds and can be seen in the local shops. A quaint little town, population only 5000, resembling an old mining town of years gone by.

Kiwi Crossing!

Beginning of Otira Gorge


Sue, Jona, Melinda On The Road Again!

Taramakau River

New Zealand Grows BIG Broccoli

On The Road To Kumara


Almost To The Sea

Just Around the Corner

Fern Blanket