State Highway 6 Haast, A place of beauty and near death ... twice ! Bit more on that later.
A brilliant sleep is ended by a mosquito doing aerial dives at me from various directions. It is obviously a Japanese variety as it does kamikaze nose dives as I try to swat it away. Sadly these exertions wake me too much to be able to have any hope of regaining sleep. Still, it’s been the longest I’ve managed in years, let alone in this trip. Last nights feeble few hours must have taken their toll.
I head over to the kitchen and am the only one up. I’d hate to have had the night the poor guys in the tents had. The place is soaking and mist have belted down all night. It sure was going for it when I fell asleep. I found the rest of the bacon from Kumara buried in my panniers this morning, having passed the sniff test, I add it to my breakfast menu of porridge and coffee. Could have done with a few eggs but it was still good.
I’m packed and out of there at a record 8.30am. The skies are blue and I throw on some suncream and lip balm (happy mum ??) it’s dead flat as I leave and I actually manage well over 20 km before even considering the battery over a rise.
Bruce Bay ... all this AND wifi
Today’s scenery will be hard to beat anywhere, it’s a magnificent cycle and not only because the majority of it is flat. Amazing coastal views combined with Lakes, Rainforests and swamplands. It all unfolds like a panoramic motion picture. It’s hard to take it all on as one magnificent setting passes on to another. Several times I ought to have stopped and didn’t. I regret that now although have already decided that should I still be breathing in 10 years time, I will take an anniversary tour.
Small Bruce Bay Video
Bruce Bay is the first place I come to and it’s amazing. As usuals the photos above will just not do it justice. The place is serene and I’d have loved to camp here given time. I have to drag myself away and on with the pedaling. I’ve a long way to go today. Firstly though, a few more shots of Bruce Bay ..
Stones signed by travelers
After passing by a beautiful dark river (I assume .. as it’s flowing) see below
I enter a large valley that once again has me reverting to childhood and recalling another Enid Blyton tale “The Valley of Adventure”. I hate to estimate the countless readings I had of that book and this was the valley pictured in my minds eye.
Surrounded by mountains on all sides (Video)
Soon after taking this video I pedal to the end of a very long straight piece of highway 6 where the road bends around to the right in a 90 degree curve. Just as I’m about to behind the curve an Asian lady hurtling along in a rental (I think) pulls out directly in my path and heading towards me at a great rate of knots. Now this may sound like I’m somewhere in the middle of my side of the road but let me assure you that on the highways especially, I hug as close as possible to the side and don’t waver from it. In sheer panic I hurl my handlebars left and thankfully there is a bit of been before I crash into a bush. I’m convinced had I not reacted so quickly that I’d be looking somewhat like one of Bobs flattened relatives. I turn to see if they have stopped but no chance. The vehicle they were overtaking is still blaring their horn and them and continues to do so all down the long stretch of straight. I swear and give the fingers but I doubt they bothered to look back. I’m incredulous as to why they overtook on a blind corner when a huge straight was just ahead. It’s the closest shave I’ve had on the trip, possibly in my life.
Around 5km later I come across the salmon farm cafe offering coffee and a variety of salmon meals ... at a price! Still feeling a little shook up I decide a coffee would be great. A busload of fed up looking tourists are leaving as I arrive. The flashiest part of the cafe are the signs 3km out, alerting you to the fact they are there. I wish I’d had my chainsaw now, I’d have cycled back and downed them ! I order a mocha and muffin from a grumpy looking woman. I don’t hold it against her at first as she has just dealt with a bus load of tourists and 2 more buses have just pulled in behind me. I take my seat and watch, amused as a gigantic line begins to form for the one ladies toilet. There a long corridor down to it and at least 11 are waiting with 2 more buses emptying towards us.
Toilet corridor full & 2 busloads more heading in
Thankfully I’ve managed to order first and even so it’s 15 mins before my coffee joins my muffin at the table. I unwrap the muffin (I should have known not to order something already glad wrapped at a counter) and do my best to tear a piece off. The thing is so stale that I’m almost inclined to ask for a hammer and chisel. I bite into a piece and almost immediately regret it. It’s becomes glug in my mouth and is barely edible. I stubbornly work away at it ever thankful that my implants are now in and just a little concerned that they might pull out with the vicious suction power of the muffin. After soaking up every last bit of saliva you’re able to create, it’s somewhat akin to chewing araldite glue that’s 3/4 set. I sit contemplating what Gordon Ramsey might say to a meal here and shudder on behalf of the owners. The coffee is no better, a tiny cup and only lukewarm, I may have mentioned before .. I HATE lukewarm coffee. The place is an utter tourist trap ripoff. They have a captive audience with the tour buses arriving and to hell with quality, value or service. Let’s fleece everyone is the motto. Should be a sheep farm rather than a salmon one !
I take my leave still attempting to clear my gums of muck. At least it’s taken my mind from dying. A campervan pulls in and a German man asks how it was, my grimace is enough for him, thanks we will leave it, he says. I wish someone had been as kind to me. Around another 15km cycling brings me to the place where I could have been camping last night had I continued. Lake Paringa is very very beautiful indeed but I’m happy I had the cabin. Most of the campsite is sopping wet and I fear I’d be still drying out now.
Another bridge over another blue river
Lake Paringa with soaking grass
Still Lake Paranga
I briefly chat with some Dutch tourists who take a shine to Bob. Poor Bob has been relatively quiet since the close shave apart from telling me that he was a metre closer to the bumper than I was and was surely destined for chog heaven.
From Lake Paringa I continue to follow along State Highway 6 and have no more difficulties until I reach the only climb of the day. The climb itself is not the problem. I’m actually quite enjoying this one as my random play music has come up with a few great tracks to energise me up the incline. At the top of the first portion are splendid views once again, this time back down the coast
I pull myself back into the hill and then get a great rush down the first drop. There’s nothing quite like hitting 70km/hr downhill on a bike with Bono yelling ...
‘I've lost all self-control
Been living like a mole
Now going down, excavation
I and I in the sky
You make me feel like I can fly
So high, elevation”
You really need to try it some time, don’t just take my word. Oh, and play the live version !
It’s only a faux descent and pretty soon I’m back climbing a fairly steep not to mention narrowish second half of the hill (mountain ? No idea) I take a sharp bend to the left and as you’d expect going up a steep climb, I was going pretty slow and hugging the side of the road. Around the corner comes another infernal camper van and this time it happens. It’s so close that it actually brushes me and clips my handlebar sending my crushing down into a small culvert and against the rocky side. My pannier has been knocked off and is lying on the side of the road. Shocked, I pick myself up and hurriedly drag my pannier off the road incase more traffic arrives around the bend. I like to see if the camper has stopped ahead but they have vanished without a care. I inspect the bike and to my relief there is no damage. As you can see by the photo below, there wasn’t much room for me to fall and I ended up down the ditch and against the rock a few metres behind where my bike is.
A few metres past what could have been my end
After over 3000km through NZ with no mishaps, twice in 1 day seems a little much ! I look at my phone to make sure it’s not Friday the 13th. Once again I set off and an relieved to crest the summit soon after. The downhill is again adrenalin pumping fun, made all the more so as traffic behind me simply can’t keep up around the curves. It’s strange that I should feel more secure whipping down at 70km than crawling up at 10.
Another long cycle takes me past Lake Moeraki. I’m being really spoilt with the scenery today, in amongst people trying to kill me. I’m not sure of the dimensions but Lake Moeraki seemed huge and took a fair while to cycle past. A little way past, out of dense bush to my left, 2 rough looking guys with backpacks and rifles emerge before me from the scrub. I say ‘afternoon’ politely as I cycle past but get no response apart from a vacant look. I pedal just a little bit faster, half expecting a bullet in the back at any moment. As you can tell, it never came.
Lake Moeraki .. now I think about it, was probably just before the climb
More of Lake Moeraki
Still further on down the road, I cross yet another 1 lane bridge and come across a sign saying Ship Creek Walk. Feeling like a change of pace after around 4 hours on the bike, I make an impromptu decision to stop. What an absolute cracker of a decsion it is. Without doubt the finest short walks I’ve done in New Zealand.
From the Bridge just before Ships Creek
I park the bike under a little shelter and lock it. There is a wal off to the left and another to the right. I take the left walk first and it’s good, very good. Following along a boardwalk beside the beach it eventually veers into a rainforest section in similar fashion to those I’ve been cycling over the Wilderness Trail. It’s a nice change of pace to walk it and it’s most beautiful, as you are about to see ...
Stunning ... but it’s better live
Yep, that was all from the first walk. Pretty amazing huh. It was twice as good actually being there, take my word.
Having made my way back to the bike, I’m hot and sweaty and pondering whether to do the second walk. What the hell, I decide, in for a penny in for a pound ...
My goodness, what I might have missed 😲😲
The path off to the second walk
What a hidden gem this place is, I was literally speechless in here. What superlatives have I not used ? Just insert them all here and I’ll pop in the pictures
Go ahead and enlarge these ... it’s worth it
Same scenery but I tried to lighten it
A kilometre of pure heaven
Just to top it all off, I had a David Attenborough moment and caught it on video for you
This little fellow in the video followed me for about 100m
While I’m at it, here’s a couple of other small videos from Ship Creek
Video of the pathside in Ship Creek
This one is from the beach walk (video)
If you aren’t impressed with those pics then I can’t help you, back to Ellen on the telly for you !!
It was really soul lifting stuff to walk through, and what the hell, here are a few more of the second walk. If you don’t like it, use your finger and scroll.
Ok, you get the point, it was stupendous. I loved it a whole lot and it will become the second happy place in my mind that the ’experts’ say you should have for times of stress. You couldn’t get much more happy than wandering through there on a day like today.
Another burst down the highway and I’m almost at Haast. I divert off down a drive to Kiwiana Food, not for the said food, but for a cold drink. I’m quite tired and verrry warm. Tepid water is no longer doing it for me and I need a cold sharp drink. They have Bundaberg and I down 2 of them as the first barely grazes the sides. I think I needed the sugar as well as I was feeling a touch faint. The lovely ladies burgers looked and smelt amazing but I just couldn’t justify the $$$ and sadly passed one up. A final push down a wonderful tree lined road and then over the longest 1 lane bridge I’ve ever been on, \240has me turning into Haast.
From the Bridge into Haast
Bridge over Haast complete with 4 passing bays as seen here
At Haast I briefly stop at the information centre and take in the displays of the area before heading around to Aspiring Motel who also allow tents to be put up. I’m amazed to be told that it’s lucky I only need a tent site as every hotel in Haast is booked solid. Not a single room in town she says. Who knew Haast was so popular ?
I’m the first in the tenting area and accordingly nab the best spot. I duck over to the showers and have two of the push button 5 minute showers. They think they are clever by limiting them to 5 minutes and then having a delays system before they will reactivate. I’ve paid my money and I want a decent shower after 90km and so (click HERE) yes I have my 5 minutes, poke my head out and then dash to the next shower along for a further 5 minutes. I considered going back to the 1st shower for a further 5 minutes ... just to beat the system, but I’m happy with my 10 minutes.
Back at the tent site 3 more have popped up around me. So much for quiet private evening. I head off to the pub as finish yesterday’s blog while lowering the level of a jug of Monteiths. With half a jug left I order a meal of Ribs and then load up the plate with roast veges, beetroot and tomato salad, peas and corn , chips and couscous. Cauliflower and cheese.
Having demolished that lot, I wobble back to camp on my bike and load up all my washing into a machine. It’s $4 but I’m beginning to smell. The bike is also allowed in and is now happily having its food via a plug next to my washer. We will both be powered up tomorrow.
For me it’s time to go to bed as I’m the last one up in this lounge area
Its been another long and sometimes nerve wracking day.
Yes Strava stuffed up again BASTARDS
Well on to your goodnight, click HERE