Things got off to an interesting start this morning. While I was waiting for the bike rental people, I chatted with some members of the Afghanistan national cricket team, who were playing England in an international tournament today.
At the bike rental place, I busied myself wiring up a power socket for my GPS (which I'm told I won't need) and heated jacket (which I'm told I probably won't need.)
Paperwork dispensed with I was ready for the road but the key wouldn't turn in the ignition. After fifteen minutes with one of the rental guys fighting with it, trying another key, spraying stuff into the lock, etc., one of the mechanics came out and showed us how it's done - A very common problem with Suzukis apparently.
(I had another short struggle with it later in the day but I think I'm getting the hang of it now)
I was told there are no straight roads in New Zealand - Well that's Bollocks! However, as I headed inland toward Darfield, the straight roads were passing through a gorgeous bucolic landscape, with a backdrop of mountains. The twisty bits were very good, curving up and down the hillsides and crossing numerous small bridges, many of them too narrow for two-way traffic. Shame it was overcast the whole way. I met a chatty Yorkshireman when I stopped to take photos at Rakaia Gorge, where the river flows a bright turquoise blue due to glacial sediment and dissolved oxygen. I helped him lube his chain and he showed me the damage from one of his panniers falling off when he hit a road cone. He has an R65 and is looking for pannier frames to fit it so if anyone knows where he can get some, I have his email.
The sun finally broke through just as I reached the gorgeous Lake Tekapo, which is also an unreal azure.
A few miles further on at the town of Twizel, I turned inland towards Mount Cook. The road follows the shore of Lake Pukaki. As I made my way along, thoroughly enjoying the sweeping turns and rises and falls of the landscape, it began to rain. The Weestrom's screen does a surprisingly good job of keeping the worst off my torso but my legs and feet would have been soaked of it had kept up for long. Just as I was coming to dry roads again, Mount Sefton came into view and I had to stop and yelp into my helmet. The flashes of ice blue coming from the snowy slopes of the hanging Huddleston and Stocking glaciers as they caught the sun were magnificent.
After reaching the small village of Mount Cook at around 4:30pm and checking into the YHA there, I made an energetic three mile hike up to the foot of the Hooker Glacier. I'm going to feel it in the morning!