I'm getting obsessed with the weather here, so it was my first concern when I got up this morning. Hmmm... not too bad!
As it happens, drizzle began almost the instant I left Queenstown. I was steeling myself for another damp ride but it never materialized. In fact, the weather got better and better as the day (and ride) progressed.
Not far from Queenstown, I turned off onto a minor road over the Crown Range Pass toward Wanaka. Not a high road by Alpine standards, it nevertheless provided some fast-ascending switchbacks, great views, and generally kept me leaning this way and that for most of the time.
Stopping for a coffee in Cardrona, I was immediately engaged in conversation by a nice fella, telling me about a book about touring Australia and the USA by Vstrom. The Historic hotel looks like it has a few interesting features for gearheads.
I somehow skirted Wanaka and found myself on another awesome stretch of road, following the coast of Lake Hawea. Once again proving that New Zealand has more different types of scenery packed into a smaller space than anywhere else I have ever been. Leaving the lake, the road zips over a ridge and now I was looking at Lake Wanaka.
At the head of the lake, the route began to climb through the Mountains of the Mount Aspiring National Park. This road over Haast Pass was a cornucopia of twisting asphalt with endless variations of grade, dipping and swooping one minute, then tightly winding as it climbed a valley wall or skirted a cliff. I was taking it easy so as to be able to look around a bit while still picking cornering lines and watching for traffic but as I was having too much fun riding to stop anywhere, I didn't get many decent photos. Watching out for traffic was easy - There wasn't any. I saw maybe a couple of dozen vehicles going the other way and encountered not a single vehicle travelling in my direction for over 100km. The last 40 or so Km on the West side of the pass are following the flat valley floor, where a wide, shallow river of purest blue was making its way toward the Tasman Sea.