Wanaka to the west coast Blog 158 3rd – 6th April
Next day the clocks go back so we lose an hour in bed boo hiss ! at home they are going forward an hour because it’s spring there, we had the time difference sussed but now we are lost again.
After breakfast at Tim and Steph’s we head out to look around Wanaka, the weather is a bit sketchy and the bike very noisy so we head for Puzzling World on the outskirts as Karen loves this sort of stuff. First we tackle the great maze or rather Karen tackles it and I follow as these things just infuriate me, it’s quite a tricky one as it has bridges and towers to find en route but she gets us round it quite quickly. Then it’s on to the illusion rooms which are great fun, there is a wall of faces that appear to follow you around the room. Then a room which is canted at 15 degrees, we have great fun watching water seemingly flow up hill and riding on a chair slide which does the same. It makes for great pictures, another room has a false perspective from one side to the other so you look tiny one side and huge the other when viewed from the right point, this technology is used frequently in movies including Lord of the Rings. Next is the Hologram room, these always fascinate me and we spend a fun hour moving all around them working out all the different views. Some of the more complex ones have six different viewpoints to change the image. The last room is illusion art, pictures within pictures and some very clever and complex fantasy artwork. The fun’s not over yet outside is a tower leaning at a seemingly impossible angle, there are strategic points to take pictures from to give the impression of holding it up, knocking it down and even having a 40 foot tower sticking out of your butt ! We try them all out, it’s gotta be done heh ! We also try a new one and pull the bike up in front of it and throw a rope over which I attach to the winch to give the impression we have pulled it over. We are there all day and have a ball, during a brief stop for lunch I bump into Ani and Trev who have been looking at the bike in the car park. We only chat for a few minutes but as they leave Ani hands me her card and says come and stay when you are in Invercargill which I accept gratefully.
We head back to Tim’s for a BBQ dinner (yum !) and are joined by one of his flying buddies (turns out Tim is also a helicopter pilot) It turns into a very sociable evening over dinner and a few drinks and all too soon it’s time for bed.
After brekky I have to go into town to get one of the exhaust manifold flanges welded, it has cracked clean through and although the bikes running okay it’s noisy as hell. These flanges have cracked a few times now, the downpipes are stainless steel and I think they have work hardened and gone slightly brittle with the heat and vibration. I need to fabricate a forward bracket sometime to take the weight off the front flange. Meantime I find a local welder fabricator and roll into their yard, a few of the guys come out for a look and the foreman who is a proper Kiwi bloke takes the piss then fixes it for free. His opening line was “why didn’t you just buy a fu#*#*ng Subaru and kick the front screen out (meaning that’s not a bike it’s a car with two wheels) He is a Ducati rider, they are usually disgusted about how big and heavy it is. He like most people is intrigued though and asks all about our journey.
Exhaust fixed I head back to Tim’s and we spend the rest of the afternoon catching up with emails and uploading pictures to free up some memory card space. Tim and Steph are away for a few days tomorrow so it makes sense for us to move on too. There is good weather forecast for the next week on the beautiful but notoriously wet west coast so we plan to head up there for a few days before doubling back to Wanaka. Tim says we are welcome when we return as long as they are around which is good to know.
Next morning we pack up and go to stock up with food in preparation to head out. Just before leaving we bump into Tony who is a member of Wanaka motorcycle club, we have a good chinwag and as we are about to go he gives us the presidents number and urges us to give him a call when we get back. While we are in the Supermarket Karen bumps into Cate a Kiwi lady she used to work with 11 years ago at Horsham Library (Karens employer up until we left). We explain we will be coming back to Wanaka and swap numbers so we can catch up later. Then just as we are at the checkout I get a phone call from Tim, he mentioned earlier that there might be a chance of filming us leaving from the helicopter as he is flying today. He says he has a photographer (Simon) lined up so we are good to go and can we meet at the airport in half an hour.
After a quick run through of what we are doing we head out to rendezvous at the bottom of Lake Hawea. After a few minutes we see and hear the chopper coming in and we start riding down the road alongside the lake. It is stunningly beautiful scenery and Tim is allowed to fly really low over the lake making for good shots. We feel like James Bond with a bright yellow chopper chasing us along the road as the tourists look on with amazement. It’s an absolute hoot to do and we both have big grins on our faces by the time we rendezvous again at the far end of the lake. We will have to wait until we get back to see the results, we say thank you and goodbye to Tim and Simon and carry on towards Haast Pass and the West Coast.
Haast pass is a joy to ride and the roads get better and better, it’s a gorgeous day and life is good. We don’t get that far as it was fairly late by the time we left so we stop at a DOC camp on the side of Lake Wanaka. It’s getting really cold in the evenings now as it’s Autumn and we are fairly high up, fortunately we spot a space in amongst some pine trees. This helps on two counts; it shelters us from the wind and the trees suck the moisture up so the leaf litter is bone dry and means the tent doesn’t get wet with dew like it does on grass. The sun isn’t getting high or hot enough until about 10 oclock to dry anything out and by then we need to be leaving.
In the morning after a breakfast of porridge and taking pictures of the lake we head on into Mount Aspiring National park. Stopping at a view point on the divide of West and East we meet a coach full of Kiwi ladies on a tour following the Clutha river, they are very enthusiatic about what we are doing and take lots of pictures of us and the bike.
Our next stop is Knights point where we are truely on the west coast, it’s really windy but we get some good pictures across the bay.
We are a huge interest at Lake Paringa when we stop for lunch where they form an orderly queue to talk to us (well almost) One couple we meet are Aussies and give us their address to come and stay when we get there.
There is so much to see in NZ and it’s so photogenic that we seem to stop about every 15minutes. The next unscheduled stop is Bruce bay which in itself isn’t that remarkable what marks it out is the stone cairns and driftwood sculptures that run along the roadside right next to the beach. People have also collected and signed the flat white stones that line this beach and interspersed them in the cairns. We have a permanent marker so we make our own Guzzioverland one to add to the rest.
The weather has been blowing in for a while and we have been skirting it, we now have no choice but to ride into rain. A few km’s later we are at Fox Glacier township, this is also where Karens bike trousers cried enough and split right across the bum much to her embarassment. The kevlar pads prevent her being too ‘cheeky’ but the cotton outer of the trousers are just falling apart. Lucky for her the rain becomes bad enough to warrant leggings. It’s about 4pm so we take a drive up Glacier view road. There are a couple of pull ins where you can look up the valley and view the glacier and a car park and walks at the end down to a swingbridge (suspension bridge) across the glacial melt river. The grey sky and rain spoils the view somewhat but we plan to return tomorrow and hope for better weather. Riding into Fox township we discover there is no campsite here but there is a backpackers, this is reasonably cheap for a dorm room and means we won’t be out in the rain all night with a broken tent zip. We get talking to an English guy who comes out for a look at the bike, he is the resident skydive tandem master here and tells us the forecast for tomorrow is good. We share the kitchen with a German couple and two Danish guys but we have a dorm room to ourselves as it’s not that full being out of season now. Karen spends the evening fixing her modesty by sewing up her trousers with a tea towel…. She needs a new pair of bike trousers pronto. Now it’s time for bed, tomorow we explore the Glacier !