Part 2 – Omarama to Queenstown
The morning of our departure from Omarama was noticeably colder than before. Heading southeast towards Lindis Pass was very windy and both of my feet were really cold. We contemplated turning back but once we left the wide open Canterbury Plains and got in the valley towards the pass, we were protected from the wind and the uphill climb did not seem too bad. As we got closer to the top of Lindis Pass the grade got considerably steeper even forcing us to stop and rest before the final ascent to the summit. In spite of all it’s hype, it wasn’t the hardest climb we’ve done. It was also during this ride we came across the largest congregation of cycle tourists – 8 of us all converging at the summit.
The ride downhill to Tarras was fun and we rewarded ourselves with a nice coffee at Tarras.Another 20 km on rolling hills brought us to the Luggate campground – a cricket ground/super cheap/almost hippie commune – where Eric enjoyed a neck message and we both enjoyed a pub meal rather than look into the communal, mold-filled, uber-gross camp fridge.
We appreciated the short, but beautiful descent into Wanaka. Being early in the day, the first campground we viewed would not let us check in, so we explored another place, The Mt. Aspiring Campground which came highly recommended. It was much better than the first but also a 50m climb in elevation – not a big deal early in the day, but enough of a climb that we did not go back to town for dinner that night. Eric opted for a rest and I took a hike on the Rob Roy Track for a view of Lake Wanaka. The next day we left our packs at the camp and cycled on a great mountain biking track to Glendhu Bay. This ride was pivotal in helping us branch off paved surfaces an on to more dirt tracks.
The next day we started early for the Crown Ridge and descent into Arrowtown. This was a challenging ride but easier than Lindis Pass, I thought. The downhill was great fun with switch-backs and a steep descent.
We found a great campsite in Arrowtown and enjoyed a pub meal with life Irish music.
The following day we toured the excellent history museum in town before cycling on the Hayes Lake track into Queenstown to stay with our friends.
The next two days were bicycle rest days but full on tourist days. We traveled by car to Queenstown, took the Steamship Earnshaw to Walter’s Peak for a delicious buffet lunch, played bowles at the Queenstown Bowling Club, drove to Glenorchy, ate some blue cod fish and chips, and shot some pool.
Most of all we enjoyed conversation with fellow cycling friends.