Day 33: Fox Glacier to Hari HariJournal for 2014-11-22 | Published on 2014-11-26 23:28:25
Woke up this morning to more rain, but had to get going. You can sit around forever waiting for weather, but there is usually no point in it. If we cycled only on the good days we’d never get anywhere. Leaving was met with lots of stares as we pedaled out into the rain, we smiled and went on. We were dressed well for the 14C rain, it was actually rather warm compared to our previous NZ rains.
After a quick pause at the grocery store to pickup lunch, we headed out towards Franz Josef Glacier. We knew there were three hills with about 600m of climbing between the two towns so we started slowly. Grinding away in the granny gear we made it up each hill only to have to go slowly down the descent due to the heavy rain being cold and unpleasant pelting the face at high speeds, in addition to the slick roads.
Along the way we passed another touring couple who was clad in dark blue jackets, black pants, dark panniers, and had no lights. We were decked out in bright red jackets, neon yellow vests, and taillights that are extremely bright. Since it was raining we didn’t get to stop and chat, but afterwards Pam and I stopped and both shared how invisible they were riding up the hill. It just doesn’t make sense to us, why take the risk of not being seen? Drivers aren’t going to hit us because they didn’t see us…
We actually passed a remarkable number of tourists, maybe 7 to 9 of them headed the opposite direction today. Unfortunately weather and road conditions meant we didn’t get to talk to any of them. Finally we made it in to Franz Josef and immediately found the nearest covered area to eat lunch. While eating we got really cold and all the rain had soaked us completely.
We headed to the grocery store for some food, ate a hot meat pie, found a replacement camp stove, and used the only ATM that accepts foreign cards within 250km. Then we visited the Wildlife Center and paid the steep entry fee to…. see Kiwi birds! This center is part of a public/private partnerships that takes Kiwi eggs, hatches and nurtures them until they are >1kg and releases them back into the wild. By doing this they increase the survival rate of the Kiwi birds from 5% to about 65%. At the center they had an exhibit which was dark to simulate nighttime and you could walk through and watch the Kiwi’s they have in action.
The Kiwi is a funny bird, they have no wings, and Matt likes to describe them as a cantaloupe with legs and a head. But it was neat to watch them walking around and sticking their beak into the ground (they are the only bird with nostrils at the end of their beaks) looking for bugs to eat. They can run very fast because most of their body is two large muscles for their legs.
After finishing the exhibit we were still freezing cold and decided to have a coffee at the centers café. They had a giant gas fireplace that we nearly glued ourselves to while drinking our coffee. While there a lady from our last campsite who is backpacking around came in and we chatted with her some more, she has done a few bicycle tours in the US and was fun to chat with.
Finally warm, but still soaked we decided to continue on to the next town, Whataroa. The rain slowly tapered off to just misting. Before we knew it Matt looked down and realized we had gone 20km, which is beyond our usual snack break distance. We paused and then finally realized that we had a tailwind helping us out and the caffeine from an energy drink plus a coffee was a big plus. After a quick break we got on the road enjoying the fast riding speeds and got in to town much quicker than expected.
We paused and assessed ourselves, the legs felt fine, we had plenty of food, the wind was still good, onward we must go. The only problem was that the next place to stay was 30km down the road with one big hill to climb. We decided to go for it, and we are glad we did. It felt so nice to have that tailwind, we were rocketing down the road compared to our recent sluggish paces. The hill, Mt. Hercules, ended up being steep but not overly so, and coming down the other side was very nice.
We pulled into Hari Hari to find a replica of a plane flown by Guy Menzies who was the first person to cross the Tasman Sea solo. He made it but ended up crash landing near this town instead of making it to Christchurch like he had planned.
We made our way to the hotel which is a jack of all trades and got a backpackers room. Unfortunately they have no kitchen for guests (unusual in NZ) so we ate dinner at their bar/restaurant. Dinner and a giant piece of cheesecake later we ran our clothes through the dryer and have a warm room to stay the night in. It was a great day of riding, we are sad that we missed many great views, but perhaps the rain and clouds obscuring everything helped move us along since we weren’t taking breaks all the time.
As our time in NZ is drawing to a close we are still trying to figure out where we are ending this journey, however we are honing in on Picton. We will know for sure in a couple days, but today’s good ride helped set us to up to make that goal.
Distance: 88.66 km
Avg speed: 16.08 kmh
Max speed: 49.42 kmh
Climb: 980 m.
This meat pie packaging is written in sort of typical Kiwi fashion, Pam and I get a good chuckle from the style of the NZ writing.
Ah the lovely fire in the Nature Center Cafe
Typical road for the day
Nothing says safe like tree and plants hanging on to rock over your head while it is pouring down rain.