Wanaka. We made it to Wanaka today.
This feels like a pretty big milestone because Wanaka is actually north of Queenstown, where we started this leg of bikepacking and tramping. It feels like we’ve come full circle, especially since my brother is meeting us here for Christmas in two days with all of the belongings that we left stashed in the bush outside of Queenstown.
Three weeks is what it took us to do our big southern loop. Three weeks is all we have left in New Zealand. I suppose I should be celebrating that we still have that long…but it’s sort of starting to feel like the end is near. And that is associated with feelings of sadness.
There was not sadness when we woke up this morning. While my toes did get cold, the little hut definitely kept us from a thoroughly and miserably cold night. And there were no mice. But the sheep did start to talk at about 5:30am. Baaaaahhhh. Stupid sheep.
When Scott opened the hut door, an intense beam of sunlight lit up my sleeping bag and entire hut. Time to get up! Sun is shining!
The intense sun actually had us stripping layers before breakfast was even over, and for the first time on this trip, I started riding in a single layer. Yeah. It was that warm.
We climbed a bit and then descended a lot into one of the high valleys of Central Otago. It’s incredibly desert-y here, reminds us of home. Very much Arkansas Valley of Colorado-esque.
Our route took us through a small town called Tarrace, where we were hoping to find internet and power so that we could plan our next steps. We found neither.
So we settled for a coffee, cheese scone, and some delish sandwich and kept pedaling towards Alberts Town. We’d gotten a tip about a river trail that would drop us into town, and it turned out to be singletrack! What luck.
While the roads here are amazing and beautiful, there’s something to be said for singletrack and actual mountain biking.
Plus, there was a really cool swing bridge at the end.
Alberts Town had a single cafe that boasted power outlets, but no internet. Time to keep moving. On to Wanaka just a few kms down the road.
We’ve actually already been to Wanaka, as the bus that we’d taken south nearly a month ago stopped there for a bathroom break, so we knew somewhat of what to expect. We knew that we’d be able to find internet, power, and now food was needed as well. All was found at a burger joint, so we stretched our time out there by ordering a smoothie and fries first, and when we’d used up that amount of time, getting a burger as well.
Turns out, it takes power to keep camera batteries and iPads charged, and I’m in the middle of a good book, so I’m eating up far too much power reading at night.
With an afternoon to kill, we headed down to the shores of Lake Wanaka, armed with Mallow Puffs and a bottle of cider and proceeded to wile away the entire afternoon laying in the sun, people watching, and tracing the last three weeks on the map.
We covered a lot of ground. We saw a lot of things. For having left Queenstown with only the plan to ride to Te Anau and hike the Kepler Track, I have to say, I’m pretty impressed with the loop we put together. Planned out day by day, coffee by coffee, bad idea by bad idea.