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Archive for March, 2019

While we were in Hokitika (and earlier) a fire broke out in Pigeon Valley (near Nelson, New Zealand).  We had originally planned to spend time in Methvin (NZ) but realized we didn’t want to do any road riding in NZ so we had changed our plans to spend a week Mountain Biking in Nelson.  We monitored the fire while in Hokitika and finally had to make the call to change our plans (the road we would have travelled was closed and the smoke density in the area was unhealthy).  We were sorry to have to adjust — especially when we didn’t have any follow-on or back up plans!   We quickly went to work–we checked out websites for good riding locations and settled on Hanmer Springs!  Boy were we glad we did.  This place rocked!  So scenic, excellent riding, hot springs, and we found an outstanding massage therapist.

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We wound up staying in Hanmer Springs for six nights at a great lodge (Alpine Springs Motel).  The host and hostess were a great couple, very welcoming, and full of good advice for places to visit in town.  The population in Hanmer Springs is only 800 people … it’s a definite vacation locale but, during the week we were there, it was a very quiet, pleasant locale.

Look at all the trails above — all for riding and hiking!  This week afforded us an opportunity to rest and catch our breath as well as continue to train for our upcoming Alps to Ocean (A2O) tour.

We settled into our accommodations and went for a short ride into the forest.

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So nice and cool … just a great experience.  The next 2 days we went for longer rides out a couple of dirt roads … very little traffic and scenic!  We actually split up this day — I did a nice MTB track while Deb cruised out another road … so beautiful.

IMG_20190211_150705986Since we were down in a valley the views all the way around were incredible.  IMG_20190211_150958259We had excellent weather the whole time we were there.  Actually, the bigger problem was it was too hot so the risk of fire was high …IMG_20190212_181720087Just a beautiful area to cycle.IMG_20190212_181724569I made my way into the forest for some up and down riding …IMG_20190213_132919559Yeah … haha.  pretty fun!IMG_20190212_181833108See how dry the grasses were?IMG_20190212_181813182_HDR

The following day we took a break from the bikes and went for hike … it was like we were all alone on the trail!  We figured out why after we were finished hiking … the trails were closed due to high fire danger.  haha.  Oh well …we had a very pleasant and quiet hike.  The New Zealanders imported several “exotic” tree species and had planted many different kinds in this area to see which ones would grow well.  The Hanmer Forest is still a privately owned property where there is logging … they’ve worked with the city to build trails through the forest while it matures.  Some of the trees they had here were California Coastal Redwoods … pretty impressive, as usual.

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As with the other places we’ve hiked in NZ, the trails were very well maintained.IMG_20190214_112609606We gained a little elevation on our hike, too!IMG_20190214_111215737A close up view … looking up the valley.IMG_20190214_111207101

Our final ride was a big one–not distance-wise but elevation!  We climbed out of Hanmer Springs to Jack’s Pass and then down the backside a short way to Molesworth Station … and it was a sustained climb … it seemed to go on forever (2000 feet of climbing) … this was my standard view–trying to keep up with Deb as she motored up the mountain!

IMG_20190215_134609989I kept at it … no stopping here!IMG_20190215_131917007The view back down to the valley was incredible …IMG_20190215_141522280Our final destination up top.  IMG_20190215_134938164We wanted to press on but we had a late start that day and didn’t want to get stuck up there!  Here’s a couple more images from that ride.

IMG_20190215_135156321IMG_20190215_135310831IMG_20190215_141527802There was so much more riding we could have done up there!  If we ever decide to go back to NZ this will be a place to spend a couple of weeks …IMG_20190215_135045216

One of the reasons we enjoyed it so much was also a lucky find.  We were out for a short drive around town the first day and saw this sign …

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Although I didn’t go in for the Hypnosis I definitely came back for the massage! The owner has been trained all over in so many different styles and types of Massage.  Deb and I both found the place thoroughly relaxing and were quite refreshed when it was time to press on.  Having completely enjoyed our time (and wanting to have stayed longer) we packed up the car and drove away happily towards the next stage of the adventure!

Stumblingpiper

 

 

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When we left the glaciers behind we drove up the west coast to Hokitika.  We chose this town because it is centrally located on the West Coast Wilderness Trail.  The town has a very interesting vibe and some very cool driftwood sculptures on the beach.

IMG_20190206_154442280They ranged from the obvious, to the very large …IMG_3855all varieties and styles …IMG_20190206_153452002to the very small … with eyeballs included.  The eyes were rocks from the beach.IMG_3854

We had a really nice stay in Hokitika (to include our accommodations) …

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We did two big bike rides separated by a brewery tour. Duh.   … The first day we did an out and back to the south.  The trail is a mix of quiet roads and old rail trails.  Here’s an opening shot (looking for eels again).

IMG_20190207_104558745From there the trail entered this forest.  This was a narrow-gauge railway for transporting lumber to the coast.IMG_20190207_105013776There were definitely a few cycling challenges on this trail — don’t fall off!IMG_20190207_110411282It was beautiful in the trees … nice and cool and lovely riding.IMG_20190207_111552606We eventually made it back to the coast …IMG_20190207_132951697We were really enjoying having these full-suspension bikes.IMG_20190207_133018924Of course, then you get the added benefit of watching the sunset …IMG_20190207_204712120_HDR

The following day, we toured Monteith’s brewery in Greymouth.  Check out my beermentor.me blog for that entry.  Oh, we saw this sign on the trail … that’s why we scheduled it.  haha.

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Our final full day we did an out and back to “Cowboy Paradise” on the West Coast Wilderness Trail … this was about 72 kilometers round trip–longest ride to date for Deb!  Great trails and scenery both days–check out this video from that ride … yes, some challenging parts too …

 

You may ask, “What did you do when you weren’t riding?”  Here’s one activity … yes, you can skip rocks at the beach.

 

We had a great time in Hokitika … another place we could have stayed a little longer.  Oh, if you remember from one of my previous posts we were told about the large eels in NZ.  We had a chance to see them at the National Kiwi Centre in Hokitika.  They had some in an aquarium.  See the pics below — Deb actually was able to feed them (and touch them).  They can grow to over 6 feet in length and live over 100 years!  These eels (in the pictures) were females trapped in a lake and not able to go spawn in the ocean.  They reabsorbed the eggs in their bodies and continued to live.  Pretty creepy if you ask me.

(oh yes, we saw a Kiwi as well … more about that in the bird recap post).IMG_20190210_103844600Here is Deb “petting” the eel. She also fed them.IMG_20190209_100529535Here they are floating in their tank.IMG_20190210_103522556Pretty interesting … lol.IMG_20190210_103612645

On to the next adventure!

Stumblingpiper

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Leaving Wanaka, which is the southern end of the Southern Alps we drove up and through a small pass to get over to the Wild West Coast.  It was a pleasant drive and we, again, were passing through amazing scenery.  We arrived at our next destination: the town of Fox Glacier.   We arrived early afternoon and decided to do one of the many tourist things in the area … hike around Lake Matheson.  This is a famous Mirror Lake and, with the right conditions, you can take spectacular pictures.  The owner of the hotel also told us to drive past the lake about 5 kilometers and you will have a great view back to the glacier for which the town is named: Fox.

The hike was really nice around the lake.  Although the weather wasn’t perfect for photos, it still made for an excellent evening.  Here’s a couple of photos of that hike.

IMG_20190204_151153805You can see that it was overcast this day … it blocked some of the mountains.IMG_20190204_155423533Here’s one of those fern trees I mentioned in one of the previous posts … so cool.IMG_20190204_155624715IMG_20190204_160327102_HDR

We then took the owner’s recommendation and drove out to take a gander back at the glacier.  Because it was overcast (low-lying clouds) the view of the glacier is somewhat obscured.  Here’s the photo from this day.

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We decided on our last day (before leaving town) to drive back out since the sky was clear.  Look at the difference!  You can see so many more peaks and a lot more of the glacier!

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We actually hiked up the gorge to see the glacier “up close.”  Well … as close as you could get.  The drive was pretty challenging to begin with …check out this road!

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Come to find out, just recently, this section of road washed out — about 900 feet of road.  It is closed now for a few months I believe.

When we got up to the parking lot we hiked up about a mile in the gorge to see the glacier.  All of it kind of sketchy … and when you get up to the glacier  you’re like “Wow. That’s it? That dirty thing over there?”  I kind of like the view from earlier.  You can decided here …

As you can see … some places you shouldn’t stop!

IMG_3909Can you see the small group of people down below?  They were stopped right under this sign.   Good thing they had a tour guide! IMG_3915Looking back down the valley from the glacier … all of this was carved out by the ice.IMG_3916Here’s a look at the face of the glacier … IMG_3920A really close up on the ice!IMG_3921Here it is from a distance … kind of (un)awe-inspiring–until you realize how large it truly is.  This particular glacier is 3 kilometers deep.IMG_3926I don’t know … I like the view from far away where you see grass, mountains, and the glacier together.  IMG_3927

We enjoyed getting up close and seeing this glacier (a first for Deb!) and exploring the area.  We only spent two nights here … that was enough.  We left the final morning, had our sighting as mentioned above, and then drove by the Franz Josef Glacier on our way to Hokitika.  We saw both of the glaciers and were looking forward to the next part of the adventure — riding some of the west coast wilderness trail!  Stand by for that post.

Stumblingpiper

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When we left Glenorchy we realized that the hardtail bikes we rented were not going to meet our riding needs the rest of the time we were in New Zealand.  So, off we went to Queenstown (back to Bikeaholics) and worked out our issue … we exchanged them for some sweet Kona Satori full-suspension bikes.  Plus, they fit on the car nicely! A bonus!

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We had a pleasant drive up to Wanaka and were ready for some riding!  This place was right on a lake and had some pretty awesome trails.  These were a little challenging but we came away safely enough!

We weren’t going to set any riding records because every time we turned around we were stopping for photos.  haha.

IMG_20190202_121949255This was a nice section … many of the trails we roa were loose gravel like this.IMG_20190202_131944396_HDREvery time we stopped it was a Kodak moment.  Just incredible.  Have I said that already?IMG_20190202_134129491_HDRIMG_20190202_134231344Yes, we rode low by the water.IMG_20190202_134237935IMG_20190203_114540219And up on the trails.  It was a climb, descend, climb, descend area.  IMG_20190203_114545180IMG_20190203_114713540_HDR

I wished this video showed a little more of the steepness of this trail … but this was some of the riding we did here in Wanaka.

It wasn’t all riding … we did a little hiking and tried a couple of the local establishments.  We were chatting with the owner of the hotel and we mentioned making taking a swim in the lake.  When we were over there earlier we had seen few people in the lake — we figured it was because it was quite chilly.  She told us that if we looked closely over there you could see the eels in the lake.  We asked “what eels?!”  She told us there were fresh water eels that hung around where the river flowed into the lake — they grow to about six feet in length.  Now we know why there weren’t any people in the water.  We opted out for a more civilized activity — see below.

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We really liked the town of Wanaka — we should have spent more time here but it was not to be this time.  We packed up the vehicle and began the trek to the Wild West Coast for more adventure and excitement!

Stumblingpiper

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Sorry for the delay in posting … such a whirlwind trip!  Already home but catching up on blog entries.  Today is on the way to Paradise.  We left Te Anau and made our way to Queenstown–the adventure capitol of NZ.  We didn’t stay there … haha.  Speed boating, hang gliding, bungy jumping … all things we’ve left behind for the thrill of riding.  Now there is Downhill MTBing in Queenstown … that’s not our style either.  However, we were in Queenstown to pick up our bikes.  We had rented some hardtails from a company called Natural High in Christchurch.  They sent them to a place in Queenstown (called Bikeaholics) for us to pick up.  As you may recall from the previous post I had a very nice (and new) rental car.  We took a little time figuring out how to fit the bike rack on the car (with the bikes) to make sure I didn’t owe any money at the end.  Success!  We loaded up the bikes and headed up to Glenorchy for the next phase of the adventure.  The scenery in that area is stunning!  I guess that’s why the “town” of Paradise is up there.   Here’s a couple of photos to show off the locale … you couldn’t have made this horse pose like this if you tried.  haha.

Yeah, pretty incredible … and those pictures were taken from our Bed and Breakfast locale.  There was a “nice” road near our place and we spent some time riding for the next couple of days.  Again the views were just amazing …

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Around every corner was something new … to include some stream crossings … only a little wet here and there.

 

After a couple of days of riding we decided to hike one of the famous “tracks” — the Routeburn track.  An out and back hike — about 11.5 miles.  This was an alpine hike … so up up up and then a nice jaunt back down.  I know it sounds monotonous … but quite lovely …

You can imagine a few hobbits hiding under here.IMG_2969

Fern after fern … the ferns were incredible in New Zealand.  They had actual Fern Trees.IMG_3061You can see Deb bending down by the stream to see how cold the water was.IMG_3117This nifty little dragonfly decided to hitch a ride on Deb’s pack.IMG_3125There were several of these suspension bridges … all over new Zealand.IMG_3264Standing at the edge of the trail looking down …IMG_3273Of course, all of the trails were groomed.  It was so easy “tramping” in NZ.IMG_3278

The water was crystal clear … or some hue due to mineral content. IMG_3280We enjoyed this track.IMG_20190131_113016180_HDRAh, the pleasure of the hike. Where’s my bike?!  lolIMG_20190131_121114418A little panorama action for you …IMG_20190131_135909458We tried to drive to Paradise to see what all the fuss was about.  It was out in this area and there were plenty of tour buses going back and forth.  We drove out the gravel road for about seven miles and saw a family on the side of the road … they had lost control on the washboard gravel and ran off the road.  They already had help on the way so we continued onward.  We eventually came to a large stream crossing (ironically named “Jordan”).  Since we were in the rental car we decided not to cross, and like Moses, we were only able to look over Jordan toward Paradise.  We still don’t know what the excitement was all about but we don’t feel like we missed anything.

We went back to our B&B, spent our last night here and departed in the morning for the next phase of this awesome adventure!

Stumblingpiper

 

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