New Zealand post 21: FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS
We leave Cromwell on a lovely path alongside Lake Dunston, then wend our way through a beautiful residential area set on the Clutha River. There are Day Trippers on bikes everywhere we look, along with walkers, fishermen, rafters, speed boaters & even sky divers. Holiday season has hit with a vengeance and we are a bit worried about finding accommodation in Wanaka tonight. There was nothing available online and since it’s our 35th wedding anniversary, we are not that keen to put up a tent. But hey, whatever will be, will be…
After 20km, the delightful bike path runs out and we are reluctantly forced onto the busy road. The shoulder is narrow and the traffic plentiful and fast – people are clearly in a huge hurry to get to their holiday destinations so they can relax!
The road is flat and favours Steve who is getting fitter by the day. He is powering ahead, while I, who hate the flats, am lagging. It makes a pleasant change. I put my head down and pound away, careful to listen out for cars from behinde, since Steve’s mirror can’t help me now. All of a sudden he emits a yell and I look up to see him veer off into the ditch. Simultaneously I see a car careening towards me. Holy Shit! It literally comes to within an inch of the narrow shoulder and I come the closest I ever have, to being squashed like one of the 100s of rabbits we’ve seen today. We are both seriously shaken and need some time to pluck up the courage to get back out there. I swear, I’d rather take my chances with knife-wielding skabengas, than take on this death road again! Now I need to listen for cars from the rear and watch for over-takers from the front. “How much longer on this nightmare road ?” Steve consults the map – about 8km more, then we are back on a path, thank God!
A headwind has now come up, so it’s a triple whammy – flat, cars & wind. We grind away, intent on reaching the next town, where the bike path resumes.
Then Steve does a classic and stops dead in his tracks. He dismounts, ” liewe bliksem, jy weet Diana, my gat is nou so fokken seer!” It has been a brutal stretch and my arse is also taking strain. We have a bit of chocolate for the pain, then soldier on…
When we pull into Luggate at 45km and stop for lunch at the local hotel, we still have 35km to go, but I have a beer anyway. My nerves need it!
Then we are back on a bike trail, running high above the river. It is AMAZING! We are flying along, with a massive expanse of azure blue water flowing below and snow-capped peaks in the distance. (I’m sure they were there before, but we were too busy trying to stay alive to notice).
The contrast between the busy road and the sublime bike path is so marked, it’s ridiculous. The only good thing about the former, is that it makes us more grateful for and appreciative of the latter, lest we become complacent and take it for granted.
We are certainly taking nothing for granted now, as we plunge down a gnarly single track and find ourselves right on the water’s edge. Steve has to remind me I have panniers, in case I start having too much fun and get carried away.
We come to a clearing with a hammock just hanging there. Of course Steve can’t pass up the chance to have a lie down!! He’s getting pretty comfy, ” We could just spend the night here…” It’s a bit precarious when I climb in too, though. Probably not the best bet for an anniversary night!
We stop a bit further on and brew up some coffee to power us through the last 10km. As we sip away and munch on muffins, our minds wander to the accommodation dilemma. Steve is pessimistic, “No ways we’ll even get a cabin. We’ll be lucky to get a tent site”. I am more upbeat, ” No man, it’s our anniversary. Something will surely come up”
Wanaka, when we get there, is heaving. We ride past sign after sign of NO VACANCY. It’s not looking good. We pull into a campsite in the middle of town. “G’day. Do you have a booking?” Me: “No, but what are the chances you have a cabin?? It’s our 35th wedding anniversary and we really don’t want to spend it in a tent!” , Steve: ” She’s not lying, it really is”
“Hmmm, let me see,” she scans the computer, ” it’s a bit tricky…” (sounds promising?) “How many nights?” “2, maybe 3”, “I need to know for sure”, “ok 3”, “Hmmmm, I can do a luxury cabin for 1 night or a basic cabin for 2 nights. Nothing for 3 nights”, ” Can we take the lux then switch to the basic?”, “No, it has to be one or the other”.
We take the basic cabin for 2 nights, but cannot reserve a tent site for 30th, when Kati arrives, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens on the day. The chances of finding something in Queenstown are slim. We may have to cycle out and meet Kati on route and wild camp somewhere, for old times sake. But for now, we are warm and comfy in our cozy cabin and ever so grateful!