New Zealand post 22: WANNA RIDE LAKE WANAKA
As there’s no urgency to get anywhere today, we snooze until 08h00, then very slowly pull together coffee, breakfast and a loose plan. It is after 10h00 when we mount our trusty, bagless steeds and head for the mountain bike trail around Lake Wanaka.
What an absolute treat! The views are next level and the riding is sublime. Without panniers, I can let rip on the descents and the uphills, long, steep and rocky as they are with some sharp switchbacks, are a relative piece of cake!
We ride for 2 hours in one direction before we think about the fact that we have brought no food and we still have to get back. Bad planning! But we are so loving it, we decide to push on in the hopes that we may find a little cafe or something further on. This is serious wishful thinking, as we have found on our travels that in general, decent refreshment stops are few and far between in NZ. It seems like such wasted economic opportunity, not to mention that it’s sorely needed, as every time we do find something, it’s jam packed. There clearly is a market, just no will to service it. Or maybe it’s just because we’re on bikes and can’t get far enough to reach them. Or maybe it’s just too seasonal and not worth it for the whole year, given how expensive labour is and the help wanted signs we see in almost every establishment…
We eventually run into rocks, then piles of driftwood, then deep sand and this brings us to our senses, along with the wind, which has risen and is whipping up waves on the lake. Best we turn around now or we’ll starve out here. We are definitely NOT going to hap upon a cosy pub serving delicious food!!
Driven by thoughts of lunch, we hightail it back and are thrilled to find a semi-decent loaf of Turkish style bread. We have become resigned to the over-processed, preservative-packed, cotton-wool bread, that’s our only option in most places. We down the whole thing between us with ease, packed with ham, cucumber, tomato and cheese and all washed down with beer (and iced tea).
Thus fortified, we tackle the bikes that are in serious need of a cleaning ( or at least Steve does, since I’m the cook). I take a shower and attempt to scrub off the stubborn, greasy, black tattoo that seems to be ever-present on my calf. Don’t know why I bother, since it’ll be back as soon as I get on the bike again (or maybe not, if Steve does a decent job…)
Wishful thinking again! I am just dozing off, as he bursts into the cabin…”There’s a saying – don’t take a knife to a gun fight. That’s exactly what I’m doing, trying to clean these chains with dishwashing liquid! All I’m doing is moving the muck around. I need a proper degreaser!” And he’s off into town to find some.
Looks like I’m doomed to my tattoo for a while yet though, as he just misses the shops.
We join all the plebs cooking dinner in the communal kitchen. It’s an assault on the senses, with all the various smells wafting through the air. They only provide gas hobs, microwaves and boiling water, so we have to use our own camping pots & plastic bowls, mugs & cutlery and our weeny little wooden spoon and chopping board. We whip up a right royal feast (me sipping red wine from my little fold up plastic cup) and are glad that we did not unload our stuff after all.
Tomorrow we meet Kati in Queenstown for a quick visit before she flies home on 31st. We have a lot of stories to swap over a lot of wine. I only hope we can find somewhere to sleep, as Google is showing nothing at all…