Taking the High Road to Queenstown

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12/02/08
Hello again blog-watchers. I’m writing this post to you from the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown! Yup, I made it to Julia’s place in one piece, after a nice challenging bike ride over the Crown Saddle via the Crown Range road. The weather was overcast to sunny for most of the day. The weather around here definitely changes in the blink of an eye it seems though. One second it seems like it’s going to rain down on you, and the next, the sun is beating you into submission. Crazy Kiwi weather. Now that I’m in Queenstown, I’ll be able to utilize all of lifes modern convenience like Internet, phone, laundry, etc, but the problem is that there is so much to do here. I’ve already spent all my petty cash, and am a couple days behind my blog posts, so I’ll have to try to be brief, although you all know just how terrible I am at being brief, don’t you? At any rate, check out the map and pics, and read on friends.

The ride from Wanaka to Queenstown was a mere 77km on the map, but took me over the highest highway pass in New Zealand at 1085m. Luckily, I was approaching this road from the correct side, as the gradients were fairly gradual over most of the day, gently climbing until the last few km before the saddle, at which point things got quite a bit steeper and painful. I passed 4 separate “chain bays” where cars put on their chains in the winter to get over the pass. Luckily, at this time of year, all is clear, and since there was no rain, it was pretty much smooth sailing for me. I passed through a historic town called Cardrona, where there are ski hills, and I’ve got to say, the nicest roadside bathrooms I’ve seen in my entire trip so far. You see, most towns have public toilets, but they’re in various states of not niceness. These ones were spotless. I’m sure I could have eaten off the floor. I stayed extra long just because of them 😉

Another attraction I was looking forward to on the road was the world-famous bra fence, where there are hundreds of bras adorning a fence, a kiwi take on the famous shoe fences of the world. Sadly, some time in the last couple years, they were taken down I guess. All my books mentioned this fence, but it was nowhere to be found. Too bad. No pics of that to show you. Kev, did you guys happen to see this wonderous sight? I suspect not. So, the greatest thing I had hoped to see didn’t appear, so I just kept rolling on. Once again, there were really no services on this road anyway, so my only stops were to eat sandwiches and snacks to keep me energized while I got over the pass. The top was a bit hairy at times, due to poor roadsides, and stupid drivers passing too close. I had what I’ll call an “I hate motorists day”, and ignored them all at lookouts.

Coming over the saddle however, I was greeted with the splendid views of the entire valley below, where Queenstown, Frankton, and Arrowtown are located, as well as some great mountain ranges including the Remarkables. Once again, this was a view worth all the effort I had put into getting up the pass, and brought a smile to my face and a lighness to my load. I had left a little later that day, as Julia would be at work until 5pm, and I didnt’ want to show up too early in Q-town with nothing to do but sit around. When I finally got there, I stopped into the iSite to ask about a few activities, then found Julia’s place. She hadn’t mentioned that it was located high on a hill at the top of some amazingly steep roads. I had to bike a longer way until I found a way to get up the road that wasn’t as steep. I’m not joking. The roads going up were that steep. It would be impossible to bike up with the trailer. Also, her place was set off the road, up another hill, and there were construction cranes blocking the access, so I literally had to scramble up a steep hill with one thing at a time to get it up to their place. I dumped all my gear in her backyard at around 3pm, changed on her porch, and headed back into town to kill time.

Queenstown is a really nice town. Amazingly, the population is still under 10,000, but it looks like a pretty big town. I guess that’s due to the fact that the tourist population is huge here. There are tons of motels, hotels, backpackers and bed and breakfasts for people to choose from. Luckily, the place is picturesque enough to get away with it. However, with this comes some massive construction projects going on all over the place. I think the place will double in population in the next few years easily. Anyway, that’s enough for now on this post, I’ve got a couple more to write, as well as maps to put together, so off I go. Bu-bye. I should mention though that Julia and Mark are awesome hosts. Mark loves cooking, so I’ve been spoiled with great food, and great company as well. We’ll be heading out to town later to take in the nightlife. Bu-bye.

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