Date: Tuesday 5 March 2013
Route: Makarora to Haast
Distance: 80km plus 2km into town to shop
Weather: clear and sunny, strong headwind from midday
Accommodation: Haast Lodge – backpacker accommodation – small rooms but good facilities – recommended for value for money
It was cold when we set out this morning, even though the sun was shining. Must have been because we were up in the mountains. We soon found ourselves riding through beech forests tunnelling the road.
We stopped in the first 10km to look at the Blue Pools – a short walk through the forest, including crossing a swing bridge to get there.
The climb up the actual pass was not too bad – long and steady with a sharp final climb. The downhill on the other side was extremely steep – we had to go slowly and carefully braking the whole way. We stopped at the Fantail Falls near the bottom and the smell of car brakes was overpowering. I was thankful we didn’t have to go up that way!
The rest of the journey was down the Haast river – the river bed is fairly broad and rocky, with steep cliffs on either side, covered in vegetation.
The ride was up and down, not too strenuous. Towards the end the headwind became wearisome. Kris found a monster blackberry hedge at the side of the road and we spent some time eating – they were perfectly ripe and warm from the sun. I could hardly tear Kris away from it.
We passed a number of bicycle tourists again. We met a man from the Chatham Islands again today (first encountered yesterday) who is riding from Bluff to Cape Reinga. He has his family supporting him in a camper van, so he is not carrying any luggage. However we still overtake him every day.
The lodge at Haast has a very pleasant communal lounge and kitchen set up. We went shopping to buy food for supper plus for tomorrow (as there will be no shop available). We felt frustrated at the limitations of the single local shop – high prices plus a lack of fresh vegetables.