New Zealand 2014

Day 16

March 30

  Since there aren't any 'early' breakfast opportunities, I figure I'll get something on down the line.  
  Alain braces himself with a good shot of starter fluid - coffee as it is know in other circles.  
  I take a last walk around to get some shots of the lovely flowers blooming ...  
  in various and ...  
  interesting places.  
  I get a couple of more shots of the ocean ...  
  as it is a lot rougher this morning than it was last night.  
  But the road beckons us, so we head back and saddle up.  
  It's a little run on hardpack before we get back to the highway, but it's not bad all all.  
  Soon we begin a delightful run down the coast ...  
  for a good while. We plan on making a slight 'detour' as we head south to run up and over Arthur's Pass, one of the four major passes down here.  
  You just never know what's going to be over the next hill ...  
  but usually it is a delightful view and some twisty roads.  
  The way the road clings to hillside reminds me so much ...  
  of the lower end of Highway 1 back in California.  
  And the challenge here is the same challenge as there - trying to keep your eyes on the road while admiring the beautiful coastal scenes around every corner.  
  The road continues to twist like a snake much to our riding delight.  
  As we near the Taylorsville turnoff, it seem as if the clouds are coming down to meet us.  
  But my empty stomach and empty gas tank calls for much needed attention, so we make a stop for fuel for the bikes and for me.  
  I snag a beef and bacon double cheese pie, some chips, a jug of milk and a Snicker's bar thrown in for good measure. I am sure that I have now covered all the basic food groups that I need for the day - grease, meat, salt and chocolate.  
  The owner of the cottages we stayed at last night had made it a point to warn us of a 'difficult' bridge we would encounter as we headed southward. This 'little bridge of horrors' was supposed to be the scene of many motorcycle crashes. Up ahead we see what we suspect is the aforementioned bridge.  
  This one lane bridge just happens to share the roadway with an active railroad so you have a transition over the rails to get on and to get off. But we really don't know what all the fuss is about - you just stay off the tracks, watch for a train and be careful about the transitions off and on.  
  Before long, we hang a left on highway 73 toward Arthur's Pass and we greet this sign with joyous anticipation.  
  In the distance, we spy the mountains that we assume we will be riding up soon.  
  But the run up to them is farther than it looks, which is usually the case.  
  But it has some nice sweepers which make it a really great run.  
  When I see this wide 'dry' river, I figure there must be a a lot of water coming from somewhere sometime.  
  Finally we arrive at the Otira Gorge that will take us ...  
  on the way to Arthur's Pass. The original roadway was started in 1865 and completed in ten months. That seems pretty amazing to me considering that most of the work was done by hand.  
  As we approach the top, the fog thickens and a chill settles on my bones.  
  We continue to climb upwards and soon ....  
  we are up and over, headed down the backside.  
  It's a lovely run and, given the topography, an pretty neat engineering feat considering when it was first opened up.  
  When we stop at the 'official' town of Arthur's Pass (which actually below the pass), there is a a bit of a breeze blowing.  
  But we came just to do an 'up and over' of the pass, and with that accomplished, we head back the way that we came.  
  Soon we are getting to enjoy a 'new' road as we ride in the opposite direction.  
  It always amazes me the differences of the scenery when you ride a road in the opposite direction. If you pay attention, you will always see things that you missed coming from the other way.  
  I get a little better view of the 'chute' from this side and pretty soon ...  
  we are 'shooting' through the 'chute'.  
  It's a good run back to Highway 6 which will take us to Fox Glacier, our stop for the evening.  
  And as always, there will be more one lane bridges to go over.  
  When I see this herd of cattle, I recognize their distinctive markings. They are a variety know as 'belted' or 'belties' and originated in Scotland and Wales if I remember correctly.  
  It's just another incredible day of riding of some nice bends and sweepers as the the beautiful scenery floats past us.  

Further down the road, we come upon a little different kind of 'motor home'. Looks like someone with more time than money just built a house on the back of a truck.

  Soon we are playing hide and seek with the ocean again which brings its own delights.  
  We decide to take a little break time with the ducks and the geese since there's a nice pull-off.  
  I finish up what I didn't finish at breakfast for my morning 'snack'.  
  As we are enjoying our break, we see our friends in the strange camper pass us by. I guess it suits the purpose for them, but it sure looks top heavy to me.  
  As we move along, I see another wide, empty river. I guess the runoff from the mountains and the glaciers must really fill these channels up at the proper season.  
  And every now and then, there is some water in these river beds.  
  The vegetation along the roadside is always an interesting mix of plants that I have not see before. The trees are similar to back home with some interesting 'twists', but the bushes and smaller plants are lot different.  
  As we ride close to Fox Glacier, the mountains seem to rise up to greet us.  
  And every now then a construction zone with gravel does the same thing ...  
  Soon we pass another really wide river bed with just a bit of a trickle in the middle of it.  
  This one really reminds me of the ones I've seen in Alaska in my several rides up there.  
  Now we can see the glaciers off at a distance. So there must really be a glacier at the place called Fox Glacier. I wondered because in the States there are a lot of towns with the word 'falls' in their name that do not have a water fall anywhere near them.  
  With some explanation from Alain, I now understand the signage at these one lane bridges. The 'big' arrow indicates who has the right of way if cars meet from each direction. In this case, we would yield if there was car approaching from the other direction.  
  There are actually two glaciers visible from the area where we will be spending the night - the Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier.  

The town 'proper' is quite the 'tourist' destination from what I can see.

  We figure we'll head on down to take a peek at the Franz Josef one before we check into the motel.  
  It's a lovely run up toward the park where the best views are.  
  They have these 'interesting' speed bumps on the way in I guess to keep people from rushing along.  
  You can get a glimpse of the glacier from the road ....  
  but we decide to park and walk to a better viewing spot.  
  You can hike up to the Franz Josef Glacier but you better have your 'long distance' walking shoes on.  
  We head on back to our motel so we can unburden the girls and get a few things sorted.  
  We quickly encounter the 'Boss' - Muffin, who makes sure we pass a rigorous inspection before we are allowed to enter and conduct our business.  
  And like all good bosses, there is an 'assistant' - Bubbles, to handle the light work.  
  Once we get checked in and unloaded, we head off for the Fox Glacier.  
  This is another one of those interesting one-lane bridges that you can't quite see all the way to the other end.  
  The road to the observation point for the Fox Glacier is mostly hard packed gravel, but no trouble to negotiate.  
  It is even farther away to walk to than the other one but ...  
  the magic of a zoom lens brings it in a lot closer with a lot less effort.  
  I really like these large ferns and wish I could 'transport' them back to my Holler.  
  The sign says this is a narrow road not suitable for buses, campervans or trailers and they aren't kidding either.  
  Since this place is handy, we decide to fuel up so we'll be ready to roll in the morning. At $2.35 NZD (which about the same as USD at this point) a liter, that translates to about $8.92 a U.S. gallon. With the tanks on the ST1300, this means a good fill-up is usually north of $50.  
  The nice lady at the motel that Muffin and Bubbles keep around to do their light work tells us of a good restaurant down near the park. It looks like it might be on the lake, so we head that way.  
  As it turns out, the 'lake' is about 15 minutes away, but this place is special.  
  They have won many 'Golden Plate' awards for their cooking for both beef and lamb.  
  I figure I'm in lamb country, so I go for Bo Peep's companion.  
  It is absolutely the best lamb that I have ever stuck between my teeth. Once again, I am really tempted to lick the plate but I refrain myself so I won't embarrass Alain. But I do manage to do a fair job of cleaning it up with my fork.  
  After our delightful meal, we go back outside to get some incredible shots of Mount Cook from the parking lot. Our timing is good, as the clouds dissipate enough for us to snag one.  
  The ride back to the motel is short and pretty much a straight shot.  
  Tomorrow we head out for Queenstown and plan to hitting Haas Pass and Lindis Pass in the process. This will have put us over the four major passes on the South Island, which is one of my riding goals on this trip. It should be some mighty fine riding and with these thoughts floating in my head, I fall off the slumber cliff and right to sleep.