New Zealand 2014

Day 18

April 1


This morning I have the time and place to cook my own breakfast. I've been cooking my own breakfast for more years than I can count after I complained about how my momma cooked my eggs one morning. Her response was to the point -

"If you don't like 'em, then cook 'em yourself.'

So I did and to this day breakfast is still my favorite meal to cook and to eat - in case you never noticed....

  Some nice fried leg ham, scrambled eggs with cheese, toast and hot chocolate - it just don't get much better than that.  
  And of course with a couple of chocolate cookies tossed in to give me the energy to clean the plate.  
  Today will be extra nice as we get to ride without being fully loaded on one of the more famous roads on the South Island.  
  But first we have to get out of town ...  
  which doesn't take us very long at all.  
  We will be riding over the Crown Range Road - the highest paved road in New Zealand at 1,121 meters (or 3,678 feet for those used to thinking that way).  
  There's a couple of sport bikers behind us, so we wave them on. I've got no reason to be in a hurry today and I sure don't want to hold them up.  
  Alain decides to give them a little chase but I'm just not in the mood for now.  
  I figure there should be some gorgeous views from up on top, so I plan on doing a bit of 'flower sniffing' today.  
  And the views are stunning - there's just something that has always stirred me about being up on a high spot and looking out. I guess it goes back to my raising up in the hills of Tennessee. One of my favorite things was to climb up the big hills on my grandparent's farm and just sit up there and think about stuff by myself.  
  Not only are the views great, but the twisties are even better.  
  So it's a bit of a mental gymnastic - watch the views but ...  
  be careful to watch the road.  
  And sometimes I can do both at the same time.  
  When you come down off the ridge, you pass through the small village of Cardrona.  
  In the 1860s, settlers came to the gold rush on the banks of the river. They built many buildings of which few remain like this school house ...  
  and the old chapel.  
  But the road is calling, and we are the fellers to answer the call.  
  The mountains become more like hills as we move along, the land turns from brown ...  
  to green as irrigation appears to be necessary for crops in this area.  
  And it is probably a constant quest for more water, as we see them drilling a well in hopes of getting more of it.  
  We decide to come down the other side of Lake Dunstan since we are sort of retracing some of the roads we followed coming into Queenstown yesterday.  
  And again I am able to catch a mirror perfect reflection in the calm lake.  
  The lake is our friend for a while as the road runs along the shoreline for several miles.  
  When we get to Clyde, we swing by the Clyde Dam whose construction was surrounded by a lot of controversy. It's the third largest hydroelectric dam in New Zealand, but it flooded the scenic Cromwell Gorge as well as much farmland and orchards. And it turned out to be the most expensive dam to build in New Zealand's history as a fault line was discovered during construction. The story reminds me a lot of what happened in Tennessee as TVA build numerous dams through the area in the 1930s, flooding whole communities in the process.  
  It's good place for a closer look and to take a break.  
  On our way out, we take a look at the village of Clyde.  
  Leaving town we see the old versus new bridge across the Clutha River. And at least they splurged a bit and made the new bridge two lanes instead of one lane like the old one.  
  Highway 8 proves to be a nice run as it weaves its way through the valleys ...  
  and then up into the hills.  
  We continue to play hide and seek with the Clutha River as we head south.  
  It's a lovely farming area that the presence of the river keeps nice and green.  
  Just outside of Roxburgh, I spot this abandoned homestead. It's located on the banks of the river in what looks like a very nice spot, not too far from the village. Why did someone give up on such a nice place? Was it sickness? Did death come calling? Was it the result of financial ruin? What sort of tragedy would drive a man from his homestead? But I'm left to my musings as we move on down the road.  
  At this point, the river is running swift and strong.  
  Roxburgh is a small village of about 600 people built in the 1800s. It was named after Roxburghshire in Scotland as the first settlers were from that area.  

This is one of the 'newer' buildings in the town. An interesting note -

Roxburgh has New Zealand's oldest operating cinema. Located in Scotland Street, it opened 11 December 1897 and is still operating.

  It is also an area well known for its lovely orchards of apples, cherries and apricots.  
  Soon we leave Roxburgh behind and head back up into the mountains.  
  Highway 90 takes us toward Gore through some lovely farmland.  
  The roads are nicely, lazy sweepers which really suit my mood today.  
  On roads like these you can just sort of kick back and take it easy.  
  This must be prime sheep country, as we pass another large herd off to our right.  
  Soon we arrive in Gore, the 'Capital of Country Music' in New Zealand. It is the location of the annual New Zealand Country Music Awards. A little bit like Nashville, where I'm from I reckon, just on a slightly smaller scale.  
  It's a good place for a break at any rate, and we avail ourselves of the opportunity.  
  Gore is a 'service center' for the surrounding farm areas which have faced some tough times in the last few years. This downturn has also affected the city as some places just shut down for lack of business and people moved away.  
  Not too far out of town though, the road construction business seems to be doing all right.  
  As we head up Highway 94 back towards Queenstown, the terrain changes from rugged mountains ...  
  to hills more like where I grew up back in Tennessee.  
  Suddenly up ahead, there appears to be something going on.  
  As it turns out, farmers are doing 'burn offs' to prepare the ground for the next season. But it sure does create a large amount of smoke which the wind brings right across the highway.  
  And not too soon for me we are back out into the 'clear air' again.  
  As we get closer to Queenstown, we run alongside Lake Wakatipu. It is the longest lake in New Zealand, the third largest one, and pretty deep at 1,250 feet.  
  It is know as a 'finger lake', sort of in the shape of a dog leg.  
  It is surrounded by the Remarkables Mountain range which add to the beauty of the setting. The mountain range was given that name supposedly because they are one of only two mountain ranges in the world that run directly north/south.  
  Sometimes we are out of sight of the lake ...  
  but not for long. And the road is a real delight as it follows the shore line and ...  
  provides plenty of twists and turns to go along with the lovely scenery.  
  Coming in from this way, we encounter a bit of a strange bridge. It certainly is not the place to be nervous as you'd best stay on one of the 'planked' tracks unless you want to fall down and go boom.  
  Since we'll be leaving out in the morning for Te Anau and another farm stay, we gas the girls up while we have the chance. I prefer to fuel up the night before because that way if we are out and about before shops open, we can proceed for a good while.  
  There's a little traffic as we get into Queenstown, but not enough to be a big bother.  
  We decide to walk back downtown for supper and find ourselves at the same place as last night. Why change a good thing?  
  And I don't change a thing as I order the same ribeye meal that I ordered last night.  
  And again, I don't leave anything but the bone. After all, there is something to be said for being consistent!  
  Since Alain and I both really like ice cream, we go on a hunt for some after dinner. And what better way to finish off an excellent meal with a little Mr. Whippy?  
  Or maybe it's actually a lot of Mr.Whippy? It's more like a whipped cream than a softserve, but it is really good. And that chocolate coating helps it along quite nicely.  
  The walk back to our motel is up some pretty steep steps and a hill, but it surely doesn't hurt me none after all I have consumed. We decide to 'rearrange' our route tomorrow to be a little shorter so we can make a run up to Glenorchy, north of Queenstown. Also, since it's a farm stay on a gravel road, we want to get there in plenty of daylight. With our GPSs synced, I head for the sack to sync my eyelids closed. It's been just another great, relaxing day of riding with my friend and sleep comes pretty easy.