136km 912 elevation
It was hard to say goodbye to the Watson clan and get back on my bike. They made me feel so welcome and it was nice to have a taste of normality, albeit briefly. They have a wonderful home with a lovely outlook. I continued around the cycle tracks from Lake Hayes to Frankton and around the Queenstown lake front.
We booked to cross lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak station at 12 o’clock since the 10 am boat was full already. I made it to the Queenstown waterfront in time to grab some ice cream from Patagonia then we boarded the SS Earnslaw after she was refilled with coal. At full steam she burns almost a tonne of coal an hour. This boat is essentially a working Museum, and I’m proud to say my grand dad McDonald installed the intercom on this boat a long time ago
The buildings and grounds at Walter Peak we are just gorgeous, but knowing we still had 100 km to ride we couldn’t linger to savour the experience too long. The gift shop was closed too so I wasn’t able to get any more food there, but knew I should have enough to keep me going through the day.
We Set off at about 1 pm following the road away from Walter Peak station. The gravel roads were a bit chunky in places and there was a few stream fords to cross as well. The gradient gradually increases for the first twenty kilometres or so, then it’s a steep climb up Von Hill. I have to admit I hadn’t prepared very well for this day, I didn’t realise we would have a big climb or there would be so few facilities available along the way. It turned out that Von Hill wasn’t my biggest challenge, the headwind across the plateau from the top of Von Hill really slowed my progress and sapped my energy.
The first 51 k’s to Mavora Lakes took four hours. I was feeling really low, so I decided to stop there and have my an early dinner since it was 5 o’clock already. Some people I bumped into there told me that they decided to stop at the lake to spend the night since the thought of another four hours to get to Mossburn was too depressing.
I decided to continue on, knowing that a good night sleep would set me up well for the next day, and Nerena and Scott had already booked accommodation for us in Mossman. I’m not sure if it was a lovely setting, the dinner, or just stopping and resting for five minutes but something gave me a surge of energy and I continued on down towards Mossburn at a good pace. I passed a couple of cycle tourists, then slowly reeled in some of the other backpackers who had cycled away from me earlier in the day.
The next 52 km only took 2.5 hours because of a dying headwind, plus a boost of energy and enthusiasm. I made it to Mossburn by 730 in time to have a shower and grab dinner at the local pub. The small town pubs certainly aren’t stingy with their servings sizes.
I think one of the biggest challenges over the next couple of days is going to be the fact this Tour is almost over. It has been such a big part of my life for the last year with all the training, planning and preparation. But after my brief stay with the Watsons it was easy to remind myself that everyday life with its rhythms and challenges will be easy enough to step back into.
The Remarkables from TSS Earnslaw
Walter Peak Station
Scott and Nerena