Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 17 2016 Makarora to Haast

Today was the second of the iconic New Zealand rides. We were crossing the Haast Pass.  From Makarora it was 18.5 km from our lodge to the summit.  We were at an elevation of 390 m and the summit was at 545 m. The first 16 km were a gentle rolling grade but the last 2.5 kms was a 150 m climb.  The summit was under a canopy huge trees and we weren’t climbing  the switchback trail to outlook.  After the summit there was 3 kms of really scary downhill which ended in a one lane bridge.   The Garmin was registering 24%. 

We started out with high cloud and temps of 3 C.  As I rolled out on the highway a huge bird flew out right in front of me.  At first I thought it was a hawk but later learned that it was Kaka parrot.  Apparently they are quite rare.

As soon as the sun cleared the mountain it started to warm up and the cloud was quickly burned off.  

A few kms down the road were the Blue Pools which are a world renown site and has been very highly rated in the Earniepedia  guide to New Zealand.  The site is reached via a 1.5 kms walk down a board walk through some incredible forest.  The Blue Pool is where this creek comes down out of  mountains and meets the river.  The water is a beautiful shade of blue. 

The summit was next up and with only a couple of kms of hard work we were there.  The obligatory pictures taken we were off down the scary downhill.  The road was quite broken and I was on the brakes hard most of the way.  The one lane bridge at the base of the hill is one lane bridge but the right a way is against you so you have to right down to a crawl before crossing.  The bridge is called the Gates of Haast.  From there  we rolled  down another 30 kms to the confluence of two rivers which was also written up in the Earniepedia Guide.   The sun was out and it was beautifully warm.    The next site on the road was the Bellowing Billy waterfalls which was also written into the guide.  However as it was 1.0 kms off the road we decided not to walk into see them.  Pedal Tours was in the trailhead having lunch so we walked over to talk to them.  They were riding up the Haast Pass to Makarora.  This meant they started at sea level and had to cycle 60 kms uphill to the Gates of Haast and then climb the 24% scary hill with a 120 kms day.  Yikes! I cannot imagine doing the Haast Pass in reverse.

From there it was all downhill. We had about 40 kms to ride down a beautiful winding road with very little traffic.  The mountains and sky were absolutely stunning. 

The forecast for the next week is calling for heavy rains and north westerly winds.  It doesn’t sound great as we are headed NW and the rain and look cloud will obscure the beautiful scenery.    We will have to see how bad the wind is.  We have seen lots of 50+ km/hr wind.

What a stunning ride down an iconic New Zealand ride.



Anonymous said...

Glad you had such a beautiful day. I have ridden the reverse way up Haast Pass in the rain, and cannot imagine coming down it in the rain! Sorry you did not go take a look at Roaring Billy. It would have been worth your while, I do not recall the hike being that long but time has a way of making trips shorter! PedalTours is who I have ridden with many times. Usually they have lunch at the rest area just as you come out into the valley.

Gail said...

Looks like a great day. Wow, that was some steep descent - looks like quite a challenge. Once again love the photos. I am praying for sunny skies for you and your friends. Stay safe out there and keep the updates coming.

Anonymous said...

Nice Terry. We are enjoying the trip vicariously through your pictures and blog

Jim said...

Great pictures from scenic NZ. You should be near the heartland of Lord of the Rings.
You guys look like you are dressed for quite a rain. Good luck with the storm forecast. I believe. 24% grade has got to be close to a record. Trust you are staying low in the saddle and off the front break. Yikes.
That kaka parrot has got to be a good omen. They are supposed to be quite secret and fruit eaters. I bet the message is to keep being adventursome and eat your fruit.