Day 24: Last full day in New Zealand -- Queenstown

I’m finishing day 9 of the New Zealand bike trip, and I’m on a flight to Sydney tomorrow.  I will reflect more on my overall NZ visit tomorrow (spoiler alert — this country most definitely does not suck).  

Today’s bike trip took us from Wanaka to Cromwell, about 40-50 km short of Queenstown, which Backroads avoids in their itinerary due to heinous traffic on the narrow road into town.  The ride was a lovely 73 km (45 miles) with pretty gentle rollers compared to other days and little to no wind.  The sun was out in full force, and it was a pleasant 75 F.  I really couldn’t ask for a better way to wrap up the trip, particularly as I had my parting shots of…

Yet another beautiful green field disappearing into a backdrop of gorgeous mountains (I’m really going to miss seeing this every day)...

Goodbye pretty mountains!  

Goodbye pretty mountains!  

Plus today’s bonus was getting to ride through a series of NZ vineyards…

Young New Zealand vineyard...

Young New Zealand vineyard...

The ride felt fantastic.  My dogged cycling buddy helped me keep pace throughout the ride.  I may not have mentioned that her day job is a federal law enforcement agent, so she’s pretty much of a bad a$$.  Observing her frightening, single minded focus on completing tasks has convinced me once and for all to avoid a life of crime (or at least in her case, arson).  We made great time, our fastest pace yet, and I felt totally great at the end of the quick 2 1/2 hour ride. Our entire group was rewarded for our last big effort with a lovely lunch at a lovely vineyard (Carrick — nice pinot noir, btw).  

Carrick Winery -- the last lunch

Carrick Winery -- the last lunch

From here it was off to Queenstown where I now type this note.  If the west coast of New Zealand is undeveloped, sparsely inhabited and incredibly rustic/simple, Queenstown is a spitting image of Park City, UT.  During the winter it’s a ski town, and during the warmer months it’s a crazy-person sports town — bungee jumping, hang gliding, sky diving and wide range of other suicidal activities along with trekking and mountain biking.  It is beautifully seated on a very large lake, and it has the vibe that one would expect from a ski town in summer.  While I didn’t see any hackey sack, I suspect there is plenty along with a frightening concentration of places from which to buy a beer.  It is truly a young, outdoors person paradise (or old men and women suffering midlife tremors).  

Queenstown, New Zealand (a fine place to live!)

Queenstown, New Zealand (a fine place to live!)

Here is the full route.  The total route is roughly 692km or about 430 miles.  To be fair, there were a couple of shuttles in here, probably totally about 100 or so km, leading to a total cycling trip of about 575 km give or take.  More important than the distance was the fact that I was able to see very up close and personal so much of the South Island of this beautiful country.  

Screen Shot 2013-12-05 at 6.10.02 PM.png

I’m looking forward to Sydney, but quite sad to see NZ go.  

Farewell excellent Kiwi people!  

Cheers,

Dave