As we left the quirky Top10 campground in Haast and exited the thriving Central Business District (consisting of a half empty and over priced corner shop that doubled as the laundromat) we also said goodby to the West Coast.
It has been a fantastic week or two cruising down the coast and we have both very much settled into the laid back approach to life emanating from this part of the world.
Our route first had us following the Haast river inland for 45km of very gentle accent to our lunch spot at ‘Pleasant Flats’.
We quickly found ourselves surrounded by steep rocky mountains, many of which had their peaks still covered in snow despite the heat down on the road.
As we stopped for lunch we were gifted this view of the range.
From lunch we crossed the river and were anticipating the road to shoot skyward around every bend. It wasn’t until we crossed ‘The Gates of Haast’ that the gradient really kicked in though.
We had meet a few tourers heading north that day and all of them had been chatting the same smack. That it would be to steep for us to ride up and that we would be walking sections of it. I have to say this was playing on my mind a bit during the morning, but as always when it comes down to it even fully loaded with just 9 gears (42t x 11t-34t) on a steel mountain bike there was no way I was going to be walking a single step!
My comments on the climb would be it doesn’t start until the gates of Haast bridge and it ends around Fantail falls. It’s only a few km long and if your riding South you will already have climbed worse several times over.
It is actually a really nice ride with lots to see along the way.
That said I was still super jazzed to get to the top and had one of those moments of zen like clarity for the final few hundred meters, something no ‘adventure’ tour bus excursion will ever come close to I’m sure!
We were happy to make it over the Southern Alps and into Otago and rolled the pleasant 10km downhill to the DOC campsite at Cameron Flats.
Here we pumped back into some old friends as well as making a few new one, including a Canadian family on a 6 month world tour!