Waking early and keen to get back on the bikes after a couple of days off in Wanaka. We grabbed a quick breakfast of fruit (bananas and dates) by the lake before starting our long (40km) gradual climb resulting in an elevation gain of over 800m, up what once was NZ highest paved road, to the summit of the Crown Range and the promise of spectacular views over the Remarkable’s to Queenstown.
The road itself is in very good condition with a decent enough shoulder for the majority. Large vehicles are also banned from using it so it was just us and the camper vans.
Despite a tail wind off the lake the weather looked ominous and as we road into cloud the rain jackets came out.
After 25km and passing the winter ski runs we reached the famous Cardrona Hotel where the kind staff let us wheel our bikes through the bar to the garden and got us a couple of hot drinks. We sat for a while by a roaring log fire and attempted to dry out from the rain.
We are yet to eat out in NZ mainly due to the expense, but also due to the very limited vegan options. As a result we sneakily munched down a bag full of bananas, dates and a few peaches before facing the last 15 or so km.
The road steepens here and I was out the saddle for most of it.
Despite the cloud cover the view from the top was great! We could see farmland and houses far below us when the cloud cleared. A strange feeling being above the clouds.
We were now at over 1km above sea level and could see the road disappear sharply into the mist below us.
With lights flashing we started our decent. Picking up speed incredibly quickly this was probably the scariest road of the trip. We faced 180 degree hairpins on a wet line with traffic and the ever present weight of our gear made breaking ‘interesting’. Alex topped out at around 68kmph before realising she was breaking the speed limit and tried desperately to slow down!
As we dropped below the cloud and stopped at a view point we could see a Tour de France esq set of back to back hairpins taking us down to the Valley below.
A note to anyone looking to ride this road. First of all definitely do it’s incredible and one of the most interesting road wise in NZ, but of you come from the Queenstown side it will be super steep, but you will be rewarded with 40km of easy downhill at the end.
We rolled into Arrowtown, a very pleasant old gold mining and now tourist town where we ate some more lunch and watched a local rugby match, took me back to school days playing for SVC.
After getting pissed off with the holiday park in Arrowtown due to the fact the expensive price excluded the cost of a shower!!! We sacked them off and headed instead to a Top10 just outside Queenstown.