Looking at the forecast this morning it was supposed to rain in Milford Sound, my next destination, so I decided instead to have an easy day and only travel the hour or so to NZ’s Adventure Capital, Queenstown over the Crown Range Road (highest main road in NZ), and then onto Milford Sound tomorrow (when hopefully sunny). However, as it turned out, the weather was beautiful all day – bloomin’ forecasters! At least I had a chance to relax a bit without riding hundreds of miles, and Queenstown area is a beautiful area to do it in.
Starting at Lake Wanaka the road gently rises to Crown terrace through the Cardrona valley and follows the little Cardrona River before zigzagging wonderfully down towards Queenstown. The view from Crown Terrace is lovely, peering down upon Arrowtown in the Arrow Valley, and across at the end of the ‘Remarkables’ mountain range.
It’s not unusual on my travels to meet a fan of my World Tour who recognizes my debonair features and insists on posing for a picture with me, or the bike (or both, although I charge much more for that). This time it was lucky Raju on holiday from India.
Half way along the drive is the old Cardrona Hotel built in 1870 where owner Jim Paterson held license for 35 years from 1926 until his death at the age of 91 in 1961. This colourful character was famed for not serving women, which may have been why he managed to live for so long ‘stress free’ (ha ha).
Arriving in Queenstown pretty early I had plenty of time to ride through the scenic Kawarau Gorge to Cromwell, past the ‘Roaring Meg’ hydro-electric power station and the (claimed) world’s first commercial bungy jump, where they will kindly dunk you in the river below. Sitting on Lake Dunston, this region was known as a gold rush town, but is now satisfied to produce merino wool and fine wine, which is much more civilised. Then onto another historic gold mining town Arrowtown which is now full of artists, artisans and colourful Autumn leaves.
An unexpected surprise was my ride up Coronet Peak to the Ski Village (closed as out-of-season) which had great views of the area.
With that all done, I checked into my accommodation rather early for once at Marlborough Mountain Lodge, Queenstown and ventured out in search of provisions worthy of a world explorer such as myself (which happened to manifest in the form of a pub by the lake).