Day 5: Arrowtown Loop, Coronet Peak, Glenorchy

I had very vivid dreams last night, that stick with me for the rest of the day. I recognize that they are in a sense the continuation of a dream I had at the start of this trip. I will share this dream with everyone over the next several posts.


I sit at the edge of a turquoise lake. The surface of the beach is not sand, but rather a gravel of smoothed assorted stones. I’m wearing my motorcycle gear, but my helmet is off, and I can feel a breeze against my face. As I watch the water, a butterfly flutters over to me, landing gently on my finger. Its wings are colored in a swirling white and black pattern, and its body is a dark, iridescent combination of blue purple and black. I cannot help but think how beautiful it looks. After a few moments of admiring it, a gust of wind kicks up, and it flutters away.


Back to real life…

Day 5

Distance Traveled: 218 km (Total Distance: 1424 km)

I wake up late, allowing myself to sleep in until my whole body is ready for action. Aching muscles are happy for the extra rest. I have no route planned for today, so I take my time with a late breakfast and coffee this morning. As I walk though the streets of Queenstown, I pass numerous attraction companies, advertising extreme sports such as bungee jumping, skydiving and jet boat rides. I pass muscle-toned 20-something men wearing Volcom-brand graphic print tanktops, accompanied by 20-something young women wearing oversized 1980’s style sunglasses that cover almost their entire face. Perhaps their day will include such activities. As for myself, I intend to go for a ride.

I leave even my backpack behind this time, and I feel especially light on the bike. My mood is happy and mellow. On my helmet intercom, I play the soundtrack to Skyrim; sweeping, inspiring instrumental scores that accompany the day’s ride perfectly.

There’s a village called Arrowtown maybe 20 minutes down the road east and then north from here, just nestled in the corner of a valley. The roads to and from make a loop that I can take there and back to Queenstown. I decide to make that the first destination of the day. On my way, along the edge of a small lake, Lake Hayes, I snap a few shots of the local wildlife. A collective of honey bees swarm about a bunch of beautiful violet flowers.

IMG_0343-resize

Arrowtown itself is small and old-tymey. The main drag filled with small gift shops and such reminds me just a little bit of Mackinac Island.

IMG_0347-resize

On my way back west, through the Speargrass flats, I turn right onto a road that takes me rising up alongside the walls of the valley towards Coronet Peak. Coronet Peak is a ski resort in the wintertime, but here in summer, I find the road very lightly traveled. Occasionally I pass people on mountainbikes heading downhill, or vans with trailers heading down to pick up bikes and bring them back up topside. As I travel up in altitude, the air grows a little cooler. It’s the perfect temperature for a man in riding gear, but perhaps a little cool for a t-shirt and shorts.

IMG_0351-resize

Once I reach the summit, around 1600 meters up from sea level, I find that the summertime use for Coronet Peak is mountainbiking and paragliding. A group of perhaps 10 or so paragliders hover silently through the sky, riding the thermals on colorful aerofoils.

IMG_0362-resize

IMG_0368-resize

I notice another, slightly higher mountain peak to my south, and it looks like there are roads that lead all the way up. I decide that that will be my next destination. On my way back down the mountain, I pull in the clutch lever and let gravity to most of the work. Olga quiets down from her buzzy rumble, leaving me to enjoy just the sound of my music and the wind.

As I reach the base of the valley, my low-fuel light winks on, so I cut across the valley and stop for fuel in Frankton. While I’m inside to pay for fuel, I pick up a can of Coke Zero and a map of the local region. I fold the map out over a locked ice chest outside and accidentally spill some of my coke in the process. A helpful attendant sees this and comes outside with some napkins for me. She asks where I’m off to, and I mention the mountains south of here. She says, “The Remarkables? I’m afraid they closed that road on Sunday for construction.”

Crap.

“But…” she continues, “Have you been to Glenorchy? That’ll be a great trip on your motorbike.”

Sounds like a good idea to me. I take the road into Queenstown but veer left and continue down and out of the city, making my way through several roundabouts along the way. I find that roundabouts in place of traffic lights seems to work quite smoothly. Traffic never really comes to a complete stop for very long.

The road carries me west and the north along the coast of the lake on a beautiful winding ride with lots of elevation change to boot. On one of the scenic overlooks, I spy what looks like an ancient converted WWI troop transport forging ahead at full steam, while a motorboat follows in fast pursuit.

IMG_0372-resize

Closer to Glenorchy, I’m able to get down onto a sun bleached beach covered with smooth rounded pebbles, and win another glimpse of the strong, tall, glacial mountains to the west. The beach reminds me of my dream. The mountains remind me of things to come. Tomorrow I’m off to Fox Glacier.

IMG_0382-resize

The town of Glenorchy is tiny and sleepy. I’m surprised to find there a marble monument to the men of this area who fought and died in the two world wars. Even this small town sent a large number of its own young men to serve the cause when the time came.

IMG_0387-resize

I grab some lunch at the Glenorchy Cafe, ordering an open-faced steak sandwich and a cider. It may not sound that impressive, but I have to say, this was the best food I’ve eaten all trip.

IMG_0396-resize

Toasted bread and fresh greens with a medium-cooked thin steak, topped with a fried egg, bacon, avocado, and mixed veggies including bell peppers, onions, cucumber, and even sweet potato. A homemade tomato relish and a horesradishy aoili are offered on the side. It’s an absolutely perfect blend of flavors, from savory to fresh to tart to sweet. I can’t remember feeling this happy since I was in San Diego in July. Then, I enjoyed Spanish Tapas with some of the best company I’ve known. Happy memories for me, still, even though the time has come and gone.

Muted Reggae music makes its way outside from the kitchen where it’s being played. A flock of sparrows hop about the area, darting their heads sharply as they boldly look for food to steal. I don’t get a picture of it, but one particularly bold sparrow hops all the way up to my plate and grabs a beak-full of aoli before flying off in a flash.

IMG_0394-resizeThe ride back is pleasant and fun. Just enough time in the saddle to keep me occupied for much of the day, but not quite enough to tire me out. I may not have done any “Queenstown adventures” but I think that the adventure of my own was well worth the time, and the better choice in the end.

Tomorrow, I head north to Fox Glacier. It should be a very scenic ride, and I’m eagerly looking forward to it. Until next time, cheers everyone.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Day 5: Arrowtown Loop, Coronet Peak, Glenorchy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s