Ross, NZ to Whataroa, NZ

47.0 mi / 10.3 mph / 1809 ft. climbing
Home: Glacier Country Motel

Yesterday while eating dinner outside the campground kitchen, it was difficult to not notice the attractive woman striding past, a woman with blonde hair as short as her tanned legs were long. After breakfast this morning while I was crouched down packing up my bike in front of the same kitchen, those same legs crossed my sightline. A glance behind me showed no one else was up-and-about yet, so I was free to execute a more-complete ogling as she walked away (my equally-attractive wife was in the bathroom and thus unavailable to ogle!) As I stood up, the fence between us panned downward, first revealing that short haircut, then a long-sleeved hoodie, and then…her completely-exposed ass, with a narrow strip of thong riding proudly as the only stitch of clothing between her hips and her feet. I jerked my head around a second time, this time actually hoping to see someone else, who could confirm for me that I wasn’t dreaming. Because it completely felt like a dream, not where “dreamlike” is a lazy euphemism for “amazing”, but where it means “this is such an unlikely thing to happen in the real world, but something straight from the world of dream-logic”.

Anyway, it seems it wasn’t a dream, which was good, because I knew I’d already packed up the tent, and it would have sucked to learn that I’d only done that in the dream-world, and still had to do it a second time in the real world. Apparently it was just another amenity in this five-star campground! Thinking about it, I guess I have also done a run to a campground toilet in my underwear, but that was at like 3am, and I doubt I would have caused anyone to question reality even if they had seen me!

Ok, then bike riding! A longer one day, and we’re sadly done with the West Coast Wilderness Trail, but we’re still in the narrow coastal strip between the water on our right and the snow-capped mountains on our left. Our original plan was to go only ~30 miles to Hari Hari, but the rain forecast has moved up a day, now starting tomorrow morning, so we’re pushing on to a motel in Whataroa during the clear weather, in order to leave a shorter day of rain-riding tomorrow.

Despite being done with the Wilderness Trail, we did have an early-morning question of taking Bold Head Rd., a route a bit shorter, and flatter, than the highway, but with an unknown-quality gravel surface that could more than cancel-out the benefits. It turned out to be quite smooth and totally the right choice.
Still plenty of mountains to be seen even though we’re no longer cutting inland on the Wilderness Trail.
Traffic on SH6 by this point was pretty reasonable, with more people than anywhere else in New Zealand pulling completely into the oncoming lane when passing us. It’s mostly vacationers driving here, and at first I assumed it was simply because vacationers broadly relate more to cyclists, but later I realized the better answer is that the vacationers are mostly not native New Zealanders, and come from countries where it’s culturally-normal to respect cyclists.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Southern Alps of New Zealand.
We stopped for lunch in Hari Hari, where there is a replica biplane on display commemorating the first solo flight from Australia to New Zealand. However, the replica of the pilot, Guy Menzies, was far more interesting than the plane!
We had one big hill to go over (Hercules Mountain), but thankfully it wasn’t this one!
We saw this herd of deer inside a place called “Te Taho Deer Park”, not “Deer Farm” like I expected, but looking it up it seems that “Park” means a place for sport hunters, so I guess this is where they grow them up before setting them “loose”?
Finishing up our snack stop at the Deer Park.
The wide gravel riverbeds flowing out of these glacial valleys are filled with intense milk-blue water.
A mountain with snowfields big enough to be visible as glacial ice.
A closer view where the blue ice of the glacier is a bit more visible (it stood out even more to the naked eye).
Blue glacier above the blue glacier water.
A dead-flat plain surrounds the small settlement of Whataroa, but when it reaches the edge and rises up, it rises up in a hurry.

For dinner we got fish-and-chips from the one establishment (a few groceries + cafe) in Whataroa, which luckily was open until 7pm on this Wednesday, unlike the 3pm closing earlier in the week. Our motel room was in a former maternity hospital, so although the bathroom was big enough to store our bikes inside of, there was also a large covered deck (with ramp!) outside so we just left the bikes there, knowing that we would be able to pack and seal them from the rain in the morning before we ventured out into it. A nice side-effect was that it brought me out of the room near sunset to see a spectacular scene that turned the entire sky red, which we would have been oblivious to otherwise. But “red sky at night, sailor’s delight” is going to be super-wrong in this case…

Weeks ago some sort of Christmas raffle tubes ended up in our helmets when we’d been parked at a grocery store. We weren’t winners, but these paper crowns were contained inside as consolation prizes. For some reason we hung onto them until now and finally decided to wear them.
The sky to the east, directly opposite of the sunset.
The more-conventional sunset.
True alpenglow (the sun set 15 minutes earlier) on the Southern Alps.
I was out for probably 20 minutes watching and photographing the colors in the skies, and only at the end did I realize that not a single car had gone by on this road, which is SH6, literally the only road on the West Coast. Not a lot of people live in New Zealand, and even fewer live on the West Coast of the South Island!


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