Fox Glacier, NZ to Lake Paringa, NZ

44.2 mi / 11.6 mph / 976 ft. climbing
Home: Lake Paringa DOC Campsite

6.9 inches of rain fell over the last two days, which would be a pretty significant event in most places, but here there were no warnings or watches this time. Still, that brings the six-day total to more than 16 inches of rain, nearly half of what Seattle gets in an entire year.

But now some Antarctic air has cleared all that out, and we woke to another day of sunny skies, with the chilly 44 F temperature coming as part of the bargain. Good thing our accommodation had electric heaters!

#FindRett heading for the mountains (really just returning to the highway from the holiday park.

Our primary reason for taking days off when it rains is because it sucks getting wet. But today (combined with the day when we did ride through rain last week) reminded us of another reason we often forget: the rain makes it difficult to see the awesome things we ride past! And since we’re riding here to see the country, not just to get from place to place, it almost seems stupid to cover distance on a day where we can’t see anything.

I don’t take many photos while it’s raining primarily because taking a camera out makes everything wet. But also, there just aren’t many good photos to be taken in the rain! Contrast that with today’s ride, where we made an abundance of photo stops, because there was an abundance of things to see. Jungly rain forest, multiple mountain peaks (although a few of them were obscured by clouds, we would have seen zero on a rainy day), monumentally tall trees looming over the rest of the forest, a million rivers and streams and creeks, each different from the next, and, the damn ocean once again!

Although this type of fern-filled forest clearly requires a lot of rain, it doesn’t have the always-damp feeling (even after a week of 16+ inches of rain!) that I would expect in this climate.
A morning look at Mount Tasman.
More gray latex paint flowing down from the paint factory on top of Mount Tasman.
I don’t know what this mountain is, but it’s pointy!
One of the half-dozen long, one-way bridges we crossed. Traffic was light enough that we only had one conflict.
The river that the above suspension bridge crosses (the light traffic also lets me take a photo with my phone while riding across the bridge, which is good because that’s where some of the best views are!)
I believe this must be Mount Cook, seen from a new angle. It’s not looking very hospitable on New Zealand’s highest point this morning!
This section for a few miles had some of the coolest trees we’ve seen in New Zealand. While not anywhere near as huge as giant sequoias, they had a similar “normal tree, normal tree, normal tree, BAM! GIANT TREE!” contrast effect.
It seems the term for this type of (rare) native New Zealand forest is “podocarp forest”, and it’s not just the size of the big trees, it’s their complex very-non-North-American branching that makes them attractive.
These guys aren’t looking so healthy (though who knows, maybe this is what they’re supposed to look like), but they do a good job of illustrating the cool branches that all these trees have, since it’s harder to see the detail of the denser ones in photos.
#FindRett (investigating one of the million roadside mini-waterfalls) beneath one of those standout trees.
There was a little sign here that just said “St. James Church” or something like that, making me wonder if there was once a proper church here that was torn/burnt down, and this is its symbolic remains? (there certainly wouldn’t be much of a congregation in this very-unpopulated area.)

About 30 miles, after pushing through a bit of headwind, we returned to the ocean for a mile or two at Bruce Bay. There was a food truck at the beach parking, and we bought drinks to go with our packed lunch, which we ate in the public toilet parking area (nicer than it sounds) because it was more-sheltered from the cold wind than the beach side.

More-importantly, that’s where we commemorated reaching 10,000 cycling miles in the ~2.3 years of our nomadacy! Given how much time we’ve been puttering around, it’s not that impressive of a distance, nor is it precisely-measured (do you count day-rides we did when we took five months off in Washington last year?), but my tracking spreadsheet said we crossed that big round number today, and big round numbers deserve to be recognized! The Long Distance Cycle Journeys Database requires “only” 6000 miles to qualify, we’re well beyond that.

10000 miles! Do you see it? (photo taken by the husband of a University of Illinois alumna!)
Some Oregon/Washington-coast sized driftwood logs at Bruce Bay (there was a sign warning of debris on the road during high seas).
Riding along Bruce Bay.
Another river, this one broad and blue and sweeping, coming from a hidden mountain.
The fern-tree understory is a big part of what makes this forest so cool.

We made it to the DOC campground a bit before the official 2pm check-in time. But with no rangers at these places, such things don’t actually matter at all, and our early arrival meant we had our pick of spots. I immediately went into sandfly-protection mode (putting on pants, and putting repellent on my wrists and hands, the only exposed bits) since they were pretty dense in our shaded, wind-protected campsite. But in the sunny open area in front of the lake they weren’t too bad, so we hung out there until we “cooked” our early dinner of backpacker meals. Even after, I sat outside next to the creek running right behind us, and although they’re flying around everywhere, I don’t think I got a single bite all afternoon and evening, until I got into the tent, let down my guard, and one got me on my little finger. The big advantage of the cool (high of 60F) temperatures is that protection from the cold doubles as protection from the sandflies.

While there is surprisingly little evidence in the region that it has gotten a tremendous soaking (in most places you wouldn’t guess that it’s even rained at all recently), it’s clear that Lake Paringa is filled much higher than normal, running well onto the grass beach.
Our campsite, with lake view in front (until the campervans all parked there) a creek right behind, and one of those awesome trees above.
The tree above our tent.
The creek behind our tent.
Creekside view of our site.


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