Day 42 | Haast to Makarora

The seventh day of awesome.

Date: 9 March 2024

Just when you think the West Coast has shown you everything, she finds something else to top it off.

We’ve often driven down here over 1 – 3 days, but we’ve just been 100 times more impressed by it at bike pace, without the shell of a car insulating us from the details. The cliffs overhang more, the trees are close, birds fly in front of your face, the cows in the fields answer when we say hello. And people we met 5 days ago reappear and it’s like meeting old friends.

Another day of clear skies, waterfalls cascading down massive cliffs, wonderful river and mountain views and, as a bonus for the ride into the Gates of Haast, a bit of a tailwind.

We sipped the battery power, wary of The Hill ahead, and 40 km in, at that great example of mega scenery, the Confluence of the Landsborough and Haast Rivers, we (one of us – ed.) had used only 15%.

A wee surprise at Pleasant Flat  – I was visited by a Red Admiral butterfly -recently voted New Zealand Bug of the Year. It’s the first I have ever seen, and I won’t need the one blurry photo I managed to get because I’ll never forget the vivid splash of red as it landed and slowly laid its wings flat.

Nearly all the climbing, about 400 m, is done in one brutal 7 km stretch – some of it, at 15% gradient, needing a shot of Turbo.  We consumed about 40% of the battery in this one short section, however, with enough to spare, once over the second rise, the last 18 km into Makarora with a headwind wasn’t a problem.

We had a small room in the ‘stables’ at Makarora’s ‘Wonderland Lodge’ which may have earned the title when it opened but don’t expect too much lodginess now. Jill brought our bikes inside in the middle of the night when she discovered her bag had been ripped by a kea, with some of our breakfast going down the throat of the thieving native beast.

Supplies: Stock up in Haast, or have a meal at the Wonderland restaurant if it’s open, or the country cafe.

Accommodation: Wonderland Lodge

These videos are best viewed on a computer screen. Turning your phone sideways helps.

Total distance: 79.2 km
Max elevation: 572 m
Min elevation: 10 m
Total climbing: 1111 m
Total descent: -800 m
Total time: 06:24:20
Download file: day42.gpx

Battery use: 79% | 495Wh. We worked hard up to the Gates of Haast, 50km and used only 23%, but the 16% grade at the start, and every other paper that was more than 13% had me using turbo. At the top, a climb of 480m, we had 40% and then the wind turned into our face and we kept the power on for the last 18km.


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