The day before we left Riverton, it had been pouring all afternoon. It continued all night and the winds picked up so severely that I thought the roof of our little attic was going to blow off while we were sleeping. It didn’t, and we got through the night unscathed, but the wind was still whipping and rain pouring the morning we were scheduled to leave. A storm had blown in and it was supposed to blow through by lunchtime, but we were supposed to be biking 95km to Mossburn. An ambitious plan, but the wind was going to be at our backs this time and the majority of the way was supposed to be flat. But plans of mice and men oft go awry, and the storm wasn’t blowing through and Robert, our amazing and kindly host, offered to drive us a little ways, just to get us started. It is crazy that a 40 minute drive was half of the total planned kilometres we had to go, but by the time Robert dropped us off at Wray’s Bush and we said our goodbyes, it looked like the storm had blown through and the rain was on the verge of stopping. And we only had 45km left to bike. So that was pretty awesome.
Unfortunately, the rain continued for a while and the wind was cold. There was no prospect of food until Mossburn (our destination), so we rifled through our packs for food and came up with some tuna wraps. Amazingly, the wraps hadn’t gone off after more than a week of sitting in the bottom of my bag. The ride to Mossburn was still pretty windy and the rain decided to sweep back in on our final leg so we were biking a 20km/hour average and just trying to get there before catching pneumonia. Finally, Mossburn was in sight and we stopped to warm up at the Mossburn Diner, also a stop for Korean tour buses that came through ever 10 minutes or so. We needed to push on to the campground, another 3km away, and by the time we arrived and checked in, the rain had stopped and the clouds looked a little less daunting than usual. The camping ground was massive, and we found a nice spot under a tree and next to some alpacas. The hot shower that followed was incredible (I hadn’t really had a shower at Riverton because there was only an outdoor shower and it had been too cold), and we got to put our new tent up without hassle. It was actually quite nice, though we both had a pang in our heart for our old Camper 2.
In our discussions with the locals in Mossburn, the weather was not going to get better and the road to Queenstown from Kingston (our second day on the itinerary) was dangerous for cyclists, busy and had no shoulder. And there was this very convenient shuttle bus leaving from Mossburn the next morning that could get us there in less than 2 hours. This was an interesting turn of events, and we chickened out and booked tickets on it. My logic was that if the weather was going to be this bad, we could get to Queenstown early, rent a car and go explore the spots we wouldn’t have a chance to see on the bike. We’d also probably save money, just because Queenstown was so expensive for accommodation (including campsites) and we could probably find freedom camping sites easily with a car and tent. We could also probably leave our bikes with our airbnb host in Queenstown that we were staying with right before we flew out. Genius. The fact that the temperature was the exact same in Mossburn than Vancouver (8 degrees) just sealed the deal for me.
It rained for the majority of the night and going to sleep with the pitter patter gave us sweet dreams that we had made the right decision and our biking love affair would have to be over until Europe. Too bad we wake up the next morning to brilliant sunshine!
The shuttle was booked and we enjoyed the 3km ride back to town, this time with sunshine and an incredible view of snow-covered mountains! This was a stunning area to have our final New Zealand bike ride through and we savoured every pedal rotation.
After some breakfast at the local cafe and some last minute rental car booking, our plans were set. The Track Net shuttle bus had plenty of room for our bikes and it was the easiest thing in the world to just jump on and sit back to enjoy the scenery (although we did have some regrets that we hadn’t just biked it after all because the weather was so nice).
Once we drove through Kingston, Lake Wakatipu showed up on our left and then The Remarkables mountain range. It was a stunning spot, and we were in Queenstown quicker than we knew it.
Queenstown is situated in a rather remarkable spot (pun intended). The mountain range is a spectacular backdrop. The city is, however, overrun with tourists and people everywhere, and we are feeling a little out of our element.
After a quick walk around, including past the famous “Fergburger” which had lines longer than reasonable and to the harbour.
We then grab a good Fergburger alternative (Devil’s Burger) and make our way back to the airport (on the same shuttle; the driver hadn’t realized we needed to go to the airport). Then: action stations! To sort out the rental car, leave our bags in the car, bike to the airbnb, leave our bikes, and walk back to the rental car. And then, hit the road and explore Otago for three days before our time in New Zealand runs out…
Musician, teacher, traveller. Currently on a year-long journey around the world. Bronwyn is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com.