• Tommy Hyland

Diving Into Lake Country 

Old faces, new friends, big days and cold star filled nights are only the beginnings of my week adventuring in the Lakes district.

Day 12: Haast pass After laying half upside down for most of the night to stop my legs aching and an hour of morning stretches I headed out at 6am to start my passage through to Lake Wanaka. My mind and body had seemingly picked up a 2nd wind after 7 days of straight riding and I rode in complete silence with the incredibly blue Haast river on my left and flowing waterfalls on my right the only sound to hear besides a car flying past every 20 minutes or so. It was the most peaceful day of my trip with every food break being alongside the river bank and being swarmed by hundreds of butterflies for as I cruised through their home. After over 1,000m of elevation and a 93km day I arrived on the far shores of Lake Wanaka to a 'beautiful' dinner of cold baked beans, lentils and a carrot but an amazing spot to spend the night in my hammock under the stars and make some connections with the other campers.

Day 13: Lake Wanaka Waking up at 5am to complete another round of star jumps and push ups to stop my body from going numb was an experience I will never forget. After a quick breakfast I hit the road to try and make the most of a gale tailwind that had started overnight as I made my way around Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea to stay with an old friend. Had an amazing day being shown the beauty of Wanaka and all the hidden spots around the lake aswell as some of the best ice cream of my life. Ended the night with a hot tub, meeting the pet sheep, a delicious dinner and watching the Japanese beat the Irish in an insane game of rugby.

Day 14: Glendhu Bray

Had an accidental daylight savings sleep in but luckily only had 8km into the township for my next nights stay so was able to enjoy some beautiful breakfast and company before heading into the main centre of Wanaka. After a week of no supermarkets I competed a much needed restock of food before putting Jolene (my bike) on the top of a mini to head out to Glendhu bay campsite where I was staying with one of my best friends Mum in a beautiful little cabin that the owners kindly let me stay in for no cost. A relaxing day filled with a short ride, good food, great company, some ukulele and a movie was exactly what I needed for the days ahead.

Day 15: The Crown Range A massive day of climbing from Wanaka up over Cardrona, the biggest ski field in New Zealand, to Arrowtown was full of amazing sights and surprises. From the fence line of bras know as "bradrona" to the Lord of the rings style mountains and the kindness of an old bike touring couple to invite me into their van at the top lookout for a cup of tea and to shelter from the snowstorm. This was only the way up and the descent proved much more intense as halfway down and still 20km from my home for the night I heard a loud bang and my back tire ceased spinning causing me to lose control but fortunately there were no vehicles and I could pull onto the side of the road mostly unscathed. Even more luckily the only thing that had broken was the screw supporting my back storage bags which after snapping had got sucked into my back wheel stopping it's movement but miraculously there was no major damage and using some kiwi ingenuity and all my emergency rope I managed to set up a small pulley where I could loop the rope over my shoulder to take the 20kg weight of the bags off the tyre. So with this strange set up, a lot of walking and more strange looks than normal I finally made it to my home for the night in Arrowtown in time for some relaxation and dinner.

Day 16: Queenstown After an amazing, relaxing half day with my new friends in Arrowtown, a lot of ukulele practise, quick $25 trip to the bike shop and some beautiful conversations I headed into Queenstown. One of the top tourist spots in the country this was my first taste of hectic traffic on the trip but it's easy to see what everyone comes here for as it is beautiful and holds a lot of really good memories for me from previous visits. Quickly dropped my stuff at the accommodation, devoured some rice for dinner to make a pub quiz with my friends Manuel and Tamara for (probably) the last time seeing them in NZ but who knows after the random coincidences of this trip! Was really fun to see them again before they leave back home to Germany even if we did come 3rd to last in the quiz....

Day 17: Lumsden Cold. Wet. Southerly gales. The weather forecast was everything I dreaded plus some hail dotted amongst the morning but I was feeling so fresh and I wanted to get to my friends farm for the night I set out a little later than normal at 10am hoping the weather would improve. It did not. But the beauty of the lake through the fog, the winding road of the devil's stair case and a small bit of bouldering on the side of the road made this day a highlight despite the horrible weather and made me all the more grateful for the sunshine and tailwinds I had been gifted earlier in the trip. Then to top it off had an awesome catch up with one of my closest friends and some classic pub grub to finish a tough day.

Feeling very ready to head deep into southland noe and tick up my first 1,000km of riding while reaching the bottom of NZ.