Another dramatic change in the weather! The people in the cabin next to us popped out to check the peaks were clear and two minutes later were hurtling away in their car to photograph the famous early morning reflection of Mount Cook on the still waters of Lake Matheson. Rather than sharing the road and the viewing platform with every touring motorist in the area we remained content with our private sunset of the previous evening. Instead we cycled a short way down the road until Mount Cook was in range, pressed the shutter and headed north, leaving at around 09:30.
The 23km to Franz Josef were twisty and hilly so it was almost noon before we arrived, the rising sun and rising hills forcing us to shed clothing. It was a wonderful ride with the sun reflecting from the glaciers, through woodland, across rushing glacial rivers and dry creeks. The scenic flight operators were doing very good business today and the Fox Glacier walk would have been a very different experience. On balance, yesterday was a good use of a poor day – we saw the glacier in rough conditions without the distraction of helicopters overhead and cycling would have been no fun at all.
At Franz Josef township we called in to the Beeches café for coffee and muffins – Jakob and Ane Kathrine entered just as we were leaving! Then a Scottish cyclist came over for a chat before we finally got going, a light wind alternately helping and hindering us as the road twisted round. It was fairly level now so we made much better progress.
The scenery was awesome – lakes, forested mountains, glaciers, exotic vegetation. The recent rain hadn’t swollen the rivers – only those fed by glaciers were flowing well. Approching Whataroa we lost the hills and entered farmland. Here we stopped for refeshments and were soon joined by a Canadian cycling in the opposite direction. From here to Hari Hari was easy with just one long steep climb and descent, the scenery alternating between farmland and woodland.
Hari Hari has seen better days, with three closed sawmills and a defunct general store, though there’s a small store attached to the tearooms. We stayed at Tomasi Motels – the beds were again on the soft side but otherwise a bargain at $35 for an en-suite cabin with towels and linen included.