End: Letts Gully
Check out the rest of the trip here!
FINALLY! After 24 hours of travel and a day of Christmas on the “beach,” the meat of the trip was upon me. Bicycle touring is a lot like driving. You need fuel. In my case that means coffee and all the food I can get my paws on. I was not leaving Queenstown without these two things. I made my way to a nearby coffee shop and had New Zealand’s famous espresso drink, the ubiquitous flat white. Caffeinated and ready to go, I made my way into the heart of Queenstown to Ferg Burger. They didn’t open until 10am. This is a bit late for a tour day start, but Ferg Burger is worth it. I smashed an “Osama Bun Laden” burger (falafel) and some fries and hit the road. The tour that I had been planning for nearly 8 months had begun!
I headed out of Queenstown towards Alexandra, or “Alex” as the locals referred to it. I tried to stick to bicycle paths and some gravel trails to avoid the traffic. This proved to be slower than I had expected, but no big deal. The scenery was nice and I summited a smallish mountain with a fantastic view of the Shotover River. Shortly after that I would be crossing that river on a very cool bridge. The water is a greyish blue from glacial melt. As I crested another pretty sizeable hill, I saw a bridge that looked even cooler.
Question: What is more New Zealand than bungy jumping? Answer: Nothing. Some kind of divine providence made sure that my self made route passed within meters of a bungy jumping outfit. When in New Zealand, do as the Kiwis do. I of course signed up, made the questionable decision to house lunch at the little cafe’ next door as I waited, and got my bungy on. I jumped off of a bridge on day 1. This tour was going to be everything I had dreamed of and more.
With a full belly and pumping adrenaline I was ready to get moving again. The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Due to my late start and other activities, I didn’t have time to stop at a grocery store. This was a bit of an issue. I didn’t have food for dinner. In my bag was only a few freeze dried meals, for emergencies, and some cycling snacks. I did not consider this to be an emergency so I ate an almond pro bar, a stinger waffle, and some snacks I smuggled off the plane. Such is life I guess.
I had booked accommodation at an airbnb at the Thyme Hill Vineyard in Letts Gully. My wonderful host Inge told me about her own bikepacking exploits in South Africa. To pick an airbnb off the internet and make an instant connection with a badass cycling traveler was another example of the magic of adventure travel. No matter where I have gone in the world, I get to connect with people and hear their stories. Two seasonal workers were also staying with Inge. I can’t remember their names unfortunately. The couple was in New Zealand on a “working holiday” to pick fruit and enjoy the country. They hailed from England and Greece. We all hung out on the porch watching the sun set and talking about our lives. They were especially interested in how Donald Trump had just become the president elect. I did not really have a great explanation for that one. I drifted off to sleep in my little cabin, eagerly anticipating what a sunrise over a vineyard might look like, and what the rest of this adventure had in store for me.