Franz Josef Glacier to Makarora, New Zealand

Distance: 203 miles
Time on bike: 4.5 hours

After breakfast and getting packed away following our two nights in the cosy cabin, we get on our way at 10.15 am to head further south down the west coast of the South Island.

Again we ride past the Franz Josef Glacier and then follow the winding road which takes us down to the Fox Glacier. From a distance, this doesn’t look quite so impressive so we settle for a viewpoint accessible on the bikes, rather than take a walk.

We do however take a side road to visit Lake Matheson, which according to the guides we’ve read and the information boards around, it’s supposed to be one of the most beautiful walks about. After parking the bikes up and getting changed we set off for the 2.6 km loop walk around the lake, which has good views of Mount Cook. Although the walk was pleasant and relaxing, it may have been a bit over emphasised in the guides.

Back on the bikes and moving south we try and spot somewhere to stop for a picnic, but unfortunately everywhere we stop we’re besieged by sand flies. We try a couple of places and settle at the third, a really nice picnic spot next to a lake. We should have guessed there was a problem when we saw that the people in the two campervans already in the car park were not making any exit from their vehicles. We decide to persevere and have a quick sandwich and making sure any exposed skin is covered with repellent to prevent the really itchy bites that the sand flies inflict.

Any thought of a pleasant siesta after lunch goes out the window and we can’t wait to get out of the place. These sand flies are terrible and legend has it that they were introduced to stop man inhabiting the environment. Legend or not, they are very effective.

The roads heading down to the west coast aren’t really much fun but the scenery around kind of makes up for it. One place we’re heading for is Haast and in particular the road after which goes to Jackson Bay. We’ve read that this is one of the top ten road trips in the World, so we had to give it a go, even though it’s a sixty mile round trip as we need to come back to Haast to get further south. We’re not sure what planet the person was on that suggested this road was so good, as it turned out to be deadly boring with no scenery and dead straight roads. Maybe they were having a joke, or maybe they were trying to promote more traffic to Jackson Bay, which is the most southerly town on the west coast, but a sixty mile detour to get to from the main highway.

Feeling slightly disappointed we crack on and try to get some distance done as the good weather we’ve had for the last week us due to come to an end tomorrow with a weather front approaching. We’ll aim to get close to Wanaka or Queenstown so we can keep ourselves entertained if the weather turns sour.

When we get back to Haast we turn right and take the road through the valley and then over the Haast Pass which is a good road with some nice scenery. We stop off at one of the waterfalls along the way, but as it’s getting late in the day and nobody is around, we ride the bikes down the footpath to the waterfall to cut out the ten minute return walk to the car park. It was good fun riding through the forest at dusk.

We then continue along the valley towards Makarora and spot a nice little campsite just as the sun is setting. It’s one of the Department of Conservation sites which is unmanned and works on an honesty box payment for the £6 a night each fees. It’s a bit of a chilly night, but the views here are far better than any private campground we’ve been to for a while. Béné does a great job of cooking up dinner while Carl sorts out the tent.

We end up using the hot water bottles for the first time, so we’ll know in the morning how successful this experiment is at keeping us warm tonight.

Jour 378 – Dimanche 1 Mai 2011. Du Glacier Franz Josef à Makarora, Nouvelle-Zélande.

Distance: 328 km – Temps à moto: 4.5 heures

Après le petit déjeuner, on range nos affaires et on sort de notre petit appartement de lux peu après 10 heures et on prend la route vers le Sud. La route est a nouveau superbe, et on est contents d’être à nouveau en route. On passe le village de Fox glacier et on fait un petit détour pour aller faire un tour à pieds autours du lac Matheson. On avait lu que c’est la plus belle vue possible, et nous sommes un peu déçus… la vue est belle, et la réflexion des montagnes dans le lac jolie, mais pas aussi époustouflante que décrite dans le livre. On profite quand même bien de la vue sur Mont Cook et de la ballade avant de remonter sur nos motos.

On essaye de nous arrêter a plusieurs endroits pour pique-niquer, mais a chaque fois, a peine arrêtés on se fait attaquer par les mouches de sable, il y en a tellement c’est vraiment désagréable ! On finit par manger nos sandwich en marchant en rond pour essayer de ne pas leur donner la chance de nous énerver ou de nous piquer.

On arrive a Haast, et comme le guide touristique nous indique que la route vers le sud, est incroyable… on y va donc, même si c’est un détours de 2 bonnes heures… et c’est une route toute droite, sans vue dans la foret…pas de bol pour les idées du guide touristique aujourd’hui, c’est pas super…enfin bon, tout au bout il y a un peu de vue sur les montagnes au loin. On repasse par Haast et on va vers Wanaka pour nous diriger vers la région des lacs. C’est une route superbe, mais il fait vraiment froid, on sera contents d’avoir nos bouillottes ce soir !

On fait une petite pose a des chutes d’eau, puis comme il commence a faire sombre on s’arrete a un petit camping qui a une belle vue sur la vallée. Il n’y a pas grand-chose ici, quelques tables de pique-nique et des WC, mais on n’a pas besoin de plus comme on a de quoi manger ce soir : du poisson fumé dont on se régale avant de nous mettre au lit assez tôt comme il fait vraiment froid ce soir.