Arrowtown to Franklin, New Zealand

Distance: 77 miles
Time on bike: 2 hours

The great news this morning is that the skies have cleared and we again have sunny weather, although it is a bit chilly. There’s a free guided walk around town at 10 am as part of the autumn festival so we get packed away and ride into town to join in. We stick with it for about ten minutes, but we feel we’re not making best use of the good weather so decide to get on our way.

We decide to continue the ride we started yesterday and ride through Queenstown and then on towards Glenorchy and Paradise.  On the way we stop off at the Shotover jet boat, which is supposed to be one of the best in the area. Unfortunately it’s also the most expensive at £60 for 25 minutes on the water. As its quiet at the moment and the boats are running half full we ask if there’s any chance of a discount, but unfortunately the lady tells us they make lots of money and don’t give discounts. Quite a response and a bit off putting, so we opt to try somewhere else.

It’s a nice ride after Queenstown and we can see the mountains surrounding the lake and all the way up to Glenorchy, which is much better than what we had yesterday.

When we get to town we see a company that runs trips up the road to Paradise in a safari bus, followed by a forest walk and then at 42 mile journey on the Dart River in a jet boat. It’s a bit expensive for us at £110 each, but the trip lasts for three hours and is actually good value compared with other jet boat trips.

After a bit of deliberation we decide to go for it and quickly prepare a sandwich to take with us on the bus. It’s an interesting drive and we see the areas which have been film sets for Wolverine, Lord of the Rings and a few other films and commercials we haven’t seen. The place is quite picturesque and is used as a setting for the Swiss Alps by Milka, the Colorado Rockies, the Himalayas for the filming of K2 and Canada for Wolverine. The main reason for its use is that there is nobody around to disturb the filming. Well nobody except the sand flies. Filming for The Hobbit is due to start here later in the year.

Seeing the forest is interesting, particularly seeing the timescale in which the place changes. It’s incredibly dry as there is no top soil and trees are sitting on top of old river bed. The trees sap any moisture out of the air as the ground has no moisture bearing capacity. This makes sense as a few places we’ve camped the tent has had no condensation, which is surprising given how cold it’s been.

Other interesting facts from the forest are that there is no noise. This is because the only mammals indigenous to New Zealand were bats. As a result of this the birds, with no predators, had no reason to fly; hence the country has flightless birds such as the kiwi. Humans then introduced new predators such as the stoat and possum which have decimated indigenous bird numbers. The remaining birds have now adapted to be silent, otherwise they become easy prey, so the forests are eerily quiet.

We’re then in the jet boat for just over an hour and have a great time. It’s amazing how shallow the boat can operate, only needing eight centimetres of water to get through the rapids. A few times we hear the stones of the river bed skitting off the bottom of the boat, but it’s seems like it causes no problems. We skirt close to the rocks and do a few 360 spins along the way and eventually get back to Glenorchy just after 4 pm.

We decide to make our way back to Queenstown and pay about £9 each for camping, rather than stay at a cheap Department of Conservation place. At least we’ll have a camp kitchen so we can stay warm until we head back to the tent. Béné is still happy to camp, even though a cabin would have only cost us £35 for the night. Rather than stay in Queenstown however we go a bit further around the lake to Franklin, as the campsite is actually on the lakeside rather than at the back of town.

It’s chilly again tonight, but we’ll keep trying to use the tent as much as possible to save a bit of cash. It pays for the petrol costs at least by taking this option over a cabin.

Jour 382 – Jeudi 5 Mai 2011. D’Arrowtown à Franklin, Nouvelle-Zélande.

Distance: 123 km – Temps à moto: 2 heures

On se réveille tôt ce matin, et il fait bien froid, on ne bouge donc pas pendant un moment, mais on voulait joindre une visite guidée du village a 10 heures, on arrive donc a sortir des duvets et ranger nos affaires pour joindre la visite, mais comme le visite semble expliquer ce qu’on avait lu il y a deux jours, on décide de profiter du beau temps pour aller à Glenorchy et Paradise. On s’arrête en route a Glenorchy ou on va faire un tour guide, une partie en bus tout terrain, une petite partie a pieds, puis une partie en jetboat.

La première partie nous montre la dernière partie de la route, il n’y a pas de route plus au Nord-Ouest, c’est la réserve naturelle des Fiords. La région est vraiment sauvage, et il y a tellement peu de traffic qu’elle est utilisée pour de nombreuses publicités et films. Pour une publicité Milka, un film qui est censé être au K2, le seigneur des anneaux et plein d’autres.

Pendant la ballade, le guide nous explique le problème de la Nouvelle-Zélande : il n’y avait aucun prédateurs pour les oiseaux ici jusqu’à ce que les colons en amènent. Il y a plein de sortes d’oiseaux qui ne volent pas, et ils se font dévorer par les possums qui n’ont pas de prédateurs ici et dont le nombre augmente a vitesse grand V.

Les possums mangent aussi les feuilles des jeunes pousses d’arbres et empêchent aussi les développements habituels des forêts. Il nous montre aussi une partie protégée de la forêt qui montre la différence causée par la présence des animaux ramenés par les colons, il n’y a pas que les possums, il y a aussi les lapins et lièvres, il y a des chats sauvages, des chèvres et autres chose, le guide est passionné, et veut vraiment montrer les problèmes locaux, malheureusement ils n’ont pas le pouvoir de résoudre facilement leur problème, et ils risquent de perdre les animaux comme le Kiwi, le Kaka et le Weka dans peu de temps.

On va ensuite faire le tour en Jetboat, c’est une façon impressionnante de voir cette région sauvage, et le bateau passe à vitesse sur une petite surface d’eau. On est de retours aux motos en milieu d’après-midi et on a le temps d’aller jusqu’à peu après Queenstown, et on campe a Queenstown. Il fait de nouveau froid ce soir, mais après un bon repas chaud et la préparation des bouillottes on s’emballe dans nos sacs de couchage ou on espere avoir assez chaud cette nuit.