Wednesday, January 25th, 2023

Distance travelled 270 kilometres

I woke up to the same sight that I had fallen asleep to, the twin peaks of Mount Cook and Mount Tasman – only this time with the sun starting to light them up from behind. Breathtaking is an overused cliché, but it was err breathtaking …

We ate our little breakfast and, with a heavy heart, we said goodbye to the accommodation. It was certainly the place we had liked the most, thus far.


We passed out of Fox Glacier Township over a long bridge that I remembered seeing from the air on the previous day. Although the river it spanned was not that impressive, the width of the river bed attested to the volume of water that must sometimes come down from the glacier.

For the first part of the route, the SH6 hugged the coastline, often running just alongside the waters edge.

Thanks to the breakfast, we were in no rush to eat anything else. Nevertheless, when we saw the sign for the South Westland Salmon Farm (State Highway 6, Paringa) and saw that the café was open, we could not resist it.

There were salmon in various stages of maturity swimming around in pens set in a pond through which a river entered and exited. Outside the pens, a large black eel was lurking in the pond. I hate them, but Lucie says they make good eating – eels, that is !

What could we do, but try some salmon ? So, we both enjoyed a salad with smoked salmon- and I do mean enjoyed !

We also discovered, from the staff, that New Zealand was suffering an acute egg shortage. A new law, prohibiting the sale of “battery” produced eggs had come into force on January 1st (2023) and, because of Covid, most production alternatives were not yet ready !

Because we had a fairly short ride planned for that day, we dithered a bit and stopped at almost every marked vantage point as we made our way along the shores of Lakes Paringa and Lake Moeraki and, lower down, the bays where the sea was visible on our right. At Lake Moeraki, there are some fairly drastic measures in place to combat an invasive foreign water weed. Nonetheless, it was as peaceful and tranquil as it could possibly have been.

Periodically, because it had to follow the somewhat challenging coastal terrain, the road would bring us high above the sea and reward us for the climb with a spectacular ocean view.

When it finally did turn inland, the road was straight, flatter and well surfaced.

There were a lot of single lane bridges that we were always warned about, as we approached, by signs painted upon the road surface, just in case we needed to stop. I think that, although we passed over hundreds of these on our trip, I only had to stop once.

It must have been our lucky day because, when we came to Haast, the Hard Antler Bar (5 Marks Road, Haast) was also open. Although we really only wanted a quick drink, we met two motorcyclists from Christchurch who had already passed us on the way to Haast and also another motorcyclist, a local hardcore Harley type with the characteristic beard. The latter was just driving his Cadillac, a truly magnificent black beast of a car – our Harley would have fitted in the boot (trunk) !

We all spent a short while swapping biker tales but, as always, we had to move on.

The Haast river, which we now travelling alongside as we moved away from the sea, was so wide in places, even some kilometres inland, that we initially thought it was yet another lake.


Then Lucie’s itinerary, which was usually 100% accurate, got a little confused in distance terms, so she did not know exactly where we were for a while. We stopped at the picturesque Thunder Creek Falls, which lay directly beside the SH6.

Then the confusion was rectified, if that is the correct term, when we found ourselves in the next open café in the village of Makarora, about eighty kilometres further down the SH6 from Haast. After so much trouble finding open places, to get three hits in a row was almost unbelievable. We tried a selection of desserts, but, when we were leaving, at 14:30, they already had the “closed” sign on the door, seemingly oblivious to the stream of potential clients, no doubt willing to spend their hard-earned dollars, who were trying the door and then walking away.

It was a beautiful day for riding a motorcycle, good roads and blue skies.

Unbeknown to us, we then drove alongside Lake Wanaka for some distance before crossing a narrow neck of land to Lake Hawea. We stopped twice beside the latter lake. The first was for the standard “viewpoint” photos.

The second was chiefly out of curiosity. The map claimed there was an “illegal jump” spot at one point and we wanted to se that ! We assumed it was referring to either suicides or base or bungee jumping, paragliding, etc. It was not very high, so all of those seemed unlikely. It was also fenced off completely and undergoing substantial renovations. Maybe they were making it a “legal jump” – who knows ?

We arrived in Wanaka which, in tourist terms, is a serious destination. We were staying at the Top 10 Holiday Park (263 Studholme Road, North, Wānaka) and our unit was clean and spacious with a firm “eco” ethos prevalent.

It was hot and had been almost all day, so we began proceedings with a refreshing shower, a coffee and a Kit-Kat that Lucie had picked up on the flight and carried in her pocket ever since ! Then we took the half hour walk into town and, on the way, saw what Lake Wanaka is famous for, the “Wanaka Tree“. Reportedly the most famous and photographed tree in New Zealand, the tree grows IN the lake about 100 metres from the tree-line on the shore.

Many pictures exist of only its upper branches visible above the surface of the lake, but in late Summer, with the water level at a low, we saw almost the whole thing as it appears to have its roots on a small island right off of the shore that would normally be submerged.

Here is a “stock” photo of it in those circumstances.

Lake Wanaka is vast and I could not help but wonder what volume of water would be needed to bring the level back up to a more photogenic point. Lucie, who had not expected anything very special, was not as disappointed as I was.

Because of Wanaka’s very touristy ethos, a lot of the places offering food were open, but nothing much appealed unless I wanted fish and chips (again), a burger, or maybe a goat biryani ! We spotted the Lakeview Seafood Restaurant (Level 1/155 Ardmore Street, Wānaka).

This was a Chinese restaurant (it had to come at least once) that offered a good selection of fish dishes, so up we went to its first floor location. Strange, seemingly claw-less, lobsters looked balefully at us from tanks – but they, at least, got lucky because, in Lucie’s book, no claws = not a lobster. She is a girl with her own, monogrammed claw crackers, after all ! Some prawns were not so fortunate and arrived on a sizzling iron plate, as did my lamb in black-bean sauce, together with mixed vegetables and a portion of rice. Although I, quite naturally, greeted my dish with the words “MSG is good for me“, both dishes were well prepared and tasty. They were very filling, too.

Afterwards, we searched in vain for a cake shop, Lucie DOES like her sweets. Thwarted in our quest, we made our way, in the slowly deepening twilight, back along the lake shore and past the Wanaka Tree to the Holiday Park.

Tired and full, we were soon asleep.