New Zealand, 2008

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Cromwell to Frankton and Kingston

The ride from Cromwell to Frankton on Friday, January 18, was mostly in the Karawau Gorge. The meaning of the "Roaring Meg" sign will be understood by Bike Vermonters who recall that our own Meg Davis cycled through this very spot a few years ago. She obviously made a lasting impression on local Kiwis.

We were also approaching Queenstown, so a couple of New Zealand's crazier extreme sports were in evidence. We passed a flock of people riding boogie boards with fins down the river. They call it river boarding, and no doubt it gets quite exciting in the rapids, be we didn't see that part of it.

Also, we passed the holy site where bungy jumping was born, on the bridge at left. There's a very elaborate building with displays about the "sport," or whatever it is. Amazingly, a bungy cord looks like nothing so much as a very thick braiding of ordinary rubber bands.

We saw several people jump. It really looked like great fun, and it's also quite safe. Barbara admitted she'd want to try it, if only it were free. But $160 for a single jump seemed too steep a price for a thrill that lasts about one minute.

The sequence below shows a German man actually jumping. He touches the water in the third shot; the fourth is on the bounce. In fact, the jumper bounces up and down for several seconds before he is lowered into an inflatable boat in the river below.

We rode as far as Frankton, 65 kilometers including a side trip for shopping, before stopping for the day. We could have continued to Queenstown, but the more we've heard about the place, the less it appeals, so we decided to skip it entirely. We found a crowded campground on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. Although it was only a few hundred yards from busy traffic, there was a lovely, quiet trail along another stunning Alpine lake, not unlike Lake Wanaka.

Arriving at Frankton, left; path on Lake Wakatipu, above

The campground was exceedingly crowded, with probably the smallest tent sites we've ever seen. Our next door neighbor, however, was Stef, a lovely girl from Germany. She was cycling and rock climbing through New Zealand and Australia, coming from the direction in which we were heading, and she was full of friendly advice about the places she'd been.

Evening near the campground; Stef

On Saturday the 19th we rode our shortest day so far, just over 40 kilometers. The reason is that we finally booked an overnight boat trip to Doubtful Sound — more on that later of course — and we couldn't get a reservation until Thurdsay morning, January 24. That gives us several days to get there and there's no point in hurrying. Anyway, the ride along lake Wakatipu was wonderful. Frankton is at the top of the lake, and Kingston is at the bottom. The road twisted and turned, with some climbs and descents, above the water. Great views! Also there were good picnic spots along the way, one with a nice beach. For some reason the water seemed colder at the Kingston end of the lake than it had up at Frankton.

Always looking for picnic stops

View from one of th picnic sites

Cycling the road along Lake Wakatipu

In the campground we met Sean Hickey, right, from Perth Australia. Wally split a six-pack with him. Sean's home business, believe it or not, is buying and selling country music CDs on Ebay — buying them cheap in quantity from the U.S., and selling them for high prices in Australia.

Also in the campground at Kingston we met a couple of families who were cycling to raise money for World Vision projects in India. Exceedingly nice people, they were riding one mountain tandem and a mountain bike from the bottom to the top of south island, using only unpaved roads and tracks. Their website is

From Kingston we head inland toward Lumsden and then on to Manapouri and Doubtful Sound.

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