Oh. My. God.

When the weather finally cleared I was on the road and heading to the west coast for what I was told was the best tarmac ride in New Zealand.

First I had to get through Nelson with it’s closed roads and other problems due to flooding, etc.  They had done an excellent job of getting things cleared up, but there were obvious signs of the recent carnage.

From the muddy waters of the sounds,

To the debris still littering the roads and pushed up against bridges.

Still, it wasn’t long before I was on the inland stretch to Westport and the start of the supposedly ‘perfect ride’.  Now for a ‘getting there’ stretch of road, this was pretty magnificent riding.  Hills, twisties, and valleys all connected together to form a wonderfully flowing riding experience- just stick it in 4th and roll the throttle around the sultry dance of the corners.

As the steps to the Southern Alps Mountains, you could easily feel yourself riding into Tolkien’s Misty Mountains.

Once you hit the coast, all thought of Dwarves quickly fades into the mists as this amazing road opens itself up to you.  Sliding between crashing surf and rocky cliffs, the road begs you to throw caution to the wind and ride with it- playing along its supple curves, riding elevators up and over rocky outcroppings, tempting you to keep up as it lays itself out before you.

It seems almost sinful to stop for a photo, but even the shortest stop to catch your breath brings rich rewards.

Before long, Aoraki/Mount Cook reveals itself on the horizon, giving your journey a quest- the ride to the mountain.

Despite this jaw dropping riding, you can’t help properly stop and checkout the major glaciers of the area.  Franz Josef

 

and Fox.

Though the dramatic signs warning not to approach Fox glacier were enough to keep me well back.

You can get a good view of the range used in the filming of the ‘Lighting of the beacons‘ scene from LOTR.

After reaching and then passing Mt. Cook, the runway like road leading to Haast at the end of this epic feels like the landing of a fighter plane after a successful mission.  Adrenaline slowly draining out of you with a sense of completion, but a lingering feeling of something lost as your senses are brought back to the practicalities of refueling and planning for the next days sortie…

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