Only a relatively short run today from Wanaka to Queenstown, 100km or so. The plan is to visit the aviation museum and we have since found that there is a National Transport & Toy museum that the proprietor of the motel assures us is worth a look.
I forgot to mention in yesterdays' offering about while we were enjoying the serenity around the Haast River, with the Indonesian Harley support crew, there came the unmistakable angry sound of a big block V8 "on song". Geez whoever is driving is really giving it the berries, around the river bend comes a jet boat, and it is going flat out in water that is so shallow you can see the water boiling over the rocks just below the surface. Damn that looks like fun.
Back to the present. Off to the Aviation Museum, they have a small but interesting collection from early biplanes to jets, also they had a beaut collection of desirable vintage cars and motorcycles. Not as comprehensive as the other museums we have visited but certainly worth a look.
Next door is the Transport & Toy museum. This place is basically the collection of an eccentric that had a bit of a thing for auctions and plowed everything he had into his collection. There is no rhyme or reason to the set-out of the place, basically four big aircraft hangers stuffed with, err, stuff. The guy liked cars, planes and toys. So for example there would be a pristine 1966 Mustang with the back seat occupied by a bunch of Barbie Dolls and a scale replica of a Stuka sitting on the roof. One display of vintage radio sets had a model space shuttle in the middle. Quirky.
The funny thing is that it all worked in an oddball sort of way, we were in fits of laughter at the absurdity of some of the exhibits, dunno if he was smoking industrial strength gear or if he was truly marching to the beat of his own drum. For example there would be a straightforward collection of cars of a certain marque and there would be an aeroplane tucked in amongst them, almost invisible in the clutter. There were shelves of motorcycles up on the walls, everything from vintage Harleys, Vespas with sidecars to all sorts of Japanese bikes. There was even an ex Polish Airforce Mig21 sitting there.
Never could I be accused of hoarding again, this guy raised the bar to an artform.
After a leisurely couple of hours wandering about the museums we again hit the road, down the Cardona Valley Road, which is the "back way" to Queenstown, going over Crown Peak. What a road it is too that gradually climbs to a point where you can just see Queenstown off in the distance far below, with the road winding down the hill in a series of switchbacks, woo hoo. Sadly there were a series of roadworks being done, with the obligatory Stop/Go man in attendance so the run wasn't as free-flowing as it could have been, still huge fun though. At one stage there was a Boeing 737 flying along lower than us as it made its approach to the airport.
At the bottom of the hill Doug decided to see if he could get a set of tyres to replace the squared off rear on the VFR, the front was also staring to look a bit second hand as well. Dropping in on the local Yamaha dealer he indeed did have a set of tyres to suit, so after a bit of negotiating a deal was done and we retired to the attached cafe for a coffee and wait. The sales guy comes out after awhile, the mechanics have noticed that the wheel bearings are a bit grumbly. Doug goes with him for a look and sure enough they are exhibiting wear and need replacing. Luckily the Honda bearings are a common size and they have good quality spares in stock ($12). Doug had asked his regular mechanics to give the bike a thorough check before the trip, guess he may be having a quiet word with them later.
A quick run into town and we find a comfy motel with lovely views over Lake Wakatipu, park our bags, and seeing as it is only early afternoon, head off for a blat out to Glenorchy so that Doug can scrub in his new tyres.
When tyres are produced there is a thin film of "release agent" that allows the tyre to pop out of the mold cleanly. This agent is slippery stuff and needs to be removed before the tyre can reach its full grip potential. The best way is to simply ride the thing, taking corners in both directions a bit tentatively at first and progressively harder until the tyre surface has been roughened up. If you start immediately cornering hard on new tyres, particularly in wet/slippery conditions, there is a fair chance they will suddenly lose grip and dump rider and bike on the road.
The Glenorchy Road follows the shore line of the lake, with all the attendant curves that you'd expect from a riverine valley. There is a photo attached shot up towards the head of the valley with snow covered peaks in the background, it's hard to focus on the road with this sort of scenery all around, New Zealand is really turning it on for us.
What's at Glenorchy? A small town, a couple of cafes, a lady taking her miniature pony for a walk whilst riding a bicycle and that's about it. Oh yeah, that sublime road. So after a quick bite to eat we turned around and did it all again from the other direction. This time without stops for photos, wheee.
Back to the Motel and time for a quick shower, toss some laundry in the washing machine and a short walk into town for a look around and a feed.
Queenstown is a tourist town, built on the edge of the lake. Not that it is a bad thing, a very attractive town it is, quite modern with all the outlets that international guests would expect. Sadly even a damn Casino. Prices in eateries on the waterfront are sky-high but a couple of streets back we found an Irish pub that did good staple fare for a reasonable price. The "Bombay Gangsta" music was a bit different but hey it takes all types.
So, tomorrow we head further South for Te Anau, Manapouri and Milford Sound. A big day too of around 400km or so. Mordor beckons......