Braynes/Snooks reunited. Milford Sound, and a Week’s Downtime for Daisy in Wanaka.

Tour Aotearoa 2016 team Brayne/Snooks reunited at last. After 35 days cycling and 2500km for Mark and Jutta, and 25 days/2600km or so for the girls.

YAY! as the girls would say.

They made it, and we had a magical reunion moment yesterday, Friday, 51km out of Wanaka back along the road to the Haast Pass almost exactly where Daisy broke down last Sunday.

Our first glimpse of the girls, Katie and Mela, as they come towards us from Haast Pass, and we cycle up to meet them from Wanaka. BIG smiles all round.
Mark and Jutta and Daisy, all now safely dry in functioning jackets, and with gears that CHANGE!

So, as we approach the end of our joint and separate Tours Aotearoa, we’re all back in business – safely installed in Wanaka for two nights and what today will be Katie Brayne‘s and Carmela Snooks‘s first rest day from cycling since they left Cape Reinga on Feb 23 (two weeks after the parentals).

Milford Sound. One of those places on the planet (like Taj Mahal, Great Wall, Victoria Falls, Machu Picchu) which is just as amazing when you get there as the pictures suggest.

Jutta and I have enjoyed our time off waiting for them – repairing Daisy’s Rohloff gear changers with help from the lovely folk at Outside Sports (thanks Alex and Richard) and, especially, taking a day’s flight from here over to Milford Sound – possibly the most beautiful spot on the planet?

Dolphins in Milford Sound

The pilots – there were three Cessnas in our little squadron – argued on return whether the day’s views and weather had been the best this season, or the best they’d EVER experienced. What amazing luck – and with added dolphins!

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A playful Bottlenose Dolphin accompanying our cruise boat along MIlford Sound.

And then as to the ride back into Wanaka last night – Daisy thinks she’s a mountain bike. Kat and Mela took us along the Clutha riverside trail to Wanaka from Albert Town, IN THE DARK I ask you! (thankfully Daisy now has a powerful dynamo-driven LED front light), and it was seriously HAIRY.

Wanaka from the air as we fly back from Milton Sound. Still a village, really, and thoroughly charming despite all the tourists. As one of our bike servicing friends put it, some days you could plug the whole of New Zealand into this town, it pumps so much energy.

NO pictures as it was dark, but again, all ended safely with a slapup meal to celebrate reunion and Kat/Katie’s 29th birthday just gone.

The pictures as ever tell it all – there are zillions more…

For the girls a stonking 151km yesterday and we also managed 105km out and back, making good both Jutta’s and my car-carried segments from Helensville to Auckland all those weeks ago in the North Island and last weekend ambulanced the last stretch into Wanaka with a sickly Daisy.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we gird our loins for the hard 2000-foot climb through Cardrona and over the Crown Range to Queenstown, and then it’s just two or three days all the way down to Bluff and the end of our journey.

Mount Aspiring National Park from the air

Looking forward in some ways, but it will also be so so sad to be over. Indeed, the trip of a lifetime, and such fun to be doing this last segment with the girls – and taking memories forward with us of a very special day in Milford Sound.

Mount Aspiring

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