Today was the last day of riding for most of us. (A few hardy souls are continuing further South on an additional tour, or going to the North Island for a different tour.) After a good breakfast we pedaled down to the lake for group pictures, and then began the 50 or so mile ride to Queenstown.
We started off with a long gradual rise from about 250 meters to 800 meters and then a final steep climb from 800 to 1100 meters. This last climb of about 1000 feet was comparable to the Haast Pass climb of a few days ago -- about 3 km of steep ascent, averaging about 10% grade. From the top we could see Queenstown, about 20 km further (by road, probably shorter as the crow flies).
The descent was an experience all by itself. There were 10 to 12 switchbacks and a fair amount of traffic to watch out for. Lots of braking required.
From the bottom it was a short ride to Arrowtown where we had a pleasant outdoor lunch at the New Orleans restaurant. Like a great many of the town on the West side of the South Island, this one had its beginnings in the gold rush of the 1860s, not long after the American gold rush.
We had the option of getting in the van about 3 miles out of town (to avoid the city traffic) or brining it home by bike. Three of us biked the finale. I managed to miss the key last turn and did a few extra blocks on the main street of Queenstown.
The tour is not officially over since we have a group dinner tonight and a group breakfast tomorrow. I leave here at 3:15 tomorrow afternoon (Thursday) and arrive back home midmorning the same day, about six hours before I leave here! I bet that sleeping on the airplane will be easier than ever before.
This will probably be the last blog posting for several days. After I get my pictures sorted out and posted on Flickr, I will do a wrap up post with a link to the photos. Meanwhile, I have just under 24 hours to check out Queenstown.