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I have never in my life seen so many bunnies in various states of splat in my life. It was a bad day for Flopsy in the Crown Range. Bad news for bunnies, but a beautiful ride for cyclists, and a healing gouge wound on my calf where the chainring and I had a fight on the Haast Pass. Now, with no infection!

The Crown Saddle is what they call the long windy uphill that takes you from the shores of the lake in Wanaka past the old goldmining town of Cardrona, where I stopped for a flat white (a latte, or so I hear) and some very melted timtams I’d been gifted the day before. The hill snakes up from a flat valley past some ski resorts into a tussock grass-lined roadway with the aforementioned bunnies and purple lupins and statice (that papery violet flower that’s called siempre vivo in Spanish and grows at the beach near Quintay in Chile) and a cornflower blue sky. It summits at a pass that’s clearly marked with a stone marker and a gnarled tree, and this is where I caught up with the family with six children that’s been pedalling the south island, who I’d been hearing about since Ross, or thereabouts. I was very impressed with the family, and also happy to see the marker, because this hill, unlike many others I have met on this trip, is solitary, and has no false peak (I am looking at you, spires of doom and of Hades, and also the aforementioned Haast pass).

The hilltop with the stone marker gives a view of a dark turquoise lake around which Queenstown spreads. After the rock it was a hand-cramping high-speed zigzag down to the bone dry valley where I may have filled a water bottle with purloined plums from a tree I found at the roadside. Still working on them. Tasty!

It is touristy here. But where there are tourists there is easier Internet, and about this I am thankful, so I will forgive (but not patronize) the McDonalds and all the rest. I am taking a rest day from my dogged pursuit of the strangest tan line I’ve ever had, a big V marking the top where my capri-length tights have a little notch cut in them, and a fine line at the top of my ankle where my beautiful flowered cycling socks stop.

I have been whiting-pizza free since the great event, which I know was very upsetting to all of you, for which I apologize. Though my free muffin on the tourist-package Milford Soundvaganza was gummy enough that I almost wished for the pizza at that point.

Tomorrow is more pedaling, hoping to rendezvous with a rail trail which will grrrr and crunch under my wheels, what with the gravel and all. I believe the worst of the hills are behind me, though I kind of feel like I will feel that I’m just getting started when this whole thing will be over.

Hope you are all well, and I wish you a night of sleep like the ones I get after a good day of riding. Profound, unmoving sleep, so deep and dreamless you’re surprised to find you’re still you when you wake up. But without the pins and needles in your hands.