As we were leaving the hotel we stopped to speak to a road cyclist who was training to take part in the Wanaka triathlon. While we were chatting we spotted Stephen and Guy coming up the hill. The cyclist promised to delay them for us so that we could get a head start on the real part of the climb.
From there the gradient increased as the valley narrowed. It was sheltered from the wind and the sun was hot. About 2km from the top we both gave up the struggle of pedalling up hill in 1st gear and got off to push for about 500m. As we pushed, we spotted what we thought was a cyclist hurtling downhill towards us. As he came closer we realised he was a young man riding a skate board at around 30 mph pursued by his friends in a car who were filming him. They must have turned back up the hill and gone passed us, because he came skating passed us again for his second attempt. We didn't see him again so don't know whether he wrapped himself round a road sign or something.
The last 500m of hill were less steep so we were able to save face and cycle into the car park at Crown Saddle, crowded with tourists. At 1080m, this is the highest sealed road in New Zealand.
Collapsing on the grass we revived ourselves with lunch, a glass of wine and mug of tea. Stephen and Guy arrived about 40 minutes later. The views towards Queenstown, The Remarkables and the Crown Range were breathtaking. After a group photo at the top we took turns to film each other as we sailed down the steep hill towards Queenstown. As we careered down the lower half of the descent, the road twisted through several tight hairpins. It was magic!