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Stage 435 – Athol to Kingston

Lake Wakatipu sits at a thousand feet above sea level and stage 435 reaches its shore at the southern end. The fact that it’s fifty miles long and Around the World picks it up it along its eastern shore should be good news but alas the following stage quickly heads east to conquer yet steeper climbs so the respite that comes at the end of 435 is merely temporary.

But before the sanctuary of the lake itself, you have to get there. The rollout, from a spot about two miles east of Athol on the Garston Athol Highway (route 6) is innocuous at first as it crosses he Mataura River after just half a mile, and even the bump after a mile is pretty innocent too. But the elevation trend is upwards and the route to fifteen miles merely confirms it.

With the river meandering to the left, its water flowing against the direction of travel, the road hangs left handers at one mile and three miles that convert an easterly run into a north easterly: Garston comes and goes at five miles as the straight road continues to grind its way upward. There are a series of snaking curves north of Garston, passing Nevis Road at six miles before running straight for a couple of miles beneath a steep ridge that runs along the right hand side of the highway.

There’s a big looping left hander at eight miles which the hangs a sharp right at Fairlight Station Railway two miles further up the climb. The Mataua River heads off west at that point, to its source high in the hills, while the A6 carries on heading north and north east on terrain that is at least flat for a mile from east to west, even if it is still climbing from south to north.

The top of the climb is at fifteen miles approaching Kingston which sits at the southern end of the lake. The actual summit is the border between the administrative districts of Southland and Otago and the road descends two hundred feet by the time it passes by Kingston a mile later.

Along the water’s edge, the road is flat, lumpy and meandering as it hugs the edge of the water on the journey north. The natural curvature of the lake at the southern end dictates a long left hander over the course of the last six miles and it’s as that curve straightens out that the stage finishes on Wakatipu’s eastern shore.

Distance: 22 miles / 35 kilometres

Ascent: 656 feet / 200 metres

RGT Magic Road: I9bMOTWsvlUx

Total distance: 21.92 mi
Max elevation: 1271 ft
Min elevation: 939 ft
Total climbing: 657 ft
Total descent: -591 ft

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