After five stages of climbing, here, finally, is one that descends more than it climbs. Indeed, once you’ve completed the climb that began at the back of stage 436 at the five mile mark, you could actually lay claim to this being a downhill stage. You’ve earned it. Stage 437 is proof that the rural roads of New Zealand go down as well as up.
But first the rollout and the rest of that climb away from Lake Hayes. The A6 highway descends gently from the start, down to the water’s edge, and hugs the southern shore of the lake until the one mile mark. Then as the lake spreads out to the north, the road heads north east and away from the water. That’s the remainder of the climb as the road scoots round the back of Morven Hill before snaking left and right then finally straightening beneath a ridge on the eastern side of the road. By now the road has turned right around and is heading south east to meet and indeed cross the Kawarau River upstream of the lake at seven miles.
Past the Kawarau Zip Ride and Bungy Jump, the A6 heads east on lumpy flat terrain past Gibbston Valley Wines at eight miles and the vineyards a couple of miles further on. From the Kawarau Bridge, the river flows east and the road follows the meandering of the river all the way to a long looping horse shaped left hand bend that stretches out over three miles between miles fourteen and seventeen. The road crosses the river before fifteen miles and thereafter the river runs on the outside of the bend with the road inside it.
The A6 Gibbston Highway continues to snake left and right as it continues on down the valley before another two mile horseshoe bend, to the right this time, sets up a rapid descent down the finishing straight beneath the slopes of Mount Michael with the river on the opposite side of the road..
Distance: 22 miles / 35 kilometres
Ascent: 787 feet / 240 metres
RGT Magic Road: ZiL2y2Ti2P7I
Max elevation: 1293 ft
Min elevation: 684 ft
Total climbing: 788 ft
Total descent: -1233 ft
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