Red Tree, Crown Range Road

First of 3 inspired by Mondrian’s “Red Tree”. This tree is a survivor. It sits above the hairpins taking you from Arrowtown Junction to the top of the vertical terminal moraine at the end of the greater Queenstown Valley. From here, the Crown Range Road turns North towards Cardrona and Wanaka.

It’s magnificently isolated up here, the highest state highway in NZ – pleasant in summer, dangerous in winter, spectacular in both. I first rode it on a Honda 350 in the summer of 1974, it was all 3-tyre-track gravel then and slidey, but even so, the main warnings from locals related to the changeable weather. It’s 2 lane and sealed now, but is still 1 of 4 NZ roads which rented campervans are banned from using.

Built from a photo one late afternoon in winter coming back to Queenstown after skiing at Cardrona or Triple Cone (also having noted the scene in passing many times and occasionally stopping). It’s always close to zero and windchill cold at that time. I nailed all of that I think, 3 or 4 goes and 6 or so years – but that feeling of coldness is apparently not a great sales strategy in the NZ market (whereas it’s a staple in North America and Northern Europe). So it’s a one-off!

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