1
146 Manakau Heights Dr

Greetings, and here we go again. I’m somewhat less confident this time around after a bit of a recurrence of a knee injury from way back in my cricketing days but we’ll give it a crack anyway.

Compared to last times huge build up for the North Island, I’ve only put in just over 600km this time and apart from today, none of that was fully loaded. It sure makes a difference with the bikes handling and also to my legs with all my gear on board.

Bob is excited to be underway once again although complaining about being concussed after a stint in the washing machine followed by the drier. I explained that even hedgehogs need a shower once a year.

Today we cycled up to Levin as the local bike store (Southend Cycles) wanted a few pictures of the bike fully loaded for their Facebook page which also links to this blog (Hello to any who have found their way here) and for a few last minute adjustments to the bike .. thanks Mike.

I have to admit to have had a lazy few months off whilst awaiting my tooth implant and feel I have gained a little weight. No doubt the hills of the South will sort me out and trim me back down. It will nice to be able to cycle without having to worry whether I remembered to put my temporary false tooth in.

The bike has now done 4300km

Yes I did cycle to exactly that mileage today 😳

So now is the part where I can’t sleep for worrying that I’ve forgotten to pack something or haven’t arranged something vital, thankfully there is not to far to cycle tomorrow ... just off the ferry and to a campsite for the night. Well goodnight all, see you in the South Island.

https://strava.app.link/cV9LGcMwsU

Relive Video

2
Parklands Marina Holiday Park

Woken early by the dogs who can hear cows being moved into the paddock of my neighbour. No matter how much I want to roll over and go back to sleep, it isn’t going to happen. I let them out and they tear off over to let the cows know who’s boss on this side of the fence. I head for a strong coffee. Not quite feeling myself today, it’s as though it’s not me setting off but almost like I’m watching myself set off, a hard feeling to explain.

I go through the motions and change the bed for my mate Kev who is coming to look after the house and dogs while I’m away, Janet his wife will join him for the weekends. After the coffee and clearing the dishwasher, I give the bike a wash down before re lubing the chain and loading it onto the bike rack. A last bone for the dogs and I’m away.

Maggie and Rafa say goodbye

I order another coffee off the BP app and this turns out to be a fatal decision. I arrive expecting the coffee to be ready and instead their printer hasn’t worked and I’m held up waiting. Finally I depart again and with the first sip have a steam of very warm coffee marking a median line down the front of my nice clean shirt. I frantically grab wet ones and do my best to sop up the mess. When will people learn to push the lids on properly. I’ll have to get in the habit of checking before drinking.

I arrive at the dentist 7 minutes late due to traffic holdups at roadworks and coffee holdups at BP. Thankfully he’s running late himself and doesn’t notice my late arrival, though he does notice the lovely coffee stripe down my front.

The tooth is given the all clear and it’s off out to the Hutt for a quick lunch with mum. I pick up a couple of filled rolls and mum has me whip my top off for a fast wash and dry stain removal service. The only thing I have in the meantime is a high vis vest I keep in the Ute. So I sit eating my lunch with mum, highly visible and keeping OSH happy, whilst my shirt does it’s best to get dry in 15 mins of mums dryer. Sadly it doesn’t manage it and I head into town with a still damp but very clean top on.

I make it to the ferry with 1 minute left for checkin, then proceed to wait the best part of an hour to board. A lovely little girl of about 11 or 12 and her aunt are also waiting to board with a small sailboat. She is attending a regatta in Picton which happens each year. She was wonderfully engaging and told me all about her sailing and her plans and hopes for her life. After seeing my bike and some photos of Bob traveling through the North Island, she now has another goal, having decided that she too would like to cycle the country. I’ve no doubts she will.

Waiting to board

Finally we are collected to board, last on but this will apparently have its benefit on the other side as we will be first to disembark. The helpful guy in the loading bay offers to lash my bike to the rails as the bike rack is none too steady. I take him up on the offer and he ties it up in a fashion that even Houdini May have struggled to break free. Trust me, Bob and the bike were not moving an inch. Bob is less than impressed when another deckhand peers closer to him and laughs to me that he thought I’d picked up some roadkill.

Finally heading on

I head upstairs, 4 flights of them I fact as I’m on the lowest deck. It’s been some time since I’ve been on the ferry service and though it’s a newer ferry, it’s none the less exactly as they have always been. A small restaurant, a bar, a cinema and dozens of people wandering aimlessly for 3 1/2 hours. I’ve always wondered at having a cinema on board, it must be for those who travel back and forth daily as I really can’t see many tourists partaking. I mean what would be the point in locking yourself away in a dark little corner when outside some of the finest scenery in the country is passing you by. Who in their right mind would miss gazing out at the Marlborough Sounds having paid the sum of $65 or more to be on board. Even old Wellington doesn’t look half bad ... and that’s not just because I’m leaving it.

Up we go

Up on deck I join the aimless wanderers for a quick tour before settling into a seat on the top deck. I’ve forgotten my earbuds still down with the bike and so with no audiobook or music to listen to, I listen the the babble of excited tourists and watch endless amounts of photos being clicked. I know it’s a cliche with Asian’s and cameras but boy it’s cliche heaven onboard today. I can never understand how more than 2 cameras are necessary, to be fair I’m not sure I could even justify a camera these days as the ones that come with your phone seem brilliant to me. I watch fascinated as they raise various cameras slung around their necks and click what must be exactly the same photo they just took with the last camera. Some even carry small backpacks and unload even more monstrous cameras to take I presume even more close up pics. It may have just been easier and cheaper for them to hire a car and drive to the point of which they photographed and take the picture from there ...

As we pass through the heads and out into the Cook Strait the wind picks up and no questions are left for any as to why this is known as Windy Wellington. It is a fair gale and in short time I’m the sole remaining person on the top deck. Eventually it becomes too much for me also and I retire downstairs for a coffee. Surprisingly it’s not too bad and the price is also a pleasant surprise being no dearer than your average cafe.

Out of Wellington

...

Into the Cook Strait

Rather him than me in this wind

Into the Sounds

Sounds entrance looking back to Wellington

In the Sounds

Picton

Back down on the lower deck I battle with the knots lashing my bike and finally free her. As promised I’m first off and ring 2 campgrounds that are fully booked before striking luck with my 3rd. It’s the furthest out of town but also proves to be fantastic. It’s barely a 10 minute cycle to Waikawa Bay and the fantastic Parklands Campground. To be fair this place is fairly chocker as well but I manage to find a nice quiet corner for myself and set up camp. The owner couldn’t be nicer or more helpful and tells me to call back once I’ve returned from dinner in town and he will lock my bike in his garage and charge it.

Back in town I cycle around trying to find an economical meal for my first day back on the road. I would have cooked but there is a total fire ban for the extended area at the moment which eben includes gas cookers. I feel as though the cafes, restaurants and takeaways here know this and have adjusted their prices for a captive market, eating is a horrendous cost in Picton. I settle for a pizza, which is surprising considering I still have nightmares about them having run a pizza restaurant for 18 years, 7 nights a week. However it’s the only thing I can find for less than $20 that’s not covered in batter and grease. I have to be fair and say that it’s not half bad. I opt for the seafood and its generously topped and very tasty.

My Picton Pizza

It’s dark by the time make my way back to the campground and as promised my bike is locked charging in the owners garage. I stumble my way back to my tent, tripping heavily over a self made washing line between 2 peoples caravans. I do my best to put it back together but it’s dark and I give up. It’s a stupid place to tie a bloody line anyway.

The toilet block and shower are phenomenal, spacious, well organised and spotlessly clean. If this is what the South Island campgrounds are going to be like then I’m in for a treat. The shower is hot, powerful and doesn’t run out of water, and I get my fair share.

I’m the only one in the tv room which amazes me. \240The place is now heaving full after the 8.30 ferry and yet it’s a peaceful and quiet crowd here tonight. I commandeer all the powerpoints and charge battery banks, bike lights and my phone.

Off to bed

Well goodnight all, I’m off to bed. Sadly it’s begun to rain so all of you hop on your knees and pray for it to cease sometime during the night so that I can pack up a dry tent tomorrow morning.

https://strava.app.link/heZlZJt8tU

Strava

Relive .. but don’t get too excited, I haven’t learnt to cycle on water ... though I maintain I can sometimes walk on it ...

3
Pelorus Bridge

Brilliant ! That about sums up today’s ride. This surprises me somewhat as I barely slept last night. At first I was sweltering as though trapped in a sauna set to maximum before finally drifting off and waking what felt like mere minutes later and finding myself freezing. To add to my issues during the night I woke to an explosion like a gunshot going off but what only proved to be my blow up mattress blowing up. It was a Big Agnes insulated Q core with a quilted finish. It now resembles the mattress equivalent of a hunchback with the added insult of a slow leak.

The hunchback of mattress’s

I finally give up on it at 7.15 and drag myself into the world to begin the day. Slowly and methodically I put my gear away and then retrieve my bike from the garage to load it all on. As I’m about to set off an Irish gentleman camping at the ground wanders over and asks me all about my trip and the bike. I don’t mind the delay as I’m still feeling groggy but eventually pedal off and head down to the Waikawa Marina for a coffee.

Procrastination done, I head off to Picton town to try and get a couple of keys cut for spares as I left my spares at home. Picton though has only just entered the Iron Age and it will be Nelson before I find a locksmith with the right blanks. With a last look around Picton Harbour I cycle off to the Queen Charlotte Scenic route and boy they aren’t kidding. I find myself singing Badfingers old hit ‘Day after Day’ but substitute the ‘day’ for ‘bay’.

Goodbye Picton

Last view of Picton

The route begins with a solid wee climb which reminds my legs ‘Tane’ and ‘Mahuta’ that they have a lot of work in store. At the top is a fine view back over Picton and then as I’ve said, it’s just one bay after another each it’s own vivid shade of blues, turquoise’s and aquas. There are a few up and downs but nothing too strenuous and the spectacular scenery makes it all the easier to readjust to the touring life. It’s a very hot day and although I’m glad I filled my camelbak before leaving, I’m not so pleased that every sip tastes like rubber, should have given it a rinse after it’s layed around so long.

Bay

After Bay

After Bay

...

You get the picture

Finally after I crest another hill, I stop at a lookout and gaze down upon Havelock. What a lovely little town it is, from afar and up close. The word quaint springs to mind. I stop to look at a couple of shops and people passing by ask questions. Several locals mention a huge storm heading this way and advise me to push on to Nelson, which is not exactly what myself, Tane or Mahuta wanted to hear if I’m honest. The scenery from Havelock onto Pelorus is nothing to write home about and therefore I won’t write about it to you either. Pelorus Bridge was my intended stop and I pull into the cafe / campsite and ask the doc ranger his opinion on the weather. He studies his computer and printouts and gives his verdict that it won’t rain until Sunday. I take him at his word and book a campsite.

Havelock

And what a campsite it is. Picturesque to the maximum. It’s situated right alongside the Pelorus River and though only a doc camp, has a lovely shower and toilet block with a kitchen and gas cooking also. Best part of all are the amazing swimming holes of which there are at least 4 I’ve found. Two of these are the size of 2 Olympic swimming pools joined end to end and are well over 10 foot deep also. I have a blast diving off rock cliffs into the teal waters below and as bonus it’s not even cold, just cool enough to be refreshing after a long hot ride.

Camp Site at Pelorus

Best Swimming Hole

Swimming holes galore

After the swim I dry off and something that has crawled into my towel, possibly a wasp, gives me a decent sting that leaves a huge welt to remind me. I take a long shower and then having time on my hands take a 10 km hike to a promised 2 waterfalls. In all honesty I get a better stream of water after several beers myself but I won’t hold it against them, apparently it hasn’t rained here in quite a long time, though I must say it’s looking due now with gray skies above.

Waterfall 1 .. apparently

Waterfall 2 ... just

Back at camp I eat my dinner of a cold pie bought in Picton and a filled roll also from Picton. Not as bad as they sound. I then walk to the top of another bloody great hill just for mother dear who is having panic attacks as she can’t hear what I’m saying on the phone due to poor reception ... have a strong gin and chill dear, I’m fine !

Along my hike

Another part of the hike

Deciding I’d like a brief lie down I inflate my bed, her another loud explosion and I fear this time it’s fatal. The bed had died, R. I. P. Bed

Update, I’ve had a crack with duct tape at the tear I found but hold out no hopes for it whatsoever. I’ve left it inflated whilst I’m out walking and here hoping. I’m convinced that as soon as I hop on it there will be a mighty whoosh and a long uncomfortable night, ahh well, you’ll hear about it tomorrow.

https://strava.app.link/E5t8S49CvU

4
2 Lowry St

Bloody hell !! That was uncomfortable. Tragic news last night as the hunchback died a swift death and deflated rapidly from beneath me. I blew it up once again hoping it might last until I got to sleep but with one more rifle shot, then bloody thing split down the back. Time to give up but with a few choice words thrown in. As it was once again fairly hot I began the night lying on top of my sleeping bag using just the inner to cover me, soon enough it became bitterly cold during the night and so I had to get in the actual sleeping bag.. Having not paid huge attention to the ground beneath me whilst setting up the tent as I’d thought I’d have a lovely mattress to lie on, I paid dearly throughout the night. No position was comfortable with every contour, twig and stone making the night a misery. \240At one point I considered getting up and tying each of the 4 tent legs to a log and floating on the river in a makeshift waterbed but gave up the idea as I had no way of heating the river. I must have been tired though as I did manage to drop off at some stage and got at least a few hours sleep. Feel like the body is a little battered and bruised this morning as a reward. At least the wasp sting has gone back down.

I pack up by 8, retrieve the bike from the garage of the doc ranger and load up. Once again I’m cornered and questioned, this time by a lovely couple of South Africans camping close by me. I get the usual questions about the bike and how far I get each day, where I’m headed etc and then head on my way. I stop by the toilets to fill my camelbak with water. Filling it from the camp hose yesterday in Picton was a disaster. Every mouthful tasted like rubber and gave me heartburn. Unfortunately it was so damn hot during the day that I drank most of it anyway. Today’s is a lot fresher. Since I’m running late already, I planned to leave at 8.30 and it was now 9, I decide bugger it and stop in at the cafe for a coffee. Lucky I did as I’d forgotten I’d left my power aid drink in their chiller last night so I’d have a cold drink today.

Finally on the highway

The track is planned to follownis closed due to the forest fires and so it’s on the highway today. Not as bad as I’d feared with most giving me plenty of room. The 2 hills I’d been dreading weren’t nearly as bad as I’d been telling Tane & Mahuta they were going to be and I was over them before I knew it.

Up we go

The downhills were exhilarating and refreshing to say the least. I hit 76km/hr at one stage and I think from memory this might be a new top speed for me. There’s no feeling quite like blasting downhill on a bike and not even cars were catching up due to the bends in the road. Have some good GoPro footage I’ll have to retry remember to put here.

Coming into Nelson is always a treat, I’ve only ever done it by car until now but by bike is even better. The sparkling blue bay and the seemingly ever present sun reflecting off it so brightly I needed to stop for my sunnies.

Nelson has become busy since I was last here, cars jam the roads and throngs of people along the beaches, fishing, swimming and generally enjoying the great weather. A nice new cycle path runs all the way in and then connects up with the great taste trail. It’s beautifully smooth and easy to ride.

Tonight I’m off to my good friend Kevin’s in Richmond, some 10km north of Nelson. I’ve known Kevin since he was a lad of just 10 and he’s one of the nicest people you could meet. My Accomodation is a caravan in the backyard and it’s just perfect, especially after the debacle of last nights bed.

1974 Anglo Pullman Classic

After settling in with a nice cold corona beer and flash patē on toast, Kev is dropping his kids to a birthday and offers to lend me his 2nd Ute to get myself into town to buy another bed to replace the ditched hunchback. Who knew you needed a decent sized mortgage to get a camping mattress these days. They range from about $85 for pure rubbish up to $600 for what I presume is the model that comes with its own servant who drives to your destination ahead of you and has it ready inflated for you to just flop wearily down onto at the end of each day. Tempting as this is, I opt for a midrange version with a lifetime guarantee. It’s the $300 model but this weekend with a 30% off sale is a bargain at $200 ... or so I’m told, I’ll reserve judgement until handing slept on it. I’m also after a couple of extra tent pegs but again it’s the sublime to the ridiculous. All the name camping stores try to justify to me that tent pegs like theirs are worth $7.95 each, but I refuse on the grounds that I’m sane. The warehouse have cheaper options but each of their tent pegs could double as an anchor on a sizeable boat. I therefore opt to go without which turns out to be the wise decision as Kev gives me a couple he has spare when I return.

I’m a little late back to Kevin’s after annoying each and every camping shop employee in Nelson. I believe in trying goods before purchasing them where possible and I left a host of angry staff trying to stuff my rejected camping mattresses back into the ridiculously small bags from whence they came from. Isn’t it amazing how when new goods that come beautifully packaged with seemingly endless room to spare, will never ever go back into that same place they came from once opened.

Kevin has the bbq going and has some self caught tuna ready to go on. He definitely has a hidden talent as a bbq chef and the tuna is just superb. I’ve not often if ever had fresh tuna, as opposed to the little cans we all know. It’s a magnificent eating fish though and I feel guilty at the amount I put away. I also hate to think how many coronas I emptied tonight but cycling sure is thirsty work. After dinner a coupe of Kevin’s electrician mates turn up with some more beer and we sit around chatting whilst Caleb, Kevin’s eldest son, plays his guitar for us. For just 12 years old he’s pretty talented and this is proved by the $80 odd he made busking this afternoon in the city. For those of you who stay tuned, he’s promised a live performance for this blog tomorrow.

Fresh Tuna off the BBQ

I’m now happily ensconced in the caravan and hopefully will catch up on last nights sleep. Here’s today’s data ... goodnight

https://strava.app.link/LddQPryuxU

Relive

5
2 Lowry St, Richmond 7020, New Zealand

Lazy day today people, a day off with friends in Nelson, well Richmond to be honest. I woke early as seems to be a habit when I’m touring. No one else was up when I went to the house so I snuck back to bed also for a longer lie in. When I rise the second time the house is in full swing. Kevin organises me a coffee knowing I’m a zombie until one is in me and then I’m given toast with a apraxia peanut butter, chia and flax seeds if you will. It’s actually pretty good and healthy to boot.

Most of the day it’s drizzling lightly but enough to be a nuisance though none of the locals are complaining after all the fires and water restrictions around these parts. Most wish it to be a lot heavier and last for several days. By lunchtime it has cleared away though and the normal hot Nelson sunshine resumes its course.

The entertainment for the first part of the day has been the kids and 2 dogs. Kevin has 2 sons and his partner Claire, 2 sons and a daughter. They each have a dog and it’s a full house ala the old tv programme and just as frenetic. The kids are full of beans as are the dogs and make for an entertaining morning. Kevin and I are treated to a variety of YouTube clips, some baking by Caleb who made some fantastic cupcakes, more baking by Jayden and Max the pair of 7 year olds who whipped up some hokey pokey and performed dance moves in the lounge. Josh then leashed his dog to a cart in the backyard attempting to be towed around before being handcuffed ankle and wrists by constable Caleb who had ordered some actual pairs of handcuffs off amazon. Thankfully my wrists were too big although he mentioned a larger ‘big boy’ pair he could order. Thankfully I will have departed by then 😂.

In between all the madness the multi talented Caleb, baker, builder and singer managed to find time to perform for you all in an exclusive performance for this blog, so here we go with Caleb Thomson

... he would love YouTube subscribers so add him Caleb Thomson

That’s my advertising schedule done for the day but in all honesty it was a privilege to be given a special performance.

By mid afternoon I was feeling lazy having just sat around eating and talking all day and so I went for an impromptu cycle along the Great Taste Trail out to Rabbit Island which was unfortunately closed and guarded due to recent fires being deliberately lit there. It was a real shame as the scenery on the way out was beautiful and I’m sure the Island would have been the icing. A little dejected I turned around and headed back the way I came. I was tempted to take the ferry across to Mapua and cycle back the long way but as it was I was already running late for dinner.

Dinner was a cross between spaghetti bolognaise and macaroni cheese and it was really good. Great cycling tucker for tomorrow and tasty. A quick drive out to Kevin’s workshop where I help with a little tidying was rewarded with a can of Canadian Club Dry. Not half bad on a hot day. Back home we being to watch Gone Girl with Ben Affleck, well not with him but more with him in it to be fair, but by 10.30 ish with around 40 mins still to go, we are all too exhausted to reach the end. I’ll find it and watch the rest of and when I make it home.

Kevin & Caleb finishing the cupcakes

Start of the Great Taste Trail

Great Taste Trail

Bugger

So that ends a fairly lazy day although I did force myself to take a little ride and get some pics just for you lot, enjoy

https://strava.app.link/OwszAGe9yU

Just look at all that elevation 😂😂

Relive

6
Quinney's Bush Camp and Caravan Park

Gosh ! Another cracker of a day. Yesterday’s little bit of drizzle is all Nelson is going to get, today is clear blue skies and a belting heat. I’m up at 7.30 for the breakfast and school rush. Kids in every direction but mostly organised with no collisions. I grab a family photo and with unfortunate timing a friend of Josh’s arrives and offers to take the pic and I’m ordered to get in amongst them against my will.

The Tribe

The first wave depart for school and work and then Kevin takes his lads off as well, leaving me alone to sort out my gear. Another dose of chia and flax seed peanut butter sets me up for the days ride. It takes me an hour to collect my bits and pieces and get the bike packed again but I’m away by 9.30 ish. First stop is the Richmond Mall where I go to the Indian Mr Minit to get a key cut. He tells me to come back in 15 minutes to collect and when I do he informs me he couldn’t cut it. He directs me to another locksmith down the road and this time I have success ... though it takes an hour.

It now after 11 before I’m actually on my way out of Richmond. The cycle path is again beautifully done and easy to follow. It is the best signposted track I’ve been on so far.

Great Taste Trail

A little way out of Brightwater I stumble a cross the memorial to Ernest Rutherford, the famous kiwi who first split the atom. It’s an interesting little diversion and well worth the stop to walk up and read about. He certainly came from very humble beginnings.

Ernie as a lad around about where his house once stood

The local fire issues bite me several times today as I try to follow the path but am turned back no less than 3 times by closures to the trail, necessitating me to ride on the highway far more than I’d have liked. In the main the traffic is considerate with the odd 1 or 2 coming closer than needed. somewhere along the trail I come to a nicely tree lines area where I stop to devour another dose of Kevin’s BBQ’d tuna he prepared for my lunch, once again it’s delicious.

Lunch Spot

Tapawera

I stop for an icecream at a set of small shops and as is now customary an quizzes about my journey from others who pull in. Ironically a chap I met just above Havelock pulls in to say hi again as he spies my bike, his wife is with him now and it turns out she is a Dr who works about 100 metres down the road from my sisters Dr practice in Auckland. we chat for a while but I’m conciliatory that I’m a little behind with my cycling today and finally bid them goodbye. I begin to think the fire issues are behind me when the worst turn back occurs in Tapawera where I’d planned to stay for the night. I’m told that the path onward from here is closed and so I decide to retrace several km and bypass it. It ends up being a very fortuitous decision as I’m now staying at Quinneys Bush Camp and Caravan Park and what a fantastic place it is. I only wish I was about 10 again as this place would be heaven. Water slides, flying foxes, assault courses, go karts, biking, BMX course, a massive swimming hole with a raft in the lake, slides, swings, huge hammocks that could hold 4 people, eel feeding, you name it, they have it. It really is a magnificent set up and with an interesting history behind it. The owners are also friendly and couldn’t be more helpful.

I setup my tent and then as steam is emminating from my body, I decide to take a swim. The waters a little cold at first but I’m not complaining, I need the refreshing.

Swimming hole

Getting one of these for home

Or maybe this

After the swim I take the 2km walk around the property and get to fully appreciate the place. The path is made from all the recycled bottles they crush and use to line it.

The path leads through a large cornfield,

A paddock with lambs,

Lamb video for those of you who are fluent in baa

A cow paddock, with great cows just quietly,

Cow Video

past the eel feeding platform (Go The Mighty Eels)

And well, I could go on and on, but I probably have already. Oh no, wait !!! The best part of the walk. Here in all its glory is the original toilet from when the camp began.

Make sure you click these for the video !

Another toilet video for your viewing pleasure

I set my tent up when I arrived and so I head off to the laundry to park up the bike and leave it on charge overnight as the friendly owner offered me to do. I then head to the kitchen for my first feeeze dry meal of the trip. Tonight’s cuisine is Beef Stroganoff and it isn’t too bad without quite reaching the heights of the North’s Islands Beef Teriyaki. I wash it down with a hazelnut latte followed by an icecream from the little camp shop. I chat for a while with Rick who is travelling with his wife in a campervan. They are from the Snowy Mountains in Colorado and are a lovely couple. I ask where they began their trip and they say at friends in Otaki Beach after flying into Wellington. As most of you would know, Otaki Beach is all of 10 minutes down the road from where I live ...

We wander over to the eel feeding and hand out diced up pieces of garlic dog roll to around at least 50 or more eels swarming in the water beneath us. At this point I’d like to say a warm hello to one of the most kind hearted, generous, genuine and wonderful gentlemen that Australia has produced and I’m Very proud to have him as a friend. You’ll all have to excuse me this small indulgence as Gary hasn’t been in the best of health lately and I’d like him to know just how much I appreciate his friendship and all he’s done for me over the years. Gary is a former director of the Parramatta Eels club that I’ve adored since the age of 5 and I couldn’t begin to tell you how much he’s done for me and what a truly great friend he is. He has stuck by me through thick and thin and words can’t repay what his friendship means to me. Welcome to the blog Gary, I hope it’s not too much of a letdown haha.

Right back to the journey, not that there is a lot left to tell of today.

Some eels, that are performing a little better than mine have been lately

Video of myself and Rick feeding eels

Oh and I guess I can throw in a couple of videos of me on 2 of the flying foxes, the second of which I nearly came off

Flying Fox Video 1

Flying Fox Video 2

Well that’s about me for the day, I’m off to have some zzzzzzzz’s I’ll leave you with one pic form the top of a bloody long hot hill that I struggled up in the early afternoon heat and then the usual Strava and Relive. Click HERE for your good nights everyone ...

https://strava.app.link/Xm34nr8JAU

Relive Video

Goodnight JimBob

7
Riverside Holiday Park

Good evening all from your tired cyclist. A couple of whopping great hills today and at one stage I thought I may have done a hammy. Must have just been a slight strain though because I made it and it feels alright at the moment.

I’m becoming a slow starter but boy it was one hell of a cold this morning and I just pulled the sleeping bag up tighter and lay there. Eventually the urge to relieve myself had me out into a frosty start. The nice owner of the campgrounds had donated me a dollar for the shower and I added another of my own for an extra long hot shower to warm the blood. To be fair, if I’d had an endless supply of dollar coins I’d most likely be still standing there right now.

The new mattress was a success and I slept as well as I can. I’m not the best of sleepers anyway unless I’m completely exhausted so some is always better than none. Speaking of none, I think that’s exactly what I’m in for tonight for although I’m feeling pretty worn, I have been lucky enough to have a couple put up a tent next to mine and they have a new baby. Oh joy of joys and let me tell you, this one has a set of lungs that Pavarotti would been proud of. I’ve never quite understood why you’d take a tiny baby camping but each to their own. While I’m on the subject of babies in the wrong place, Grand Slam tennis matches !!! Now I know from experience that these tickets don’t come cheap and again I must be a magnet as on several occasions can recall having someone sit within earsplitting distance with a newborn. There’s one in every tennis crowd on tv without fail. You’d have to ask why. It’s not as though a newborn is going to go into raptures over a Federer forehand or Nadal backhand.

Anyway I digress, blame the baby, even Bob is fed up and wants to go and give it something to wail about with his quills. The point of the story was, that the new (and most expensive) mattress is a success. An added benefit is that this one doesn’t squark and fart each time you move even a little finger as the old one did ... not that it would matter tonight.

At 10am I’m on my way out of the campground and turning into a fairly boisterous headwind that leaves me totally unimpressed by days end. It’s not often on flat roads I resort to flicking on the battery but today I’m often giving it little squirts of power to give Tane & Mahuta a quick break and inject some enthusiasm into my morning. I never leave it on very long as I’m quite concious that I may have a more pressing need for it further on in the day. What really gets me going is when I have to pedal like buggery to actually go down a hill. The sweat and tears are suppose to be on the way up and ONLY on the way up. I feel very much aggrieved when I have to work to go down.

Top of today’s first hill

Out the other side

The day is fine but there is a real nip in the air, I briefy consider stopping to put my jacket on but now in the groove of pedaling decide just to plow on. I had a breakfast of 2 porridge sachets and a coffee which is unusual for me as I’m not much of a breakfast person. By 12.30 I’m starving for some reason, possibly the 2 bloody hills that I’ve just pedalled up .... and down. There’s no way I’m stopping to unload and cook something and I’m in the middle of the wilderness with no cafe or any shop for that matter for miles and miles. I content myself with a couple of barley sugars and a decent slurp from my camelbak. I left the bladder in the camp fridge last night and even though it’s 3 hours odd on the road, the water is still ice cold. Most impressed with Mr Camelbak.i finally spy a cafe on my Komoot app but just as I’m within 3 km of it, I’m directed to take a left. With heavy heart I swing left sniffing sadly back in the direction of where hot food has been passed up. This Lake Rotoroa better be a damn fine lake I tell Bob as I inhale another Barley Sugar. 9 km on and just before Lake Rotoroa I come across an old house with coffee and food signs outside. I swerve violently up the drive and am ordering a toasted sandwich and a muffin before I’ve even stopped rolling. The monstrous banana chocolate chip muffin arrives first and is still warm from baking. I don’t often destroy a good muffin with butter but I slather it on as it’s in front of me and munch into what tastes like heaven.

Picture doesn’t do it justice .. that’s a square dinner plate.

I’m already feeling a lot better by the time my toasted sandwich arrives but I make short work of that also. It’s a salami tomato and cheese and for reasons that baffle me still, I’m bought out 3 triangles of toasty. Yes, that’s a sandwich and a half. Now I’m not complaining about receiving an extra half, I mean 20 minutes ago I’d have crawled over broken glass for some crumbs but I can’t help but wonder what happened to the missing half. Did she make a whole sandwich for herself and then was too full so threw the other half at my plate or did she have a phone order for just half a toasted sandwich earlier in the day and donated me the extra half as she hadn’t been able to sell it. The possibilities are endless and I wish now I’d asked.

Cafe tacked onto house ... toasted sandwiches are buy 1 get a 1/2 free

Hunger sated, I make my way round to the Lake which is nice but is swarming with 100’s of bees and millions of sandflies. This had been my intended destination for the day but as nice as the view of the lake is, the sandflies were already driving me crazy. Ever since the cafe bees have also been landing on me and swarming around my body. A few locals tell me it’s because there has been a lot of spraying of the wasps to eradicate them from the area which has allowed the bees to come back. And come back they have in droves !!! I take my Lake pics for you all and then am besieged by a bus load of what I assume are Jewish tourists as they are are all wearing kippahs. They all look fairly well fed and waddle off the bus that has just pulled in and surround me as though Bob and I are the main attraction. In halting English I’m quizzed as to why I’d do such a crazy thing as cycle around when I could sit in a hot bus with sweaty tourists all day. They take turns at trying to lift my bike (none succeed) and then poke and prod my panniers. They can’t for the life of them figure Bob out and I don’t bother trying to explain. One guy peers at my phone and notices my Strava app. Whorrrrrt eeeeeez thhhhheeeeece he asks. I try to explain Strava to him and though he has no idea, demands that I write it down on a broshure he’s carrying. All of a sudden there’s a mad dash back to the bus and another 11 or 12 obese Jewish men come back at me with bits of paper as though I’m offering up the explanation of life. \240By the time I I’ve written out the word Strava 11 times their interest is starting to wane thankfully and they are now more preoccupied with swotting away bees with whatever comes to hand. One of the ladies with the group reaches near hysteria, screaming and waving each time a bee nears her proximity.

Nearing the Lake

Lake Rotoroa

Some wildlife for the nature lovers

Just before I’m seiged

Whilst writing out Stravas I come to the conclusion that I’ll pedal on to Murchison. It’s only another 31km and mostly downhill from what I can tell. First though is another deadly climb up the gravel Braeburn Track. In places this is so steep that I use the 3rd setting on the battery for the first time in months. I manage to get to the top and then it’s a blissful descent down into a mighty valley surrounded by high peaks of heavily wooded pine trees. If I didn’t know better I feel as though I’m in the middle of Enid Blytons ‘Mountain of Adventure’, it’s a beautiful area to cycle. Here’s a few videos of the Braeburn Track and some of the scenery

Mountain of Adventure

I’d read some good reviews about Riverland campsite in Murchison and they are all true. The staff are fantastic and Robin is tops. He goes over everything I need to know and offers up a whole host of great suggestions for my trip. I now have a whole new route for the next 4 days which while exciting for me, means absolutely nothing to you as you didn’t know where I was headed anyway. He tells me to put the tent up on his bandstand in a covered area with powerpoints. It’s brilliant ... until this

Enjoy this video at full volume ... I am with the live performance

I feel like a decent meal with veges etc and so head into the Metropolis of Murchison. To be fair, it has grown in the 20 odd years since I was here last. Robin has insisted that I take one of the camp bikes and leave mine here as there is no change his will be stolen. It’s a rattly old bone shaker but it does the job and gets me the 1km into town and back. I go to the local pub and am very disappointed with the roast of the day. I’m not sure which day it was the roast of ... but it most certainly wasn’t today. I remain totally convinced it was the reheated roast of the day from several weeks back and even then probably was none too flash. I’d have been better off with the missing half of toasted sandwich. I decline dessert and buy myself an icecream from the local 4square as a consolation. I stop at the local cemetery on the way back and read a few of the stones. Quite sad how many dies young in these parts, a lot from accidents though not specified what type.

Time to hit the hay ... well decking anyway, click HERE for your goodnight wishes.

See you tomorrow peoples

https://strava.app.link/8djsgegtCU

Relive

8
45 State Hwy, Springs Junction, Maruia 7895, New Zealand

Gigalo ! That’s what I feel like today, I’ve been up and down more times than I care to remember and bumpety bump bump on corrugations over the Maruia Saddle from Murchison to Springs Junction. But complaining aside, it really is a beautiful road to ride with the scenery it provides along the way.

The baby did eventually stop wailing last night, I don’t recall when as I think I eventually just got used to it and dropped off to sleep. Perhaps it yelled it’s little lungs out all night, when I did get up at 7.30 the people had already packed up their tent and baby and left. Must have been early and quiet ... or I was just too dead tired to notice. My love off the campground was briefly paused when I joined a rather long queue to a single toilet. It’s the first time I’ve it experienced a queue for a males toilet, usually at concerts and events it’s the ladies who are queued up for several miles but today the ladies and gents have queues. Maybe we all had roasts of the day last night ... mine certainly is demanding evacuation. I hop from foot to foot and eventually reach the front. It’s not a pleasant smell by now and I’ve discovered the only fault with a lovely campground. Put in some more toilets guys !!!

I settle for just a coffee this morning as I’ve a longish cycle and an imposing looking hill in the middle of it. I pack up quicker than usual and am on the road by around 9.15. The fancy little French bakery that several people have mentioned to me is unfortunately closed and I end up grabbing a sausage roll and muffin for later in the day from Rivers Cafe across the road. Now let me assure you that I hadn’t planned on a sausage roll for lunch but at Rivers Cafe anything else is over $10 and in many cases, well over. As it was, the sausage roll was $6 but at least it was a decent size and maybe almost worth it. As there are no other food options ... or any options for that matter... on the way to Springs Junction, I really had little choice. As I head back to the bike I find it surrounded by 3 of what I term ‘cycling royalty’. You know the ones, you’ve seen them most days on the road with their tight Lycra outfits and Italian cycle racing singlets, fancy wrap around shades and smirks a mile wide. They are looking disdainfully at my bike and pointing. I’m instantly reminded of what we called tyre kickers during my car sales days long ago. I politely say good morning and attempt to just leave but I knew it was never going to be that easy. “How much does it weigh” one asks. I’ve no idea, I reply, but you’re welcome to lift it. He can’t !

Bloody heavy he says, why do you bother with all that .. nods towards my panniers. Because I like to have what I need with me, I reply. This drags on for several boring minutes before I intimate that I must be getting on. Yea he sniggers to his mates, going to take him all day to get anywhere with all that. This is all we carry he says holding up his credit card, this and a few small items on the bikes. I have no question over where he carries his socks anyway but I don’t tell him so and pedal off.

They were the only downside of the day which is looking quite gloomy weather wise. There’s a gentle rise up out of Murchison but nothing too strenuous to begin with.

Looking a little dark ahead

I’m cycling peacefully along when I come to a bridge named Scott’s Bridge. Never one to turn down a cash making opportunity I decide that since it’s my bridge I will now charge a toll of $1.00 for any that pass in either direction. I promote Bob to toll collector and we wait expectantly, well for at least a minute anyway. Turns out we could have waited all day and we don’t pass another soul on the entire road and nor does one pass us. Bob suggests with such little traffic we should hike the toll price up somewhat.

Bob hard at work

The nice sealed road eventually turns into a rutted gravel road that becomes the Maruia Saddle and climbs up 8km to the peak. At times it’s quite steep though for the most part it’s more of a gradual steady climb. The scenery distracts from the hard work going into cycling and views from either side are most rewarding. Beautiful native forest adorns the hillsides with deep green pine forests off further in the distance. Below flows a river that is the deepest of blues and offend tempts me into stopping for a swim. If it hadn’t been such a chilly morning I may well have done so. For the first time in the South I’ve had to don my light jacket as the wind has a bite and a light drizzle persists for an hour or so.

Climbing

So Blue

Pit stop for the jacket

At the top I reward myself with the sausage roll and it’s pretty good, though I’m thinking my hunger may have made it taste better than it was. Recharged I set off down the other side and as ever the downhills are a lot of fun. Several times I have to cross streams that run directly accross the track, cold wet feet a couple of times but generally I became quite proficient at picking a line and cycling straight through.

Hard to tell, but that’s running water

Nearly at the top

Another to cross

Video of near the top

Once down off the saddle the track rejoins the highway all the way into Springs Junction. Most have told me not to bother with Springs Junction but I have arranged my first Warm Showers of the South here and so feel obliged to turn up and stay. With my new change of route decided yesterday, it would have been easier to bypass this place altogether but I’m glad I haven’t. The days ride was most enjoyable apart perhaps from the last 10km along a gravel backroad into Springs Junction, where at one point a bee flies into my helmet in a similar fashion to the cicada the other day. I waste no time in skidding to a halt and shaking it out. Might have to get a piece of netting or something to cover the inside of the helmet, this is becoming a habit.

I stop beside a road sign to review the email my host has sent with directions. ‘Our drive is right opposite the 60km/hr road sign just north of Springs Junction‘ it says. I look up at the road sign where I’ve stopped ... 60km/hr ... there will be a sign on the gate saying ‘Josie’s Way’ ... I look over the road and boom m, sure enough ‘Josie’s Way’ ... what a clever person I am to stop in exactly the right spot. I pass through 2 farm gates and I’m at my Accomodation for the night.

Its a cozy little place with a lot of ecological features that my sister Fenn would adore. For one they exist solely on solar power from the panels on their roof. From time to time we run out, Peter tells me, but this just says we are using to much and to cut back on something... they also have a well and collect extra water from the rain off the roof. My least favourite of these ecological designs is the composting toilet. I’m sorry but it’s just not me. A plastic stair leads up to a throne like creation that is basically just a long drop indoors and once the lid is lifted ... it smells as such. Hey I’m sure it’s wonderful and green and all that ... just not for me thanks, though I’ll use it while I’m here.

They also have an outside bath that takes an hour and a half to heat but I’m sure is lovely once it’s warmed ... as long as the neighbours don’t have binoculars or it’s not snowing

Neither Peter or Robyn are home when I arrive but I’ve been left instructions on how to get in and to help myself to a cuppa. I’m halfway through making a cup when Robyn arrives home. She is lovely and immediately makes me feel comfortable and joins me for a coffee. No more than 15 minutes after I’ve arrived, so does the rain and it comes down steadily for a few hours. Both Peter and Robyn work for DOC and have been out restocking traps all day for stoats and rats. They are fair workers and look to be in their late 60s. Peter arrives about an hour later and is also a nice guy. They have a hard job and I don’t really envy them.

Robyn informs me that due to the lack of sun the past few days that they are very low on power and charging the bike won’t be possible. While I take a shower though, she walks the 1km into town and organises with the local petrol station for them to charge it overnight. I cycle it down later and leave it with them, ready to pick up in the morning. Very decent of them and Robyn.

Both are vegetarians and tonight Peter makes homemade pasta with fresh vegetables and spices. It is a wonderful and filling meal especially with a fresh garden side salad. To top this off we have a delectable homemade fruit salad with freshly made yoghurt to go with it. Mother will be very happy with my healthy intake.

After dinner we sit around and chat for several hours until bedtime when I retire to the loft where I am now. It’s a steep climb up some wooden stairs to .. well a loft, and it’s quite a novel room to stay in.

Saddle joins motorway

Views from the Saddle

More views from the Saddle

Cop that elevation ... I sure did 😬

Well it’s goodnight from him ... yessss alright you may get your goodnights by clicking HERE

9
Berlin’s

Absolutely Brilliant !!! That’s what today’s ride was. It started with a steady little uphill sweat and then she was all downhill for most of the next 85km. All days cycling should be like this. Not only was it easy pedalling but the scenery was top notch also. Unblemished native bush down both sides and high mountain peaks in front. Hopefully my videos and photos will do it some justice.

Springs Junction

I woke up in the loft a little disoriented to be honest, quite a heavy sleep as I felt quite groggy. The upstairs loft has a wee cupboard sized room off to one side which has a large bucket for nighttime ablutions. I tend to drink so much water on the road during the day that at least once during the night I need to empty the tank as it were. It is a little strange to use a bucket in a loft and even stranger when I spy the toilet seat Peter says I can place over the bucket if necessary. Thankfully number twos aren’t required during the night.

I clamber down the vertical wooden stairs (think wide ladder) clutching my bucket in one hand. I’ve been instructed to add water from the outside tap, swirl it around and donate to the dryest looking tree. I do this, give the bucket an extra rinse and return it up to the loft cupboard. It’s only 7.40 but both Peter and Robyn are up and about. Peter has soaked some oats last night for home made muesli this morning and although a huge muesli person, I have to admit his home brew is amazing. He adds fresh fruit and berries with his home made yoghurt and it’s a concoction I’d happily have each morning were it available.

I have a crack on the combustible toilet and it’s almost a ceremonial performance. One has to step up to the throne via a large plastic step and it really is like taking your place on a royal throne. There is a little chute at the front for pee and a hole beneath for the main event, who knew you needed so much coordination for such a simple task. After the deed is done you must throw a handful of sawdust or wood chips over the top of your donation and tip a cup of water down the wee chute. As I say it’s really rather a ceremonial performance which led me to the thought that when we have dignitaries visit the country, instead of going to all the trouble of a pōwhiri, perhaps we ought to pompously lead them to a door and and usher them into a kiwi combustible toilet to show just how clean and green we really are. I’m sure the queen and other such luminaries would be highly impressed and laud our uniqueness. All the usual hangers on, the PM, Deputy PM and all other flavours of the month could stand solemnly by for their exit and politely clap as they emerge brushing wood chips from their person.

I set about the usual packing up and fill out the visitors book they place in front of me. They must have been doing this a long time or have a steady flow of guests as no less than 3 books are full of glowing comments. It’s been an enjoyable stay and I’m glad I came the long way around. They take a photo of all their guests and I don’t even get away with pulling my cycle helmet down low as Robyn politely asks if I’ll take it off for the pic. I get my own back and request a pic of them in front of their house.

Peter and Robyn from Springs Junction

I briefly stop at the petrol station to retrieve my fully charged battery and then slog my way up the hill, happy in the knowledge that once up, it will be the only climb of the day. To be fair it’s not too bad although the slight breeze is icy cold. This becomes more of an issue as I begin the descent and the wind literally chills me to the bone. My fingers in particular feel like individual little iceblocks. I grit my teeth for 1km but enough is enough and I pull over to pit my jacket on. Feels a little bit strange to be donning it in bright sunshine without a cloud but damn this place is chilly in the morning. I guess it’s made worse because I’m cycling down a gorge that is shaded on both sides by huge native trees.

I got to enjoy around 2 hours of this type of scenery

Video of the climb up

I reach Reefton just before 12 and it was a rapid 45 odd km in just on 2 hours. I’m feeling famished and so stop for an open steak sandwich which is a bargain price and decent sized meal. I doubt I’ve had bigger steaks as a main meal, let alone an open sandwich. It comes with a salad, beautifully cooked mushrooms and a caramelised onion sauce. Very satisfying and readies me for the second half of the ride. As I’m eating at an outside table I’m again besieged by questions and well wishers, nice people in Reefton ... until a young lady who looks to be in her early 20s walks down the street yelling and (I think) singing at the top of her voice. There is no doubt she is on something and it’s something strong. She leans over me as she passes and yells something unintelligible before swaying on her way down the street. Elderly people, of which Reefton seems mainly to consist of if the main st is anything to go by, stare disgustedly after her.

I finish up with a piece of carrot cake in tribute to my German friend Johanna who is now back home. Some of you will recall I cycled for several days with her through the North Island. She has just txt me to wish me well on my ride. Johanna was addicted to carrot cake on her own ride through the country and I’m sure would have loved a slice of today’s offering.

Video just before Reefton

A video of my mate from Reefton

Holman Winding Engine

Reefton Pub Special ... should I wait ?

Into the Buller Gorge

I take a quick tour of the streets of Reefton and then continue on my way towards Berlins. It’s still a very nice ride and still mostly downhill but it’s hard to match the beauty of where I have just cycled through. Eventually though I turn onto the Buller Gorge Rd and again the views are magnificent. It’s a narrower gorge than earlier today and the road follows alongside the mighty Buller River. I wind my way around, often getting a lovely view down to blue waters below. I pull up to the Berlins Cafe and Campground where it’s surprisingly busy ... in the cafe at least. I wait until the owner has finished serving food and then go to check in. He’s a real character and I can see why the place has such a good reputation. Just head on up the hill and set up mate he says and we’ll fix it up later. When I reach the camping area it turns out I’m the only tenter here. I take a spot with a commanding view down over the river.

My camping spot for the night

Once I’ve set up I head down a track to the river and take a lovely swim in yet another stunning swimming hole. There seems to be a wonderful swimming opportunity at every stop down South. Once again I have it all to myself.

The track down to the river

My swimming hole for the day

It’s much warmer than at Murchison and so I have a lazy swim for around 40 minutes, then make my way back to camp and off to the cafe to complete checking in and have a bite to eat. The fish and chips are not only cheap at $8 but the portion is huge and the fish is beautiful. I also get a large bowl of tartere sauce complimentary. The cafe is also the only place around here where I’m able to get internet connection via their free wifi and so tonight me blog comes to you compliments of the Berlins Cafe. I’d thought I’d have the fish n chips as a snack and then cook a freeze dry meal but there were so many chips that I couldn’t fit another morsel in now. The glories of my sweet and sour lamb will have to wait for another night.

Berlin’s Cafe

So here I am supping on a speights beer and filling you in on my day. It’s only 8.15 but there is little else to do other than finish this blog off whilst chatting to the owner and watching ‘who wants to be a millionaire’ on tv. I guess I can also offer up some education for those of you who had never heard of Berlins until today (that doesn’t include me .... I heard of it the day before yesterday)

The history of Berlins

From here I shall take my bike over to the kitchen and put it on charge and then retire to my tent for the night. Berlin’s does have 1 downside and that is the copious amounts of savage sandflies that abound here. I’m liberally doses in repellant but it only seems a slight deterrent to them and they dive on in anyway as soon \240as you set foot outside. It will be a mad dash to the safety of the tent.

https://strava.app.link/e1Vnom0BFU

I suppose some of you are waiting for another goodnight ... and yes I am running out of ideas but click HERE anyway

10
Westport

Good morning from Berlins, and what a morning it is. I awake to a shroud of mist and can barely see my tent when I step outside.

My shower was so good last night that I decide to have another this morning and tidy myself up with a shave as today I’m meeting some relatives in Westport whom I’ve only just discovered I had. Best not to turn up looking like Worzel Gummidge I feel. The main problem I have with this endeavour is that my razor handle has gone awol and all I have is a tiny well used blade left to carry out the task, the ones that usually click into a handle.

This is camping I tell myself, harden up and get on with the job. The upshot is that after a lot of swearing and fiddling with a tiny razor blade I now look like Norman Gunston on a bad day. For those of you who have no idea of whom I’m talking, this

Is Worzel Gummidge, my ‘before’ if you will. And THIS (click the ‘this’ mum) is Norman Gunston, my afterwards appearance.

It’s my slowest start of the journey so far. I have a cup of coffee and plate of porridge whilst being eaten alive by the worlds most ferocious sandflies. They hunt in packs here and dive in formation to draw blood at will. Fairly soon both my legs and arms can take no more and I end up wandering the campsite whilst finishing breakfast. Even on the move they still zero in and attack the back of my neck. The sun bursts through and in short time drys the tent. Once packed I’m away at the late hour of 10.45. It doesn’t really matter today however as I’m only cycling around 35km fo Westport. The bike has begun to make a couple of funny noises from the crank when under full load up a hill and only when the battery is on. I’m hoping it’s nothing serious but will have a bike shop look at it next time I find one.

It is a magnificent day, the sun has burnt off all cloud and it’s blazing blue above and fairly warm. The Buller Rd is an absolute delight to cycle as it winds alongside the majestic Buller River. It’s crystal clear and that special blue that only South Island stretches of water seem to manage.

Where did all that gear come from

I meet a cyclist fairly early on, Stefan is in his 50s and is over for the 2nd time from Switzerland to ride the South Islands west coast. Apparently last time, 3 years ago, he got rained and hailed on nearly every day and so has returned to complete the journey. He is most impressed by my bike and takes it for a lap around a picnic area. Convinced it is the way to go, he is now a convert and planning to buy one. More than likely I will run into him again as we are taking the same path down the coast.

I reach Hawks Crag and cycle through it 1 handed just for you lot. It’s a road cut under a sheer cliff overhang as seen above and it’s quite spectacular in the flesh. I hope you enjoy the video as I’m not doing stunt effects often

Video of Hawks Crag

Better view of Hawks Crag

Though a short ride today, it was most enjoyable all the way. I’m sure you can see why and if you can’t ... then here you go

Ok so it was pretty much that all the way. I hit the bridge into Westport at around 1ish and having called my relative Lee to warn her I was close, had gleaned a recommendation for a cafe for a much needed lunch. Jays cafe did not disappoint, as most of you know I’m a chocoholic and today’s iced chocolate was the finest in many a moon. No watery ice, no feeble flavouring, this was the real deal, get that dose of calories in your system chocolate, milk, cream and icecream heartstopper. I should have taken a pic but was far too busy demolishing it. Oh, and the chicken pasta wasn’t too shabby either.

From the Bridge into Westport

Directly accross the street is the Westport Coaltown Museum. Now I’m not an avid museum fan but with several hours to kill before Lee finishes work, I decide it might be worth a shot. It does the job admirably and when Lee rings at 2.45pm I’m only halfway around. She is finishing up early and arranged to meet me at home. I take in the rest of the museum at a slightly faster pace and then cycle on around to meet my relative for the first time. Well I say the first time but Lee can recall meeting me when I was all of about 2. Strangely I don’t recall it.

Now I’m wondering why it is it’s taken so long for me to meet Lee and Kevin. What an absolute delight they are. It’s not as though I’m overflowing with relatives and these two would have been welcomed into my life much earlier had I know they existed. To put you all in the picture, Lee’s grandmother was my grandfathers older sister, which makes my mother her mother’s cousin. Which somewhere makes me a nephew or grand nephew or ummm well ... you work it out. All that matters is that I fit in somewhere, which is great news to me because they are wonderful, kind, humerous and engaging people.

As soon as I’m changed Lee whisks me off in the car for a quick tour, first of the Denniston coal mining settlement and then Westport. Denniston is a fascinating look at a past life down here on the Weat Coast when life was hard and the people even harder. It was all about the coal mines down here and boy did they live a hard life from an early age. It’s a steep drive up and I’m glad I’m not biking it. The displays and photograph boards scattered around where the old coal mining village used to lay way up in the tip of the hills are really well done. See through Perspex type pictures of the buildings show how the site used to look as far back as the 1800s as you look through them onto the actual land where they were situated behind. I hope that is self explanatory ... but it probably isn’t. Just take my word for it that it is well worth a visit. Remains of the old coal carts and rails down the side of the mountain where they used to run are easily visible and it must have taken some guts to be on one of those coming up or down. There are many stories of deaths and injuries and it’s easy to see why.

Aside from the fascinating history there are the spectacular views along the coastline from Cape Foulwind just past Westport stretching around up to Karamea. I’m very lucky to have struck it on a perfect day with barely a cloud to be seen.

Video of the coastline from Cape Foulwind around to Karamea

Back down off the mountainside I’m given a tour out to the coast and then around Westport itself. It’s a pretty little town, almost like an island and I’m told that in severe floods it’s access is sometimes cut right off. I’m very happy I came, it’s been well worth the detour. Back at their home I’m offered the most gorgeous bedroom and have a bathroom to myself also. What an absolute luxury after tents, sandflies, crying babies and bursting bedrolls. Kevin arrives home and immediately serves me a couple of cold beers, exactly what a hot tired cyclist needs 👍

Kevin is as wonderful a person as Lee, both are entertaining to chat to and Kevin has a few ripper stories that have me laughing. Again I’m sad not to have known these people earlier, better late than never I suppose. I’m fed a feast of fresh fish and home made chips. Nothing to complain about here either, it’s terrific 😍 To top it all off is a bowl of hokey pokey icecream and the easy way to my heart, a big dose of chocolate sauce on top. As we are chatting, their son arrives for a cup of tea. I’m not sure what relative this makes me to him and it’s too late right now for me to work out. The upshot is that he’s every bit as engaging as his parents and tells me some wonderful cricket stories after finding out I’m a cricket fan. Ask me to tell you the Ross Taylor one sometime ...

I’m tempted but best not waste their water

From whence your blog is coming from tonight

I don’t know what it is about this cycling trip but boy am I getting some cracking showers. I have to admit I was very tempted for a spa bath but couldn’t be that rude having only just met them today. Any disappointment at missing out on that was soon assauged by being blasted by yet another booming shower. I know the idea of a shower is to get wet, but this one really made you feel wet. The coverage of the spray made it feel as though your whole body was being hit at once. Fabulous !!! You try and find me a cycle tourist who doesn’t appreciate a good shower ... it can’t be done.

https://strava.app.link/qIX1VXFtHU

And so to the goodnight, click HERE for tonight’s offering

11
Punakaiki

A rocky start turned into a spectacular day. As hard as I tried I still woke around 7.15am. Not even the most comfortable bed in the South Island was enough to keep me asleep later. Having heard that Lee usually arises at 5.30am (how anyone manages that on a regular basis is beyond me), I poke my head out in fear that I’m holding up the works. As it turns out, she manages a sleep in on Saturdays and so I crawl back to bed for a wee lie in myself.

When I do arise I’m once again treated to a muesli and fresh fruit breakfast before heading to pack up my gear. I should be underway fairly rapidly today having not opened most of the panniers and not having used camping gear. I say my goodbyes as Lee heads off for a jog and Kevin sets out for a cycle. I go to put my last pannier on and disaster strikes. The front right pannier has lost a screw right at the point where it connects to the bike. Cursing, I search the garage for the elusive screw but to no avail. I will have to wait until one of my hosts returns to see if they have some spare screws. As I wait I tighten other parts of the bike and then am interrupted by a jehovah who rambles on about changing times and holding fast. I politely tell him that the house owners are out and that the only thing I need holding fast is my pannier. He looks at me a little surprised and offers me a soul nourishing pamphlet but as there has been a total fire ban in most places I’ve been to thus far and I have a gas cooker anyhow, I decline the offer.

Kevin and Lee ... my long lost relatives and fantastic hosts

Lee arrives back at a jog and without trying to catch her breath, rushes to my rescue. Screws and tools are soon proffered and the pannier is mended to A1 condition in record time. Happily restored to health, I place the last pannier on and am ready to go, not only am I given a few spare screws but Lees rushes back with a big bag of homemade cookies. They look divine and prove to be a saviour later in the day. As is becoming a habit, I’m late getting away at around 10.40. I head out to Cape Foulwind on the advice of Kevin their son who popped past last night. It’s a great piece of advice as I love going to places I’ve not been before and the scenery out here is as ever in the South Island, magnificent.

I park up my bike and take a wander up the track to the lighthouse. I’m surprised at the number of people out here taking the same stroll. The views back across the bay are as serene as a masterful painting. There isn’t a breath of wind and the water shimmers. I make my way back down and pedal around the far side of the bay where I’m told there is a seal colony. Again I’m amazed at the number of people here. Every parking space is full with campervans and a bus is spitting out a throng of passengers. I take the walk up and around the cliff to the viewing platform down over the seal colony. I’m not disappointed, seals laze about in huge numbers and out a little further in a large rock pool play games amongst themselves. I take some photos but it is as though they are camoflaged and you will do well to pick them out amongst the rocks. It’s something akin to a Where’s Wally picture.

Where’s Wally

Believe it or not, there is at least 10 seals in this pic

The walk back down in the opposite direction provides even lovelier views over a large rock with another seal colony only viewable through the mounted binoculars which are actually free of charge to my surprise. Out to the left is a long golden beach with crashing waves being surfed by around a dozen keen surfers with vans parked up at the edge of the sand.

By now I’m starving as it’s past 1pm. A cafe is advertised as being 500m but in no particular direction. I cycle down 2 paths to no avail and then am stopped twice by confused tourists also looking for said cafe. If it still exists The Bayhouse Cafe is well hidden. I give up, remember Lees biscuits and chow down on them. They are mighty fine as well and they give me the boost I’m looking for to continue pedaling. 10km later I’m back out on the main highway and on my way to Punakaiki.

I meet a fellow kiwi

It’s always a boost to morale when you move under 50km to go

There are a lot of minor ups and downs before you hit the serious climbs over to the coast. Tane & Mahuta both are complaining today ... as is my rear end. A hint of a headwind and a reluctance to use battery has caused the twinge in Tanes hammy to return and Mahutas knee is giving a little grief. The rear is unusually uncomfortable today and I suppose it’s just one of those days. I think I’ve come up with a solution to my rear end issues as I eye up Bob as a bit of extra cushioning. He is appalled with the idea however and I let him be.

The hills as ever once begun, aren’t nearly as bad as they have been in my head. I can be single minded when need be and push on up with mind over matter. As each of the 3 fall behind me I feel a little better and it’s probably got something to do with the now spectacular scenery around me. The coast is a magical wild place and unlike anything else in New Zealand. I’ve taken so many photos this afternoon I’m struggling to pick which ones to enter here now.

Video

Down the last hill and on to the coast

A selection from the many I took

I find myself not getting very far fast as each bend brings new eye candy and photographic opportunities. It’s a good thing I upgraded my phone last year and have heaps of hard drive space 😂

Finally I’m heading across the river into Punakaiki and the GPS leads me to the wrong camp, it’s actually a backpackers but the owner, a German lady from Cologne, is a great sales person and entices me to put my tent up here and stay. It’s $2 dearer than the other place but is spotlessly clean and has a brilliant little spot for the tent which is private, sheltered and grassed. I eventually cave in and stay, she won’t even let me barter her down the $2 but she does provide me with a brand new she with a power point for Gerty the bike and Bob the chog. The wifi happens to run out of here and I upset the whole camp by pulling out the wrong plug and cutting it off for several minutes.

Over the river to Punakaiki

Once the tent is up I change out of my cycling gear and enquire about swimming. Apparently not such a great idea here as people have been swept away according to locals. I make do with a 3km wander along the beach wading out to knee depth. I expect it to be freezing but it’s not at all bad, refreshing without being cold. I walk all the way back to the river entrance and gaze at a large rock in the shape of a boot. Waves crash noisily against it and I wonder how many years it will take until it’s pounded away to nothing.

River Entrance

The boot

Back towards camp

It’s 6.30 by the time I’m back at camp and by now I’m starving. As good as 4 of Lee’s cookies were (I saved the rest for tomorrow) I feel like something hot and solid. The thought of a freeze dried meal is not really doing it for me tonight so the sweet and sour lamb is back on hold. I walk around to the corner to the tavern and call 911 for a defibrillater after reading the menu prices. Having been shocked back to life by the westpac rescue helicopter, I call my mortgage broker and try to negotiate a steak. Nothing doing I’m told, they won’t cover the bar of gold required for a steak and so I lower my sights to Bangers and Mash, a plate of chips being the only cheaper thing on the menu. It is under $20 but even so I’d have expected some greens with the meal. However it turns out to be a huge bowl of mashed potato with 3 largeish sausages (and damn good ones at that) stacked up with a load of onions and gravy. It’s actually pretty good and tasty but I’d still have expected maybe a bean or two. I completely blow the budget on a beer, but it’s been a strenuously hot day and the pint barely touches the sides. I’d do a lot for a second but sighing deeply reach for the water jug.

The Mortgage Bar at Punakaiki

The service is not that wonderful either, the bartender is a craggy old lady with tattoos down both sides that looks as though she’s been around a while and I’d hate to think doing what. I have my suspicions but won’t relay them here. I eat my meal and take my leave, I’ve been told that the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes can be spectacular at sunset. This information proves correct and although the 1km each way walk just about puts paid to me for the day, it’s most worthwhile. The walk was made a little more difficult by the beer and 5 or 6 glasses sloshing around in me. I felt (and many would say usually look) like a keg on legs. Once again I’m surprised by the amount of people here. At least 50 or more are spread out around the walking path, each jostling for the best picture opportunity. I take my fair share and will now attempt to select a few from the plethora I took.

I’ve dozens more .. but you get the idea ... it’s stunning out here

A couple of videos above

It’s dark by the time I walk back and by now Tane & Mahuta have legitimate moans. The tiger balm will be coming out soon. It’s been a fairly active day over 85km on the bike and around 10km by foot. You’d think I’d be skinny as a rake but my sweet tooth won’t allow for that 😬

I think I’m the only kiwi staying here tonight, the place is full with Europeans, mainly German and a couple who are Swiss. I have to say it’s a lovely setup here with the kitchen and dining setup on the second floor looking out over the crashing waves mere metres away. It is quite loud in here and I’m thinking will be most rowdy back down in my tent. Quite soothing in a way though amd I’m feeling so drained I feel I’ll have no trouble sleeping. The sun has caught me pretty well today also which probably increases the weariness. I topped up the lip balm 3 times during the day but still they feel burnt and swollen. The back of the neck has also taken a hit and I must remember to slather the suncream on in the morning. My great helmet has protested my nose though which is a bonus.

Walking back to camp video

Well I’m off for a shower and bed, here are the Strava and Relive

https://strava.app.link/gziSBcp4IU

Oh and let’s not for get a goodnight HERE

12
Greenstone Retreat 45 Greenstone Rd, Kumara 7832, New Zealand

Ok Good Evening, how are we all tonight ? Today was a day of 2 halves, well possibly a 1/4 and 3/4. For reasons unknown I started off in a fairly dark frame of mind this morning, the black dog of depression revisited briefly and as any of you who have experienced it knows, it hits randomly and takes a bit of shaking. A friend messaged to see how I was doing on the trip and gathering my frame of mind, suggested to put on ‘Shield Yourself’ by The Mockers as they had read about me playing it over and over to boost myself during my North Island journey. It’s wise advice and The Mockers do their job. Isn’t music a terrific thing ! It can drag you out of the darkest places and lift the spirits back to where they belong.

Having said that, looking back on the day, I can’t pin down why I reached such a low mood, I’d just stayed at the most beautiful camp in a wonderful setting with really lovely people. Even the scenery this morning was as majestic as any I’ve been through. The mind is a strange thing. Possibly it was a lack of sleep combined with some long days on the road. This morning I woke at 6.30 and nothing was getting me back to sleep. In a way it worked for me as I’d breakfasted, showered and packed a lot earlier than usual and gave myself more time to explore on the road.

I left by 8.30 and had another stop at the Pancake rocks and blowholes. They really are a superb part of the country and I could possibly have spent a few more hours just sitting looking given time. The people at the iSite there were among the top I’ve met. They greeted me as I rode up, offered me to take my bike into their little outdoor coffee area for staff to keep an eye on it and then gave some great bits of advice for the days trip. The young lady in particular was interested in my bike and journey and it was great to see such a person dealing with the tourists passing through, of which there are hundreds. She does a lot to improve the tourists impression of us and I hope she gets rewarded accordingly, somehow I doubt it. I mention this as I’ve met more than my share of dour, sour faced staff in similar positions on the frontline with our tourists throughout my trip through NZ.

Pancake Rocks

Punakaiki Video

Blowhole video

Better Blowhole video

I love this video

I manage to drag myself away and slowly pedal up the hill and out of Punakaiki. The road heads inland briefly before hugging around the coast with the odd climb thrown in. You can become blasé about seeing such beauty over and over with each bay but I ride slowly and try to take it all in. It really is an astounding piece of coastline though and best seen live, photos don’t take in the sound and aura of the place.

Just some of the bays I cycled around

Eventually I come to a little town some 7km before Greymouth, everyone has been telling me what a dive Greymouth is and how I should avoid it and so I decide to stop here for a light lunch, to help make up my mind was the following advertising \240

Runanga, pleasant lady and a killer burger

I have to say that for a burger called the ‘plain burger’ and for $6 it turned out to be a ripper. I was expecting a stale bun with a measly greasy patty with a splodge of sauce but instead got a soft fresh bun stuffed with lettuce, onion, fresh tomato, mayo, sauce and a thick crispy beautifully cooked patty. It was a ripper and I told her so. The price has probably been raised now, so blame me if it has.

Mood better, hunger sated, I move on with gusto and soon reach the outskirts of Greymouth. It doesn’t look half bad from afar and if I’m honest it doesn’t look the other half bad as I pass through.

First glimpse of Greymouth

Crossing the bridge into Greymouth

Part of the wonderful cycle path around Greymouth

Having hacked my face to bits with an old blade the other day, I make a brief stop at the warehouse for a few new ones. Then I cycle up onto the new cycle path that leads around Greymouths river and then on around the ocean front. What an absolute treat and I have to say, that without stopping obviously, Greymouth looks to be rather a sweet little place with a lot of interesting history. The cycleway is top notch and the views, at least until you hit the industrial area, are most attractive. The only suggestion I’d have to the mayor is to knock down all this

Prime position ugliness

Talleys stealing great water frontage

and make it a market or somewhere that would attract the public. Seems such a waste of a prime spot. A chap on a large fishing boat calls out to me as I cycle past and asks about my journey. We chat for a bit and I learn that his boat has a crew of 6 and that they go out fishing for 6 days at a time. When I look at the boat again, it’s not so large that I’d want to be in such a confined space with 5 others for 6 days straight fishing.

Fishing boat

A little further in and I’m heading out of town along the coastal cycleway when I stop to take a picture, the following one actually

Greymouth Beach

when a lady pulls up beside me. She’s a dear old thing and chats away happily to me and as usual asks me all about the trip. In return, she cycles alongside me for half an hour and gives me a bit of history about the place and also about Kumara (where I’m heading) and it’s gold mining history. Margaret was bought up in Kumara on a gold mining family and as we cycle along side by side she imparts some wonderful stories of a bygone era. I’m quite sad when she decides to turn back for home. For 67 she is fit as a fiddle and was wonderful company.

Margaret from Greymouth

It is random people like Margaret they make this trip what it is, a wonderful adventure with some lovely surprises. I’ve been so caught up with chatting to Margaret that I miss Gerty the bikes big moment. She reaches her 5000th km birthday and so Bob and I stop briefly to toast her reliability.

Happy 5000th Gerty

Not much further on and a sign informs me that this is the beginning of the Wilderness Trail and let me just say from the 20 odd km I’ve done on it so far, it’s an utter doozy. Already up with my favourites in the country.

The Wilderness Trail

More from the trail

It’s not only stunning scenery but the path itself is well graded, litter free and just a pleasure to ride. I can only hope the rest of it tomorrow is as good.

West Coast Wilderness Trail Video

And more (video)

And more (video)

I reach Kumara and the trail is so good that I’m almost reluctant to stop. It’s lucky I do however as the day just keeps improving. If any of you are lucky enough to make it to Kumara, then let me just say you’re a fool if you don’t come and meet Kate and stay at her wonderful Greenstone Retreat. For a change of pace I opt for the caravan over a tent site for not a lot more $ and it’s a little beauty.

My Caravan for the night in Kumara ... sweet as any potato

Yes I know, lame joke, but give me a break, it’s late and I’m writing this drivel to help you sleep. Inside I have a wee gas cooker, all the crockery, cutlery, pots, pans and cooking paraphernalia one could hope to find. A little sink with a pump action water dispenser, a fridge, double bed, a plethora of powerpoints, lights heaters and the list goes on.

Short video of caravan

There is also a lovely shower and toilet block and another extensive kitchen for campers. Kate also provides an array of timned and packed foods at reasonable prices with an honesty box system. What an absolute star she is.

In need of a swim after the hot dusty ride, she guides me to a reservoir on a map. I duly ride out the 4km to said reservoir and am blown away by the biggest, warmest and most scenic swimming pool in the world. Best of all I have it all to myself. Not another soul around, just birds and me. I dip a toe hesitantly but needn’t have feared, it’s luke warm. I enjoy the most serene swim for around 40 mins and lying on my back staring up into the blue sky, could almost have been the 9 year old boy I once was, floating happily in our pool back in Sylvania Heights, Sydney. As I rode back into town I’m accosted by a rather frayed looking middle aged woman in the street. “Ya got any smokes” she half screeches at me. When I tell her I don’t as I don’t smoke, she blows up like Mount Vesuvius calling me an effing this and that and to eff off. I have already begun to cycle off after seeing the crazed look in her eyes, so most of her diatribe hits me in the back. Looney tunes everywhere .... don’t let it out you coming off Kumara though, most here are great, especially Kate.

Back at camp it’s dinner time and as I’ve exceeded budget on the caravan, it’s a freeze dried offering tonight. Gourmet Chicken Coq Au Vin no less and on a bed of herbed mashed potato. Sounds fancy and I’m here to vouch for it. It may have ended up looking like a sick cats upchuck but flavour wise it was spot on. I’m in the middle of preparing it when Kate arrives with some hand cured bacon for me to have for breakfast. I’d asked earlier if she sold sausages and she was aghast that she had none to offer. She had searched through her freezer and come up with bacon for me. It will go nicely with her fresh eggs in the morning.

My Gourmet Chicken Coq Au Vin

Showered and shaved with my new razor blade, it’s time for me to sign off. The shower block is also wonderful here and has lovely little touches like varnished driftwood used as toilet roll holders. It’s the little things thah make this place so lovely.

https://strava.app.link/8cAckrYLKU

Ahh yes, your goodnight today comes courtesy of a couple of reviewers of my blog. Click HERE for their opinions .... Goodnight

13
Hokitika

Wow !!! Now that my friends is a cycle path. How do I begin to describe that 😬

Last night turned into a bit of a saga with the crazy lady who asked me for smokes turning out to live next door to the camp. She indeed was on something and it was something strrrrrrong. Her boyfriend or partner or whatever he may be didn’t sound to be much better. At around 9.40pm some serious screaming (and I mean screeeaming) yelling and crashing started up. What made it even more disturbing was when she began to yell in a bloodcurdling scream “helllllllllp he’s trying to killlllll me”. Screams yells and thumps were unceasing and after 5 minutes indecision I headed over to where Kate the owner lives and arrived with another 2 guys from different parts of the camp. We urged her to take a listen and she could hear from her own place. Not sure whether to call the police or not, we left the decsion with her and went back to our respective dwellings. The noise went on unabated for around another 20 minutes until finally a cop car showed up and loud arguments erupted. I gather from Kate that they ended up taking the crazed lady away with them and things quieted down after that.

So onto today. I woke at the ungodly hour of 6.45 but managed to drift back off eventually for another hour and woke just after 8 again. Time for bacon and eggs and it was a nice change for breakfast from my porridge.

It looks a lot but everything is minature in a caravan

Post feast I take another shower, mainly because the bathrooms are so clean here and water pressure fairly good too. Refreshed, I conclude my packing and head on out of Kumara. The Wilderness Trail restarts a little way out of town and leads out past the reservoir I enjoyed swimming in yesterday. The is some slight but steady climbing during the morning with the odd steep rise and the mist hanging over the mountains above lend atmosphere to the ride.

That’s a new one for me

The reservoir

Today is your lucky day folks, yes I bravely did my own stunt cycling one handed to bring you a lot of video footage. (Mainly because I’m too slack to download, convert and edit the GoPro footage for you 😂)

Today’s start of the Wilderness Track Video - apologies for the GPS voice that yells at me

Now I have quite a few videos and pics from the track today because it was just that great. I’m not sure the footage will do it justice so you might all have to get off your chuffs and go for a ride. Take my word for it ... it’s worth the effort. But before we get to those, I’ve been looking out for a house for my good mate Grunter the mechanic during this cycle through NZ and today I’m proud to say I found him a beauty in Kumara.

Negotiations underway Grunter

A nice little do’er upper with plenty of potential, I’m sure you all agree.

Just so lovely to ride through

View after view

Video from the trail

Video from early in the day

Video from up in the hills (Video)

A little more uphill (Video)

The descent begins (1 handed just for you ... and note the steep drop to the right .. I sure did) (Video)

Just look at the forest ❤️

Now when I wasn’t going 1 handed for you trying to steer the bloody deadweight that is Gerty and her load whilst videoing with the phone, I was literally flying down and skidding to slow before the switchbacks. I don’t think I’ve had as much fun on a bike since I was 8 or 9 years old. I couldn’t even tell you what I enjoyed more, the exhilaration of the downhill with it’s winding right curves and switchbacks or the sheer beauty of the bush and the gnarled trees.

Excuse all the pics but I just loved this ride

Somewhere just after the top you emerge onto a clearing where 4 to 5 quarter finished buildings stand alongside 1 that is 4/5 finished. This my friends is the famed ‘Cowboys Paradise’ and it’s very hard to describe. Perhaps google does it best when I type it in and the first things that pops up is ‘lame and overpriced’

It is a retreat ... of sorts ... and a cafe / Accomodation and ummm playacting centre ?? Companies and groups are encouraged to come and stay to live their cowboy dream and ahh dress up as cowboys and cowgirls and shoot guns etc. it’s all very weird and the cafe has (I kid you not) 1 small slice and 1 (very) small bun for sale. When I point to the coffee blackboard menu and ask how much a mocha is, the baffled looking lady explains that they don’t have the proper coffee but I could make myself a cup of instant if I liked. I decline politely. It’s also a cash only business and I don’t have any ... not that I’d part with it here if I did.

Cowboys Delight

The one (sort of) finished building

Let’s be cowboys

They did at least have a view

There are many on the track today and at least 10 have pulled up before or just after me. None last very long and most of us cycle off with very confused looks on our faces. Just what the hell was that and why did I stop again ??? If that was cowboys delight, then anyone going to cowboys dispair is in some serious trouble.

I’m still shaking my head with disbelief when the next round of thrills begins. The downhills her even better and I wish I wasn’t lazy and you could see some of the GoPro footage. It really was too difficult to cycle 1 handed and go fast in that area. Just amazing scenery yet again and so much fun on the bike ... even fully loaded.

Coming down off the main track (video)

From here you follow a gravel road for several km alongside a river, then another small climb before leading down to Lake Kaniere, which as seems with most southern lakes is mouth openingly beautiful.

Lake Kaniere

Lake Kaniere

She’s a nice Lake

From here it’s back onto the trail and more scenery, so much so that the brain begins to overload. It’s been a lot of downhill and now there’s not only the river gleaming down below to my left, but the crystal clear water race just inches to my right. Again the track is just so enjoyable. You need to concentrate with all the twists and turns descending but it’s so much fun.

Video of Lake Kaniere Islands

Video of a very small part of the final descent (this is actually like a raised narrow path, the river is below and to the left)

Those various downhills from the time I left Cowboys Delight almost had me turning around to go back and do it all again. It was probably an hours worth before I was finally back out into the highway and each minute was treasured. Even the highway down into Hokitika continues to descend and make for an easy ride in. The only disappointment comes towards the end of the trail in the city itself where the final stages are riding along next to industrial buildings again taking up prime land next to the river.

I also manage to find Grunter a new car to park at his new house

Having noticed very dark clouds gathering I decide to ditch the camping idea at Lake Kaniere and push onto Hokitika. I ring the Warm Showers there and he kindly agrees to take me a day earlier than expected.

I’m not quite sure how to describe Kevin (no not you Kevin looking after my house) the Warm Showers host, he’s without doubt the oddest host I’ve had. This is partially explained by him being an ex scientist and without being mean, perhaps a little of the mad scientist in him. Again without meaning to be offensive, he is very long winded and gives replies that are on average 20 minutes long (should you be able to get a question in amongst his rambles)

Kevin is a details man and every story or answer comes with long detailed explanations involving atoms, molecules and such like. Before to long I’m aware of Hokitikas main soil make ups, every council blunder since 1957, every move he’s made against the campsite being erected in the land behind his house and given an in depth rundown on most of the cyclists who’ve stayed before me and how amazing his favourite German guy is who has been back 5 times. I take my hat off to the Deutchlander, he must be a true battler. Now Kevin is kind enough, but for the first time in a Warm Showers, I feel awkwardly out of place. I’m dead keen for a shower after my ride or at least to change out of my cycling gear but I’m kept pinned at the table down my level best to stifle yawns and maintain an interested look in his nonceasing monologue. I start to look like a goldfish as I open my mouth every few minutes to try and get a sentence, well ok, a word in.

Yes this is me

Finally I nktice something strange has happened, it’s all quiet and he’s now fixed me with an unnerving stare. Are you making dinner he asks, I mumble something about changing and going to town and he sighs deeply. You’ll just have to make do with what I have around here. Are you cooking ? And when I say that I really don’t want to be a bother and will pop into town, he sighs again and says he will cook. I protest that I can grab something in town for a 3rd time, but he’s off again on another tangent and I return to my goldfish impersonation.

In all fairness he cooks a damn good meal of steak, rice, onions and a lovely carrot & balsamic salad with tomato. I thank him profusely afterwards but am not sure I’m heard as he doesn’t pause to tell me. By now I’m an expert on council litigation and what wonderful bread the German made along with his fabulous meals. I also know why Hokitika flooded, why the old people’s home flooded, where every faultline south of Hokitika is and their expected days of shaking (don’t panic anyone down there, it’s around 225 years away) I swear the man has a scientific theory on everything and I detect a distinct dislike for the local council.

Again, I’m not trying to sound ungrateful, I truly am thankful for the meal and the roof over my head. He’s got my bike charging and at times is quite nice. It’s just the unerring feeling that he wishes I was the German guy. He would do this, he would do that. Even when I hop up and do the dishes unbidden, I’m told between scientific explanations for the colour of water, that the German would have known exactly where to put away the dishes without asking. I’m starting to dislike the poor German chap and I’ve never even met him.

As worn out as the cycle made me, Kevin has my head spinning. It’s dark and after 9.30 before I stand and back away as he continues to proffer theories on evolution, carparks and whatever else flows into his concious. I end up under the shower and it’s a blessed relief. His last comment to me was that he feels I have a short attention span and he’s actually probably on the money with that one. When I used to sell cars I could have entire conversations with customers who I had nothing in common with and look interested in what they were saying with ease. My workmate, Phil used to come up to me afterward and ask how I did it, and sometimes what the conversion was all about. Inevitably I’d answer that I had no idea, I hasn’t really been listening, my mind was away with cricket, rugby league or music. Hopefully I pulled it off today.

https://strava.app.link/3JSh8xzsMU

Anyhow, I’m now in my room and it’s time to get some sleep. I know you’re all waiting for your goodnight but I’m just too worn out for it tonight, and if you click HERE you’ll see what I think about that ...

14
Harihari

I wake up from heading Kevin clumping down the hallway at about 7.30. It’s an older house and noise tends to travel through it. I give myself another half hour psyching myself up for the verbal onslaught and then head out to the kitchen. Kevin seems a little put out at first and then it becomes clear as he explains in detail how the German was always up before him and had the tea made. I sit timidly at the table and am grateful for my tea as he winds into the mornings issues. First up is the recap of his troubles with the campground being built over his back fence. They certainly aren’t on his Christmas card list and I feel he needs another visit from his German friend to sort them out. He picks up his camera and disappears out into the drizzly morning giving my ears a brief respite. I can’t think what he’s doing but have no doubts I’ll get a detailed explanation on his return. This I do, when he waltzes back in looking triumphant. “I think I have them now” he exclaims, “they are putting in a another toilet block and I’ve got photos. He then gives me the extra long winded explanation of how many toilet blocks mean how many people can camp there. He has been collecting data for weeks and has notebooks and wads of photos. He’s off to the council soon, armed with his 8 x 10 coloured glossy prints as evidence. I am reminded of THIS (click the ’this’ mum ... it’s a long ’this’ ... a bit like sitting with Kevin ... although ‘this’ is more entertaining).

I make the fatal mistake of asking a question about his past work life and then fear that I may be around 60 before he gets to the answer and I can depart for the day. I give up on being asked if I’d like breakfast and down 3 cups of tea while nodding to a constant barrage of conversation. I back down the hallway and commence packing while Kevin continues on his work history and every issue Fontera has and how ridulous they were to make his position in the company redundant. Apparently his last role was as mentor for the younger ones being employed. I can only imagine what they went through ... I briefly wonder if Kevin made it to bed last night or was outside my door still talking.

Finally I’m packed and ready to leave (escape), I received an email this morning from my newly acquired Westport relative suggesting that the favoured German may be tied up somewhere in the house and she is fearing for my own safety. Kevin is still explaining the intricacies of babies milk powder and throwing in a few changes he would make to the recipe when I’m on my bike and going down the drive. I feel a bit rude as I wave goodbye but I really don’t have an extra week to spare him. I pass by the council building and wonder whether I should forewarn them of Kevs imminent arrival with notebooks of documentation on the goings on in the campground being built and dozens of ”8 x 10 coloured glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explainin' what each one was, to be used as evidence against them.”

I’m a little harsh to be honest, he did mean well and I appreciate the rooms and last nights meal and it must be lonely for him, although being the only warm showers in Hokitika, he has a lot of guests.

Kevin from Hokitika

Even though it is lightly drizzling and I’d planned to have a day off in Hokitika, it is a relief to be away and I decide on a celebratory breakfast as by now I’m starving. People have been telling me of the wonders of Hokitika in comparison to Greymouth and I have to say I find it no better and slightly more touristy and expensive. Every second shop is selling jade carvings or painted stones at top dollar and they seem to be doing a brisk trade. I have a brief look for an eel but as usual nothing doing. If I’d supported the sharks or roosters I’d have found something in every town.

I have a ‘big’ breakfast that is nice without being the advertised big. A quick circuit of the local streets is enough to tell me its time to move on.

Very True

Lots of money to be made here

Should have kept my vinyl .. Gerty is keen for a new look

I HATE !!! this app. 3 hours of writing last night and it’s deleted the rest of today’s blog. I will rewrite it when I have time. If anyone knows a better app where I can do the blog with videos and pics, let me know. the following will be rushed and not as good as it flows out of me at the time .. so sorry, \240but blame the stoopid app makers. Here goes again ...

I cycle aimlessly around Hokitika for a while looking at the endless touristy shops. The breakfast was nice without being the advertised ‘big’. Note - just because a breakfast has several different items doesn’t make it big, now if they had 2 of everything, it would have been big and after all, it did feel like I had paid for 2 of everything. At least the coffee was hot, can’t stand cafes that give you a luke warm coffee.

View from the bridge out of Hokitika

Crossing the Hokitika bridge

At first I think I am going to be consigned to cycling along next to the motorway all day but soon after the bridge I veer off onto the newest and last stretch of The Wilderness Trail through to Ross. Just when I thought the wonderful forest scenery was all done, I’m treated again to a fabulous finale of magical trees. It reminds me again of being a little lad and I almost feel as though I’m cycling through one of Enid Blytons enchanted forests. I could swear I just swept past the Magic Faraway Tree. There are a few little up and downs but nothing too worrying and cruise along without need of the battery all the way to Ross.

Just an amazing trail to cycle

Love the little switchbacks and curves

All part of the fun

Remains of an old flax / timber mill

As I’m passing through some of the thicker forest of trees I come across a very old bike parked on the side of the trail. I’m about to stop and take a photograph when I notice a tarpaulin stretched between trees a little way in. To my shock I then realise a filthy little old man is squatting to do his business just to the left and not far away. It seems he camping / living here. I hurriedly remount and pedal away with THIS tune in my head. The following are 3 videos of the last of the Wilderness Trail. They should give you a rough idea of why it’s possibly my favourite track completed so far.

Wilderness Trail 1

Wilderness Trail 2

Wilderness Trail 3

It is just an enchanting magical ride and no matter your age, I suggest you head over to do it. There is just an aura about the place when you are alone in the middle of it. I pass the treetops canopy walk which is basically a series of platforms and bridges create high up above the treetops of the local forest. It runs for about 500m amd for the privilege you need to part with around $33. Having done a similar activity in Tasmania I don’t feel the need to participate, especially today when in all likelihood you’d only see a foggy mist. For those interested in knowing more, click HERE

Around 10km short of Ross the trail turns onto the highway again briefly before switching back off into a wider gravel road that leads all the way across to the main road into town. Along this road I briefly stop for a drink and to polish off a blueberry muffin bought back in Hokitika. As I gaze around me an inquisitive weka pokes it’s head out of the scrub beside the trial and wanders right up to Bob who is quite alarmed being helplessly strapped into his seat. I think I’ve been quick enough to video the episode but unfortunately didn’t click on the start button. The weka rushes back to safety as I curse my luck then again heads towards Bob. I catch it the second time but it is more cautious and I wish I’d got it foret up

Bob makes a new friend (Video)

Bob is none too pleased that I just stood there videoing when he felt his life was in mortal danger. He confides that he felt that the weka thought he was roadkill and an easy meal. The last few km into Ross are not nearly as spectacular as the previous few days. The sides of the trail here are gorse and broom. I’m sure they will eradicate this in the future and replant natives. It’s a small gripe from a terrific trail.

As I cycle along the Main Street of Ross I hear my name being called and swivel around to see 3 cyclists I’d met several times along the trail yesterday. There are 2 ladies and one of their husbands cycling the trail together having been driven over by the other husband who was acting as a support driver along the way. Each day he would meet them at a designated long and have a wonderful meal prepared for them. This is the way to do it I realise and propose that now they have completed the trail that he step up and do the same for me for the rest of my journey. Sadly he declined. They are lovely people (I’m obliged to say that as they now have a link to this blog poor buggers) and I’ve rudely gone and forgotten their names. I’ve met so many people along this trail and I’ve never been great at remembering names. As my old staff will recall in my pizza restaurant, I could never remember customers names but knew them by their order. “Oh that’s old salami, peperoni, onion and double cheese“. Quite often customers stopped me to chat in a mall or the street and when asked by friends later, who was that? I could only give them an order. Ummm that’s old ham egg and double anchovy.

I utilise the park since they know my name

Anyway, I digress as usual. I wasn’t actually planning to stop but as my big breakfast was disappointingly ‘medium’, I decide to have a coffee with them and am tempted into a homemade pie of mince and cheese. It fills the gap and we sell a few cycling stories before I decide I must move on. They are heading back to Christchurch and begin loading the Ute. The designated driver kindly takes a snap of us and here it is. I hope they forgive my memory.

My new Christchurch friends whose names now escape me 🤭

I’ve been told about an old goldmine I should see whilst in Ross and so I pedal up around the corner and I can only assume that it’s now filled with water and I see nothing else resembling a mine in the area I’ve been directed to.

Possible old gold mine but most likely not

Whatever the case, it’s fortunate I came around here as I not only stumble upon the actual official end of the Wilderness Trail but also meet a lovely German couple touring through the country on bikes. Ironically noticing my ortlieb panniers he queries me if I’ve had any problems as he has just lost a screw from his. I donate him one of my spares gifted to me by Lee back in Westport and he is chuffed. He says they will visit when passing back up north. As it’s now past 3.30 I decide I had best be off but am again distracted by a local who begins to chat to me as I attempt to head off. He’s a real character and offers to show me the local pub which “is NOT to be missed”. It’s actually very true, it shouldn’t be missed ! It is a real walk back into a time gone by and a massive treat I could eaily have missed. He shows me around and tells me wonderful stories of glorious nights passed in the local as we sit by a roaring fire.. A friend of his joins us and adds to the growing collection of stories. It’s a rare insight into the history of the town and a harder way of life.

The fabulous huge old fireplace

The Ross Pub

Many a rollicking tune belted outnon this

The Old Ross Bar and my local mate

Ross pubs old cash register

I’m somewhat stunned when I realise the time when I finally drag myself away from the comfortable chair near the fire. I’d could have happily remained all evening as these stories being told are far more to my liking than Kevin’s monologues. These have been told with humour, drama and suspense. Each I’m sure a legend that is exaggerated with every telling. They give me a bone shattering handshake and then I’m shocked to step out into near darkness. It’s only around 4.45pm but they clouds have gathered and look ominous. For the first time in either Island, I feel compelled to turn on both front and rear lights to give traffic as much warming I’m around as possible.

The rest of the day is on the highway except for a brief period down a rough gravel road that thankfully doesn’t puncture a tyre. As I’m cycling along in the middle of nowhere a school bus rumbles up to a stop and a boy of around 14 or 15 climbs off and hauls a bike out of a hedge nearby and begins what looks like a long cycle down a very long road / driveway into the distance. He gives a wave as I pass by.

Not much further on, just as I hit the highway a slight drizzle begins to settle in and I stop to throw my jacket on. Close to an hour later I pull into Pukekura where I’m told the camp, cabins and owner are all lovely. This turns out to be correct but as the drizzle has lightened I’m tempted to push on, especially given the forecast for heavy rain tomorrow. Katie the lovely owner is not at all upset by this and actually goes to the trouble of ringing ahead to Harihari to see if they have rooms and for what price. She books me in and then gives me a few tips to see on the way. She is just so nice that I feel very guilty at not staying. I’m not too far on past here when both the rain and traffic intensifies. I’ve never seen so many double trailered tankers in my life. It almost feels like a tanker rally as they sweep past. All are considerate as are most cars, swinging wide to give me a good berth.

Bob makes yet another friend at Pukekura

The drizzle is now rain and my light jacket is no match for it as it begins to drive down. Having used very little if any battery during the day I now feel entitled to switch it on and even kick it up to a rare second level as I feel the wetness of every item I’m wearing. To be fair, after the glories of the last few days cycling, being out on the highway in traffic is none to fun. I do pass the lovely Lake Ianthe at which I’d originally planned to tent at the doc camp. It looks lovely but I’m in no mood for tenting in the rain. It does briefly lift long enough for me to take a couple of pics and then starts again as soon as I move off.

Lake Ianthe

Other half of Lake Ianthe

I begin to count down the remaining km on my speedo and give silent thanks as each one clicks off. I don’t usually mind cycling in the rain, but it’s heavy now and it’s also been a long day. I’m not usually cycling past 6pm. I cross a last bridge over a gloriously blue river and force myself to stop for a picture. Somehow they never come out as blue as in real life.

It’s more blue when you’re actually there

Nearly at Harihari

A lake Ianthe video that should have been posted back further

I pull into Harihari and give a silent shout of joy. Not far along the main road I pull into the Harihari Hotel where I meet Tracey the Publican, Hotel and backpackers owner. She politely and efficiently checks me in and then produces a map to show me to my room. This is quite necessary as the place is just huge. I make my way around to my room and begin to unload the bike. Sure it’s nothing flash but it’s an actual room, spotlessly clean and it has a PowerPoint and 2 comfy beds which I push together to allow my bike to squeeze in as Tracey suggested. All this for less than the price some campgrounds charge to put up a tent.

My Harihari room

Gerty and Bob are rapt with the arrangement

Being cold and wet I drag myself to the shower which is all of a door away. Given the price I’m again surprised to find that the showers are perfectly clean, the water pressure is solid and best of all there is lots of hot water. I feel a lot better after this and in good spirits decide I’ve earnt a cold beer. Being that a jug is so much better value than a handle and lasts a good deal longer, I opt for that and take a seat at a quiet table. A young chap introduces himself and politely asks if he can take the other end of the table. I’ve no objections and then another couple of locals do the same. As I’m enjoying my beer I notice a couple of mains being served and it’s about then that I realise that freezedry food isn’t in the menu any longer tonight. I wander up to the counter just to ‘look’ at the menu and return with a sirloin steak with roast veges and a mushroom sauce in the pipeline. This is the country pub meal I’ve been waiting for and I’m glad I rejected the mortgage inducing offerings at Punakaiki. I wish I’d taken a photo of it now as it was a fair plateful and at a decent price. The steak was beautifully cooked, a decent size and no fat. On top was a wonderful homemade mushroom sauce complete with actual thick sliced sautéed mushrooms. To the side lies a decent portion of roast veges, potatoes, cauli and pumpkin with a decent smothering of a great cheese sauce. It’s the meal I’ve dreamed of for about a week. To hell it down I refill my jug and spend the next 3 hours alternately chatting to the locals at my table. Jim and Shona (I think 🤐) are good company and again have some good tales to tell. Both are in their 60s but don’t look a day over 50. Must be the good country living. The young chap and his aunt, Ruth (got that name right) have a good natured rivalry over several games of pool. Ruth works at the hotel and we later have a good discussion on depression from which she has also suffered.

There is a darts and cards competition on here tonight. Apparently it’s bi weekly in conjunction with another pub around half an hours drive away. Later on in the night Tracey provides nibbles for them and kindly brings half a dozen chicken nibbles to me on a napkin. It’s very kind and although I’ve had a big meal, it was several hours ago and I have no problem with them. Another 30 minutes later she reappears with a plate laden high with more chicken nibbles and little beef \240nacho style nuggets. This load would have been enough to feed 5 hungry cyclists and even after 4 of us remaining at the table have a decent crack at it, it’s still half full. It’s been a good night, a little reminiscent of my night back in Hunterville but minus the shearers. Everyone is happy and friendly from Tracey the owner right down to the young chap who helps in the kitchen. All stop and have a chat and the locals make you feel right at home. It’s the kind of place I love to stumble across.

The plate AFTER we have attacked it

Tracey, Ruth and some yobbo that wouldn’t leave

Close to 11.30 Tracey begins to close down and although not quite finished with the blog I ready myself to leave. She kindly shows me to an area that still receives wifi in a small lounge and says I can hang around there as long as I need. I finish off the blog and whilst waiting for it to upload read the big display in the foyer on Guy Menzies, the first ever solo person to pilot a plane from Australia to NZ, Charles Kingford Smith having had a crew. It was a fascinating read given that he crash landed mere metres down the road from the pub. Again if you want to know more, clIck HERE

Having thought the blog was loaded I wen offt to bed, and we all know how that ended up... no blog. Well here it is done again and if disappears this time ... so will I !!!

https://strava.app.link/vQlfYuUFPU

Strava buggered up again for a few km and no I didn’t ride in a direct line out of Ross cross county through paddocks of cattle and electric fences. What is it with these apps 😡😡😡

It was so late that I apologised for not offering you a goodnight but I did suggest you click HERE for some good advice and that I’d try and have one tomorrow (which is actually tonight now)

Ok on to today, see you tomorrow, which is actually today if you get what I mean ... and if you don’t, this is the end of the 5th of March and I’m about to go and write today’s, the 6th .... oh nevermind, you’ll figure it out \240

15
Franz Josef Glacier

Hello, so you found your way to the 6th, which is actually today as I write this, well, tonight, now actually.

I had a bit of a sleep in to 8.30 this morning. Good stuff that southern beer and a fully tummy of food. I look out my window and though there is no blue sky, the cloud seems high enough for me to be able to cycle through to Franz Josef and remain dry. Given the forecast I had been contemplating staying here another night to wait it out given the outstanding value of the place but I decide to take my chances and move on. To see how that decision panned out, click HERE

I give myself my now usual brekky of porridge and coffee sitting alone in the wee provided kitchen and suffering through a part episode of Ellen. What an entirely awful show that is. A load of screaming middle aged American women who act as though though they have been locked away in a sterile room on a sugar and tomato sauce diet for several months. Ellen only has to begin to say something or even just stand up and they begin to scream, screech, wail and yell as though she’s about to announce a cure for cancer. HERE is a typical session. Apologies to Ellen lovers ... actually no I’m not, HOW do you sit through that ???

Anyway, I manoeuvre Gerty back outside and load her up. Bob politely thanks me for allowing him to spend the night inside for a change. We head around front and hand back the key to Tracey. She informs me that the blog did put her to sleep as I’d predicted it would but I’d at pains to say that it was in a good way. I wonder if I should believe that 😉😂.

I backtrack briefly to take a look at the craft shop I’d raced past last night in my hurry to get dry. It’s a lovely old place run by nice lady who chats to me for a bit. Her son is on all the lifesize cutouts at Franz Josef pointing this way and that. I promise to take a pic with him if I make it out to the glacier (and do but you aren’t seeing it as I look like a drowned rat and a total mess). I don’t buy anything as A) I don’t have any room to carry anything and B) I don’t have any money. You can donate to me HERE

Boot garden at the front of the gift shop

More boots

I bet you believed me didn’t you, go on admit it, you thought it was a link to my bank account. As it is, I don’t need a give a little bit page, I need a give a lot page ... but anyway on with the day.

Just on the edge of town to the right is the lovely rsa building and display which is worth a quick look

and a little further down is the display and aircraft of the esteemed Guy Menzies I mentioned yesterday. Don’t bother going back, I’ll remind you HERE. Guy was the first person to fly solo across the Tasman and has both a park and building containing his plane dedicated to him. It’s well worth a quick look

A dashing young Guy

Can’t say I’d be keen to fly it trans Tasman

As I pedal out of town the first few spits of rain begin to fall. I look up but it still doesn’t seem that bad. 20km later with low dark cloud obscuring any chance of views and the rain is driving down. Once again I’m only in the light jacket and am soon soaked to the bone. I consider the heavy jacket but I’m already soaked and it’s still quite warm.

First lake of the day ... and the only visible one for hours

I come across a lot of cyclists heading each way today and the traffic is also consistently busy. I’m considerably surprised by the amount of cars on the road today, not to mention the endless procession of camper vans. It’s a fairly bleak ride if I’m honest. Not much to see with the cloud so low and a constant rain to dampen the spirits.

I take the odd pic during rain breaks, of which there are few. I do pass over another very blue lake and try to capture its beauty for you

Sadly again, you can’t really see the true blue .. as it were. Just down the road I’m bought to a half by a lovely lady with a stop sign. She appears to be a maori lady of about 60 and in addition to her stop sign she has a comfy chair and an umbrella. I really should have asked for her pic. She calls up the other side on her Walkie Talkie and I’m given the go ahead. I ask if she’d like to jog alongside with the umbrella as it’s now pouring again and she cackles delightedly. It’s the clearing of the large slip over the road that’s holding things up and I stop for a quick pic

I feel a little guilty a minute later as I round the bend and see a line of vehicles that have all been stopped to allow me passage through.

View to Mt Hercules from the road

The only major climb of the day is up Mt Hedcules and though a rather foreboding name, it’s not as bad as I fear. I give the electrics their first task of the day and Tane and Mahuta are in sync today. I’m talking to my mate Rodge the Dodge on the phone as I hit the start and soon say my goodbyes to save my breath.

Almost got the blue

I roll into Whataroa mid afternoon and it seems like this is where the cycling tourists congregate. There are no less than 9 already here and all are munching down burgers. If you can’t beat them join them and I demolish a fish burger that isn’t too shabby. The others seem settled in to wait out the rain but I’ve doubts it will stop and I’m keen to get somewhere I can stop for the night. I make my way on and only stop briefly for a picture here and there when the mists allow.

What a roa

I finally pull up at the Franz Josef Top 10 and am made aware that it’s called this as only the Top 10 income earners in NZ can afford a cabin here. $90 for a basic cabin and it’s not even right in town ... are you bloody kidding me ??? I just had a room I could have stayed in for 4 nights for that price in Harihari. He then offers a half flooded tent spot for $30. I laugh until I realise he’s actually being serious. I move on into Franz Josef town itself and having tried every accomodation in town can now guarantee you I have the cheapest room going at $80.00

This town is a shocking rip off to be fair. and if you have a car I suggest you just drive on through. Even the glacier is barely worth a look anymore but I’ll get to that soon. I’m stunned by the amount of people here. It’s simply crazy. The place is packed to the gunnels and down to a man it’s tourists. Buses flow back and forth and camper vans line the streets. In the small town sidewalks are heaving even in the pouring rain. Outrageously priced cafes and bars are full to overflowing. It’s beyond my comprehension.

I pack my gear into my room. Set the heater in full to dry a few things and then decide that because I’m already saturated I might as well just head on over the 4km track to see the glacier. Now credit where credit is due, they have made a wonderful cycle trail through rainforest out to the Franz Josef carpark. Here once again it is bedlam. In the pouring rain people are wandering around like an ant colony and cars, motorhomes and buses do battle for parks and turning circles.

Lovely cycle path to Franz Joseph

There are no such issues for cyclists as a provided bike shelter is a lovely touch. Even better is the fact that I’m the only one nutty enough to cycle out here today it seems. I park up and begin the 45 minute trek across a wet track to the glacier face. I’ve been here once before in 1990 with some friends I’d gone to school with and again with a mate back in around 95. I walk at a brisk pace overtaking the many tourists ambling along. Some of the Asian’s amaze me. It’s a muddy track in pouring rain and here they are looking as though they are about to be ushered in to the opera. I’ve never seen people wear (once) fluffy shoes and suits and ties to walk over a rough track before. Ladies all dolled up in fancy clothes that I’ve no doubt will be looking a whole lot worse in an hours time. Still, they seem unfazed as they stumble off up the rocky track.

I walk past a couple of waterfalls that I vividly remember and am hopeful that the glacier will be viewable even given the cloudy misty conditions.

Franz Josef Waterfall

And another

Waterfall video

From the waterfall on though, everything has changed over passing time. I’ve heard that the glacier has receded but am stunned to see just how far. I’m literally hit for a 6 or for you non crickeers, I’m flabbergasted. I come to a sign placed at where I stood right on the edge of the glacier all those years ago. I look way ahead out to where the poor shadow of itself now ends and feel a great sorrow. It won’t be all that long now and the mighty river of ice will be all gone. It’s around a half a kilometre further back from where I stand gaping. You no longer have to walk across to the glacier face but actually climb up to it. I’m shocked and somewhat sad as I finally reach the viewing point. As I say, it’s a mere shadow of what it once was and in only half my lifetime. I’m almost scared to try and see the Fox tomorrow.

Hard to think I stood here right on the edge of the glacier, now it’s not in view

Icy River

A mere shadow of itself

Franz Josef

The foreground was once also glacier

In a few years it will be all that’s left

Franz Video

Franz Video 2

Excuse all the photos and videos, as I say I was just gobsmacked at the change. I was actually quite heavy hearted heading back to the bike. Like I had lost a friend in a way. I had great memories of this place and it feels that has been taken away.

The cycle back to town is all downhill and by now I’m aching for a hot shower and dry clothes. I call into the 4Square and buy some sausage on special to go with my freeze dry risotto. Back at my little room I lay out my wet gear in front of the heater and set off for a shower. Most disappointing ! Luke warm at very best, it barely raises my body temperature. This place like everywhere in town is utterly packed. I’m seemingly the oldest here by a good 20 years and all honesty it’s my least favourite place in the whole of New Zealand I’ve traveled this far. O have to walk past dorm rooms to reach the toilets and showers and late teens to early twenty somethings lie about in their underwear talking absolute trash with music (I think is anyway) blaring. I may be getting old, but certainly don’t remember carrying on as if I owned a place at that age. It’s the era of self entitlement and no consideration. I like the staff here at the Rainforest Retreat but that’s about it.

When I go to the shared kitchen to cook my sausages I can barely make my way in for the throngs of people. I consider coming back later when I overhear a girl saying it was like this until past 9 last evening (why she’s here a 2nd day I’ll never know). I force my way inside using a couple of Parramatta fends (back when we could play) and wait 10 minutes before thrusting my pan onto a gas ring that is only half vacated. No time for politeness in here.

As empty as it gets .. and you can only see the half of them

I cook them up and looks around for a sink to wash the pan. No surprise, all are taken. As a girl stands chatting away about her love life to another couple I surreptitiously slip my pan amongst her mountain of dishes. If she’s going to block the works up then another pan at the end won’t hurt. Once glance is enough to tell me I won’t get a seat anywhere so I head back to my room and enjoy sausages with wild mushroom risotto. It’s filling and not half bad. I have enough left for another dose tomorrow.

The rest of the evening has been spent drying clothes, enjoying one beer during happy hour at the onsite bar and filling out this damn blog from both last night (againnnnnn) and tonight.

Now that I am up to date and you are well and truly bored. I will leave you until tomorrow

https://strava.app.link/K4OQ4hNQPU

And just in case you don’t think I’ll be here tomorrow, click HERE

Goodnight all

16
Pine Grove Motel

Note -: Tonight I am staying in an area with next to no internet coverage. I will endeavour to upload the text and you will have to (well if you want to) revisit tomorrow or thereafter to see pics, videos amd links from the day ... ok, as you were

It’s a tired and groggy cyclist that greets you today from the middle of nowhere around halfway between Franz Josef and Haast, actually it’s not quite halfway as I have a longish 90 odd km ride tomorrow to make it to Haast.

I had little to no sleep last night which really infuriates me as I paid $80 for the tiniest cabin with barely room to fart. My wet cycling clothes stunk the place out in barely under a minute. In a desperate attempt to gain maximum value from my $80 I blasted the little fan heater on full volume and scattered my sopping clothes and shoes in front of it. It worked like a little Trojan and within a couple of hours my total ensemble were omce again dry if not a little smelly.

I guess as it was the last little cabin left available when I arrived it’s no surprise that it was the worst positioned one in the entire complex. Smack bang next to the kitchen and stairs up to the only bathroom / shower block available to dorm rooms. It amazes me at what time people went in to cook and have rowdy meal sessions. To be fair, I love my food also but I’ve not in recent memory gone to a kitchen and clanged about with pots and pans after 3am. The young ones sit outside at covered tables and commence bragging, chatting up any person in range and generally making as much noise as possible. I get an unobstructed broadcast through the thin walls of my cabin and try as I might, sleep won’t come. As a backbeat to the incessant babble of noise eminating from the kitchen, there is a constant thumping up and down of the stairs as people trot back and forth to the toilet. It’s just after 4 when I last recall the time.

You’d think once asleep I’d try to catch up late with a checkout of 10am but the next lot of noise awakens me not so bright but early at just before 6. People are up and leaving and they aren’t too fussy who knows about it. Slamming boots and doors, yells of did you pack this or that amd again the flow back and forth to the toilet. I try to roll over and sleep but by 7 have given up. I just lie there in a daze and think about the 3 large upcoming climbs to get me out of this place. My fond memories of Franz Josef are now a distant haze. I trot off to the kitchen and endure another session of rugby league training in the course of making my coffee and porridge. There’s actually a free seat but the noise in here after only 2 hours sleep is beyond my tolerance level pre coffee. I mute it by 30% by returning to my room to eat.

Still determined to scrounge out the value from my $80 I revisit the showers but the temperature has not improved from yesterday and I pass on them. I then use the remaining time before checkout to reply to emails and purchase a new dishwashe for my rental property via phonecalls to Harvey Norman. I make sure it’s bang on the checkout time of 10am before evacuate the place. In some ways it’s a bit of cutting the old nose to spite the face as I’m all honesty I can’t wait to leave the town. It’s not the quaint little backwater I remember from many years ago.

Let’s get out of Franz

There have been a few strong showers this morning but as I take my leave the cloud have lifted, if not gone away and it looks to be dry for the next hour at least. I pass through the town and drop down over the single lane bridge out of Franz. If ever I am back it will only be to pass through.

Clouds shroud the surrounding mountains again blocking views. I don’t mind too much as it lends its own kind of atmosphere to the scenery. Not too far past Franz I’m slammed into reality by the first of 3 steepish climbs. It’s early on in the day and so the first of these is conquered with relatively minor strain. As I don’t know what these mountains (if indeed they are mountains) are called, I decide to rechristen them as I reach the summit of each. The first I give the name ‘awaken’ as I’m still sluggish and groggy but by the time I reach the top all blood cells, pores and joints are fully alive once more. The drop down is as always a treat and I hit just over 60 whilst staying in the wake of a vehicle ahead. I end up having to brake a great deal as he corners ahead of me, else find myself giving him a nudge up the rear. My bike takes steep downhill corners a lot better than motor vehicles it seems.

Video over the Bridge out of Franz

Up the first hill

Is that blue I see

Fox Town

Fox town

The next mountain / hill is a little steeper although not as far to climb as we haven’t dropped down completely from the previous ‘Mt Awaken’. The battery is getting a fairly good old serve this morning but even so, there are rumblings of discontent from Tane & Mahuta who are admirably ploughing ahead. At the top of peak 2 I decide that its new name shall be Mt Middling as not only is at at the centre of the 3, but it’s also in the middle range of difficulty of climbs I’ve had through the country, not too hard, not too easy.

The main challenge with these 3 peaks is that they come one straight after the other without any breather on a little length of straight road between to regain ones energy. The final climb begins after another stretch of decent rapid descent, this time reaching speeds of just on 65km as I end up back down almost to sea level once more.

The last of the 3 rears ahead of me and is by far the steepest of all. To add to the challenge is that by being last, you’ve already expended a fair amount of energy on the previous two. Even from the beginning the incline looks and feels to be the steepest on my entire journey. One feels that an elevator would be more apt than a road. Cars, motorhomes and trucks pass with most waving out or tooting encouragement. Tane & Mahuta are no longer on speaking terms with me as I steadfastly refuse to use the 3rd level of 4 battery assist levels. I’ve never had to use anything over the 2nd on a road and I stubbornly remain on 2nd now. The burn is really making itself felt in both calves and thighs and by the time I’m at the top, which feels like an agonising eternity later, although we’ve had not a single drop of rain, I’m drenched. This time with sweat. I pause briefly at the top to unzip my jacket and lower the body temperature. Here I rename the final peak ‘Mt You Utter Bastard’ or Mt Yub for short. Although not as long as many climbs I’ve had, the incline is so steep at times, it made itself felt.

As expected after such a climb, the descent into Fox is fantastic. It’s really a wonderful feeling to whiz down a hill with no physical exertion required. The mental energy is elevated however as you need to remain so vigilant at these speeds to not only corner at the right angles by taking the correct lines but to avoid any rocks, potholes or other dangers that lurk on the road and could pose massive injury threats or possibly death. I feel it could be easy to hit something and fall prey to oncoming traffic should you be lax on the way down.

As it is, I have a real blast and the thrill of speed combined with cornering never grows old. My brakes get their biggest test as I roar into the centre of Fox Township and hurriedly pull up for a brief look. I’m rather pleased to see that unlike its big brother Franz, Fox seems to have remained its quieter self. A few shops here and there and the odd vehicle parked along the street. Nothing of the bedlam of Franz is visible. A coffee sounds great and I feel as though I’ve earnt it, so stop at a small cafe for a breather. I’m quietly pleased as several people come up to me while I’m there and mention they passed me slogging up one or other of the hills and congratulate my effort. One couple in a large motorhome say they passed me on Mt Yub and felt as though they weren’t going to get up themselves let alone expect me to make it. I let them in on the fact it’s an E bike but after trying to lift it and failing, they are impressed none the less.

Just past Fox I turn off on the bike path to the carpark for the glacier. A sign warns me that it’s closed at the slip and I won’t be able to travel the full way but as it’s early I decide to go for a look anyway. I’m glad I do ! The cycle trail is yet another delightful path through rainforest that weaves in and out of more majestic trees. When I reach the blockage I take a walk over the elderly wooden swingbridge and although I can’t see the glacier from here, I spend some time just taking in the views and watching the glacial river flow rapidly beneath me. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the colours of the Lakes and Rivers down here.

Majestic trail out to Fox Glacier

What a beautiful spot to hit 1000km in the South

The Road to Fox Glacier

Old swingbridge before Fox Glacier

River down off the Fox

I like the river ... ok

Bastards

Picture yourself cycling through this

After retracing my path I come back out onto the highway briefly before coming across a second road that leads up to an apparent viewpoint of Fox Glacier. I hummm and haaa briefly before bowing to the pressures you lovely readers thrust upon me (not really .. but it sounds good doesn’t it) and head on up a dirt road that climbs steadily for around 4km to a tiny wee signposted gap in the bush that indeed looks out to a Fox Glaxier that had I come this time yesterday would have been completely out of a Pink Floyd ALBUM (Spoiler - there will eventually be a link here to Pink Floyd ‘Obscured by Clouds’) I take the obligatory photos for you all and am pleased to see it still looks half decent, even from this far back. I reflect now that maybe Franz is so busy as the access to Fox is completely blocked apart from by helicopter.

It’s the Fox

Fox Glacier from afar

The best Fox Glacier Video I can manage

Having now revised my intended schedule several times, I look ahead on a brilliant app called CamperMate and ring ahead to a little place called Pine Grove Motel in, well, as far as I can tell, a place called Pine Grove. They say they have tent sites or cabins available and at half the price of anywhere at Franz or Fox. I decide to aim for there as a first plan and reevaluate on arrival. It’s a further 35 km odd which at the least will give me a total of around 67km for the day which is acceptable, especially given the climbs of the morning. Anything under 50 feels a little lazy.

The rest of the way there and indeed I’m assuming for the next few days, is on State Highway 6. This afternoons run was mainly a slight downhill with brief bumps just to remind Tane & Mahuta they are there for a purpose. The traffic now I’m past the glaciers is not as full on but the most concerning moments come not from the vehicles passing me from behind but those that suddenly decide to make an overtaking manoeuvre and bare down on me headon. Several times I’m about to launch myself into a ditch or hedge to my left when they finally swerve back in. It’s a fairly unnerving experience and not one I overly enjoy. I feel as though I’m in a game of ‘chicken’ and there’s only going to be one likely winner. It’s easy to see at times how cyclists are killed out here.

Random view from the road

New toll on my bridge ... pay up

Another single lane bridge

Getting Dark again

At around 3.30 I’m almost right past Pine Grove Motel before I’ve even noticed it. No warning signs ahead that this place exists, stay vigilant people. I haul on the brakes but even so, have to circle back to the drive entry. I’m in two minds whether to stay or push on. The lady who runs the place comes out to greet me as I’m pondering and offers up her advice to stay. She seems very genuine and even brings out her iPad to show me the heavy rain that is imminently due. She also shows that the next several days will be clear once tonight passes. As a final tempter she reduces her quoted price by another $5. I’m all in for a bargain and feel I’m owed an early day. I pay and head around to the next drive where the cabins are situated. Apart from the lack of any internet (I’ll need to head back to the vicinity of the office for my allocated 50mb 😲😬😂😥) km most impressed. For half the price the cabin is double the size of Franz and has all that is required (bar the internet 🤫)

I’ve no sooner unloaded the bike then whammo, the rain comes down. Now when I say it comes down, it’s rrrrrrreeeaaaalllly coming down and heavily. I’m thrilled with my timing and luck, usually and I mean nearly always, if it wasn’t for bad luck, I simply wouldn’t have any. It’s nice to be a winner for once and the camp owner is my new favourite friend.

My room at Pine Grove

Here’s the rain

Outside my cabin ... in the dry

The rain is here (Video)

More rain (video)

I head to the showers and again am impressed. There’s plenty of water, though you’d hope so given I’m the only one here so far, and best of all it’s HOT. Yesterday’s fluctuating luke warm to freezing shower is a distant memory. Warm and dry I take a quick tour of the well appointed little kitchen and then lie on my bed to write out this dribble for you lot. I will confess here that lack of sleep caught up with me midway and I took my first granny nap for many a long year. 45 mins later I wake back up a little refreshed and the rain continues to lash down. It’s been coming down hard for a solid 3 hours now. Thank goodness I stopped ! Off for dinner now, a reheat of the other half of last nights Wild Mushroom Risotto with hard fought cooked sausages. If anything exciting happens, I’ll be sure to update you. After all, I am in Pine Grove let’s not forget, anything could happen ...

P.S. Nothing happened, I read a readers digest found in the room and slept at 9.30

Good readers digest book

https://strava.app.link/VGMHsIiHSU

As you can see above or if you click the the link Strava has been pissing me off lately. It insists on crapping out and then telling me I went across country and loses many km. Very angry with it !!!

Luckily my backup app Komoot captured it In 2 stages after I turned it on 4km late.

Actually 26.5km

Added together I actually did 70.2km today

Relive bases itself off Strava so excuse the straight line when it crapped out and I dig a tunnel 🙄

A message to the Strava app creator, click HERE

Goodnight

17
Haast Township (Opposite Wilderness Backpackers), West Coast 7886, New Zealand

State Highway 6 Haast, A place of beauty and near death ... twice ! Bit more on that later.

A brilliant sleep is ended by a mosquito doing aerial dives at me from various directions. It is obviously a Japanese variety as it does kamikaze nose dives as I try to swat it away. Sadly these exertions wake me too much to be able to have any hope of regaining sleep. Still, it’s been the longest I’ve managed in years, let alone in this trip. Last nights feeble few hours must have taken their toll.

I head over to the kitchen and am the only one up. I’d hate to have had the night the poor guys in the tents had. The place is soaking and mist have belted down all night. It sure was going for it when I fell asleep. I found the rest of the bacon from Kumara buried in my panniers this morning, having passed the sniff test, I add it to my breakfast menu of porridge and coffee. Could have done with a few eggs but it was still good.

I’m packed and out of there at a record 8.30am. The skies are blue and I throw on some suncream and lip balm (happy mum ??) it’s dead flat as I leave and I actually manage well over 20 km before even considering the battery over a rise.

Bruce Bay ... all this AND wifi

Bruce Bay

Today’s scenery will be hard to beat anywhere, it’s a magnificent cycle and not only because the majority of it is flat. Amazing coastal views combined with Lakes, Rainforests and swamplands. It all unfolds like a panoramic motion picture. It’s hard to take it all on as one magnificent setting passes on to another. Several times I ought to have stopped and didn’t. I regret that now although have already decided that should I still be breathing in 10 years time, I will take an anniversary tour.

Small Bruce Bay Video

Bruce Bay is the first place I come to and it’s amazing. As usuals the photos above will just not do it justice. The place is serene and I’d have loved to camp here given time. I have to drag myself away and on with the pedaling. I’ve a long way to go today. Firstly though, a few more shots of Bruce Bay ..

The last of Bruce Bay

Stones signed by travelers

After passing by a beautiful dark river (I assume .. as it’s flowing) see below

I enter a large valley that once again has me reverting to childhood and recalling another Enid Blyton tale “The Valley of Adventure”. I hate to estimate the countless readings I had of that book and this was the valley pictured in my minds eye.

Surrounded by mountains on all sides (Video)

Soon after taking this video I pedal to the end of a very long straight piece of highway 6 where the road bends around to the right in a 90 degree curve. Just as I’m about to behind the curve an Asian lady hurtling along in a rental (I think) pulls out directly in my path and heading towards me at a great rate of knots. Now this may sound like I’m somewhere in the middle of my side of the road but let me assure you that on the highways especially, I hug as close as possible to the side and don’t waver from it. In sheer panic I hurl my handlebars left and thankfully there is a bit of been before I crash into a bush. I’m convinced had I not reacted so quickly that I’d be looking somewhat like one of Bobs flattened relatives. I turn to see if they have stopped but no chance. The vehicle they were overtaking is still blaring their horn and them and continues to do so all down the long stretch of straight. I swear and give the fingers but I doubt they bothered to look back. I’m incredulous as to why they overtook on a blind corner when a huge straight was just ahead. It’s the closest shave I’ve had on the trip, possibly in my life.

Around 5km later I come across the salmon farm cafe offering coffee and a variety of salmon meals ... at a price! Still feeling a little shook up I decide a coffee would be great. A busload of fed up looking tourists are leaving as I arrive. The flashiest part of the cafe are the signs 3km out, alerting you to the fact they are there. I wish I’d had my chainsaw now, I’d have cycled back and downed them ! I order a mocha and muffin from a grumpy looking woman. I don’t hold it against her at first as she has just dealt with a bus load of tourists and 2 more buses have just pulled in behind me. I take my seat and watch, amused as a gigantic line begins to form for the one ladies toilet. There a long corridor down to it and at least 11 are waiting with 2 more buses emptying towards us.

Toilet corridor full & 2 busloads more heading in

Thankfully I’ve managed to order first and even so it’s 15 mins before my coffee joins my muffin at the table. I unwrap the muffin (I should have known not to order something already glad wrapped at a counter) and do my best to tear a piece off. The thing is so stale that I’m almost inclined to ask for a hammer and chisel. I bite into a piece and almost immediately regret it. It’s becomes glug in my mouth and is barely edible. I stubbornly work away at it ever thankful that my implants are now in and just a little concerned that they might pull out with the vicious suction power of the muffin. After soaking up every last bit of saliva you’re able to create, it’s somewhat akin to chewing araldite glue that’s 3/4 set. I sit contemplating what Gordon Ramsey might say to a meal here and shudder on behalf of the owners. The coffee is no better, a tiny cup and only lukewarm, I may have mentioned before .. I HATE lukewarm coffee. The place is an utter tourist trap ripoff. They have a captive audience with the tour buses arriving and to hell with quality, value or service. Let’s fleece everyone is the motto. Should be a sheep farm rather than a salmon one !

I take my leave still attempting to clear my gums of muck. At least it’s taken my mind from dying. A campervan pulls in and a German man asks how it was, my grimace is enough for him, thanks we will leave it, he says. I wish someone had been as kind to me. Around another 15km cycling brings me to the place where I could have been camping last night had I continued. Lake Paringa is very very beautiful indeed but I’m happy I had the cabin. Most of the campsite is sopping wet and I fear I’d be still drying out now.

Another bridge over another blue river

Lake Paringa with soaking grass

Lake Paringa

Still Lake Paranga

I briefly chat with some Dutch tourists who take a shine to Bob. Poor Bob has been relatively quiet since the close shave apart from telling me that he was a metre closer to the bumper than I was and was surely destined for chog heaven.

From Lake Paringa I continue to follow along State Highway 6 and have no more difficulties until I reach the only climb of the day. The climb itself is not the problem. I’m actually quite enjoying this one as my random play music has come up with a few great tracks to energise me up the incline. At the top of the first portion are splendid views once again, this time back down the coast

Views from the top

I pull myself back into the hill and then get a great rush down the first drop. There’s nothing quite like hitting 70km/hr downhill on a bike with Bono yelling ...

I've lost all self-control
Been living like a mole
Now going down, excavation
I and I in the sky
You make me feel like I can fly
So high, elevation”

You really need to try it some time, don’t just take my word. Oh, and play the live version !

It’s only a faux descent and pretty soon I’m back climbing a fairly steep not to mention narrowish second half of the hill (mountain ? No idea) I take a sharp bend to the left and as you’d expect going up a steep climb, I was going pretty slow and hugging the side of the road. Around the corner comes another infernal camper van and this time it happens. It’s so close that it actually brushes me and clips my handlebar sending my crushing down into a small culvert and against the rocky side. My pannier has been knocked off and is lying on the side of the road. Shocked, I pick myself up and hurriedly drag my pannier off the road incase more traffic arrives around the bend. I like to see if the camper has stopped ahead but they have vanished without a care. I inspect the bike and to my relief there is no damage. As you can see by the photo below, there wasn’t much room for me to fall and I ended up down the ditch and against the rock a few metres behind where my bike is.

A few metres past what could have been my end

After over 3000km through NZ with no mishaps, twice in 1 day seems a little much ! I look at my phone to make sure it’s not Friday the 13th. Once again I set off and an relieved to crest the summit soon after. The downhill is again adrenalin pumping fun, made all the more so as traffic behind me simply can’t keep up around the curves. It’s strange that I should feel more secure whipping down at 70km than crawling up at 10.

Another long cycle takes me past Lake Moeraki. I’m being really spoilt with the scenery today, in amongst people trying to kill me. I’m not sure of the dimensions but Lake Moeraki seemed huge and took a fair while to cycle past. A little way past, out of dense bush to my left, 2 rough looking guys with backpacks and rifles emerge before me from the scrub. I say ‘afternoon’ politely as I cycle past but get no response apart from a vacant look. I pedal just a little bit faster, half expecting a bullet in the back at any moment. As you can tell, it never came.

Lake Moeraki

Lake Moeraki .. now I think about it, was probably just before the climb

More of Lake Moeraki

Still further on down the road, I cross yet another 1 lane bridge and come across a sign saying Ship Creek Walk. Feeling like a change of pace after around 4 hours on the bike, I make an impromptu decision to stop. What an absolute cracker of a decsion it is. Without doubt the finest short walks I’ve done in New Zealand.

From the Bridge just before Ships Creek

I park the bike under a little shelter and lock it. There is a wal off to the left and another to the right. I take the left walk first and it’s good, very good. Following along a boardwalk beside the beach it eventually veers into a rainforest section in similar fashion to those I’ve been cycling over the Wilderness Trail. It’s a nice change of pace to walk it and it’s most beautiful, as you are about to see ...

Beach at Ship Creek

Boardwalk to the left

Ship Creek Beach

Into the Rainforest

Stunning ... but it’s better live

Magnificent

Yep, that was all from the first walk. Pretty amazing huh. It was twice as good actually being there, take my word.

Having made my way back to the bike, I’m hot and sweaty and pondering whether to do the second walk. What the hell, I decide, in for a penny in for a pound ...

My goodness, what I might have missed 😲😲

The path off to the second walk

What a hidden gem this place is, I was literally speechless in here. What superlatives have I not used ? Just insert them all here and I’ll pop in the pictures

Sooooooo lovely

Go ahead and enlarge these ... it’s worth it

So much going on here

Take a closer look

Same scenery but I tried to lighten it

A kilometre of pure heaven

Just to top it all off, I had a David Attenborough moment and caught it on video for you

This little fellow in the video followed me for about 100m

While I’m at it, here’s a couple of other small videos from Ship Creek

Video of the pathside in Ship Creek

This one is from the beach walk (video)

If you aren’t impressed with those pics then I can’t help you, back to Ellen on the telly for you !!

It was really soul lifting stuff to walk through, and what the hell, here are a few more of the second walk. If you don’t like it, use your finger and scroll.

Swamp plant life

Ok, you get the point, it was stupendous. I loved it a whole lot and it will become the second happy place in my mind that the ’experts’ say you should have for times of stress. You couldn’t get much more happy than wandering through there on a day like today.

Another burst down the highway and I’m almost at Haast. I divert off down a drive to Kiwiana Food, not for the said food, but for a cold drink. I’m quite tired and verrry warm. Tepid water is no longer doing it for me and I need a cold sharp drink. They have Bundaberg and I down 2 of them as the first barely grazes the sides. I think I needed the sugar as well as I was feeling a touch faint. The lovely ladies burgers looked and smelt amazing but I just couldn’t justify the $$$ and sadly passed one up. A final push down a wonderful tree lined road and then over the longest 1 lane bridge I’ve ever been on, \240has me turning into Haast.

Long tree lined straight

From the Bridge into Haast

And again

Bridge over Haast complete with 4 passing bays as seen here

At Haast I briefly stop at the information centre and take in the displays of the area before heading around to Aspiring Motel who also allow tents to be put up. I’m amazed to be told that it’s lucky I only need a tent site as every hotel in Haast is booked solid. Not a single room in town she says. Who knew Haast was so popular ?

I’m the first in the tenting area and accordingly nab the best spot. I duck over to the showers and have two of the push button 5 minute showers. They think they are clever by limiting them to 5 minutes and then having a delays system before they will reactivate. I’ve paid my money and I want a decent shower after 90km and so (click HERE) yes I have my 5 minutes, poke my head out and then dash to the next shower along for a further 5 minutes. I considered going back to the 1st shower for a further 5 minutes ... just to beat the system, but I’m happy with my 10 minutes.

Back at the tent site 3 more have popped up around me. So much for quiet private evening. I head off to the pub as finish yesterday’s blog while lowering the level of a jug of Monteiths. With half a jug left I order a meal of Ribs and then load up the plate with roast veges, beetroot and tomato salad, peas and corn , chips and couscous. Cauliflower and cheese.

Yum !!

Having demolished that lot, I wobble back to camp on my bike and load up all my washing into a machine. It’s $4 but I’m beginning to smell. The bike is also allowed in and is now happily having its food via a plug next to my washer. We will both be powered up tomorrow.

For me it’s time to go to bed as I’m the last one up in this lounge area

Its been another long and sometimes nerve wracking day.

https://strava.app.link/MzofBwF0SU

Yes Strava stuffed up again BASTARDS

Well on to your goodnight, click HERE

18
Makarora

Tent city, that’s what I’m amongst when I wake up at 6am. Sleep didn’t come easy last night due to the proximity of tents and the loud rumbling snores eminating from them. I think sheer exhaustion eventually put paid to me. I wasn’t exactly enthralled when several decided to pack up so early and weren’t exactly quiet about it.

I sluggishly dragged myself off the the bathroom. 2 toilets for 30 odd campers isn’t quite adequate and I’m bursting by the time my turn rolls around. They can consider themselves lucky not to have a reconstituted ribs and mixed veg to clean from the floor.

Though the weather is fine, my tent is soaked with dew. I take breakfast before packing in the hope that it drys some. It doesn’t ! It’s too early for the sun to be very high and I pack a soaked tent fly and groundsheet.

Next door to me Ivan from England is also packing up. He’s 57 and has cycled extensively. I don’t recall which city he was from but it’s the county next to Yorkshire and he had the same great accents. His story is an interesting one but I’ll just give you the basics. He originally set off to cycle around Greece and was loving it. Whilst there he took a call from his best mates wife to be told his best mate had passed away suddenly. Devastated and realising how short life can be, he rang his boss and asked for an extension so he could perhaps cycle a little more. He was told no and so threw in his job in the spot. He has been on the bike ever since. That was over 6 months ago. Putting my trip to shame, he is doing a complete loop around NZ and is currently on his way back up. Terrific chap and great to chat with.

We both leave at 9.45, Ivan turning left and North, me off to the right and South. Whether the long day in the saddle yesterday or the lack of sleep last night, I’m very sluggish and slow to get in the groove of cycling today. Perhaps it’s the massive headwind but most likely a combination of all three. It’s another session on highway 6 but today with no incident. They are considerate and careful today to the point of being a danger to oncoming traffic. One car went wide around me and almost collected a van coming the other way.

First views of the day

Can’t complain at the views

It’s a day of Mountains and Blue Crystal Clear Rivers.

Once again it’s some incredibly beautiful scenery but today of a different nature. It’s all Mountains, waterfalls and clear blue rivers. Well River, it’s the Haast. The highway follows the path of a glacier that was once here. Views are spectacular sound most bends. It’s a long haul though with many iOS and downs and before long Mahuta in particular is complaining. The old knee isn’t what it once was. I budget the battery carefully, mindful of the huge climb to come and also of Mahutas increasing grumbles. \240

Waterfalls abound in these parts and it’s hard not to stop and gawk at each one in turn. I soon learn though, that if I stop at each and every one, I’ll not be getting anywhere in a hurry.

The first waterfall of about 50 on the side of the road

Aside from the natural wonders appearing roadside, there are many signposted stops advertising walks to this and tracks to that. Again I start by stopping at each and walking them, before becoming more selective later in the day. Each that I did was spectacular in its own right and I can’t help but wonder what I may have missed. My method of choosing was to pick a person who looked as though they had a brain and had just done the activity and query them briefly on its attributes. I believe I’ve seen the best of what the day offered.

One of my first stops was to walk out to the Roaring Billy Falls. They were nice but being on the other side of the river, a little far away.

Walk out to Roaring Billy

Roaring Billy Falls

Falls from the roadside (video)

Jetboat at Roaring Billy

It’s a bit of a mental struggle on the bike today, I suppose it’s the big climb I know I have in store at the back end of the ride. 80km may not seem like much when you are siting in a car but on a bike it feels a long way away. Lots of encouraging toots and waves lift the mood and I press on doggedly. By 1pm I’m a little hungry but as I’m in the middle of nowhere with little chance of a cafe, I settle for water, muesli bar and a mars bar for dessert. For the second day running I strap my backpack to the rack on top of all my camping gear. The back feels a lot better today and so normal service may resume tomorrow.

Video from the roadside

I’m gradually climbing all day and heading into the mountains. They look rather foreboding and I can only hope they the road is kind to me later in the day. The next stop is a waterfall, but after a jug of beer, I can’t recall the name sorry. It was spectacular though, so here’s a video

Video of a waterfall I can’t recall the name of

Ice on the mountain

Wow

Still some snow

The picture before the last one shows a mountain with ice on top. This held my attention for a long time as I cycled. It was quite mesmerising. It were as though a giant has smashed a large mirror down on top of the mountain and it’s shards lay scattered about the summit. Several km were passed gazing up. It was far more sparkly and eye catching in real life.

The next falls I do remember the name of, they are the Fantail Falls and they were beautiful. People HD also stacked rocks into towers all \240around the riverside and it was quite a sight.

Video of Fantail Falls

Stone towers at Fantail Falls

Fantail Falls

Fantail Fall is the signal for the start of the long climb. It’s also a vicious climb and being the big brother of Mt Yub, I declare that henceforth this mountain climb is known as Mt Tub. Total Utter Bastard. For the first time on a road, I’m reduced to using the 3rd power setting on the electric assist. It’s that steep to climb.

A video that only sort of shows the drop down from Mt Tub

At the top of the mountain, well just before the downhill, I come across the plaque announcing that I’ve moved from Westland into Otago. I’m actually getting somewhere ...

Border Plaque

It’s a beautiful coast down and one that I’ve totally earnt after an immense slog up. I manage to hit a New too speed of 76 which is another little thrill to add to the day.

At the bottom of each dish down it’s always a battle to begin pedaling again, especially after a long day. Tane & Mahuta are no longer on speaking terms, even taking in the descent. I have to crack the whip to ensure they keep moving me towards Makarora. As I get within 10km of my destination I come across yet another sign, this one advertising ‘Blue Pools’. Always a sucker for decent blue water, I grudgingly pull in. An Aussie chap and his wife I met earlier in the day at another walk give me a great tip that there is another entrance to the pools several km down the highway. I’m hugely grateful as it saves me at least a 15 minute walk each way. I remount and cycle down to the next entrance.

It’s still a 30 minute walk each way but I’m delighted to tell you that it’s worth every step.

Walk to the blue pools

Still on the walk

Still walking

Almost there

Just around the corner

Made it

They are amazing but only this pic shows the true colour

They really are a superb sight and several have braved the cold waters for a swim. I’m just in time to watch a British chap and his girlfriend climb over the bridge and leap into the deep hole below. It’s quite brave as the swingbridge is quite high.

3, 2, 1, JUMP

Video of the view on the way to Blue Pools

Your dose of nature for the day, on the path to Blue Pools

I briefly contemplate a swim ... but knlh briefly. By all accounts it’s freezing water. I trudge back up the path to my bike and grind out the last 8km. I roll into Makarora Info centre which doubles as a motel, cabins, tentsites and cafe all in one. The staff here are lovely and at only $15 the tentsites are the cheapest I’ve struck with showers and kitchen facilities.

I dry out the tent in the remaining sun and set it up. I move Gerty and bob into the laundry and begin charging the bike. It tells me I only had 2km power left for the day. Nicely judged 👌

I then take a long shower with no 5 minute curfews and unlimited hot water ... or so it seems, I didn’t stay long enough to find out. Brilliant value ! It’s strange how the smaller cheaper places in the unknown give so much better value than anyone else and have far more genuine service.

After the shower I head back to the cafe for dinner. The nice chap recommends the chicken schnitzel and it turns out to be a wonderful choice. As is my usual now I also order a jug of beer. This is a mistake as it turns out to be a glass bucket as opposed to a jug. Tane & Mahuta are nowhere as near steady as they ought to be right now. Thank goodness we aren’t speaking still.

Glass bucket

A mass plate of Schnitzel and salad for $20

My site for the night ... yes I’m a poet

Well I’ve now sat here for hours, firstly to write to you all ... but mainly to empty that damn jug. Mission complete.. I’ll now stagger back to the tent. I have to say it was an enjoyable night at the bar / cafe. Great people, food and service in Makarora !

https://strava.app.link/DMwGLnZGUU

Oh and your goodnight message. Just remember, when you’re struggling THAT \240

Yes mum .. click the that

19
Wanaka

I loved Makarora but being woken at 5.30am by a tour bus arriving to pick up a load of rowdy backpacker overnighters isn’t a fantastic way to end my experience. Now as you may have noticed last night, I am the single and only camper in a tent in the whole entire campground. This means nothing to the bus driver who given the whole camp to park In, including a parking area around the front, decides the very best spot would be right next to my tent and that i’d probably find a blast of diesel in my nostrils and a noisy engine right next to my ear a fine way to welcome in the new day. I know I have a fine tent but as yet the double glazing hasn’t been installed !

He’s obviously not the owner as rather than turn the engine off for the half hour it take for the noisiest carefree tourists in the South Island to load up and board, he just leaves it running, almost fumigating me in the process. I’ve never heard such a commotion in loading a bus in my entire life ! Each one of the 20 odd insist on stomping right by my tent dragging bags and goodness knows what else with them. Unbelievably a couple even snag themselves on my tent ropes. I can’t imagine how they’d fare of the place was full. At 6am sharp they finally depart with a final burst of diesel to fill my lungs. I do my best to regain sleep but it’s an impossibility. Once awake it’s a rare event for me to regain sleep. I lie there until 7.30 and then still groggy and rather thick headed (some would say the usual me) I put away sleeping bag inner, stuff the sleeping bag, roll up the sleeping mat and pillow. This done I head for the kitchen and take my usual breakfast with the dourist bunch of tourists I’ve yet come across. 3 other couples are i here and they sit glaring at each other with barely a word spoken. The couple closest to me are German (I know this from the few words of German I learnt as a kid) \240and look to be in their 60s. The woman is a fearsome size and sight, not a lady to be trifled with I’d suggest and I’d also suggest that the poor bloke trifled with her in some way last night as she is glaring daggers at him and spits a few angry sentences in his direction. I pick up the words for sleep and eat and that’s about it. He doesn’t respond but just stared down glumly at his coffee. He may be in for a long day. The other couples aren’t a whole lot better. I test the mood with a cheerful good morning but only receive a curt nod from one in reply.

Little point in hanging around there. I do my dishes and finish packing. I’d hoped the tent fly and groundsheet might dry but it’s an overcast start and far too early for sun. I pack them wet and head off on my way.

Lake Wanaka

Just a few km up the road I suddenly find myself cycling alongside Lake Wanaka. Who knew I was so close ? What a treat ! I really find it hard to comprehend the amazing and diverse scenery I seem to strike every day. It’s like cycling through a landscape artists entire gallery. Now as I cycled alongside the wonderful Lake Wanaka for well over an hour. I took quite a few pictures and the odd video. I won’t post them all but here is a select few.

Lake Wanaka Video

I’m sure you get the idea

Its a very very beautiful road to cycle but boy is there some traffic along it. After the perils of the other day I’m more than wary of each and every vehicle but today they are all alert and seemingly considerate. It’s still not all that comfortable and a cycle lane is desperately needed. I’m glad I’ve done it because in years to come I can see cyclists being banned unless such a path is out through. It’s just too risky in places and if the luck is out.

The road is narrow in places, winds around and flows up and down, it keeps things interesting and then there is that view out to the right ... stupendous. Just when things are finally becoming blasé on the view front, you climb a short but steep rise up and around to the left. Then as you crest the top, WHAM, there is Lake Hawea in all her glory and almost unbelievably, in my opinion, even more sensational than Lake Wanaka. Judge for yourself ...

Coming over the hill

Lake Hawea

First glimpse of Lake Hawea (Video)

The area is called the neck as it is a strip of land that runs between the 2 lakes. What an utterly stunning bitnof landscape it is. I’m so glad I’m in a bike as it gives time to drink in all the little details so easily missed in a car.

Bob wants in on a pic

Just to spite Bob

Lake Hawea Video

Once agin I’m treated to a long cycle around the Lake before I arrive at what was originally planned to be my destination, Lake Hawea Campground. I cycle in for a look around and it is both large and beautiful, backing right down onto the lake. I humm and haaa and eventually decide to push on to Wanaka, just another 26km away. I stop at a cafe / pub and order 2 pieces of fish in their apparently special homemade beer batter. It’s edible though then again, I’m so starving I’d even contemplate another salmon farm muffin. Just kidding, I’d never do that. The fish is somewhat greasy and none too big but it does stop the rumbling and allow me to move onwards.

Joy of joys, I finally get to turn off the dreaded Highway 6 for a while. It’s about time. No matter how spectacular the scenery, there is always that undercurrent that the next vehicle may have your name on it..

Now I suddenly find myself back on a dirt and gravel track for the first time since the Wilderness Trail. This one is a little tougher however and my panniers and I shake around like a mini earthquake. Twice I stop to reattach the bottom hooks. The trail is known as the Lake Hawea River trail and boy is it popular. I suppose it is Sunday and a lovely fine day, but even still, it’s as busy as Highway 6 with cyclists and walkers everywhere. I go fairly slowly as it’s windy and who knows what is about to appear around the next corner.

The only near misses come with your friends and mine, the Lycra Beigade serious cyclists. I’m convinced now that these are the (close your eyes mum) wankers that give all cyclists a bad name. They are just so arrogant and believe the whole trial (or road or wherever they may be) is all theres. Signs even state to go slow but they whip around and never as much as nod or wave. Incredibly arrogant bunch in the main.

The trail actually follows the river right around and into Wanaka Town. It’s a full 27 odd km and it’s magnificent. The river is an aqua blue that I just can’t manage to capture with photos. It’s crystal clear and you can see every detail of the stones and anything else that lies on the bottom. The colour just gleams and doesn’t seem real. Here are a few shots that I tried to capture it.

That’s as close as I can get to the actual colour

As I’m heading along one of the rougher areas I hear a sudden hissing noise down from the front. Cursing that it’s a flat tyre I stop and check the pressure. No problem there. I suddenly recall a can of Peach Coke that a Dutch tourist gave me to try. I didn’t feel like it at the time and had stored it in my pannier. Sure enough the bastard has exploded and now everything within is peach coke glazed. I do my best to empty what I can and drink the warm remains from the can. Hopefully for those who buy it, it’s a lot better cold as it’s none too flash when on the warm side.

The path widens out for a time (Video)

Views from the trail

By the time I reach Wanaka I’m feeling a little. The old combo of lack of sleep along with concentrating on traffic, cars, bikes and walkers has been a little waring even given the superb scenery. In its way the scenery is also draining. You do your best to take it all in and have a lasting memory.

Wanaka has been the place I’ve been most keen on coming to. I was last here a good 20 years ago and have fond memories of a small, quaint and very pretty town. A lot changes in 20 years and Queenstowns little brother has grown up to me now a twin. It’s grown loud, large and obnoxious. As with Franz Joseph i’m bitterly disappointed, it’s now just an overpriced tourist Mecca with seeming no heart and soul. It feels plastic ! Eventually second shop is a restaurant and the ones in between either overpriced Adrenalin activities or souvenirs for the large walleted tourists. None seem fazed by the outlandish prices and each bar / cafe and restaurant is full to exploding. I walk into a few and check out menus. I swear to you I can’t find another kiwi in town. Every restaurant, shop or activity booking agent is run by Americans, poms, Canadians, Irish or Italian people here with 1 year visas. The closest I came to a kiwi was an Aussie who was from north of Brisbane and supports the St George dragons... poor bugger. The dairy’s and convenience stores are run by ... well you already know, let’s face it, so I won’t bother saying 👳🏿‍♀️

My tent is sopping wet in my panniers and after taking a quick wander around the chocker block campground I decide to fork out the extra $20 and have a cabin. It’s the last one available tonight so it must be a sign. I unload my panniers and lay out the tent to dry. I then head over to the kitchen with my coke infested pannier and one by one wash out every item and finally fill the pannier with hot water and shake it about like a bottle of flavoured milk. Job done, I use a xamontea towel to dry it as best I can and then return to place it out in the sun with the tent.

I take a shower while it’s drying and wash a few items with sunlight soap while I’m showering. These I take back and lay out with the rest of the items drying. I’m turning the neighbourhood into Dhobi Ghat (yes you can click it).

Eely Point ... Go you mighty eels ... excuse my passion for my team for a minute

Looking over to Wanaka

I decide to leave them drying and take a walki into town. It’s still a wonderfully attractive setting, no doubt. It just feels off though. It no longer feels like I fit. It’s just tourists everywhere and all very loud and false. Hey, it could be just me and you may very well like this scene. It’s just not for me.

Mortgage anyone ?

The cheapest food I can find, bar a few elderly looking offerings at the convenience store, is at an empty Irish pub at the top end of town well away from all the hip joints down on the waterfront, where you pay an extra $15 per plate for the view. It’s all but empty here and that suits me fine. I order a $9 burger and having learnt from last night, a glass of beer. I come away with change from my $20. The beer is good, the burger excellent, the entry to the bathroom superb.

You’d have been fooled too (go on click the video)

After dinner I stroll the streets trying hard to change my impression but unfortunately it’s just reinforced it. A bunch of 20 somethings sit lakeside all but obliterating the view as they vape themselves silly. I move along further and manage this shot for you

Could be so beautiful here

I finish my night with a Malteser Gelato and stroll back to the campground via the lake. Loud tourists, most with a few too many under the belt wander about. I was thinking of a rest day here but am no longer too sure. I need a day off but will decide in the morning.

https://strava.app.link/HlaHx7vnWU

Strava did the inevitable crap out for a minute or two, but I check it regularly as I cycle now

We have a request for my goodnight tonight and so courtesy of my good mate Grunter, go knock yourselves out with THIS

20
Frankton

Made it, well almost ... didn’t quite reach Queenstown but that was out of choice as I wished to keep at least 1 leg for tomorrow. As it is, Frankton has taken both arms and Mahuta. I opted to keep Tane as he performs with less grumblings. In all seriousness prices around this area for food and accomodation, actually make that everything, are just plain ridiculous, bordering on criminal. More on that later.

Really decent sleep last night which puts the world to rights for me in a mental sense if not physical. I forego my usual coffee and porridge, feeling something more substantial is in order for the climb up and over Cardrona today. A first stop at the local bike shop, I have my heart in my mouth as I ask the nice British chap running the shop to take a quick look at my brake pads. He gives my bike the once over, even offers a few tips and assures me the brakes will do a little bit longer. Then comes the big moment, I wait for him to say “right that be $2.00 a word, 67 words, that’s $134.00 thanks” but all I get is “have a great ride” I’m so stunned at finally getting some service in Wanaka I stand for a few seconds gaping like a madman before I rush the door I case he changes his mind. Highly recommend the bike shop !! It’s a shame they don’t do meals ..

I’m recommended to the Federal Diner by the campground personnel. Terrible decision. Well the food itself, what there was of it, was actually lovely. I opt for the eggs Benedict with bacon and organic fried tomatoes (note the plural). Feeling quite hungry, as cyclist do, I add the mushrooms at another $4. What turns up is a tiny bit of bread, possibly half a slice, with 2 size 3 eggs poached. A dribble of hollandsise, a thin rasher of bacon, half yes that’s 1/2 a sliced tomato that needed incubation at birth as it was so malnourished and I kid you not, 4 of the thinnest slivers of mushroom you could ever slice. I’m actually impressed that something could be sliced so thin and wonder of that’s why they cost over $1.00 per sliver.

As I’m saying, the flavour wasn’t an issue, delightful infact. They did bring cuttlery but by that stage I’d inhaled once and the plate was emptied. Ok I’m kidding, but only just ... to add insult to my wallets injury, the coffee I ordered with the meal never shows up. I head up to pay and mention the coffee. The employee, another foreigner ( I’m convinced I’m the only kiwi in the area) says he can’t take it off the order and he will organise it for takeaway. At that point I lose my cool and tell him and probably at a volume that all the tourists in the place with their designer shades and high fashion gear can’t help but overhear what I think of the ‘value’ and service. He doesn’t bat an eyelid, no apology and just charges me all the same. I give up, pay, and head out of town pedaling as fast as I can. Wanaka joins my list of huge disappointments. Stunning beauty but even more stunning ripoff.

The climb out of Wanaka begins almost immediately but after a quick rose becomes a far steadier and gradual climb than I’d expected today. It really is an optical illusion of a ride. During some stages I could swear that I’m aiming downhill. Cars go past me and are 100% definitely below me up ahead but I’m still having to pedal like buggery and the altimeter shows I’m gaining height. It really is the weirdest sensation. I’m just glad it’s not proving quite as strenuous as I’d imagined it would be.

Bye Wanaka, I’m out of here while I still have a leg

The first time I take a break is when I reach the Cardrona Hotel. I’m somewhat surprised at its size. For whatever reason is pictured it as a larger building. I park out front and take a wander around the pub and outbuildings. It’s wonderful. I like old buildings and to read a little of their history. This place is fabulous and doesn’t rip off the public at large either. I imbibe a half pint of Cardrona Ale and restrain myself from a second as I recall the climb out of Omapere after a couple of refreshments. It’s a wise decision. If I was a little more financial at this stage of the journey I’d have loved to have stayed a night and drunk in the history ... not to mention a couple more Cardrona Ales.

The bar at Cardrona

A few questions answered

The hotel rooms

Eventually dragging myself away, I don’t remain on the bike long before a bra or 2 catch my eyes. It’s the famous bra fence and not there have been one or two buxom ladies removing their upper undergarments here. By the looks of the size of things, their are one or two wealthy plastic surgeons out there .... I actually mistook a couple as hammocks and was about to embarrass myself by taking a quick nap. I meet a lovely British couple touring through the county staying at bnb’s. We have a brief discussion on our trips and the overriding consensus is that NZ is now a very expensive country to travel and not always value. I wave them goodbye and head off again.

All dem bras bra

A video collection of bras

From here I turn down a visit to a distillery, which I also regret after the climb becomes more serious near the top. I regret it even more when I run into the British couple once more at the summit. It was a hell of a last 200 metres elevation and the legs are burning. I pass one poor lady pushing her bike up and I can’t blame her really. So here I am, the highest point my entire trip through NZ reaches. 1100m above sea level so I’m told. It feels good to know that I’ve no major climbs left ahead. Dip and Carolyn pull up at the summit soon after I reach it. Turns out they sampled the distillery’s free tasting and declined the purchase price of a bottle at $120. Can’t say I blame them for that. I’m reflecting that a few free samples may have blocked out a little of the pain of the last few km’s and also warmed me up. At 1100m elevation it’s blowing a gale and the winds aren’t warm. Given that I’m covered in sweat and was overheated on arrival. I’m now instantly frozen and shivering. Carolyn is a dear and rushed up, throwing her cardigan around me. They insist on taking a photo to prove I made it and if you shield your eyes, here it is

Some weirdo poser at the top of Cardrona

The road down Cardrona

I’ve called the various campgrounds in Queenstown and they are seriously taking the piss with their pricing. $60 for a non powered tent site for 1 person for 1 night. Forget the enquire into fuel prices Jacinda, let’s start querying the ridiculous sums of money that each and every business in the queenstown area are extorting from people. It’s ludicrous and criminal in my view. How do you justify $138 for a basic cabin not big enough to fart in, with no bedding, no fridge, no tv, just a bunk. Simple answer ... you can’t. Shane at Lakeview is the biggest laugh. They are supposedly a Christian camp though some of the 10 commandments and other biblical suggestions seem to have been waylaid and not quite reached Lakeview. They are stealing and coveting money right left and centre. Shane tries to justify the tent site to me by saying it includes a 5 minute shower. I mention I had an entire room in Harihari with as long a shower as I wanted. To give him his due. He doesn’t break another commandment and blaspheme. When I tell him I have a E bike and would I be able to charge he, he places me on hold to go and have a prayer session with higher management about it. He returns to tell me that god in his infinite wisdom has decreed they ought to charge an extra $5 for this wantonness.

I do my best to explain I’m on a budget but Shane is too busy explaining that if I part with a kidney, I can do my washing also. He goes onto tell me that they do have a ‘cheaper’ tenting area for those who have stayed before and have no limbs left to offer. This is the ‘beach’ section he tell me and they are slightly smaller sites for those who don’t require sleep and don’t mind being 3 stories up on 2 other peoples tents. It also saves on tent pegs he gushes as they are all so close together that you can use the same pegs. Ok so I made that last part up, but from his description, I’m sure I wouldn’t be far wide of the mark. He trys his best to extract my credit card number but I’m wise to this having been a salesman in a previous life. Patience is a virtue I try to remind him but he’s already off and telling me about the kitchen facilities I’ll be able to use if I sign an eye over to them.

I mention my campground battles to Dip & Carolyn and they offer to get hold of their b&b and see if I could tent there. It’s very nice of them and they take my number saying they will be in touch. I give back her cardigan and unpack my jacket. Then I’m hurtling off down the side of the mountain. I hit an alltime new fastest speed on Gerty of 79km. I’m rather peeves that I’m going so fast that pedaling is pointless and I can’t reach the 80 mark. I possibly could have if it weren’t for some severe corners that needed heavy braking. I think whatever pads were left when the Wanaka man checked them are now well and truly burnt off. They begin to squawk loudly and noisily as I reach the bottom.

View from the top (Video)

The road down (Video)

At the bottom I’m traveling so fast that I shoot past my time off onto a gravel track before I realise it and have to double back up a way. The track is quite rough and as we bounce along I’m both concerned for my rear rack with all the weight bouncing around on it and thankful that today I carry no soft drink. The views again are magnificent and I take the odd stop to admire and capture it for you lot.

Once down I find myself following along a gravel track beside a small river. It’s most peasant and takes me out to Arrowtown. I’m feeling hungry but seem to have come out in the middle of the suburbs somwhere. A young kid cycles up as I’m choosing between left or right and looks curiously at my bike. He asks about Bob and after explaining Bobs presence I ask where the closest shops are. He offers to show me and cycles with me a few minutes to a Foursquare i’d never have found on my own. I thank him and end up eating a dirty pie and an icecream for lunch. Actually the pie was pretty darn good. It was pork belly and I’ve no idea now what brand. Well worth it though.

Komoot guides me back to the trail and it turns into the Twin Rivers Ride and Queenstown Trail. It’s a comfortable ride with a few ups and downs and lovely views over and down to those incredibly azure blue rivers. They really are mesmerising.

Twin Rivers Trail

There’s that blue ... most of the afternoon and still can’t get enough

Stunning

A lovely ride

Eventually, with both the power in the battery and legs wearing low, I arrive in Frankton. It’s still 9.3km to Queenstown but I’ve had several days long riding and am feeling a bit beat. I cycle up the hill to the Frankton Motorcamp and enquire about tentsites and cabins. The tent sites are affordable but not ideally positioned being in the idle of the in and out lanes of the camp

Tent sites with drives to left and right

I hesitantly enquire about cabins and he says that unlike Queenstown, here they only charge 2 arms and 1 leg, allowing me to retain 1 leg to cycle on with tomorrow. Tane, Bob and I wave goodbye to Mahuta and we hop up to the cabin. I have a fridge a tv and room for Gerty to recharge.

Gerty recharging and doubling as a clothesline

I take a very long shower with both temperature and pressure perfect. I feel a lot better afterwards and head on up to town. When I say up, well I mean up. Frankton is on the side of a hill. At the top I’m greeted by Burger King, McDonalds and BP. There is also a pizza shop but I decline and descend back down to the pub where I enjoy a massive and inexpensive open steak sandwich. Having learnt my lesson with jugs, I have a handle of beer. It‘s barely noticed and so I head back for a second. The young girl at the bar is far more preoccupied with a young guy downing shots of spirits to bother with me. Eventually I catch her eye and she frowns and comes over. She pours me another beer as her fellow worker lets out a cheer for the young guy tipping back another. I hold out my money but she is so distracted by lust that she just walks back to the other side of the bar. I stand another 20 seconds and then think bugger it. It’s the only deal I’m going to get in these parts. So cheers to the staff at Frankton pub, I enjoyed it too.

View from my Penthouse Suite

All cabins seem to be taken by worn cyclists

And so ends another long day. The bed here is comfy and I won’t be long away from sleep

https://strava.app.link/0PYzSLZ1XU

Relive

And to your goodnight, I’ve nothing left to offer tonight and so click HERE

21
North Mavora Lake

A very long day today. I awaken full of indecisiveness. I’m due a day off, well I’ve passed up on 3 already and today I’m thinking I’ll move onward again. My indecision come from the weather forecast combined with the expense of living in these parts. On one hand I could stay, enjoy a relaxing day and pay for it dearly or move on and risk getting soaked tonight and tomorrow morning. A quick check on my bank balance decides me and I begin to pack up.

I decide that I’ll have another shower as I won’t be getting one tonight and after all, I have lobbed out a chunk of money and some limbs to have a cabin. All set and despite Tanes protestations that he can get me through the rest of the journey alone, I stealthily break into the canp office and reclaim Mahuta and both arms before making a getaway.

It’s a pleasant 7km cycle around the lakefront into Queenstown. The lake glistens to your left, still that amazing blue and off to the right the mountains tower majestically above. Around a few more bends and the familiar sight of the gondolas climbing steadily up the cliff greets me. I enter along the waterfront where \240joggers with EarPods and day cyclists are plentiful in number. Although still before 10am as reach the towns lakefront tourists throng everywhere. If I’d thought Wanaka was full, then Queenstown is bursting. It’s seems it’s a condition of entry to be holding a cup of coffee, wearing designer sunnies and gazing intently at your phone. There is a view out there people and each of you have paid dearly to be here, put your phone down a minute and look at it !!! The asians as ever are making up for those not looking. They have snapped a picture of every square inch of Queenstown and are now do the same from the reverse direction to make sure they have every angle covered.

Frankton

Frankton

From the cycle path into Queenstown

From the cycle path

Entering Queenstown

Queenstown must be an Asian persons Mecca. It seems that everywhere you walk sit or stand in the place, someone is ready with a camera to take a ghastly pic of you and sell it to you for a price that would feed a starving kid in Africa for a month.

I first decide to organise my ferry ticket, a not unreasonable amount of $32 to take myself, Bob and Gerty the 45 minute journey up Lake Wakatipu to Mt Nicholas Station. This achieved, I head on up to the Gondola figuring it’s the cheapest way to spend the hours I have left in Queenstown.

On the way up I happen to wander past Red Rock, a cafe / bar on a corner close to the gondola ride. I stop and rub my eyes to make sure I’m not misreading the $10 all day breakfast deal. It appears I’m not and so I head in to try and figure out the ‘catch’ cause there has to be one .. right ? Well it turns out the catch is that they have a large menu and are hoping to sway you into a more expense meal. I’m not being swayed as the American gentleman in front of me is. He orders the ‘big breakfast’ for $20, exactly double what I’m ordering. I almost do the same as I’m hungry and then think, na bugger it. If I’m still hungry after the $10 job then I’ll just order a second. You see I was assuming that this would be another Wanaka type con job and my meal would consist of half a bacon rasher, an egg white and a half triangle of toast with no butter all plated on a saucer. I’m also expecting to be photographed eating it and offered a copy in a glossy booklet for $35.

To my everlasting amazement my coffee arrives both piping hot and just before my meal. My $10 breakfast hits the table soon after and it’s a whopping decent size. I look over to the The American mans table and see that he has indeed been duped. The ‘big breakfast’ may have some mushrooms with it but it is no larger than my meal. I’m chuffed to have made the right decision and plow into 2 eggs, 3 strips of decent bacon, 2 hash browns, a WHOLE fried tomato (take note Wanaka) and 4 full slices of toast with butter. It’s a bargain I think you’d find hard to beat anywhere in NZ and I’m astounded it’s happened here. Not only is the size decent but it’s all cooked nicely and tastes great. Big ups to Red Rock 👌 oh and the coffee was a decent price also !

Feeling I may have to change my view on Queenstown I’m soon back in reality as I walk past shop after shop offering thrill seeking rides for sums well past my means. You can hardly move for people and none are kiwis. Once again I feel like a foreigner in my own country. Thinking about it though, there is no way your average kiwi family could afford to come here for a holiday. I arrive at the gondola and queue up with the multitudes. Advertising hoardings around are boasting that expansion is on the way. A new 10 seater gondola has been approved and trees will be taken down soon to make way for the new behemoth. More more more, bigger better and more, that includes the prices folks, get ready to shell out even larger sums to be entertained here.

I decide on a 5 pass luge ride while I’m at it, hey give me a break, it’s the cheapest activity in Queenstown besides breathing. I did briefly consider tandem hang gliding but at $239 \240it was a very brief consideration and led to heart palpitations as much for the price as the activity..

On the way up in the gondola

Almost there

Stunning isn’t it

Picture perfect day

It’s a fantastic day weather wise, absolutely unbeatable. The views as ever from up the top are astounding. It’s almost as if it can’t be real as though it’s just a movie playing in the background. I doubt there is a more iconic view in NZ. Just magnificent and even more so on a day like today.

I should have done it !!

The luge track ... and that view

The hanglider I was tempted to take

I’m a little peeved to have to waste one of my precious 5 rides on the learners track. I’ve luged before many times but rules are rules and I suffer my way down behind an Asian lady who hopefully doesn’t own a drivers license. She weaves unsteadily about, never seemingly to sure of the controls. Frustratingly I can’t overtake, she’s sore to side and only at little jerks at a time as she heaves the brake on with regularity. Finally at the bottom, she gets stuck in the narrow lanes where the luges line up to be collected by the shorter cable car ride back to the top. Weighing up her options she decides enough is a enough and just abandons her luge some 20 metres before the end, totally blocking me and all behind me. I end up having to jump out and shift hers forward before coming back and doing the same for mine.

Luge Video shot wth handheld phone at great risk to myself and the phone

The second ride on the fast track is much more like it. I thunder down and hurtle around the corners overtaking one or two on my way. I see a number of people using GoPros and through I have mine, I don’t have an attachment with me for the helmet. I chat with a German chap whilst in line for my 3rd ride and he offers to swop helmets for this turn and let me use his mount for my GoPro. It’s most decent of him and I’m very grateful. Unfortunately I must have knocked the settings somewhere for when I check the recording at the bottom after a particularly fast run down, all I have is a solitary photo. He is good enough to let me use it once more and this time I get the desired footage. (Will try and insert when I get time)

I hang around up the top for a while after my final ride just people watching and taking in the views. I try to estimate the thousands upon thousands of dollars being poured through here but it’s beyond my mathematical capabilities. My internal calculator concludes one hell of a lot.

Eventually I take the ride back down and spend the afternoon wandering the town. You name it and Queenstown seems to have it ... at a price. Several Bungy jumps, a massive bungy swing, paragliding, sky diving, hang gliding, luging, white water rafting, jet boating, cruises, JetSki tours, snowmobile tours, massive indoor mini golf complex, indoor flight zone the list goes on and on. Then there are the restaurants and takeaways. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could stay a year and never eat at the same one twice. Surprisingly amongst the run of over inflated pricing, the odd bargain can be found and I enjoy a very nice chocolate milkshake at a reasonable price whilst wandering around the lakefront. I make my way back to where I left my bike, next to one of the many booking offices that dot the wharf and walk it around to the ferry jetty.

Down we go ... doomed trees to the sides

It’s a very simple affair to get the bike on board. I simply roll it up the wide gangplank and onto the deck where the friendly staff took over. With great care he wheeled it over to one side and lashed it securely to the rail. The journey over is a pleasant 45 mins with the captain pointing out notbable areas of interest. We pass Peter Jackson’s house on a lovely stretch of land in a quiet cove. Lord of the Rings has done him nicely. Several other overseas stars housss are pointed out along with a lodge that of you decided to stay a night would set you back $10,000 a night. How do people even come up with these figures ?? Let alone someone pay them !!!!

Video from the rear leaving Queenstown

My Ferry to Mt Nicholas

Onboard

Bob the sailor chog

I’m the only one getting off at Mt Nicholas and somewhat embarrassingly get a big cheer and clap from the mainly Asian remaining passengers as I wheel my bike down into seemingly no mans land. I have to admit it does feel a little daunting staring ahead into vast mountains on all sides with only a rough gravel road heading up through them.

Mt Nicholas ahead

Almost there

Bye bye

All alone

A quick readjustment of my panniers and I’m away. An initial little climb up to the main road and then it’s a mainly flat ride until the only one hill around 20km in and it’s a fairly substantial one, more so being on a rough gravel road. The scenery is different from anything I’ve cycled through before. I’m traveling through a wide valley that winds around between the hulking mountains on either side. A river flows gently to my right and it feels as though I’m the only living person for miles in every direction. I possibly am.

Video of the Around the Mountains trail

Video of the ride from Mt Nicholas

Having taken the last sailing of the day, it’s around 4.30 before I actually begin cycling and I’m just a little concerned that if something should go wrong with the bike I could be stranded with little help. Still, I have all my camping gear and enough food and cooking equipment. Nothing does go wrong though and Gerty performs to her usual high levels. Even Mahuta is quiet today, obviously reflecting on what might have been had I not rescued him from the camp office. The hill is a long solid climb that winds up left to right leaving glorious views back down the valley of the river and road winding side by side. The sun is slowly going down and the lighting is magical.

Reaching the top of the climb leaves you in another wide open valley with just the road meandering along through the centre. Here the mountain walls are of a rougher stone and they captivate as I cycle along

A last view of the Lake

Road is smoother here

The river I follow

Looking back down the hill

Post climb

Its getting darker

I don’t see another soul for the entire cycle, not vehicle, bike or person. At around 6.45 I veer off down another gravel road to the right that leads to the Mavora Lakes. Here at last I see signs off life as one or 2 camper vans pass me on the way down to the Lake.

Video from the top just before the turn off to Mavora Lakes

Look out you cow (video)

A few km down is a sign and a little metal box which contains registration forms and envelopes to collect the $8 fee for doc camping. I’m going through my wallet when another campervan pulls up. An American lady comes up and says she’s only got a $10 note and would I like to combine our fees making mine only $6. Sounds good to me and I thank her for her kindness. She drives on off and I pedal down another few km before sighting a likely looking spot with a toilet close at hand. As no one has taken it I think maybe it’s not a camping zone and cycle another few km before deciding stuff it, and going back to claim it. I need to retrace my steps in the morning back to the main road and see little point in going further. I set up my tent and organise cooking gear in case it gets dark quickly. With no showers here, I decide on a quick dip in the lake to freshen up and wash. Trust me, it was very fresh indeed at 7.30pm

That was ahhh... fresh

I dry off hurriedly and then at long last the old sweet & sour freeze dry lamb is put to the test. I’m not sure why I procrastinated, it was one of the better freeze drys. I’m still a bit peckish and so also cook up the freeze dry apple crumble and as it was last time, it’s bloody great. A piping hot coffee to finish and I head off to sample the long drop. It’s a modern version but the fact remains it’s a long drop. All is well until you raise the lid and then my god you know about it. The longer you err take, the more the smell permeates the little room and it’s a right stench. Mossie, sandflys and other bugs hover around and it’s an experience to say the least. Never have I smelt alr so fresh as when I vacate and gulp in lungsfull.

My campsite

Preparing dinner

Dusk Falls

Almost bedtime

Peaceful

For the first time all trip I use my trackys. It’s a little colder when the suns gone and the sandflies are hell. I finish my coffee and retire to bed at around 9.30. I make a start on the blog but by 10.30 I’m buggered and give up for the night.

https://strava.app.link/1uXnSgu90U

And so to your goodnight, I was out like a light ... Click HERE

22
Mossburn

Unlucky 13 and sonit proved a few times today. I slept fairly soundly in my wee camping spot mere metres from the lake. After giving up on finishing last nights blog, I lay for a while listening to the various birds calling out and landing on the lake. I’ve no idea what they were as I couldn’t see them but they sure weren’t respecting campers need for sleep. It didn’t matter anyway as I was dead tired and as I said, fairly quickly out like a light.

I woke up just last 8am which is good for me in a tent. Usually wherever I sleep I’m awake as soon as light shows through. Given the weather forecasts prediction for heavy rain I suspiciously poke my nose out and all seems calm and clear. Relaxing a little I lay back down and begin to complete last nights blog. I’ve been holding the urge to go to the toilet for a short while but the time comes when this is no longer possible, so armed with my deodorant I cross over and give some hearty sprays before and during my visit. It’s a bit of a worry when the odour even manages to outdo a decent dose of lynx. Just as I’m about to escape there is the pitter patter of rain on the toilet roof. I can’t believe it, when I’d entered not long before (and trust me I wasn’t in there reading a paper) it had been clearish. Now all of a sudden it’s starting to rain.

Visions of a relaxed breakfast while awaiting the tent fly to dry are rapidly replaced by a frantic haste to get things packed before everything is soaked. It’s a fruitless task as drizzle turns into a downpour. I manage to get my clothes into the panniers still dry but the tent, bike and several other bits and pieces are drenched. I finish packing and without so much as a coffee, prepare to set off. I’ve not even mounted the bike when the rain stops and a watery sun pokes through. Someone upstairs has a sense of humour ... not that I believe in such things.

Just as I’ve mounted my bike another cyclist, of about mid 20s and not had a haircut or shave since age 15, pulls up aside of me and in a broad English accent, the county origin of which I can’t provide for you, asks if this is where I camped last night. I say that it was and he stares at me as though I’m mad. ’You dinnt goo oop tharr innit‘ he asks nodding further up the road towards the south Mavora lake. No, I explain, I didn’t see the point as I have to retrace a few km back to the road I’m taking as it was. Ooooooo he says flinging his head back to wave his hair flowing beneath his helmet back behind him, yeh missed it innit. (I’ve concluded by now that innit means isn’t it). What did I miss I ask thinking there must be a stupendous waterfall or some such unmissable natural beauty. It’s lort oh ta rings innit, he splutters as if I’m insane. It were done tha innit. I now gather that a decent chunk of the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed up at the top lake and that this guy is the number 1 fan. I didn’t expound on my views of the films or let him know that they induced a decent slumber for me, but nodded sagely and assured him I would rectify this situation forthwith. And so dear readers, I’m sure there is at least one of you who adores that particular trilogy of movies and just for you innit, I cycled another 5km down the rough track and back again to take the following pics for you innit. So gaze away (at a lake that looked vastly similar to the one I already camped by and photographed) feel free to download, printout and blow up these pics.

The top Lake Mavora

Lord of the Rings country innit

Lord of the Rings at Lake Mavora

And again

Lucky last of Lake Mavora (upper)

Once again the clouds are darkening as I turn to leave for the way I’ve come. You can see in the last 2 pics how quickly things change here weather wise. Muttering to myself about rain and wasting 10km to view similar looking lakes innit, I pedal back the 5km back to my campsite and another 4 back out to the gravel road. The weather is crazy today. One minute I’m being lashed by rain and the next am being dried out in sunshine.

Threatening clouds

Roy G Biv pays a visit

Roy puts on another show

Good old Roy G Bib puts on a real show for the morning and Bob for one is impressed. He informs me that he’s studied rainbows and can pinpoint exactly where the pot of gold at the end will lie. When we reach the chosen spot and take a forage around to no avail, Bob concludes that someone must have just beaten us to it. Just my luck.

The skies clear again briefly and I allow myself to believe the worst has passed. It’s been an enjoyable ride apart from the downpours. I’ve been averaging 30km/hr this morning on a gentle downhill slope, not bad going considering it’s a roughish, corrugated gravel track.

Around the Mountains cycle trail

It’s not long after this and the sign above that the heavens open once again and this time they mean business. It buckets down for the rest of the entire ride which was another 25km and a roaring headwind appears to lend it company. Within seconds I’m drenched to the bone and reflect that it’s now a waste of time stopping to swop to my heavier jacket. The road today has been roughish. The corrugations are rutted and pronounced and I feel that Andrew my dentist will be most pleased for 2 reasons. 1) my recent implants of a few weeks back are holding in nicely and 2) I think nearly every other tooth has rattled loose. All jokes aside, I’m surprised I’ve not run into issues with rims, tyres, spokes or my racks. Surprised ... and delighted.

A new pine grove just before the heavens opened

Last trail pic due to weather issues

Its soon after this that I suffer the most embarrassing moment of the entire country. As the rain is pelting near horizontally into my face I have my head down and am pedaling as hard as I can to get through it. There have been a couple of confusing moments with this track with paths leading off in different directions. Given that it’s pouring, swiping the phone to confirm directions is impossible unless I stop and dry it. I come to an intersection with several choices and without stopping to confirm, head down the widest path, assuming it’s the correct one. Next moment I’m heading down and into the river. As I had to ford a river several times yesterday and it wasn’t all that deep I plow on in. I’m thinking to myself well if it’s part of the track then they won’t have us crossing a deep area. Now that is true but the problem arose in that it wasn’t part of the track. Next minute I’m knee deep in water, the front tyre his a slippery rock and I’m over and in. Now as both Bob and I will attest, whatever bloody river this is, it has both our votes for being the coldest bastard in the South. I haul my bike up and still believing to be the correct way, wade across, dragging the bike and a gurgling Bob with me. I remount, now icy cold and wet right through, and cycle another 1/2 a km before I realise this ain’t right. I return to the river, and wade back across drowning Bob a second time. The water is halfway up the panniers bit it’s the electrics I’m more concerned about. I find the right turn, and feel justified at having missed it given the conditions and move off in the right direction. With some trepidation I click on the electrics and am relieved when good old Mr Bosch whirs into life. I flick it back off again and plow on. A little way ahead I overtake a couple of ladies I’d passed not so long ago before my wrong turn. Where have you been one called. Oh I just stopped for a swim I yell back and head on before I’m questioned too closely.

About half an hour out of Mossburn another couple of cyclists appear heading from the opposite direction. They are a young couple and as I pass the girl screams out in English oh my god look it’s the hedgehog man. Stop stop. I pull over wondering on earth she is on about and why Bob is of such interest to her. To my amazement she and her partner, a Dutch couple, explain that they have heard about me from a couple of other cyclists I’ve met through the country. Who knows why I came up in conversation but I’m forced to stand in the rain and smile whilst they take a pic of Bob and myself. In a strange day, that was probably the weirdest moment. Getting still colder, I politely end the conversion as fast as I’m able and pedal as hard as I’ve pedaled all trip to reach Mossburn. I come to a cafe and with no hesitation pull in and order a big breakfast and hot coffee. I’ve not eaten or drunk all day and by now it’s 1.45pm. I attract the stares of almost a full house in the cafe. I sit at my table shivering with large puddles forming at my feet. The coffee arrives promptly and its warmth is amazing. It’s soon followed by a decent big breakfast and life slowly ebbs back into my body..

Big breakfast is good in Mossburn

It’s a testament to just how wet through I am that when I leave around half an hour later, I’m still soaked to the bone. I force my soaked cycling gloves and helmet on and cycle on through the still persistent rain to the camp where I’m so pleased I prebooked a cabin whilst on the boat yesterday avo. He’s fully booked now and having to put a tent up in this would have been the last straw.

I dump my gear in the little cabin and March off to the showers where I remain for somewhere in the vicinity of 40 mins thawing out. I am absolutely amazed as I open my panniers to find that even after a total submerging in the river, all is bone dry. It’s a testament to the quality of Ortlieb. Less happily, the opposite pannier to last time has lost an identical screw. Thank goodness for my new relative Lee and the spares she donated me. A few minutes work and all is repaired.

I lie on my bed for an hour and finish yesterday’s blog. The wifi reception is pretty woeful here though and eventually I give up on trying to get it uploaded. It’s 5.30 and the rain has eased to a drizzle. As I’m wearing my only remaining dry clothes, I put on my heavy jacket and cycle the 3.5km back to town to the local pub (and only place for food) for dinner. The cafe shuts at 3pm. At the pub the rain is getting heavier and so I lift my bike up and into a wide foyer at the front. I politely ask the sour faced woman serving the bottle store at the front if the bike would be alright there or if there were anywhere else dry I might put it. She gives me a horrifying glare and says, put it outside it can’t stay there! I politely ask again if there is a shed or somwhere dry I might place it while I have a meal. OUTSIDE she spits at me. Forget it then, I snap back, so much for Southern Hospitality, I’ll give dinner a miss. I meant it as well and was on my way back out when a man came bustling out and apologising. In a strong South African accent he ushers me around the back and shows me to a dry she’s where several other bikes are parked. I’m so sorry for that, please come inside and enjoy a meal he gushes. No more is said about the lady but I can only assume it’s his wife if she manages to keep her job there.

My saviour turns out to be Tom, the owner and he is a man who likes a yarn and is most welcoming. I’ve soon forgotten the sour faced sow at the front and am listening to some entertaining stories from Tom. He half reminds me of a different shaped John Cleese, playing Basil from Fawlty Towers as he parades from table to table engaging the guests and barely doing much in the way of work. He makes sure I have the wifi password and then gives me his picks from the menu. I go for the Beef Scnitzel with mushroom sauce and a egg with seasonal Veges. It’s huge, tasty and value. As I eat, I enjoy the antics of Tom and his various stories to all the tables. He has a tale for every occasion and most are amusing. I revert back to a jug of beer as the price is very accomodating. All in all after a rocky start, I have a most enjoyable evening. After my meal I’m invited to a neighbouring table to finish off my beer and chat to a lovely couple from Cambridge who are also cycling the country. They too are almost there and we happily swap stories for a time. Soon after, a group of hikers walking the TA trail through NZ join us. These guys have my utmost respect and some of their tales of hardship and endurance put us cyclists to shame. They are a completely different breed and I’m not sure I’d make it by foot.

Its 8.30 by the time I slip away and the others look to be settled into a long night ahead. I’m reasonably confident I might be first away in the morning ...

The rain has finally stopped when I leave but there is a definite chill in the air. I whack the electrics and feel no guilt as I blast back to camp. Inside the cabin the feeble heater has had little to no effect on my sopping hear. I could have a hot curry, wait an hour and then have more effect that this bloody thing. I bet several people have frozen to death here in midwinter. I hang wet stuff on top of the heater and drape the rest of a chair. No chance of burning anything on that thing. Bob is still complaining about his position well back from the heater. Tough life being a chog.

https://strava.app.link/IACWfdzm1U

And for your goodnight, Click HERE

23
Winton

Welcome to probably the quietest day of the tour. I was up at around 8am and spent the next 2 hours before checkout trying vainly to dry out shoes, tent fly and other bits and pieces from yesterday’s soaking. The heater in my cabin is so ridiculously inept that another week would be required to dry anything. I take another shower while waiting and this at least is worthwhile. At 10 I’ve given up on the heater and am on my way. I briefly stop at the cafe and pick up a sandwich for later in the day.

There is a gravel cycle path running alongside the motorway but after a kilometre of playing dodgems with lampposts placed directly in the centre of said path I decide to give it a miss. There is barely any traffic and my speed increases from 20 to 30km/hr on the road.

My cabin to the left of the car

Let’s play dodgems on the cycle path

The entire day of nearly 80km is on a gentle downhill slope that requires very little effort early on but a little more as the headwind picks up in the early afternoon. Scenery wise it’s a bit of a comedown from the heights of the past few weeks. For the first time I’m a little bored by the passing farmland and fields of cows and sheep.

The highlight of the day is when I cycle past a remote country school and it’s obviously morning interval. First one kid sees me approaching, shouts and waves and before long what seems like the entire school has congregated at the fence and cheer and wave as I pass by. I wave back and few that considering where I am, I was probably their highlight also. They are the last human contact I have for most of the day.

I’m starting to feel very tired on the bike today. The sameness of the rolling paddocks in every direction is starting to frustrate me. The roads I’m traveling today seem dead straight and if I could have, I’d have dozed off and sleepcycled. Eventually I throw my audiobook on and treat myself and all the cow as sheep I pass to several chapters of ‘Faithful Place’ the 3rd of a trilogy by Tana French and a most enjoyable read / listen.

I pause briefly in a large farm driveway to eat my sandwich and take a slurp of water. It really is a nothing day. The sky is a dull grey and if it weren’t for the book I’d have been struggling big time. I’ve become so immersed in it by the time I reach Winton that it takes me a minute to realise that I’m cycling through the centre of town and attracting a few stares as I have the Irish narrator roaring out the story from my wonderboom speaker. I switch it off and pedal quietly to the far end of town where I stop at the local bakery for a coffee and apple slice. I ring my friend Rodger at who’s house I’m staying tonight and he informs me he’s stuck at work until around 9pm. He works for a dairy farmer. He has however left the house open for me and invites me to head in around and make myself at home.

I pull briefly into New World to pick up a cold drink and some bikkies as I feel I shouldn’t arrive with nothing. Heading up to pay I’m accosted by a tiny little woman who comes bustling up to me and excitedly asks if I’m cycling through the country. I admit that I am and she tells me she has heard about me and ‘the hedgehog’ on the radio. She is very excited about talking to me and I can’t figure out whether she’s completely batty or being serious. After a few minutes conversation I’m heavily leaning towards the batty. When I push for details on the radio, she says it was on a national talkback show and that she is now going to ring in and say she has met me. Sounds like riveting programming if it happens to be true ...

Anyway, having finally escaped her, I make my way outside where another lady and 2 small kids are standing by my bike with the kids patting Bob. Thankfully this lady is sane and the kids most eager to learn Bobs name. I chat a couple of minutes with them before cycling around to Rogers house and letting myself in. I’m feeling worn today and collapse into the couch for half an hour before struggling back up for a shower. I throw a load of fairly ripe laundry on and then relapse onto the couch. Roger rings to say he will be in just after 9 and there is a frozen pizza I can heat up for dinner if I like. As I can’t be bothered cycling any further today that is the option I take and it isn’t too bad.

I’m nearly asleep on the couch when Rodge arrives looking fairly worn himself. We chat for an hour or so before he heads for a shower and bed.

I’ll not be long away myself now as my eyes are closing by themselves. Many apologies for the drab day. It’s quite sad when the most exciting thing all day is a nutter in New World.

A photo that sums up my day

https://strava.app.link/d8NWVIE02U

A special guest for our goodnight, Click HERE

24
Stirling Point

Well what should be a happy celebration in reaching Bluff and the completion of a trip that’s been somwhere in my mind since age 12 has been rather overshadowed by the horrific events in Chistchurch with the shooting. What a sad sad world this has become since I was that 12 year old !! I had absolutely no idea of what had happened until I arrived late afternoon, my heart goes out to those affected directly.

Anyhow, this is not the place for morbid mutterings so I will move forward with the days activities.

I slept like an absolute rock last night. I knew I was tired but I can barely recall my head hitting the pillow.

Rodge the dodge is up at 7 but gets the welcome news he’s not needed until 10. I don’t find this out until I rise myself at about 8.45. We have a couple of coffees and catch up on old times before all too soon he has to head off for another days work. Old Bill, Rogers flatmate, keeps me entertained with some stories of the local area before I really get a move on and pack up. Bill is a great storyteller but has the remains of a Scottish accent which at times is hard to decipher. He’s now in his 70s and still does a fair days work that would put many a younger man to shame. A lovely man and I’d be happy to hear out his stories a lot longer had I the time. I probably have the time if I’m honest but whether the remnants of depression or not, I tend to struggle if I’m not on the move or actively wearing myself out.

I wave to old Bill and head off down the lane into more wide farmland. Today it seems more pleasant to look at which is most likely due to the sun being out. It’s the first blue skies I’ve seen in a few days and it’s very welcome. Even given the blue skies, the air is still chilly and I end up throwing my light jacket on until the day truely warms up.

There are a lot of people completing this

Long straight roads

Farmland galore

Another new one for me

An oiled road for your viewing pleasure

I hit Invercargill at around 1pm and for the first time throughout NZ am very naughty and have a takeaway. Well a dine in to be precise. I have a snack lunch form kfc and the service is appallingly slow. It’s ok as a treat but I can see why I barely touch the stuff ...

Upon leaving the colonel I head out to a cycle path that winds about an estuary down towards Bluff. It’s an interesting ride with many little signboards up giving interesting information on the history of the area. It passed through a waste treatment plant and the smells are a little pungent for a brief moment.

Along the Estuary

It’s prettier in the flesh

Estuary ride

It’s an enjoyable ride and I don’t much enjoy rejoining the motorway when it ends around 20 km short of Bluff. The traffic is heavy today and it’s the first time I’ve been on State Highway 1 since Picton. To make matters worse around 15km out, we strike roadworks. Traffic backs up way behind me and as it finally begins to slow again a few km on, gravel is flicked up at me from all passing cars and trucks. It’s most disconcerting as it rains off my helmet as I keep my head down. Quite amazing how far tyres can fling bits of gravel. I’m grateful a little further in when the roadworks end and I can look back up without fear of losing an eye.

Cars and truck fling up stones off the new seal

Bluff ahead

At about 5km out it suddenly dawns I’m me that I’m actually almost there. It’s a strange feeling. I’d thought I’d be full of jubilation at a longtime dream being realised, but In reality its almost like saying goodbye to a long time friend. It’s been with me so long this dream and how I’d go about it and now that it’s about to be realised I feel rather flat. I slow down my pedaling briefly, remembering my fears way back at Cape Reinga that it seemed so far away and unlikely. The reality is that this country is tiny. I’d not realised until now just how small we really are. It’s almost enough to make one feel claustrophobic. A little part of me almost wants to turn around and not complete it, to leave the dream in place and have it there for another time. I’m quite positive that none of you will get that, but hey, it’s just the way I feel.

I force myself to push the last few km, even procrastinating by visiting a cemetery and memorial for those lost at sea in the area. I’m quite moved by the amount of men (I can’t find a single lady amongst the memorials) who have lost their lives to the sea and most at an early age. The story of a 15 year old lad on his first working trip on a fishing vessel is particularly sad.

I make it to the township and then the last km or two around to Stirling Point.

I’m in Bluff

That’s Bluff

In case you hadn’t noticed ... I’m in Bluff

They sure like you to know you’re in Bluff, there are signs everywhere to announce the fact in case you are a little confused. At Stirling Point there are cars parked everywhere and I wait patiently for my chance to get the obligatory photo at the signpost. Several tourists question me on the journey and i slightly returns the feeling of happiness to me as I reflect back through the journey and some of the people I’ve met. A nice Aussie couple inside on taking a photo with me in it and here it comes with a few of just Gerty and Bob

Bob insists on the proper seat for once

Made it

Cape Reinga ... that way

Some poser cyclist

The chain ... apparently resurfaces on Stewart Island and does the same from South to North, tying us altogether.

I cycle slowly back through town. On the way I look for Fred & Myrtles old Paua House that I visited some 30 years ago, only to be told by a loca,l that a grandson sold all the pieces off to Christchurch museum many years back after they had passed. What an absolute travesty. The place was a Bluff icon and should have remained here always as the treasure it was. I remember being shown through by Myrtle and being told that Fred’s hearing wasn’t too good. I find it very very sad that greed wins again. For those who don’t know of the place, click HERE and HERE . I’m just so pleased that I got to see it the way it was.

Bluff coast

Stewart Island in the far distance

A great Bluff Garden

I check in at the Bluff Lodge, which is actually the old Bluff Post Office and the first in the South Island. At that point, all South Island mail went here and was distributed from here. It has now been converted into a backpackers lodge and it’s a grand old place run by a wonderfully eccentric lady called Kay. She bustles about and shows me around the place like a long lost friend. She is utterly brilliant and I love her instantly. She insists on me being my bike and enem helps push and guide it through the labyrinth of corridors. “Don’t worry about getting lost, she chortles, everything leads off the washing machines. If you can find them then you’re on the right path”

My room is small with 2 single beds, but for $30 it will do nicely. It’s just off the main dormitory where several people who have just completed the hike through NZ are flaked out on beds. There is a little odour emminating from them and their gear and I’m happy to have a room to myself.

The shower is huge and modern and after freshening up, I take a wander through town. There’s not much in the way of shops, just a 4 Square, 2 pubs, a dairy and a strange little cafe/museum. I enter the museum and it’s a little bit odd but the lady shows me through to a back room where walkers and cyclists get to sign and date a wall having completed the tour of NZ

There are a lot of people completing this

I sign for Bob and myself

I take a look at the pubs and decide on one for a meal. I have the seafood basket and it’s pretty filling for $15, mind you that was probably the jug of beer assisting with the filling part. I’m not sure I’ve ever drunk so much beer in an month in my life, but my reasoning is, why pay $7 for a glass when you can have a jug for $10. The annoying thing with the pub is 1) they have rugby on instead of the league ... though I guess that’s to be expected here ... and 2) I’ve only just finished my meal at around 8.20 and had 1 glass from my jug when they say they will be closing at 8.30 😲😲😲

Now this is a Friday night and I’m wondering what on earth is going on. All the locals seem to know though as they traipse out at the appointed time. There is no way I’m abandoning my 4/5 full jug and so I do a meritable job of downing 1 glass after the other until it’s drained and I’m feeling slightly merrier than I was a few minutes back.

I wobble off down the street and soon learn why the locals weren’t too upset to be kicked out at 8.30. The other pub is still open and most have just staggered on in here to watch the second half of the footy and fill up the tank as it were. After my earlier tribute to the 6 o’clock swill of days gone by, I don’t really feel like another beer but with little (read nothing) else to do on a Friday night in Bluff, Inhead on in anyway and order 1/2 a pint so that I don’t look out of place. I sit amongst the throng cheering on either hurricanes or chiefs. With a jug and a bit of beer floating around in me I don’t recall who won, I’m doing bloody well to remember who played.

The game ends and the tv channel is put back to the ongoing coverage of the Christchurch shooting, I decide it’s not what I feel like watching and wander back to the lodge. Every bed is now taken in the dormitory and people lounge about chatting and eating with debri from their packs lying around flotsam from a shipwreck. I wade through with an impromptu game of hopscotch past the tricker pieces and sprawl through my door.

Now the major problem with beer is that what goes in must come out and no sooner am I ensconced on my bed than I feel the need arise. I repeat my acrobatic manoeuvres through the dormitory and then give an encore performance moments later as I once again make it to my room. And that’s all she (or in this case he) wrote. The room spun a couple of times and that was that.

https://strava.app.link/rnTGXy1d6U

Struggling for a goodnight tonight so I will offer a song that sums up the Christchurch situation

Click HERE

25
Curio Bay Camping Ground

Hello, yes I’m here. What a day !!!! The majority of today is going to have to be written tomorrow which is actually today now anyway being that it’s 12.52am and I’ve only just made it to my tent 😬

I only slept on and off last night, which surprised me as I felt very tired. I woke fully at around 8 and once again hopscotched my way to the bathroom. As the shower was so good yesterday, I have another this morning to wake me up. The problem I have with multiple showers is that I only carry one towel and it’s forever trying to dry out.

I’ve just completed packing my stuff when the effervescent Kay bustles through the door at 9. She is such a wonderfully zany character and you can’t help but love her. She greets everyone by name, including Bob who she makes a big fuss over. She must have a mind like a steel trap as she recalls all the little things asked yesterday by every single guest. For me it’s where to find a good coffee and she directs me back to the curious little cafe / museum a few doors down.

The lady here is surprised to see me again so soon, though also delighted as I don’t feel that she, or many of the shops for that matter, has too many customers each hour. I take a toasted sandwich which is ok and a coffee which was excellent. I make a note to inform Kay that whilst she is correct with her coffee recommendations, I wouldn’t be so quick with the toasties. However it does fill the gap and sop up the remains of the hastily drunk jug.

Kay has kindly offered to look after all my panniers while I take a look around town and it’s a nice change to cycle on an unladen bike. I first head back to Stirling Point where I cycle up the steep drive and lock my bike at the cafe. I then walk down and around the coast 5km each way to a lovely lookout point over to Stewart Island. On the way there are great views over to a few other islands to the left. One of these is Dog Island which houses the tallest lighthouse in NZ.

Panorama

Stewart Island .. just visible

The walk around is an easy one on a well formed path, easy that is until I decide to also take the path up to the site of the historic gun battery. This is around a km’s climb and Tane & Mahuta, being more used to pedaling, have a few groans. I’m surprised at the amount of people on the track and a lot seem local. The gun battery site isn’t terribly impressive though the views out over Foveaux Straight are lovely.

The lookout building for jap ships and to offer aiming advice for the gun mounted further up

Back down again and I follow around to the end of the path where there is a lookout point over Stewart Island and a plaque dedicated to those who lost their lives during a plane crash into the strait just a 1km short of land.

The sad plaque whose story can be found HERE

I’d have continued on the extra path right around the far side of the coast but the track had been closed due to erosion.