Monday, October 31, 2011

Cycling Invercargill Papatowai Balclutha Dunedin

October 28th Invercargill – Papatowai 113km

After letting Tia the boxer pup have a quick walk in the garden we left on what had the potential for a long ride.  The city limits only took a few minutes to reach and as we passed through the acres of farmland the wind neither hindered or helped.  The bright sunshine enhanced the views although the temperature still required a jacket. 

The first stop at a café was fairly brief although it had lovely gardens made on the site of an old quarry with signets from the wild black swans swimming in the lake.  The Southern scenic route we followed carried on through farmland, gently undulating through the occasional small township.  During lunch we sat in a park and enjoyed the sunshine.

At Curio bay the scenic route changes direction, the sign said 31km to go.  This turned out to be the end of the easy cycling with steep hills and a headwind.  As we had already covered over 80km we had to fight our way up every hill with tired legs.  When we saw the Whistling frog café and holiday park we were tempted to stay until we saw the prices!  Onwards once more and the route was not giving up the last few km easily.  What turned out to be the last climb had us both struggling, Maria said she couldn’t make it and I had no energy to encourage her so I just cycled on and she followed.  As we descended into the township we passed the store and luckily managed to buy food just before it closed. 

No campsite here, motel rates were high but we found  a backpackers which was situated 1km along a gravel road.  On the way however we passed a B&B that also had a cabin.  $60 seemed reasonable and it had a shower and kitchen so fully self-contained.  Caroline the owner was very friendly so were her cats and dogs.  One cat had 3 legs and the other Poppy was more than happy to join us in the cabin at every opportunity whether it was the door or window which was left ajar.  A lovely spot and a good rest, tomorrow should be an easier day!


View from last climb

Maria fighting her way to the top

October 29th Papatowai – Balclutha 61km

The first day I started out in t shirt and shorts, maybe the start of the summer?  The road had a few minor climbs but in general was very cruisey.  Only 3.5 hours cycling today compared to the 6.5 of the dy before.  After finding a cabin we chilled out.  Balclutha isn’t a pretty place, a slaughter house and processing plant are the main industry.  Relaxing was the order of the day though and we managed that well.

October 30th Balclutha – Dunedin 95km

Early start and another potentially long day ahead.  The fine rain defied the forecast and our hope for the start of the summer.  A steep climb out of town followed by steeply undulating farmland made the first 20km a drag.  We were both hoping this wasn’t going to be the order of the day!  After a café break and a chat to 3 guys touring on motorbikes we headed off into a slight headwind.  The road now much flatter seemed to get much busier so when we had the option to take the scenic route we did. 

The hill to the coast was a killer, I would guess the steepest consistent climb so far.  Now we have been up steeper gradients but not for so long.  After 4km we hit the summit and rode down to the coast, my brakes could hardly bring me to a stop but slowed me down enough to survive the experience.

Now the route was beautiful, hugging the coastline with sandy beaches and rocky out crops.  The weather was grey and a little drizzle fell but the wind was light and the road gently rolling.  We cycled along Essex Road, then through Brighton, I can assure you there is no resemmbeklance to Brighton UK.

The scenic route changed direction again up a short steep hill followed by a short steep descent.  As we turned at the bottom all we could see was the road climbing as straight as an arrow directly infront.  On this climb a guy in a van drew along side and offered us a ride.  This is the first time we have been offered a lift, we must have looked like we were struggling but with only 12km to go I thanked him but carried on cycling.

Eventually we reached the top and headed into Dunedin.  It looked very grey and unwelcoming but once we found the hostel we didn’t care, another 6 hour day.
View of Dunedin from the hostel roof

October 31st Dunedin

Too tired to ride on today so lay in bed and watched a DVD.  Caught up on the blog and then a wander around.  When the sun is shining like today and you aren't worn out Duniden looks a different place.  We have decided to stay in NZ for an extra 4 days and only go from Sydney to Brisbane missing Cairns.  Although diving on the GBR would be awsome it is expensive and the logistics of the bike transport a pin so we will leave that till next time.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cycling Tuatpere Invercargill

October 26th Tuatapere - Invercargill 94km

Left at just gone 9am after a chat to the owners,  It seemss the campsite was built by the government to house forestry workers back when they were strip felling the area.  It now makes a great campsite.  We cycled therough the small township and headed for the coast, the wind was in our face however we were hoping that would change when we turned along the sea front.  The coastal road undulated as they all seem to do, we stopped in a cafe as usual and they guy behind the counter told us all about Orepuki.  It turns out the place was a gold mining boom town and his family had farmed here for generations.  Now it was a very quiet agricultural village, the caafe is also the pub.

As we continued the road moved in the right direction for the wind to be right behind us and we flew along.  Lunch was eaten in the tourist informationin Riverton where they even made us a cup of coffee free of charge!  I guess they must of felt sorry for us cycling in the almost gale force wind, little did they know we were loving it.  As we headed on again we averaged 30kph up until we made the final turn into invercatgill.

We stopped at Macdonalds to use the net to see if Marias friends had made contact and fill our faces.  The internet wasn't working so we went to find the world's fastest indian.  We found it in E Hayes hardware which has tens of old motorcycles from Ariels to Honda and Yamaha race bikes.  The Indian was great and although the stream liner was a copy it was still awsome.  Burt Munro also built a Velocette wich sat in the case next to the Indian.

We headed to Anastacia's house and met Gary her boyfirend an Tia the boxer pup.  Lovely people and pup.  We went to a Turkish resturant for dinner and tomorrow we are going to look around Invercargill.


Worlds Fastest Indian

October 27th Invercargill

Got a few jobs done but went to the Museum (more Indian stuff amongst over stuff) and had a look at the Tuataras.  They look like lizards but live for  a very long time, Henry is believed to be over 150 years old. They are from a reptile family 250 million years old and have only survived in New Zealand.

From there we went and found a book on cycling Oz to plan the route to Brisbane and last but definitely not least we wnt to the velodrome.

If I lived near one of these things I would take it up for sure.  A team were in training so we watched them fly round with the little moped setting the pace.  I really waant a go.  Outside was a clock counting down to the olympics, I hope nthey had better luck with the tickets than we did.

Pizza for dinner then a bit of computer work to plan the route for the rest of NZ.  Back on the roadd in the morning.  Had a really nice stay here.

Cycling Queenstown Mossburn Te Anau Milford Sound Tuatpere

October 22nd Queenstown – Mossburn 114km

Up and ready to go at fairly early, it was a little overcast but no rain.  The route out of Queenstown had some really steep climbs but they were only a couple of hundred meters long.  Soon we were travelling along the lake road which like all of the lake and coast roads undulates with short steep climbs and descents.  The views were awesome, the roads quiet and the wind calm so we had a great ride to Kingston which is right at the bottom of the lake and has a great café.

After we had refueled on quiche and scones we set off for Atholl about 30km away.  We must have had a tailwind or the road must have been downhill as we flew along at 30kph+ hitting Atholl for lunch.  We had been riding through lush farmland since we left the lake and they day had turned warm and sunny, we made a decision to ride to the next township 37km further on.  This turned the 77km ride into 114km but make hay while the sun shines!  With only one long climb on route we arrived in Mossburn motor park after just over 6 hours in the saddle, it had been a great ride though and not that tiring.

The campsite itself was in a beautiful setting, peacocks and chickens wandering around with sheep in the fields.  The down side is the facility blocks which were run down and a little dirty.  As we shared the whole place with only 2 motor homes we pretty much took over the kitchen and watched a movie on the TV after dinner.  When we went out to the tent the stars were incredible I think mainly because you could see any artificial light in any direction.

October 23rd Mossburn – Te Anau 65km

Off at 9am which seems to be the norm now we rode the 3 km to Mossburn town.  Not much there and the supermarket was shut and it turns out it would have been closed if we had gone there yesterday.  Luckily we had passed a small farm shop on the side of the road or we wouldn’t have had much dinner last night.

Anyway what a good decision it was to ride the extra miles yesterday as the wind was strong and in our face.  We made slow progress but as we only had 65ish km to go we weren’t down at all.  We had lunch at the top of the hill surrounded in red tussocks.  We hid however behind a few felled trees to get out of the wind.  Once going again the wind eased and before long we cycled into Te Anau.  A quick drop into the tourist information gave us the heads upon the weather for tomorrow which looks bad so YHA it is.  Tomorrow we are off to Milford Sound so it can rain as hard as it likes.

Bumped into Murray at the YHA the other cycle tourist we keep seeing and there was another cyclist there.  Seems a few more are getting about now.

Forgot to mention we got attacked by a magpie!  It swooped down at me and nearly made me fall off, Maria saw it happening then it turned and swooped at her!  It did the same to Murray and the girl in the tourist info!

Watched the world cup, I really thought France were going to steal it in the last 20 mins but I was glad to see the All Blacks take the Cup.

October 24th Milford Sound

We got on the Kiwi Experience coach which included a cruise and the underwater observatory.  Several scenic stops on the way along with a few cheeky Keas (alpine parrots).  Maria was in her element as she had worked here several years ago.  On the cruise we had a buffet lunch before heading out on deck to take in the views.  It was so windy you could hardly stand up but thee views were awesome.  When we edged up to the waterfall we decided to stay on the bow which turned out to be a bad idea as we were soon soaked!

The observatory was next, this is where Maria actually worked.  I enjoyed it, it was smaller than I had imagined and it had been damaged in a storm.  Some of the trays that held the coral had also been damaged and the coral died.  Maria was a little upset but I am sure she liked to see the place again.

We got back on the bus about 4pm and arrived back in Te Anau about 5.30pm.  The gusts we hitting 130kph and the rain hammered the building.  Not looking too good for the 100km tomorrow!

Black Coral is surprisingly white

Kea on the coach


October 25th Te Anau – Tuatapere 107km

Bright sunshine and little wind, what a change from yesterday.  As we left the town the wind picked up but blew on our backs and we flew along.  A quick café stop after an hour, lunch in a picnic spot and up to 40kph made this a great ride.  30km from Tuatapere the wind changed to a headwind but we still managed 20kph so it couldn’t have been strong.

The ride was mainly through farmland with great views of mountains in the distance, with only one big climb we averaged 20kph.

It is a little cold tonight so we opted for a cabin again.  Any excuse.  The Last Light Lodge has nice rooms, kitchen and showers for $56 for the night.  Tomorrow Invercargill with a bit of luck!
Lake Manapouri

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cycling Wanaka Queenstown

October 20th Wanaka - Queenstown 80km

The hardest day yet!  We left around 9am and after a short sharp climb out of town the road climbed steadily with a slight headwind to Cadrona.  At this point we had covered about 25km so we stopped for a hot chocolate at the bar which was an old wooden building full of old curiosities.  Things were going well although the cloud was building and the road steepening.  We leap frogged a crew fixing potholes in the road for a little while then we hit the last 3km of the climb.  The road was killer steep and I needed to stop every few hundred metres to catch my breath.  Thw weight of all the gear was seriously paying it’s toll.  Several cyclists passed travelling to Wanaka, even a tandem came past but none were carrying gear, I was wishing I wasn’t.  That said we eventually made it to the top of the highest sealed road in NZ at nearly 1100m.  We spoke to a guy from Bruni who was visiting his son, drank soup and then pushed off to Queenstown.

Once round the corner the wind hit us hard, going much faster than 30kph felt unsafe so by the time we reached the bottom my hands were killing me from hanging on the brakes so hard.  I think we had the easiest climb as the road on this side seemed really steep although it always feels steeper going down than up for some reason.

When the road flattened out we could either go straight to Queenstown or gi via Arrowtown on quieter roads.  So we did the latter and stopped there, ate our packed lunch and an ice cream.   A quick walk around the shops saw Maria buying more greenstone.  Finally we left for Queenstown.

This is where I guess I ran out of steam!  The headwind was very strong and the road undulating, each hill was kicking my butt.  I even got Maria to ride in front to block the wind for a change but she just went too fast for me to keep up so it made no difference.  The last couple of km to Queenstown had steepish climbs and I really had to dig deep.

Anyway I made it without dying which is a bonus and we decided to get a proper bed so we went to the YHA.  Shopped ate and then bed.  Enjoyable? you bet, but maybe more in hindsight :-)

October 21st Queenstown

Got up at 7am and got ready to leave, it was a little damp outside but nothing bad.  At breakfast it was clear we were worn out from the previous day so we decided to have another day off! 

We spent the day just cruising around Queenstown and Maria tried to sort out the Milford trip.  The town is full of youngsters looking for a thrill.  All the activities are expensive and to be honest we haven’t really got the energy today.  The only thing to catch my eye were the downhill centre but you could spectate and hiring a bike and gear would be $100 before you started on lift tickets etc or the off road motorbike tours.  Now we didn’t check the price for them but I might treat myself when we come across another one, I am sure it will be expensive but it would be very cool.

Now we are just chilling in the hostel, going to watch a dvd and then an early night.  Oh I forgot the Cookie Time shop.  Cookie Time cookies are a large part of our diet and they had a shop devoted to them.  Not as good as the M&M shop in Las Vegas but still well worth a visit.
Just spoke to the guy on the front desk and said the heli biking company were looking for guides and also the jetboat company looking for drivers.  Man how badly would I like to do either of those!!!!  Queenstown is a place where you can scare yourself in hundreds of different ways if you have the cash.
Got my Oz visa through today, looking forward to seeing Ade and Grace.
Half the team in the Cookie Time shop

One big Kiwi

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cycling Wanaka

October 19th Wanaka

A well deserved day off.  You would not believe the change in weather as now we have beautiful blue skies and little wind.  A well needed trip to the barbers for me followed by a quick look around the shops and a sit by the lake, look even wearing shorts!!  We chilled and ate for most of the day, then a few internet jobs like applying for my Oz visa and planning the route after Queenstown.

On a different note we saw several lovely old cars today here is a picture of a huge Ford Galaxie.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cycling Hokitika Harihari Franz Josef Fox Glacier Paringa Lake Haast Makarora Wanaka

October 11th Hokitika – Harihari 77km

Forecast was bad and we woke to heavy rain.  We only decided we were going at 9am and by 9.30 we were off to town to get some gloves.  I thought latex gloves under the cycling gloves would keep our hands warm and dry.  They worked but got a bit sweaty. The wind was strong and directly behind us and even the rain had eased off.  The road, mainly flat, passed through pastures full of just weaned calves not bigger than a great danes.  Every time they saw us coming they would run to the fence I guess expecting food.  We stopped at Ross in an interesting café/bar.  It was done out in western style with lots of wood, saddles and cowboy hats for decoration.  In one of the rooms sat a lovely old triumph, I had to take a couple of pictures!

Back out in the rain we continued to Harihari passing a gold mine just out of Ross, the biggest nugget in New Zealand came from here and weighed over 2kg. We were soon into the rain forest that lived up to its name, not heavy rain but fine and constant.  We planned to stop at the Bushman’s Centre for lunch , as we entered nobody greeted us just looked down their noses, then eventually came over and said we were too wet to sit down as the seats were covered in possum fur which would take a long time to dry out.  We could try putting newspaper down or we could sit outside.  Hmm sit outside after 2 hours of riding in the rain, they could kiss my A***.  We found a gateway to stop and drink our flask of soup and rode on.  By the time we hit Harihari we were soaked!  Although we both decided that rain and a tailwind is better than a strong headwind any day, it had been any easy ride.

There were 3 options to stay, the backpackers said no vacancies but looked closed, and the pub had rooms but no kitchen and then the Flaxbush Motel which was perfect.  The most expensive stay at $65 but our own bathroom was a treat and also made a great drying room.

October 12th Harihari – Franz Josef 66km

A dry morning and a climb to start the day.  Not too long or steep but no tailwind today either so a bit slower.  After the descent we came to Whataroa.  A little village with a café and a park with a covered seating area so our food first in the park then a look in the Greenstone Gallery next to it (I bought a nice piece and managed to get a deal by looking broke and wet I guess).  Next came a hot chocolate in the café before continuing to Franz.

Franz is a full on tourist town due to the glacier 5km south.  Backpackers, hotels and campsites make up most of the buildings along with a couple of bars and booking offices for quad bikes, sky diving, glacier guides, heli rides etc etc etc.  We stayed in the YHA taking advantage of the cycling discount, had dinner and watched a couple of dvds.

October 13th Franz Josef

We had planned to stay here 2 nights so we could go to the glacier.  We cycled the 5km to the car park then walked the 1.5hr round trip.  Very impressive, I would say the best example I have seen but a shame you can’t hike on it without a guide.

After lunch we soaked in the hot pools, a little disappointed as just 3 pools with no bubbles, jets or anything much.  Being set in the rain forest made for a relaxing couple of hours though.  Tomorrow we have just over 20km to Fox glacier but 3 reasonable climbs then the next day 70ish km to Paringa Lake.  Neither place has much in the way of shops so we shopped for 3 days food to be on the safe side.

 Yes I Know I need my hair cut :-)

October 14th Franz Josef – Fox Glacier 26km

Left at 10am after chatting to 3 guys are cycling supported, no bags on road bikes must be nice but they are doing 140km a day.  Our easy day had three steep climbs, the last had a sign warning cars of the gradient! The three guys drove past waving encouragement.   We arrived in Fox at 12pm.  Accommodation is expensive here $60 for a cabin (Fox Glacier Holiday Park and Motel) but it is large and the kitchen and showers are all new.  Took the cycle track through the rain forest to the glacier, nice ride.  I thought Franz glacier more impressive.  The lady working at the campsite had just come back from walking some of the peaks trail in the US and had been to many of the same spots as us.

Back to a normal length day tomorrow 75km and then Wales France, come on the Welsh!

October 15th Fox Glacier – Paringa Lake 72km

Great days ride, a mixture of gentle downhill and tailwind meant 3 hours 20 ride time which must be close to our fastest average speed so far.  Rainforest lined the road most of the way however we hit the coast at Bruce Bay so we stopped for a snack.  While we drank tea and coffee the guys we met in Franz arrived and stopped for a chat.  They had tiny stem bags carrying snacks and a phone on their carbon fibre road bikes.  They said they ride 4.5 hours a day which is similar to a lot of our days but they cover a much greater distance.  We stopped for lunch at a salmon farm but no fish for us purely cake!

We arrived a Paringa Lake Lodge just before it rained but decided to camp as a cabin cost $85 and $24 to camp.  This site seemed more aimed at fishing and hunting parties than tourists but everybody as usual was friendly although there were swarms of sand flies.  There were 2 groups of men, both fishing and hunting on or around the lake next to the site.  Seems cruising around the lake looking for deer at the waters edge then shooting them is the stalking they did but nobody had shot one whilst we were there.  In fact I got the idea that they weren’t 100% up to speed on the hunting side as they didn’t know what distance their rifles were zeroed at but they were nice guys and I guess the way they relaxed.  The host Kevin was a good old boy as well and lit a fire in an old barrel which we all stood round and drank beer.

We watched the rugby that night, enough said about that but I was made a whitebait patte which was really good, the highlight of the night.

October 16th Paringa Lake – Haast 55km

A nice sunny day for a change, the ride had several short steep climbs which slowed the speed down. It took 3 hours 11 to cover 55km.  We stopped at Knights Point viewing spot for a snack and had lunch in Haast, fish and chips for me!  Haast Motor Park charge $32 to camp or $55 for a double room so we went for the room.  This was mainly down to the fact there is a severe weather warning for tomorrow and we have a long day uphill right in the middle of it!  We are aiming to be on the road at 8am so we will see if everything goes as planned.  The place is really nice and seems new, it looks like it is a converted industrial building.  We dried the tent on the washing line and repacked it, loaded the trailer so in the morning it’s just panniers on and go.  The only downside about Haast is the price of the groceries, 2 carrier bags of shopping cost $69! That’s only 1.5 days food but with only one shop for at least 100km in any direction I guess you can charge what you want.

I bought a sneaky 6 pack for the game tonight, come on the All Blacks!! J

October 17th Haast – Makarora 82km

Well a decent match last night for a change, surely they can beat the French.  We were on the road at 7.47am which must be a record!  It was bright and sunny although we rode into a cold headwind for an hour.   At 50km the road went up so steep it is all I could do to push the pedals round, I had to get out of the saddle and stopped 3 times in 2km!  I thought if it carries on like this I won’t make it, then I saw a sign warning of extreme gradient for cars going down what we had just cycled up so I hoped it would get easier.  I kept expecting the road to climb steeper as we were cruising along with only a gradual uphill trend but by surprise we reached a sign letting us know we had reached the top.  A result for sure, 6km sooner than the sign at Haast had predicted and nothing like the climb described in the guide book.

The downhill had the occasional up but only for short sections, as the valley widened 40kph was possible reaching Makarora in a total ride time of 5 hours.  We had lunch in the unmanned visitors center (a flask of soup) then hot chocolate and cake in the café.  The café here is also the shop, petrol station and motel!  The cabin for the night cost $70 but with the severe weather warning still in place there was no way we were camping.

As we only had pasta and sauce, no veg or anything else, we ate that then went to the café for chicken and chips for me and veggies for Maria followed by more cake and hot chocolate!

It is now peeing down, 65km tomorrow doesn’t fill me with joy but there is nothing to do here so we will go regardless of the weather.

October 18th Makarora – Wanaka 66km

Well the forecast was bang on, we woke to rain and it continued all day.  We had on all of our wet weather gear yet we were cold and damp within an hour.  The headwind slowed the speed down around Lake Wanaka, making the climbs on the constantly undulating road harder than normal.  The views, although partially obscured by cloud were spectacular, I wish I could share them with you but stopping to take a photo was never on the cards.

We trudged on until we reached The Neck, the highest point at 405m and where you leave Lake Wanaka for Lake Hawea.  Now we felt the full force of the south westerly gale force wind.  The rain stung our faces and pedaling hard to make progress even downhill was required.

Luckily we came to a small shelter on the side of the road.  It looked like an old bus shelter but offered great protection from the wind and rain.  A flask of soup soon warmed us up whilst we read the graffiti left by travelers from years gone by, the earliest was 1981 and none had anything positive to say about this isolated shelter.

Once back out on the road the warmth soon disappeared, our hands feeling the coldest.  I struggled into the headwind along this beautiful lake, each climb seemed worse than the last.  At 50km we were saved by a café, we gorged ourselves on cake and an all day breakfast fro me, quiche for Maria.  !.5 hours we stayed before we ventured back into the rain no leaving the lake for an easier cross country ride.

16km later we rolled into Wanaka, cold and wet we headed straight for the YHA got a great double room which shared a kitchen and bathroom with only 1 other room which by chance was empty.  Showered and changed we went for food at a Japanese restaurant then a DVD and bed.
The hardest day so far and only 66km. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Cycling Westport Punakaiki Greymouth Hokitika

7th October Westport -  Punakaiki 59km

Well we didn’t get what we expected today!  We had a lie in 7am but the night before was more like staying in halls than a hostel with drunken kids kicking off just outside the hostel and generally a lot of noise.  This wouldn’t have been bad if you were in a room but the tent means you hear everything.  Not the best spot to camp.

So the forecast was for a sunny calm day, we had our coats on 5km out of Westport and a headwind.  Road hugs the coast, err if it does it must have long arms as we didn’t see the sea (except briefly at Charlestown) for 40km.  We also imagined that the coastal road would undulate but wouldn’t be too steep as the guide book does this route as part of 100km day.  Wrong again one really steep hill up and down after another.  If I had done the guide book route I would have found the author and beat him with the book!  Even the halfway café was no longer open.

So you would think we had a bad day but all in all it was still good just a little more tiring than we thought.  Found a cabin for $41 for the night, only $10 more than camping so it was a no brainer.  Went to look at the pancake rocks this place is famous for then went to the pub for a little snack of pie and chips washed down with a pint of larger!  We can even hear the sea from the nice warm cabin.

We seem to be eating loads, not sure if it is too much but time will tell.  I think we are burning at least 3000cal a day cycling so I should be eating 5500cal.  That is a lot of food!

Weather forecast is good for tomorrow then slowly goes downhill until Tuesday when it is going to pee down.  Guess we will just have to see.
Nice spot for a picnic

Pancacke rocks

Last stop of the day

8th October Punakaiki – Greymouth 48km

Another lazy start and off we go into a dry morning.  The undulations get less and the views are incredible to start then pleasant as the road travels inland slightly along the side of pastures leading to the coast.  This stretch of road is flat and the speed picks up, there is nowhere to stop for a drink as the pub we passed is closed but we have flasks and snacks with us.  Eventually the road climbs and leaves the coast, just at the top of the clim we stop for lunch at a picnic bench and the rain starts.  Quite a heavy downpour but it only lasted a few minutes.  At the picnic spot a sign stated watch out for penguins, now you don’t see that everyday! and there stood a memorial for people who died in the local coal mine.

We had a headwind when we started again and passed a café in the next vi8llage, typical!  Anyway it is obvious this is a mining area with memorials and miners hall everywhere.  Head down we hit Greymouth early afternoon, found a hostel and got settled in.  YHA gave us the cycling discount so $58 for a double room. 

When we got to the town everything except the super market was shut, I can only just remember shops in the UK shutting on a Saturday afternoon, and this is the biggest place on the west coast!  Marilyn the cycle guide had described this place ‘like the end of the world’.  I am not sure I would go that far but instead of having our day off tomorrow we haave decided to cycle to Hokitika about 44km away and have the day off there.
Not a bad view from the road

I didn't ppppppick up any :-)

October 9th Greymouth – Hokitika  46km

A late start, making the most of not camping the off into a grey morning.  The road was flat and the wind behind us so we flew along.  We stopped at a café just over 1 hour from the start and we were already halfway!  I treated myself to bacon and egg on toast and read all about 1080 poison the DOC are spraying all over NZ.  It is not a popular decision! 

Got to Hokitika, found a cheap cabin $46 a night and settled in.  The facilities are all good and the cabin clean and warm.  Hokitika is one of the main green stone producing areas so there are loads a shops selling the jewelry.  Tomorrow we are going to have a look.

Tonight though we bought a couple of pizzas and dvds.  A nice slob out evening followed by a lie in!!
Gotta love these kiwi signs!!!

October 10th Day Off

Watched a film last night and another this morning while lying in bed!  Looked at the glass blowing, jade carving and sock museum!  A proper lazy day. Off to Hari Hari in the morning, the weather forecast is not so good but we should have a tailwind to go with the rain!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cycling Nelson St Arnauad Murchinson Westport

4th October Nelson – St Arnauad 89km

Well today was a long day. We didn’t leave until 9am as it was raining before that.  We managed about 1.5hrs before it started again but more like drizzle than anything heavy.  The ride itself followed SH6 for quite away but we passed the last shop after 30km so we had to make sure we had everything for the day.  Once off the highway the road was quiet except for the odd logging truck.  Low cloud obscured the views so no photos today plus the road climbed about 1000m and we finished 700m higher than we started so little downhill.  At one point we heard several gun shots close by, it turned out to be a firing range Nelson Pistol Club, the car park was full of police cars.  I guess they were having a play so I didn’t go and see if I could join in.

The logging was all the way along the climb and signs stated planting began in 1929 now that’s a long term investment!

We finally got to St Arnaud at 4.30pm totally worn out!  The local shop was so expensive $40 but a few groceries for dinner.  The big bonus off the day though was the lady who ran the hostel is a cycle guide in the summer so she helped us plan the next week or so.  Thanks Marilyn!

Next 2 days are downhill so lie in tomorrow.

October 5th St Arnaud – Murchinson 60km

Really nice hostel ‘St Arnaud Travers Sabine Lodge’ everything you would expect plus a drying room and everything was just a little nicer than most $26 each for a bunk room but the room we had only had 2 bunks so ideal.

Left about 9.50am and had sunshine all day with an almost all downhill route and no wind or even a slight tailwind at times.  Stopped for a picnic, then again for a coffee before reaching town at about 2.30pm.  We bought groceries and oil for the bikes then set up camp at Riverside Motor Camp.  All the facilities but the kitchen is run down a bit dirty, also $2 for a shower making it $28 for the night.  Not to worry though as there is hardly anybody here and we have the tv room to ourselves.
Maria on one of Coventry's finest, along way from home!

100km tomorrow so any early start, should be still a downhill trend and the forecast is good so fingers crossed.

Just to add that this place has several kitchens we’ve found out, the one we used was away from the main area so maybe didn’t get used much.  Not sure of the condition of the others but wouldn’t rule this place out for the night.

October 6th Murchinson – Westport 101km

Earlyish start but had to stop at the store to buy travelling food.  Nice and sunny today but still cold in the morning.  Now the road follows the Buller River (we have followed from source to sea the last 2 days) all the way to the coast so a nice downhill run in theory but it actually has several small but steep climbs and lots of undulating sections with just too much up to be able to stay in the big gear.  The locals said there is only a small café about 40mins drive from Murchinson and that’s it, so I guest that to be around 40ish km and decided that would be lunch.  As it turned out the café was at 52km so just over halfway.  Great place with good prices and lovely food, I went for a burger followed by Hokey Pokey ice cream, nice and healthy. The next 50km was very similar to the first but flattened near the end, a headwind picked up from about 30km out but as the road was still downhill at that point didn’t slow us too badly.  

As it turned out the day could have been divided up easily, there were campsites and backpackers hostels before, after and in Inangahua Junction where the café is.  The campsite before was a DOC site and the name of the last hostel is Berlin, the one in the town looked more like a home stay but advertised backpackers.

Didn’t get much time to look around Westport, maybe tomorrow.  We are staying in Bazil’s Hostel $30 for a tent site but using all facilities.  Fairly busy, not a lot of room for the tent but clean and in the centre of town.  There are a couple of other options but to be honest we couldn’t be bothered to search around tonight.

One other thing to mention is that you may of spotted the head of a bear sticking out of my backpack and a little frog on the front of my bike.  Well Ed the polar bear is Maria’s and he has been travelling with her for over 11 years so he is better travelled than me!  How I ended up caring him I am not too sure but he is there every day unless it is raining.

The frog ‘Freddie’ I found when cycling up the foothills from Santa Barbra.  I guess he had fallen from a car window and was lying face down on the side of the road.  He seems to fit nicely behind the brake cables of my bike although he now has an elastic seatbelt.  He is far less argumentative than Maria, never answers back or moans and always has a big grin on his face J