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Daily Diary (Day 29 to Day 42)

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Day 42

4 January 2011

Haast to Makarora

   
   

 

Day 40

2 January 2010

Franz Josef to Lake Paringa

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 94.51
Metres climbed: 846


We woke up this morning in a puddle. It wasn't until water soaked through Ollie's sleeping bag that we realised how badly our poor tent was doing at keeping the water out - it was only thanks to the inflatable mattresses we were given by Pacific Outdoor Equipment that we stayed dry that long at all.

We lay contemplating our fate as the rain thundered against the tent until needing to pee became the stronger force and we started moving. Anxious not to spend the next four days soaked, we threw everything in the drier. Not just clothes that were in the tent but sleeping bags as well. Even the tent went in and came out hot and dry.

We had breakfast and sent out the new cycling schedule before wrapping up and heading out into the rain and thunder. It's not so bad once you get going.

Today was our wettest and coldest day yet. We had some nice big hills to warm us up but cooled down again when we stopped in Fox Glacier to eat last night's pizza leftovers. When we got going again we had twenty kms of downhill, which on a warm day would have been fantastic but today had us whooping and shrieking to ward off hypothermia. Visually, though, it was as stunning as ever and in the late evening as the sun broke out on a far off hill behind us we got a great shot of Xaver riding along a long road with the steam rising off the trees in the distance.



When we got to Bruce Bay, our newly scheduled stop, at about 4:30, the only accomodation was a very nice looking lodge. The owner picked us immediately and suggested we might be looking for something a little less pricy. He gave us a cup of tea, possibly because we looked so bedraggled and pathetic, and called a place ten kms down the road. We were keen to find something indoors as it was still pouring down and we couldn't quite handle the thought of a repeat of this morning.

10 kms down the road turned out, somewhat ironically, to be 25kms down the road at Lake Paringa, where we had originally intended to stop before changing the schedule yesterday. Our first attempt at making the days shorter was a complete failure, but they were 94 easy kms and it was so worth it to find hot showers and even hot soup waiting for us! The owners of Lake Paringa Lodge had taken pity on us and we really appreciated the gesture.



We got talking to some other guests from Arrowtown, who have offered to host us on our way through. It might take another slight shift of the schedule but they are lovely people and we look forward to that if we can make it work. We had a glass of wine with them and enjoyed cooking and eating with the modern comforts of a motel. We'll appreciate a comfortable bed too and might even have a sleep-in. Due to today's overshoot the pressure is low for the next few days.

Ollie's knees were better than they were for the last two cycling days - due partly to the rest day and partly to the steady diet of ibuprofen and paracetamol. We would still rather not push it like we did today but there is simply a shortage of cheap accomodation in these parts and having a ten-year-old version of Peddlar's Paradise doesn't help as we are never certain whether the accomodation will still be there when we get there. We're too close to the finish now to buy a new one and it was very kind of the english couple, who gave it to us, to do so.



Time to sleep well and dream of floating on Lake Paringa on our blow up mattresses.

Ollie and Xaver

Day 39

1 January 2011 - New Years Day

Rest Day at Franz Josef

 

Day 38

31 December 2010

Ross to Franz Josef
 
Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 109.99
Metres climbed: 920

 
Our prayers were answered as we set off this morning - the wind had turned and was behind us again and we had some much more interesting undulating terrain to mix riding styles and enjoy coasting down through lush rainforest with swooping corners.

Ollie's knees were feeling better after a good night's sleep, which gave him confidence and picked up his morale, while Xaver enjoyed the West Coast as he had so been looking forward to it - finally with good weather. It hasn't rained for days and today it was slightly overcast (perfect for cycling) and at last no headwind! It was a good start because we had quite a big day ahead of us, 110km, so starting on a bad footing would have been worrying.

We stopped for a snack beside Lake Ianthe and chose to sit at the tables that weren't partly submerged by the flooding from the recent rain. When the sandflies found us we were forced to move on again. The day was heating up but still much colder than in the North Island.
 
Ollie's knees were not going to let him get off that easily and they started to complain at about half-way. As if by magic the wind turned again, intent on making more work than fun but that wasn't going to sway our spirits. The thinned out native bush here is other-worldly. Tall gnarled finger-like trees grow out through the sparse undergrowth - all showing signs of the lower temperatures, especially at higher altitudes. The unique mix of alpine and coastal makes for a very unfamiliar setting - something about this trip that always keeps us on our toes.

Ollie literally was on his toes as he found that by standing up made riding easier - he will be stocking up on anti-inflammatories tomorrow and unfortunately won't be joining Xaver on his glacier trip, compliments of Franz Josef Glacier Tours, who have gifted us a half-day walk on the glacier. Ollie can come back another time, it is more important that he rests up and that Xaver takes this rare opportunity before he returns to Germany. Crossing the Southern Alps from Christchurch is easier than crossing the planet to get back here!


We love cycling in the evenings (we could even use that as our excuse for why we always leave so late). The way the light floats compared to the directness of the midday burn and the perfect amount of warmth it sets for cycling up and down hills combined perfectly this afternoon with the scerene picture of lakes nestled in amongst the trees. Before we could adjust to this breathtaking change we were confronted by the enormous hills and mountains that marked the beginning of glacier country.

We rolled into the booming tourist town of Franz Josef, where the excitement of new year's eve was growing. The large number of cafes, restaurants, motels and camping grounds on an otherwise small-town coast is completely understandable given the beautiful natural landscape. There are plenty of opportunities for adventure tourism businesses and thus plenty of reasons for travellers to open their wallets. Let's hope we still have something left in ours after a rest day here tomorrow. We took the opportunity given by the town's business to buy some real ingredients for dinner and armed with even a six-pack of beer we got set to enjoy a quite but relatively comfortable new year's eve.


 
What is not understandable is why, in such a great motorcamp as the one we are staying in with native bush and great cabins, they can't have a decent tent site?! We are pitched up right next to the toilets and the hum of the gas for the kitchen. It is a main thoroughfare and the three groups of campers staying here are politely jostling for the best spot.

We luck out as we were last to come. Thankfully, just as we were grumbling about this a Dutch couple, who have seen us twice on the road and once in the Greymouth Star newspaper, came over from their camper to invite us for a drink with them. We had a great pre-dinner snack with their lovely family before we cooked ourselves some fresh pasta with mushrooms. What a new years eve, much better than Gisborne we reckon.
 
Xaver and Ollie

Day 37

30 December 2010

 

Greymouth to Ross

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 81.98
Metres climbed: 340


We started the day with hot croissants and coffee in the extremely pleasant company of our hosts and their two friends before heading to the Strongman memorial with President Murry to meet Paul, a local reporter. We had a brief chat and a photo and said our goodbyes to Murry, then he and Paul left us to have a moment to ourselves.

It was poignant that people had laid stones and flowers for the Pike River disaster in 2010 on the memorial for the Strongman Mine disaster of 1967 and as we stood we thought of them all.



We rode the 13kms into Greymouth itself to pick up groceries and go to an internet cafe. We were already hungry again and set up the cooker on a seat next to the main street. As we ate a woman asked us if we had had polio. It turned she had had polio as a child but we explained that we were just raising money and awareness. She very kindly donated some money to us and told us about the awful hot towel treatment they had for polio in those days. It is always surprising to us how many people in New Zealand are still affected by polio and they appreciate what we are doing.

Just as we were cleaning up, two groups of cycling tourists arrived at the same time. One was a couple from Germany out here for the holidays and from the other direction came a french couple on two tandems, each with a young child on the back. They have taken their children to cycle and travel the world for a year and have cycled around Argentina already. What an experience for the children!

Oliie's knees having started giving him trouble over the last few days and while the pain is unpleasant it is more the fear of them getting worse that got the better of his morale today as he struggled with each km. Xaver was very supportive and rode in front to take away some of the headwind which was unrelenting. That is our fourth riding day in a row with that headwind, which makes us work so much harder for each mile. Despite relatively low miles and possibly a new record for the *least* metres climbed, this was one of our hardest days both physically and psychologically.

A headwind is like a hill that doesn't have another side - it's all up and no down. Tomorrow is longer and hillier than today so let's hope for a wind change.

The last 10 kms through native bush with the warm evening sun through the tops of the tall thin trees made for a very welcome change. The terrain was more undulating too. We have decided we quite like hills, they're more interesting. Lucky as tomorrow there will be plenty!

The campsite in Ross is next to a man-made lake and has views out over the surrounding hills. We sat there and had our couscous dinner. Ross is an old gold-mining town with a quaint looking pub where you register for camping. The lady at the bar asked us about our cycling jersey's and when we said what they were for she didn't charge us.

People's generosity never fails to leave us slightly shocked and deeply grateful.

Xaver and Ollie

Day 36

29 December 2010


Westport to Greymouth

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 88.25
Metres climbed: 1,168


With the sun warming the paddocks and the sea having calmed down since yesterday it felt like a different place when we woke up this morning.
We had breakfast with Ben and Rob and then took the bikes into town to clean them and get set up for the south island leg. We met Charles Bruning, president of Westport Rotary Club who took some photos and asked us some questions so that he could put an article through to the local paper. We set off late (as usual) and fought the wind back to the turnoff.

The rain had gone but the wind remained and we were not impressed as we set off on our third day into a headwind. Despite this, when we finally reached the coast again we were immediately stunned by the beauty of the west coast. The raging water is like the west coast of the North Island, but the lush vegetation, impressive number of Nikau palms and satisfyingly small number of people set this coast in a world of it's own.

Tall, rocky cliff-faces loom to our left and brown surf surges against precariously shaped rock islands to our right, carrying with it the silt of recent rain. Xaver laughed at Ollie's obsession with dinosaurs as he imagined a raptor jumping out of the bushes, but the prehistoric landscape does inspire a child-like imagination and a sense of awe - especially on a day like to day where the cloudless sky met seamlessly with the featureless ocean.

Mike and ?, whom we met north of Gisborne, were sitting on the side of the road wondering whether they should stop their trip and build house when we spotted them and stopped for a chat. It was great to see them again, even though we hadn't spoken to them for very long last time.

There is a sense of community amongst the cyclists on the road as we know what each other is going through and to some degree why they are doing it. We couldn't stop for long as we still hadn't had lunch. It was already mid afternoon and we had nothing to put in our couscous.

As we we rounded the bend into Punakaiki, home of the Pancake Rocks, we realised where all the people had gone. Buses and camper vans had emptied their contents into the overpriced cafes so we joined them to eat bacon and egg croissants - no longer enthralled by the idea of plain cous cous. Before we left, Ollie fashioned a pair of knee warmers out of his fleece (and fashioned is definitely the right word!) to keep the cold southerly from exacerbating his sore knees.

There was no water in Punakaiki, apparently, so we stopped off at a house along the way and a lovely woman filled our bottles and even gave Ollie some Voltaren as his had run out! Xaver found this particularly amusing and made sure to get a photo of Ollie with his dealer. We carried on to Greymouth Rotary Club President Murry Cave's house just in time for dinner. This was made all the better by the fact that we weren't expecting it. One should never underestimate southern hospitality. We have had a great evening with Murry and Sue as well as their guests from Christchurch and the teriyaki chicken was amazing.



In the morning we will spend some time at the Strongman Memorial, which commemorates the 19 lives lost in a mining explosion in 1967. It will be a while before something like this exists for the most recent tragedy so we will use this place to remember the Pike River 29 and to spare a thought for the families of those lost who will have had a very sad Christmas this year.

President Murry, who is also a well-known photographer in the area, will put a story through to the local paper about our trip and it's links to PolioPlus, helping us to get our message out there. We thank Murry for making our time in Greymouth worthwhile and to Murry's wife Sue as well for welcoming us into their home.

Ollie and Xaver

Day 35

28 December 2010

Rest day in Westport
 
We woke up to rain on the tin roof of the live-in shed and after dozing for a while, wondering if our knees wanted to bend, made our way down from the mezzanine to where Rob and son Ben were already pottering about.
 
It's a magic place here on 200 acres next to the West Coast. There's no power but candles and gas suffice and we really feel like we can rest out here.
 
The little cousins soon came in from their Grandmother's camper and we spent the morning playing 'Trouble' and concocting meals to feed hungry tummies.


At some point we went into town to wash our clothes and got to the Westport races. There was decent turnout with the best of Westport there to bet the put on 'He'll be a winner'. We found it a bit strange to watch these impressive beasts restricted by harnesses around their legs to make sure they trot instead of galloping but it's still a lot of fun to watch and it was great to take part in such a big local event.
 
We came back to the farm and spent half an hour trying to catch Pluto, Ben and Robs horse and an ex-trotter. Nearly all our expectations and ideas about the West Coast have been lived up to already with the heavy rain to welcome us and the wild sea bordering the property and now to ride the horse down to the beach and ride along in the froth churned up by the storm. Pluto didn't like the rough sea and once we turned around he bolted back to the truck and the safety of the paddock - Ollie atop trying to look calm and get control of the reins without falling off.

We were content to stay in the paddock from then on and Xaver had the same idea when it was his turn - eventually leading Pluto back home to the safety of his Paddock.
 
We have just finished a delicious stew with rice and are now writing the diary by candle-light with a glass of wine. The blog has been demoted to a log on paper with a real pencil as the Nokia phone has run out of battery as well.


 
We saw on the net today that apart from most of the roads around here being closed, the campsite at Pelorus Bridge that we stayed in between Picton and Nelson was evacuated this morning at 4am. 98 campers were told to abandon their tents and belongings and get out. Within five minutes the river completely overflowed. Even then they were wading through waist-deep water and tents were floating in the morning.

Our timing couldn't have been better if we want to stay on schedule. Any later and we could have been stuck in Nelson without a tent. The road to Greymouth is also one of the few roads affected by the closures and the weather looks like it's going to clear up. We look forward to hitting the coastal road in the morning.
 
Ollie and Xaver

 

Day 34

27 December 2010

Owen's River to Westport

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 129.06
Metre climbed: 914


When we got out of the tent this morning, the sandflies soon found us and joined us for our morning routine. Xaver's theory that they don't like the rain turned out to be wrong - instead we were just standing in the rain with sandflies flying into our porridge. We finally managed to get the pot clean so we were just happy that our porridge didn't taste like charcoal.

The sky was overcast and the fog hung heavy on the surrounding hills as we left the campsite. Soon the occasional showers became a constant drizzle and for the rest of the day the only change in the rain would be its intensity.

As we rode into the morning we noticed the rivers were getting larger. They were our constant companion on our downward journey to the coast. We crossed the Buller River and followed it through the Buller Gorge - creeks and waterfalls falling by the road and crossing under to join the main river. The bush is incredibly lush here and the ferns grow thick on the roadside. Up on the sheer hills, long thin cascades of water can be seen through the canopy. It was hard to focus on the road with all the beauty going on around us.

Xaver wasn't too happy with the rain. He had been to the West Coast in August and thought that it would be warm and sunny when we came back. How wrong he was! Ollie on the other hand knew how notorious the West Coast is for its rain and enjoyed the peaceful silence that it asserts on the world - drowning out Xaver's rendition of the New Zealand national anthem.

As we rolled into Westport, knees hurting and stomachs running on empty we gave Rob, our host, a call. His family had turned up and he would be a while before he could pick us up so we started riding. He lives 7 kms out of town and then down a 2 km, muddy, rocky driveway so by the time we got here we had ridden 129 kms, most of it into a headwind and all of it in the rain. We were very happy to put on some warm clothes and eat dinner by candle-light with Rob's big family in his garage-cum-living quaters.

We're right on the rugged coast and tomorrow we will hopefully get a chance to take the horse out for a ride. This is an awesome introduction to the next leg of our trip. Prepare for everything to change again.

Xaver and Ollie

 

Day 33

26 December 2010

Nelson to Owen's River

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 107.78
Metres climbed: 1,074


We felt fresh this morning, having finally had a good night's sleep as well as a big breakfast to get us going. Cally has been so good to us letting us stay another night and feeding us - she even made us sandwiches for the road. We set off at about 9.30, heading straight down the hill to Tahunanui where we immediately hit a strong headwind that would be with us for the rest of the day.

It was a day of hope for the Journey of Hope, we went through the town of Hope, climbed up Hope Saddle and over Hope River. Despite all this hope we are still hopeless - we left the salami and cheese in the fridge so dinner wasn't as interesting as it could have been.

The scenery changed again today as we headed further south. There are mountain ranges everywhere we look, some still capped with snow and wild rivers elbow their way through deep valleys.

We climbed two big hills today and being on the other side means it will be up and down - but mainly down - all the way to Westport tomorrow. Catching up the lost time was not too difficult as we had a few easier days set.



We arrived at our destination at 5:30, a basic campsite in an amazing setting. We had showers and while Xaver made dinner, Ollie got a fire going. As well as warmth it has the effect of keeping away the small clouds of sandflies that congregate on our skin whenever we are trying to do anything that requires concentration.



We have pitched our tent under a grove of pine trees and next to the roaring river. The fire has been a perfect accompaniment to the evening and Xaver has been swinging through the trees looking for good bits of wood.

It's dying down now and it is finally getting dark at 9:30. Must be nearly time to dive into the tent, quickly zipping it up behind us and then go to sleep listening to the sounds of the river. It's a hard life.

Ollie and Xaver

 

Day 32

25 December 2010 - Christmas Day

Another rest day in Nelson

We did it. We broke the schedule. After 31 days of being exactly we where we had planned to be we are still in Nelson. We started off with emails to Rotary Clubs ahead of us on our route and swapping a part of Xaver's bike, which after swapping it, leaving it in Auckland, getting it sent to Nelson and swapping it back puts us back to where we started. What was looking like a late start soon became lunch, at which point we realised we weren't going anywhere. It was very kind of the Stockdale's to allow us to be part of their Christmas festivities and we really needed another day to actually rest.

We had Christmas duck and then lay in the sun drinking coffee, so happy not to be racing 100 kms towards Clarke Valley. An afternoon rest was followed by a walk along the beach with Cally and her son Alex. Suddenly it was 8 o'clock and time for dinner.

 

 

Not quite sure where today went but feeling much more rested and ready to start again. To anyone who spared a thought to us riding on Christmas day we apologise - you can have your thoughts back.

One great outcome is that after having a very special German Christmas yesterday evening, Xaver has been part of a proper New Zealand Christmas - Christmas lunch on a sunny day followed by a walk on the beach where people were even playing cricket, which Ollie said was a key part of the festivities.

We're back on the bikes tomorrow with a few miles to catch up but it was definitely worth it.

Xaver and Ollie

Day 31

24 December 2010 - Christmas Eve

Rest day in Nelson

Xaver's parents Bernd and Martina picked us up  at 9 o'clock and we all drove out to Marahau on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park to pick up our kayaks and go on an adventure. This is what we do on rest days, we do sports other than cycling. The wind was blowing off-shore and the quiet conversations between the staff about whether they would cancel the kayaking for the day were not so comforting for those who had been talked into coming in the first place. We two were grateful that it was not called off, although the forecast was for worse to come.

We got in our two-man kayak and after only a small amount of discussion about the right way to do things we set off at a decent pace, enjoying the colours and sites as we went. Bernd and Martina decided to walk around the coastline with lunch and we arranged to meet them. We dilly-dallied our way to the meeting spot, swimming along the way and trying to trick the camera to take one last photo as the scenery there is unbelievable and the battery was breathing its last. We sat in the sun, soaking up the surrounds and wondering what all the fuss was about the weather.



Anyone who has walked a bush track in New Zealand will understand the confusion that occurs when reading the time estimates on the signs along the way. There seems to be a 50% over estimate for anyone without a pack, which led the parents to think they would never make it to the meeting place in time. We waited for a while hoping they might pop around the corner with sandwiches any minute but the weather was indeed picking up and it seemed unlikely that they would still be on the way. We got back in the kayak and Xaver withstood the full onslaught of the waves over the bow, understanding why Ollie had opted for the back seat. The wind and the waves had really picked up and it was hard work to make any ground but once we got going we felt we were making good progress. As we rounded the first point we saw another beach and some people waving. It was Bernd and Martina and they were waiting for us with sandwiches for our hungry bellies.


The kayaking guide was there as well and despite our casual comments that we thought we were doing alright, he advised that we wouldn't be able to make it back in these big waves and with this very strong headwind. We reluctantly packed it in for the day but as we carried the kayak along the beach to their pick-up point, the wind was picking up to the point that spray from the waves and sand from the beach was being picked up and whipped into our legs and faces. We were secretly glad we weren't kayaking and instead walked around the very enjoyable section of the Abel Tasman walking track back to the car. After a warm coffee we were back on our way to Nelson to get ready for dinner at one of New Zealand's few authentic German restaurants. We felt that if we couldn't have snow then we could at least have some good German tucker.

The amusingly named "Kraut's" epitomised that hard to translate German word 'gemuetlichkeit'. It's a mixture between cosy and homely, comfortable and familiar and we sat drinking German beers and eating Schnitzel and their special pasta, spaetzle, named after a small sparrow. It was very amusing for us to be in Nelson but in what looked like the famous Hofbraeuhaus in Munich, eating and drinking things that really don't belong on this side of the world, but the 24th is German Christmas and we felt that such a harmonious discord was appropriate.



Afterwards we went into the city to catch the tail-end of the Christmas carols on the steps of the cathedral. To our amazement there were hundreds of people lining the steps, holding candles and singing the familiar songs. We found a song-book and joined the throngs of people on the ground level singing along with them.

 

It was another emotional end to our last day altogether before Martina and Bernd carry on their tour down the West Coast but ahead of us and bound for a flight out of Christchurch next week. We sat in a cafe sipping coffee and chatting before the parents dropped us back home.

It will be a late start in the morning as we have some bike-tinkering and breakfast eating to do. The next few days will be our own until we hit Westport, so we might as well enjoy our Christmas morning.

Merry Christmas to everyone who is following our trip and spare us a thought as we ride 90 kms. It's times like this that we are especially glad there is two of us on this trip!

Xaver and Ollie

Day 30

23 December 2010

Pelorus Bridge to Nelson

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 60.38
Metres climbed: 792


We enjoyed our sleep at the amazing Pelorus Bridge campsite and peeking under the fly cover we could see patches of ground where the sun hit through the trees. Another beautiful day with clear blue skies awaited us. We got up and ran through our morning routine.

Ollie moves first, putting on his clothes and packing up his sleeping back and bed roll, placing everything neatly next to the door of the tent for easy access later. Xaver groans and does the same while Ollie unpegs just the outer layer of the tent, sweeping it away to reveal a partly-dressed Xaver to the world. Ollie hangs the outer shell on the nearest tree or table and returns to retrieve his things from the tent while Xaver emerges (sometimes leaving his cycle computer behind). The remainder of the morning activities are completed before both return to the (hopefully dry) tent to pack it up in a particular way. Ollie explains again why he we have to pack it in this particular manner and usually points out what Xaver has done wrong, at which point Xaver laughs and walks away, leaving Ollie to his precious tent and his routine.

This happens every morning.



We got on the road by ten, anxious to make our meeting time in Nelson but grateful for the sleep-in. The burnt bottom of our pot seems to have the greatest effect on taste when we cook porridge, perhaps because of the otherwise bland flavour, which we unsuccessfully try to mask with tinned fruit and banana. Despite the bitter flavour we had a good, solid breakfast and set off feeling well fed but ready for a rest day tomorrow.

We were expecting a few big climbs today, as forecast by our newly acquired 'Pedaller's Paradise' but as we reached the top of each one there was a definite feeling of "is that it?". What would have been a struggle 4 weeks ago is now becoming very manageable and we feel fit and ready for the big climbs that await us further south. Haast Pass and the Crown Range are two that have been looming at the back of our minds since we first planned the route. We are just grateful that they come at the end of the trip and not the beginning.



Big skies with long streaky clouds are awe-inspiring and make for great photography but also signal the onset of big winds. As we rode the final 10kms into Nelson we had a frustrating headwind that drained us of our energy. It is a good thing we aren't due to cycle tomorrow if that wind is to pick up, although we hope to kayaking so that may not be any better! Needless to say we were glad to stop and battled fatigue as we had a chat with a reporter from the Nelson Mail and had a few photographs taken, which should find their way to the blog soon. The photographer even asked Ollie to cheer up a bit, as he was doing a poor job of hiding his fatigue and weather-induced bad mood.


Cally, a family friend, organised the media and is giving us a bed for the next two nights. She even gave us her car to get some shopping done and meet up with Xaver's parents for cup of coffee and prezel from the German bakery. We came back in time for dinner and to book tomorrow's kayaking trip near Abel Tasman National Park. Even though kayaking is not strictly resting, it will be good to give our legs a break and enjoy the amazing scenery around here from the water. There is even the chance a flight in a plane tomorrow afternoon with Cally's son Alex, who has his pilot's licence. No two days are the same on this trip and the awesome experiences never seem to stop. The generosity of people we meet along the way never ceases to astound us either.

Ollie and Xaver

 

Day 29

22 December 2010

Wellington to Pelorus Bridge

Stats for the day...
Kms travelled: 62.04
Metres climbed: 630


We woke up earlier than we would have liked, conscious that we still had so much to do before catching the ferry. After some breakfast and time on the computer we said our farewells to the family. Ollie's aunt Kate was so helpful doing our washing for us and cooking a delicious dinner for us last night - it was just a shame that we were running around like chooks and couldn't spend much time with her or the cousins.

When the Interislander ferry pulled away from the port and we bought ourselves a second breakfast we had a chance to relax and slow down.


Interislander gave us free passage across the straight so a big thank you to them for helping make this trip possible for us. Without generous help like that along the way we might have had to stop in Nelson to earn some money picking apples.

The wind on deck was terrific and a picture of Ollie leaning on the wind shows its strength. Xaver managed to catch a few winks before we pulled into Picton.


We rolled through the lovely little town of Picton to the supermarket to stock up for the trip to Nelson. We got talking to some Canadian cycling tourists with their mountains of gear on their bikes. They hadn't enjoyed the North Island for its traffic, a problem we didn't really experience. We hope they have a better time down here.

As we climbed out of Picton along the Queen Charlotte Drive, its beauty hit us immediately. Unlike in the North Island, where towns sprawl and take a while to leave, there was the smell and colours of native bush and views across the Marlborough Sounds. It was already late afternoon and there was a gentle breeze that made us ride slowly and comfortably - happy to be there.



After such a late start and a gentle pace we thought we wouldn't get far but the search for a convenient campground led us to ride until 8 o'clock, when we found ourselves in Pelorus Bridge at a campsite for $10 each. A shingle path through native bush revealed the grounds with it sweeping lawns and mammoth Totara trees next to a fast flowing river.

Thanks to Goodbye Sandfly, our sponsored natural repellant, we had no issues with our itchy friends as we cooked our instant mashed potatoes and canned soup.

We hope the South Island gives us many more days like this one.

Ollie and Xaver

 

 
 
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