A Travellerspoint blog

Gone with the wind

Queenstown to Christchurch

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When we pedalled out of Auckland in October our aims was to make it down to Queenstown. As we arrived with over 3 weeks to go we decided to shift the goalposts and make Christchurch our final destinatioin for our New Zealand cycling odyssey. There was so much more we still wanted to see.

Top of our list, and only 10 km outside Queenstown, was Amisfield - a winery and restaurant nestled within olive groves and a vineyard.

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At one of the campsites we stayed at weeks ago we picked up a magazine called 'NZ cuisine' which contained the results of the New Zealand restaurant awards. Amisfield received glowing reviews for its unpretentious cooking using locally sourced ingredients. Simple food cooked well- our favourite. With some covetted otago wine thrown in which we had yet to try it was a stop off on our cycle tour that was pretty hard to resist. From the moment the homecooked bread (sourdough) was brought out with freshly churned butter and pea green olive oil from their own olive grove we knew we were in for a treat. We exercised some restraint on the wine opting for a glass each rather than a bottle as we still had another 50 km to ride to Cromwell that afternoon. As a general rule I steer well clear of rose wine after an unpleasant encounter with Blossom Hill at university. However as Amisfield is particularly renowned for rose and pinot noir we had one of each. Both were glorious, particularly the pinot (2007) which tasted like oak and felt like silk. We happily feasted on tuna as thick as a fist but so tender that you could cut through it with a plastic teaspoon, and pork belly with crackling. Without doubt the best meal we have had in New Zealand, although a few nights of wild camping and feeding on wild flowers might be needed to get us back on budget. Cromwell provided our first opportunity for this (camping not flower munching) on a grassy treelined path to nowhere right next to a lake.

Early start the next day for what would turn out to be one of our most epic cycles. We were heading to Omarama which was 110Km away. To get there we had to cross the Lindis Pass; a 50 km climb - the last 15 km of which is steep and the last 4 km very steep. The start was pretty promising, we covered about 30km by 10am where we reached a small but very pretty village called Tarras. Stopping for a mid morning flat white and muffin has crept into our cycling routine. It was all the more necessary on this day as there are no services until Omarama which was another 80 km away.

With our caffeine and cake fix satisfied I started loading us the panniers as Rob squinted at the horizon. "I think that weather is heading towards us". I looked at where he was pointing. The sky that had been piercing blue when we arrived was now so black it was almost purple. It was indeed heading our way. Ten minutes later the heavens opened. If we go now, we reasoned, we would get wet and cold very fast. Better to wait it out. Two hours later we ventured outside. Good decision to wait we congratulated ourselves with glee. But an hour later the rain started again... and then the wind. We crawled along at a snail's pace of about 10 km per hour. The rain got harder so, going against our plan of doing most of the climb before lunch we huddled under a tree munching bread and cheese and cheering ourselves up with a sugar rush of the Arrowtown fudge. 'It'll probably stop in ten minutes' we told each other.

The hours passed, the climbs got steeper, we got slower and the rain continued to fall. By the time we got to the steep section of the climb water was flowing down the grooves of our helmets in a steady stream splashing off the handlebars. With each revolution of the pedals I could feel my toes squelching in the puddles collecting in my shoes. Nearly 5 o'clock and nowhere near the top of the climb. To add insult to injury Rob had accidently put on my cycling shorts in the rush to get an early start . With padding in all the wrong places and chaffing sodden lycra his bum was going red raw. The Lindis was throwing everything at us! The landscape we were pedalling past was completely barren save for a few trees that became scarser the higher we climbed. About 7km from the top there was a little shack on the side of the road. It was covered in graffiti and all the windows were smashed. "I'm going in" Rob announced "We need a cup of tea". Shivering we pulled out the trangia and huddled over the pot while the water boiled. Half an hour later we left warmer and lighter having made an artistic donation depositing the cycling shorts on a rusty nail amid the graffiti with an arrow and a message scrawled in biro reading 'help yourself'.

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When we reached the summit of 980 mts the road turned back on itself and we had a gusty tailwing all the way to Omarama. I was in my highest gear , spinning like fury to get any resistance. Rob, who is more of a speed demon than me and has higher gears completely left me for dust. We did the last 32 km in under an hour.

The next day we took it pretty easy, soaking in the views of snowcapped mountains as we cycled towards the majestic Mt Cook, coming to rest on Lake Pukaki, the more beautiful, lesser known neighbour to Lake Tekapo.

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A Northwesterly wind started gusting that evening and would be centre stage in our cycling experiences in the days ahead. On Christmas eve we left our wild camping spot on the lake and headed towards the canal road - a shorter flatter route through to Lake Tekapo which was far preferable to the state highway which was heaving under the weight of excess christmas traffic - mainly consisting of 4x4s with trailers holding boats, bikes, kayaks and pretty much everything but the kitchen sink for holidaying kiwis.

When we got to the canal road it was closed due to high winds which apparently get so strong that cars can get blown off the road. This did not bode well. Back to the state highway where we spent the morning fighting an unholy head wind coming slightly from the left periodically gusting us into the middle of the road and perilously close to oncoming traffic. After about an hour and a half we were pretty battleweary and feeling quite unstable on the bikes. So we flirted briefly with the idea of hitching to Lake Tekapo. Our first attempt put a firm stop to that plan when an overweight man and his wife in a caravan stopped and proceeded to tell us that we needed to 'tough it out' and that 'we knew what it was like when we left home'. They then sped off. With that dose of xmas cheer we struggled on. It took us over three hours to reach lake tekapo which was only 25 km away. We then turned into a tail wind and arrived in Burke Pass Village (about the same distance again) in under an hour.

Christmas Day was marked with little ceremony other than a hot breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled egg.

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Having woken up in a farmers field where we camped the night before we set off just after 8am and enjoyed one of the most peaceful days cycle since the trip began. Hardly a soul on the road. Enroute to Peel Forest we ran into a french cyclist. 'Where are you cycling to?' we asked. 'It depends on the wind' he replied. Having spent a couple of gruelling days fighting the wind like us his new strategy was to go where the wind blew him. A permaculture cyclist! We'd be adopting his philosophy sooner than we thought. We had an overdue rest day in Peel Forest on boxing day and then headed towards the Rakaia Gorge - a very gradual 70km climb and we planned to reach Christchurch the following day. Despite our hopes that the wind would have died down after a day off the bikes it was as ferocious as ever. After about 20 km we reached an intersection with a road pointing to Ashburton which was straight into a tailwind. 'Is Ashburton on the way?' Rob asked 'No.... but maybe we should go there anyway...' Ah permaculture cycling. What an enlightened discovery!'

We soared into Ashburton which was just 40km from the turn off. We discovered that a bus was leaving in 15 minutes time going straight to Christchurch - the alternative was a 85km cycle on the SH1 straight into the wind. After some kerfuffle getting the bus driver to agree to take us and the bikes on the bus (in Nz it is all at the driver's discretion so you can't buy a bus ticket in advance even though the excess you pay to take a bike on board is almost the equivalent cost of a ticket) we were off" An hour and a half later we were deposited in the middle of Christchurch - unexpectedly a day early - and at the end of the cycle touring part of our New Zealand adventure.

Posted by mrs lewis 00:59 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Queenstown and Milford Sound

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After a couple of lovely days in Wanaka we were back on the bikes and heading for the Crown Saddle; the highest paved road in NZ. The climb is gradual for the first 30km and then steepens for the last 10 with the last 2 being a punishing slog for the top. After a couple of hours of riding i was definitely feeling the effects of too much Pinot Gris the night before and decided to rest at a lovely pub (a rare thing in NZ) in a place called Cardrona; a tiny town that looks like something out of the Wild West in the 1800s.
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We hopped back on the bikes and continued the climb winding up through increasingly barren hillsides. Little grows here in the harsh, hostile, windy conditions above 600 metres. I set up my miniature speaker on the back of the bike and whacked on the Kings of Leon "Youth and Young Manhood" to give me a much needed motivational boost. The hill seemed to climb endlessly, each turn in the road revealing another longer and steeper section of road ahead. Eventually we made it to the top where the windy hostile conditions ensured we daren't stay to long to savour our triumph.
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The descent was perilously steep but thrilling and we raced down with our hands gripped tightly around the brakes. We reached the bottom after around 40 minutes of descent and found a sheltered spot to wolf down our bread, cheese and avocado that we had been saving until the climbing was out the way. The next place we reached was Arrowtown; a beautiful town with tree lined streets, cute wooden houses and plenty of delis and restaurants for a couple of foodies like us. A highlight was a wonderful fudge shop selling a multitude of home made fudges with flavours such as creme brulee, passionfruit, tiramisu and apply pie. Each tasted incredibly similar to its namesake, really capturing the essence of the dish or fruit it was intended to resemble. We left the shop on a sugar high and headed swiftly to our lodgings - another rip off top ten holiday park campsite.
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The following day we made the short ride to Queenstown where we entered into a throng of people. Tourists from all corners of the globe shuffled around the crowded streets vying for the next slice of the adrenalin pie that is Queenstown. Every other shop was either a bungy jump or jet boat rafting centre waiting to ensnare any passing tourists. Cheesy dance music blared out from various cafes creating a cacophony of sound clash. We had to get out and fast so we made our way to the Lakeside YHA which offers 25% discounts to 'zero carbon travellers' and was a short ride out of town and thankfully away from the carnage being inflicted by boozed up gap year kids. Still, Queenstown is in an incredible location and we took a walk up a nearby hill to get a panoramic view where we were treated to a sharp vibrant rainbow over the lake.

Milford Sounds is one of the "highlights" of New Zealand and although we had generally avoided the tourist traps we were keen to visit this spectacular landscape. The cycle ride from Queenstown was not recommended due to its winding roads (including a two mile unlit tunnel) packed with speeding coaches. We joined the thronging hoards and took the 5 hour coach ride the following day. Along the journey we were given a brief history of the place and told when to do everything - from when to pee to take a photo. We arrived in the car park alongside 30 other buses and made our way onto the boat that would take us along the sounds to the sea and back. There's no denying it, this place is awesome. Waterfalls burst out of the mountainsides in all directions (this is one of the wettest places in NZ getting up to 7 metres of rainfall a year) and the scale of the steep mountains that rise up above you is otherworldly. Its difficult to capture the beauty and scale of the place using a Canon Ixus but i had a go anyway.
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Mitre Peak

Mitre Peak


We returned back in Queenstown after another 5 hour coach ride tired but exhilarated and bought ourselves some lovely fish and chips, a bottle of Marlborough Savignon Blanc from the liquor store and sat down on the beach to watch a beautiful sunset.
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Posted by roblewis 12:50 Archived in New Zealand Tagged sound milford Comments (1)

anti-cycle rage, big climbs and sandflies

Lake Matheson to Lake Wanaka

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After our indulgences of sleeping in proper beds in recent days and enjoying culinary experiences where one pot cooking is not a pre-requisite, our next few nights would be spent camping. Dining out was also off the menu as we were keen to deplete our food stocks as much as possible because in 2 days time we would be crossing The Haast Pass. This is one of only three passes going over the southern alps rising to 562 metres above sea level. Although it is the lowest of the three crossing points it is eyewateringly steep for the first 4 km, getting slightly gentler for the next 4 km before reaching the saddle. As this was going to be our most challenging climb of the trip so far we were obsessing over conquering it and making sure that the odds were stacked in our favour by reducing our weight (panniers not bodies) as much as possible. We meticulously planned our meals in advance for 48 hours so that we could consume all the food we were carrying right down to the squashed apricots sprinkled over porridge that were languishing at the bottom of Rob's food pannier.

It was going to be two long days of cycling from Fox Glacier to Pleasant Flats (the last campsite before the climb). However, the campsite and accommodation spots were quite unevenly distributed. There was a beautiful lakeside campsite at Lake Paringa, but it was only 70 km from Fox Glacier which would mean the following day (the day before the big climb) we would have to cycle over 100km - not appealing. However, there were no other camping spots until Haast Junction which is 50km from Lake Paringa with a couple of decent climbs in between. Not ideal either. So it looked like a night of wild camping was on the cards. Wild or freedom camping is very popular and quite widely practiced in NZ although apparently authorities are clamping down as some campers leave all their rubbish behind.

Examining the map we eyed up a good spot to stop: Lake Moeraki, a forest lined lake about 15 km beyond Lake Paringa; shelter and a water source - sounds ideal. By the time we arrived at the lake via a salmon farm to pick up dinner, it was already early evening. As we scouted for a suitable spot off the road to pitch our tent we caught sight of a big sign emblazoned with the words "Wilderness Lodge. Accommodation Enquiries Welcome". We were pretty set on our camping plan but it can't hurt to look... right? We were half way down when we heard indignant shouting cutting through the sound of our bikes grumbling and shuddering over the loose gravel drive. We looked up and a very angry looking man was striding towards us.

"This is private property!" He bellowed in a thick South African accent.
Oh shit. I hovered uncertainly on the bike. Rob kept peddling so I tucked in behind him until we drew level with this irate man. My first thought was that we must have accidentally pulled into his drive but by the time we came to a stop we were right in front of another sign suggesting this was indeed the lodge.
"We thought this was the lodge...?" I timidly ventured.
"Didn't you read the sign!" He booms
Rob (who has never done 'timid') responds tartly "Yes we did, it says 'Accommodation enquiries welcome'. We are here to enquire"
The crazy owner now looks like he is about to blow a blood vessel "The other sign!" he splutters "This is not a public facility. This is a 4 star establishment and you can't possibly afford the prices I am about to throw at you"
We quickly realised that his looks of disgust are directed at the bikes - and probably our lycra attire. Rob then responded "Would you have said that to us like this if we had pulled up in a lamborghini?"
"Do you even know what the weather forecast is?"
"Yes, we checked it yesterday"
"You don't even know where you are going do you. You have no idea. You are just cycling along with no real plan"
"We've actually got a cycling guide with all services listed along the route. You're place is even in here!"
"Do you think your intellectual capacity is greater than mine?" He roars
I can see that Rob is starting to enjoy this immensely "No but I definitely have better manners" he retorts
"we're going" I announced, trying to drag Rob off who would happily have continued to fan the flames of his anti-cyclist fury. Sadly we weren't quite quick enough to feign that we were travel journalists or on an all expenses paid trip courtesy of the New Zealand tourist board. But we did leave a scathing review on trip advisor instead. Petty revenge but it did make us feel better.

Having been turned away we wobbled off on our bikes and about a kilometre down the road we found the most idyllic spot tucked away from the road by the lake's edge. We ate smoked salmon and broad bean risotto (finishing our rice supply) after a bracing swim in the icy cold lake, cooling off from the cycle and from our bizarre encounter.

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The next morning our plans for a lovely lakeside breakfast were thwarted as we were under sandfly siege. They latched themselves on us like tiny black magnets as we raced around the tent flapping our limbs like fury but undeterred they feasted on us - up to 40 of them attached to us at a time. Breakfast was not going to happen so we stuffed everything in our panniers as quickly as possible and we were off cycling before 8am slapping at our faces and thighs as the resilient ones clung on while we cycled. The cycling that day was stunning as we emerged out of the hills and over the Haast bridge before winding our way up a beautiful valley with steep mountains looming in from all sides.

Check out our video of crossing the Haast Bridge:

We had heard that the sandflies were even worse at Pleasant Flats (our campsite for that evening) - a black mist that descends at sunset and even worse at sunrise. Cyclists we have met have prescribed all sorts of different remedies from baby oil to vegemite but none will withhold an attack from west coast sandfiles which are reputed to be the most vicious often going straight for the face, divebombing down t-shirts and are even able to bite through light clothing (but not lycra!). Going without breakfast was not an option on the morning of 'the big climb' but neither was subjecting ourselves to a full on massacre. What to do? Rob seemed unperturbed. "I have a plan" He announced. The only way round the sandfly problem was to have breakfast inside the tent. This was a bit of a logistical nightmare as the tent is tiny (as I keep saying!) and also extremely flammable. I have to say that on this one Rob outdid himself. All the ingredients were measured out (exactly enough water for two cups of tea and two portions of porridge) and left in water bottles outside the tent. The dry food was left in the tent as otherwise our plan would be thwarted by hungry possums. In the morning Rob stealthily unzipped the bottom of the inner sheet leaving a space only just wide enough for his gloved hand to protrude. He quickly lit the trangia (which was positioned outside the fly of the tent) and then slithered his hand back in. This took around 10 seconds. Repeat for all other parts of the cooking process but allow a few extra seconds and a bit more zip to squeeze the porridge pot in.

Perhaps it was because we were so flushed with the success of our sandfly-free breakfast, but after all the anticipation and uncertainty of climbing the Haast Pass it wasn't as hard as we expected or feared. The first few kms beyond the gates of Haast were definitely among the steepest climbs we had encountered. The heat didn't help and after the first 10 minutes my eyes were stinging from salt that seemed to be dripping from my eyebrows. But after about 40 minutes it levelled out. Rob and I looked at each other not wanting to speak to soon but we were both thinking 'we've done it!'. The rest of the day we were on a high, aided by heartstopping scenery. With about 50 km to go we reached the start of lake Wanaka and the road clung to the left hand side of the lake for about 20 km. We then went over 'the neck' - a 400 metre stretch where the road turns inland before hitting the right hand side of lake Hawea as you switch from one lake to another. Completely breathtaking.

Lake Hawea

Lake Hawea

Rob managed to film this bit of the cycle for your viewing pleasure

We arrived in Wanaka that evening and stayed for a few days. We were put up by Martin and Robyn - Rob's ex-next door neighbour's son who showed us the sights and the pubs of their lovely town and their hospitality meant we ended up staying a day longer than planned! We even managed to go for a round of frisbee golf. Wanaka has good a really lovely atmosphere to it. According to Martin it is what Queenstown used to be like before it got overrun by tourists. We would soon find out for ourselves as Queenstown - which we initially thought would be our final destination for the cycling part of our New Zealand adventure - was our next stop.

Posted by mrs lewis 11:49 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

Glacier Country

all seasons in one day

I know we are biased, but it is a truth not yet universally acknowledged that cycling is the best way to experience New Zealand. It is difficult to articulate exactly what makes it so... The pace of cycling means you see so much that flashes past too fast by car - like when the road bends back on itself you get momentary glimpses of hidden waterfalls or tiny inlets tucked out of view and kept secret from motorists. I never realised how much there was to see right on the roadside from the flowers in bloom to the copious amount of roadkill that sprout out of the roadside like tufts of carpet. Travelling through this beautiful country by bike has become this amazing sensory experience. It is not just perspective and pace that allows us to see things that otherwise can't be seen, but what you can hear, smell and feel - like the lupins in bloom that the fragrant scent of honey, to the sound of the Tui with its eccentric birdsong that sounds a little bit like R2D2 or the sound of rushing water giving rise to our anticipation of a wonderful watery view round the next bend. This is a slightly rose tinted description as an equally common sound is that of trucks, campervans, cars and motorbikes. Our ears are now attuned to be able to differentiate between the sound of them all as they approach from behind! And of course there is the very physical way that you get to experience the contours of the country, scaling the topography or battling a headwind which can reduce our speed to about 7km per hour and basking in tailwinds where we (or at least Rob) has managed to sail down hills at up to 70km per hour!

These experiences are heightened as the gradients get steeper as we snaked our way up, down and around mountains on our way into 'Glacier Country' eagerly anticipating our first rest day after 6 consecutive days of cycling. As we cycle south and into summer we have started to notice that the stream of tourism traffic is also steadily increasing - clearly we are not the only ones in raptures about our New Zealand experience! So more traffic means more roadsharing - or not! Motorists are definitely our biggest hazard falling into distinct sub-categories:

1. Campervans: although the most populous on the roads, particularly on the south island they seem to give cyclists the most room. Perhaps this is because they are generally driven by tourists (mainly British) who don't have this feeling of ownership of the road.
2. Touring buses: particularly the Kiwi Experience a pea green bus carrying shrieking gap year students on a whistlestop tour to 'do' New Zealand - or an adventure playground version of it - again despite their size are relatively benign giving cyclists a fair amount of room
3. Lorries/Trucks: Travel too fast creating gusty slipstreams but not usually hostile (although logging trucks often are)
4. 4x4s and local traffic: despite being the smallest they are definitely the most aggressive. They honk insistently if they are forced to slow down to pass us if they can't overtake because of oncoming traffic. Our efforts to counter this so far have been fairly unsuccessful. Rob is more brazen than I - this favourite technique is moving out into the road to stop cars overtaking and waving him right arm vigorously up and down as if patting an invisible large labrador. This has had mixed results; a lengthy discussion with a Japanese couple ended with them promising not to overtake on a blind bend again whereas one woman pulled over after Rob gave her the finger following a lengthy and aggressive honking session. She then started calling someone on her mobile phone (possibly her husband) and refused to discuss the matter when Rob tapped on her window.

Despite our traffic misgivings I should say that in general we have felt very safe on the roads and emerged unscathed from our 80 km cycle ride into Franz Josef - a small little village with a population of only about 300 next to one of New Zealand's largest glaciers - although it was lashing down with rain. It was the day before Rob's 30th birthday so we decided to splash out and stay in a cabin rather than literally splashing about in a sodden tent.

Franz Josef, like a number of towns we have been through on the west coast, is in an amazingly beautiful setting but groans under the weight of mass 18-30 tourism. This is characterised by bars all eager to get in on the actions with lame slogans like 'when it rains we pour' underneath a sign offering discounts on shots for backpackers and seemingly endless adventure and outdoor activities. The glacier was only a short walk from where we were staying so we thought we should definitely check it out - so we asked the helpful Aussie receptionist how to get to it. 'You can't walk on the glacier without a guide' was the response. Turns out that the cheapest guided tour comes in at a cool 185 NZD (about 90 quid) increasing to something astronomical if you go for a top of the range 'helihike'. Hmmm I think we'll pass. Turns out that the glacier hotpools are less than 30 seconds walk down the road so instead of tottering about on a large icecube we treated ourselves to a massage, repeating our well-worn phrase to each other that 'we deserve it!' and languished in the outdoor hotpools under a rainforest canopy until we turned into prunes.

We floated back from this oasis of calm into the hostel kitchen which looked like a crime scene (against cooking). With Rob visibly blanching at his cooking neighbour murdering a bolognaise, we took refuge in our little room to enjoy risotto in bed, carbing up to get over 3 steep climbs to get over to Fox Glacier the next day (Rob's birthday) which was only 26 km away.
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After setting up our canvas nest on the lawn of the backpacker's lodge under the bemused gaze of its residents we cycled 8 km off the main road (without panniers so it felt like flying) down to Lake Matheson. Before we set off for New Zealand we had big plans to do some hiking (or tramping as it is called here). But at the end of most cycle days we are generally too knackered to walk across a campsite let alone go hiking. However, it had only been a very short day and Lake Matheson was reputed to be one of the most beautiful lakes in NZ - and certainly one of the most photographed. The walk is also completely flat. True to form Rob had found a restaurant up to his exacting standards to celebrate thirty years since birth in a setting that must be a contender for the restaurant with the best view in the southern hemisphere. We ate lamb, drank amazing pinot (Wooing Tree) and watched a beautiful sunset feeling there is not much wrong with the world!
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Posted by mrs lewis 13:55 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Murchison and the west coast

sunny 25 °C

To get across to the famed west coast with its dramatic coast line we first needed to cross through Murchison and the Buller gorge. The scenery here is incredibly beautiful. we have been winding along the river through the gorge lined with wild forests with hidden waterfalls and lakes along the way. THese stunning water spots have led us to dip our toe into wild swimming, particularly as some of the places we are camping in are run by the department of conservation -usually in staggeringly beautiful spots but the are very basic and usually without showers but a plunge in icy lake or river water is a more than adequate alternative at the end of a hard days cycle !

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So we certainly have not been disappointed with the scenery - very rugged and remote. However, as on the east cape of the North Island, the villages with shops and supermarkets are quite spread out which means (most importantly) careful planning and stocking up on food. Having been caught short at the start of our trip we have now learnt our lesson and we carry much more energy food (chocolate) with us now. However, deciding how much food to carry for our meals is a greater challenge than we first thought... When we arrived in Murchison we eagerly stocked up on food and bought 'emergency supplies' - which was determined by food that was light enough to carry but that we would only eat if we were desperate - 2 minute super noodles fit the bill! We also happily packed our panniers full of rice, cous cous, oats (our new breakfast of choice) and pasta feeling smug at our preparedness. This smugness quickly dissolved the following day as the extra load in our panniers made us slow and sluggish with only an extra 5-6 kgs feeling double as heavy on the incline. . So behind the vacuous masks we wear in the supermarkets a complex decision-making process is at play, prioritising caloric value, weight and size of each item before it makes it into the shopping basket.

As we crossed from Murchison to the coast we finally started to feel noticeably stronger. At the start of the trip we were doing about 60-70 kms a day and psychologically we could not withstand the idea of doing more than 20 kms after lunch. On the day we left Murchison we wove through the spectacular scenery of the gorge and made it all 112 Km to Charlestown - initially it was going to be 108 km (at the end of a long day of cycling those extra 4 km really do count!) but we pulled into a really dodgy looking campsite ran by a very creepy middle aged man with a thick german accent. Admittedly it was very cheap - 10 NZ dollars (a fiver) but it definitely had a whiff of Wolf Creep about the place. Nervously I tried to make stilted conversation with him asking him where he was from.... 'From my mother's womb' he said with a crazy look in his eye. Hmmm.... Despite the fact that we were absolutely knackered and had already paid I was already getting visions of him creeping around the campsite at night with an axe - reinforced by the vision of cutting wood with a chainsaw when I went to ask for our money back with a half baked excuse of needing to meet up with other phantom cyclist further up the road. So we set off again - finally arriving at a more sedate looking campsite - this time it was us with a wild look in our eyes eyes from hunger and exhaustion but once we had scoffed the fastest thing we could eat ( a cold tortilla with a carpet of honey slathered on it) we felt fairly normal. We did feel quite pleased with our feat and promised ourselves that the following day would be an easy one as we waiting for the muscle pain to set in - but incredibly the next day we felt fine - better than fine as we had a good tail wind - and we whizzed down the coast past pancake rocks, stopping just 10 km before Greymouth enjoying the most spectacular scenery in New Zealand so far.

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check out our video of a trip along the west coast!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kob1crDnFiU

Posted by mrs lewis 00:40 Archived in New Zealand Comments (1)

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