____ Out of the Waipara Valley and onto the Canterbury Plain; a flat road all the way to Christchurch. A big town, well laid out, with Cathedral Square in the centre; being set up for New Years celebrations. A powerful earthquake hit the area on Boxing day but I cannot see any signs of damage; although the cathedral tower is fenced off. Maybe to protect revellers from falling masonry or maybe to protect the cathedral from falling revellers. I spend an afternoon looking around town then ride out to a campsite on the south side. Camped next to an apricot tree with a pub next door.
____ From Christchurch across the plain to Ashburton on a fine sunny day with just a slight headwind. Across the longest bridge in New Zealand at Rakaia; over a mile long and a narrow two-lane. A lot of NZ bridges are narrow with no provision for cyclists; this calls for special tactics to avoid getting squeezed into the wall. I drive in the middle of my lane; anything wanting to come past must wait for a gap in oncoming traffic and use the other lane. I’m sure it annoys some people but as most of the time I ride on the hard shoulder they have little reason to complain.
____ People are always very friendly; always with a lot of questions. Apart from “Where to?”- “How far?”- “Where from?”; a common question is “ Why New Zealand?” to which I have found the best answer is: “Because I hate Australians.” This is not true but always goes down well. The other popular question is: “How’s your bum?” to which I casually answer, ”Ok.” In fact I know exactly how my bum is; thanks to a digital camera with flash and a laptop on to which I can download and enlarge daily images; I have a good database of how my bum is standing up to the rigours of cycle-touring down-under. If there is any demand from the medical profession reading this; I can easily post pictures for your perusal.