Tuesday, December 28, 2010

South Island--Days 1-2-3

____Away from Picton ,bright and early, south to Blenheim and it’s vineyards for breakfast. Then some hard climbs and the Dashwood Pass before reaching the Pacific Coast at Wharanui. With a north wind behind me, I make good headway; stopping at the Store, Kekerengu, for tea. It’s late when I reach Kaikoura, a popular whale-watching town that is bursting to seams. I get squeezed into a corner with my little tent after my first day of more than 100 kms cycling.

____ Gale force winds rip through the campsite during the night; as I am thankful for my sheltered corner. Several tents are torn to shreds by the north-westerly. More coastline riding around Goose Bay, where plenty of seals mess about in the kelp or lounge about on the rocks only yards from the busy road. After the road turns inland there are some serious long climbs, but when the road flattens; the wind changes to a gale from the south making riding nearly impossible. I put into the Staging Post campsite at Hawkswood after less than 50 kms for the day. As storm clouds are looming, the offer of a rustic cabin seems a good idea. I get my money’s worth by lighting the wood burning stove and burning all the logs, all night, in an effort to dry some laundry.

____ Dawn breaks to a cloudless, windless sky; what a difference a day makes. The terrain is not flat but much less demanding. After stops for tea at Cheviot and Greta Valley, it’s a satisfying days ride down to Waipara and the Waipara Sleepers campsite, a railway themed set-up. Sleepers of the large wooden railroad tie sort of thing. Coffee houses seem to be very much in vogue here in NZ; but a pot of tea suits me and is good value with a jug of hot water arriving with the pot and the milk. There’s something you don’t see to often these days any where else.

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