Monday, January 24, 2011

Charleston, Westland, NZ.

____Up at the crack of dawn and along to Lake Matheson to get the photograph of Mt. Tasman and Mt. Cook reflected in the water before they are enveloped in their daily cloud cover for the rest of the day. Breakfast at Fox Glacier’s Hobnail Café; then three lung-bursting climbs in 30 kilometres before Franz Josef. Another glacier and another tourist village but with the advantage of an ATM that takes Visa cards; the first since Wanaka. On to Whataroa, 33 kilometres north for the night; with the road a lot flatter and dairy farms in amongst the native forest.

____A 100 kilometre day to the seaside town of Hokitika. A tail wind and a lot flatter as the farms now have most of the narrow coastal plain cleared of bush. Tea-breaks at Harihari, Pukekura and at Ross, the historic gold town. Pukekura’s Bushman Centre being the original “Roadkill Café” with possum being the most popular. All the benches are covered with possum fur.

____Away from Hokitika and to Kumara Junction, where the two Spanish guys turn off to tackle Arthur’s Pass; on there way back to Christchurch. I’ve seen a lot of them during the last week and we are on first name terms. They are both called Jose; I christened them “Jose Juan” and “Jose Too”, but didn’t mention it. I carry on north, through Greymouth, replenishing supplies and onto the beachside camping at Rapahoe. The old village school converted into a camping ground without losing the schoolroom atmosphere; amazing place.

The Pancake Rocks
____Very little coastal plain north of Rapahoe as the Southern Alps come down to the sea. Beautiful scenery, but hard going on the bike. A stop at Punakaiki to inspect the weird “Pancake” rock formations and lunch at the Pancake Rock Café; whose speciality is…yep…pancakes. Hot sun and long hills puts Westport out of reach; so I settle for a night at tiny Charleston with a pizza at Jack’s Gasthof.

Mt. Tasman and Mt. Cook reflected in Lake Matheson.

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