Thursday, January 13, 2011


____ Into town early and a new tyre, tube, spare tube and a box of patches from Crossroads Cycles; Gore's number one bike shop. It's then flat countryside down to Invercargill, not quite on the coast, but with Oreti beach 10 kilometres to the west. I book into Sparky's Backpackers, a small cozy establishment with Sparky; the ideal host. His signature chocolate cake is not only delicious but bonds everyone together for the making and tasting.
____ Leaving most of my luggage at the backpacker hostel for the day, I have an easy lightweight ride down to the final kilometre of Highway 1 at Bluff. A port for the shipping of lumber, containers and aluminium; it is also the ferry terminal for the trip to New Zealand's third biggest island. But it's NZ$132 return to Stewart Island and as they don't have many roads; I decide against a choppy boat trip. I satisfy myself by viewing the island from the Lands End signpost while getting a young lady from Southend-on Sea to take my picture. Then it's back to Sparky's for another night and more chocolate cake.
____ North from Invercargill, through Wilton and on to Lumsden with a new haircut and the wind behind me. Lumsden's campsite is deserted; reminding me of all those municipal camps in small French country towns. The big difference is that Lumsden has a fully equipped kitchen with most of the stuff brand new. By nightfall there are three of us, one on foot, one car and me on the bike; nobody shows up to collect any money so we put it in the honesty box. I can think of quite a few places where the honesty box would have disappeared, along with most of the kitchen.
____The flat plain of Southland continues for much of the morning and at Five Rivers I meet a Canadian couple from Gatineau, cycle touring, also heading for a overnight stop at Kingston. I'm surprised how much quicker they are than me; but with their narrow tyred racing bikes, it's not a style of riding I am comfortable with. The mountains slowly close in on the road when I reach Otago but there are no real climbs before the small lakeside town of Kingston and a friendly motorcamp, cafe and pub.

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