I’m back on Daisy and back cycling again after my mid trip break. Very exciting! I got all packed up at Pat and Doro’s and had a ferry booked for Wednesday afternoon which I was hoping would give me a good view of the trip across from the north island to the south. Luckily it didn’t disappoint and I had a great trip over with some stunning views, especially the last couple of hours where the ferry weaves it’s way through the hills as it comes into Picton.
Strangely when packing up and for the first two days I was really nervous, I’m not really sure why but I guess going back to not knowing where I’d be each night and also having changed my bike set up a bit which was untested I was a little nervous about wether that would work or not. Anyway I arrived in Picton at about 6pm so decided to find a campsite and set off fresh the next day. Picton was a lovely little place with a few cafes and various little shops. I treated myself to a fancy breakfast of eggs before leaving and enjoyed watching the world go by, it immediately felt more relaxed for some reason. I then did a quick shop, got some cash and set off on my way.
I wanted to have a pretty relaxed first day to get my legs back into the cycling again and from Picton there’s a lovely little road called Queen Charlotte Drive. It was beautiful without too much traffic, stunning views and nice beaches all the way along it. Perfect for just wondering slowly along at my own pace. It was also along here that I was overtaken by a lady on a bike, not a problem at all obviously but she was on one of those electrically assisted bikes, as she came past me at the bottom of quite a noticable hill I jokingly said that’s cheating to which she replied you’ve got a big hill coming up. As she shot past she then waved her hand in a slightly sod you gesture and dissappeared up the hill. That told me then! Funnily enough I didn’t see her again as by the time I got to the top she was nowhere to be seen!
About half way along this road I took a little detour to a small town called Anakiwa, from here you can do a walk/cycle which takes between 3 to 4 days out to ship cove. I didn’t want to do the whole route but I thought it would be fun to do the first section which was roughly 12km to a campsite called Mistletoe Bay. It was a fun track with a few interesting little sections and a lovely lookout about half way along it. It was here I met a couple from England called Kev and Ashleigh. They were heading the other direction but it was cool to have a chat while we had our lunch. Mistletoe Bay was at the bottom of a gravel road and was a really relaxing spot with a nice view out to the bay.
From Mistletoe Bay I took the gravel road out which then went along and joined the main road again towards Havelock. Just before reaching Havelock I bumped into a group of 4 ladies who were all in their 70’s and very cheery. I’d met them the day before on the track to Mistletoe bay and they were walking the length of the South Island which I thought was very impressive. I had a little chat, took their picture for them and wished them good luck. I haven’t seen them since but you never know I might see them again, I kind of hope it do to see how their getting on! From Havelock I followed the main road to a place called Pelorus Bridge. There’s a really beautiful campsite there next to the river so after getting sorted I went for a dip which was very invigorating indeed! The water was crystal clear and you could just float away, jump out, run back up and do it again. Brilliant! I was told it was where a scene in the Hobbit was filmed, being a bit out of the loop with the whole Lord of the rings thing I didn’t realise this. It was only when a very cheery French guy asked if I was taking pictures because of the scene did I find all this out. Apparently a scene involving barrels in the hobbit film in case you wanted more specifics. I just thought it was really pretty.
After my relaxing evening at Pelorus Bridge I set off towards Nelson. I got there in reasonable time and found a little hostel which was not very big and very relaxing. Perfect! They had hammocks…an important criteria of mine! My first evening there I went to meet another English couple I met at Mistletoe Bay called Con and Bee. We got a takeaway Pizza and sat by the river, then went for a beer after which was really nice. The following day I asked what there was to do in Nelson, evidently not that much but you could walk to the centre of New Zealand! I kid you not there was a sign and everything! I’d met a guy called David at the hostel who was from San Francisco so we decided to tackle the walk up to the hill to the centre of New Zealand together….seems a bit convenient the centre was at the top of a hill but hey, very handy none the less! After that we had a wonder around Nelson and I got a few supplies. That evening we went for dinner which David very kindly bought for me! Amazing! Thank you again David!
I had two choices leaving Nelson, I could either head straight over towards the west coast or take a little detour north to the Able Tasmin national park. I’d only heard good things about it and there was a nice ride up there called the Great Taste Cycle which mostly kept you off the main road so it seemed like a worthwhile trip. The route took me up the coast to rabbit island (didn’t see a single rabbit I might add) and eventually along to a place called Kaiteriteri. From there I popped over the hill to Marahau, a small place at the entrance to the national Park. When I got to the campsite while unpacking my bike I discovered one of my new bags had suffered a bit during some of my off road excursions and a strap had broken. Not ideal so I went to ask at the office if they had a needle and thread I could borrow which got some interesting looks, not really sure why but I managed to fix it and it’s still holding…Rachie, you’d be proud! I also got some more bungees to really support the bag which seems to be doing the trick! Time will tell I guess! I decided to stay up in Marahau for two nights and have a day walking as there’s a pretty famous route through the park which can take up to four days if you choose to. I arranged to get the water taxi up the coast to Anchorage, the nearest drop off point and walk back to the campsite from there. It was only 12.5km but I had all day to do it and so I just took my time, it was lovely weather and nice to walk instead of cycle for a little change of pace.
After my day walking it was back on Daisy and I wanted to make some progress towards the west so I headed back to Motueka and from there wondered as much west as I could. This ended up taking me along a beautiful road that followed the river down to a town called Tapawera and from there I took the smallest road I could see on the map to get me in roughly the right direction. I turned out to be quite a fun little route and was strangely quiet, as I was pedalling along I kept wondering why isn’t anyone else using this nice road. About half way along it suddenly changed to a gravel track…ah that would be why then. Fortunately for me it meant it stayed quiet until I hit highway 6 which was the road that would eventually take me to the coast. I found somewhere to stop for the night and was surprised to see I’d done 110km! The legs were back in the swing of things!
The next day I followed highway 6 for a short time but the traffic got a bit heavy with some big trucks, this I think is because Highway 1 is still closed after the earthquake last year so all the traffic has to do a roundabout route down to Christchurch. I therefore took a detour down to lake Rotoroa which was a beautiful road with no through traffic which then leads to a gravel track called the Braeburn Track which turned out to be a perfect alternative to the main road. It started with quite a steep climb but once you got to the top it was a brilliant downhill through the trees, through a couple of fords and along to a really quiet road which took you to Murchison. Once at Murchison I joined highway 6 again, fortunately not far after it the traffic heads south towards Christchurch so it’s a bit quieter which was nice. That night I stopped at a cheap little campsite called Lyell which was very pretty but I now have a new hate…sand flies! My god what annoying little creatures they are! They swarm around and no matter how many times you swip or slap yourself they don’t go away. Weirdly as well they didn’t seem to be too interested in the locals which meant they really liked me! How wonderful. I’ve been told they only get worse as you head further south…what fun!
Highway 6 continues all the way down the west coast so all I have to do is follow that, simple navigation I guess! From Lyell campsite it was a really nice ride through the Buller Gorge which took me out to Westport. The previous day I had met an American couple also cycling south called Eric and Deirdre. They had set off before me and I bumped into them about 10km from Westport so we continued together, found a campsite and had a nice evening as there was a Barbaque so we had a nice change from the dried food we had the last few nights. The following day we said goodbye but I hope to bump into them again and do some sections further down the coast together.
From Westport to Geymouth, where I now am it’s about 100km or so. I decided to break it up into two days. The first day I had a bit of a headwind but the sun was out and some of the views were lovely. I stopped for the night in a place called Punakaiki where I did a short walk along a gorge with some beautiful limestone rock formations to explore. The second day from Punakaiki to Greymouth was not too far and the weather was a little more hit and miss but wow what a stunning section of road…I’d heard the west coast was amazing and so far it hasn’t disappointed at all!
I’ve got an evening in Greymouth and then I head further south along the coast tomorrow. I’m planning on doing a little detour off into the hills for a night and then back onto highway 6 to continue down toward fox glacier and the haast pass. Sorry it’s such a long post but there just too many beautiful places to talk about!
A few other pictures from the last couple of weeks.