Sunday 6th March
Wellington to Pelorus Bridge
36 miles cycling
We had a chilled out night, dinner cooked in the backpackers hotel (sausage and mash for the boys and stuffed mushroom and mash for me.
We retired early Gary and I watched another crap film on the TV but livened it up by entertaining each other in the adverts by doing silly things, needless to say Gary was hilarious (Gary; I am not sure if this is a compliment or insult?).
An early start so we could catch the ferry, we had been warned that it might be a rough crossing so I took one of Stuart’s sea sickness tablets. This turned out to be a mistake, it made me feel really sleepy and a little bit queazy, I dozed for most of the crossing apparently missing out on some amazing views, fortunately the boys took lots of photos.
Gary; once the ferry reached North islands Fiord type inlets we were treated to some really specula views with the ferry travelling close bt both shorelines.
On the ferry we met two guys who were cycling North to South New Zealand on an established route, apparently some cyclists complete the route in 10 days but the guys were aiming for a more manageable 24 days. This still meant that on occasion they were cycling into the night, not my cup of tea, but they seemed to enjoy this.
Gary; they had next to no kit on their mountain bikes which is doable on a short trip like theirs.
We were first off the ferry so we decided to wait in Pictons picturesque harbour until the ferry had unloaded before setting off on the coastal road. This was a good idea as the route was very scenic and the boys wanted to stop lots to take photos.
Gary; again some stunning scenery as we cycled next to fiords and passed arty letterboxes by peoples houses.
Personally I was still feeling a little groggy and I just wanted to get to the camp site, but it was a lovely sunny day at 34 degrees so I tried to go with the flow, although I did get a little irritated when they stopped at the 8 mile mark for an ice-cream when they’d already stopped several times for photos and sweets. As Gary pointed out there was no rush, so I tried to calm myself and enjoy the ride.
The views continued to be spectacular right up to the last 10 miles which were flattish and slightly away from the coast.
We arrived at the camp site at about 5.00pm the office was just about to close along with the cafe next door. We didn’t need any supplies as we had stopped on route but it was good to pick up some more cold drinks.
It was a chilled out evening, noodles, mushrooms and mussels for tea (mussels as we’d passed through a town which claimed they had the best mussels in New Zealand). The boys had hoped to call their mums in the evening to wish them a happy mothers day but unfortunately we had no connection so they could not call home. I spent the day missing my mum, (more than other days), so I was a little bit quiet and withdrawn.
Monday 7th March
Pelorous Bridge to Richmond
A cycle route over the peninsula to the coast, 2 big climbs of approx 1000ft each and the weather was sunny at approx 34.5c, this made for some hot hill climbing. Net and I were not too troubled but Stu was leaking loads.
Ginette – I enjoyed these climbs although it was hot and I had to strip down to one layer, which doesn’t happen often in New Zealand
A fairly big road with some logging trucks passing us and we passed a christmas tree on the brink of one of the hills fully decorated with tinsel and baubles.
Ginette – both boys stopped to take pictures of this, it was quite amusing to see in March
It was Mothers day today/yesterday but our campsite had no wifi or phone signal so I couldn’t call my mum. We managed to get a message t her as the day went on but by the time we did it was 9.00pm in the UK this meant it was 10.00pm in NZ and we’d been trying since the previous evening. Our window for contacting home in sociable hours is very small but fortunately we did get a message home just in time.
Ginette – I had spent yesterday thinking of my mum, so I felt Gary’s frustration when he couldn’t ring home, he tried several times even cycling back up to a cafe to get a signal but to no avail. In the morning I asked at the cafe if he could use their phone and the girl behind the counter melted when I explained it was mothers day and Gary wanted to wish his mum a happy mothers day. Unfortunately his mum’s phone blocked the international call. Fortunately we finally got a wifi signal and sent a message via Facebook and an email to Tracy to relay to his mum.
We stopped in Nelson for Net to use the library for podcasts updates, I went to the supermarket and Stu fell asleep in a chair.
Ginette the internet connection was really poor hence the fact Stu fell asleep
On our way out of Nelson we bumped into 2 cyclists we saw on the ferry, one had a full cast on his arm, he had fallen off his bike on an off route track and broke it in 10 places and fractured a rib. So glad we aren’t doing his off road route.
Our camp site was in Richmond, it initially looked promising, it had a bowling and RES club but the actual camp site had a few long term settlers with mattresses piled outside their scruffy old caravans and our pitch unfortunately was right next to them (not a pretty view).
We were all tired so decided to write our diaries up in the bar before dinner which would be a seafood dish with rice. Whilst we sat in the bar and had a beer Stuart went across to the McDonalds for a strawberry milkshake.
Tuesday 8th March
Richmond to St Arnaud Lake Rotoiti
46 miles, 4485 ft of climbing
It was a noisy campsite so we didn’t sleep too good.
We had a light breakfast porridge and yogurt (not in the same bowl) before setting off on an overcast morning.
The initial stage was flat and along dedicated cycle paths, we met several cyclists on route, some doing the North island tip to the South island tip for charity.
the rest of the day was a hilly day, we climbed to an altitude in excess of 2,000 feet. Stuart is finding the hills hard with his bike configuration and Gary is slower than usual as he is carrying more weight than both Stuart and me. This means I tend to get to the top of the hill first and then wait for the boys. This isn’t a problem as it allows me to sort out my podcasts but it does mean I get a little bit cold.
As the day wore on today I got increasingly worse saddle sore, this was a combination of being too warm and the hill climbing.
In the morning we followed a cycle track and met several cyclists doing the North to South route, one recommended a bakery in Wakefield which we felt obliged to try. The boys had steak pies whilst I had a lovely vegetable pie which had a potato topping. I think a lot of Yorkshire people must have emigrated to this area of NZ as we’ve seen roads called ‘Halifax Road’ and Sheffield Place’ and today a town called Wakefield, with the rolling hills it would not be hard to imagine yourself in Yorkshire.
We didn’t really pack enough drink for today and we’d almost run out by the end of the day, so mental note to take more with us in future. We didn’t see a shop or cafe for about 40 miles.
Gary; I usually carry an extra bottle but we haven’t needed it for so long I got a bit lax.
The views throughout the day were good but nothing compared to the views as we neared the campsite. We are in a ski resort and therefore surrounded by mountains and a lake it is pretty spectacular. The campsite is very popular and we are all crammed in like sardines with very few amenities, which is a shame because it is a nice site. I was cold when we arrived at the campsite and the tent needed to be dried out so I went for a shower to warm up. Once the tent was up the boys went for the compulsory swim in the lake, I played my part by taking some photos of the mad fools.
There was only one oven/hob in the kitchen and we timed dinner well as the kitchen was quiet but by the time we had finished three different groups were trying to cook on the stove.
We decided to write our diaries back at the campsite surrounded by ducks, bees and lots of midges.
Wednesday 9th March
Lake Rotoiti to Murchinson
We cooked dinner last night in the very basic kitchen, when we returned to our tent several more campers had turned up including one man who needed to fix his 4 x 4 way into the night right next to our tent.
It was a very cold night so we didn’t sleep brilliantly not helped by the camping vans around us with their generator/heaters coming on intermittently through out the night plus starting th engines to get the heating back on.
We were slow to get going because of the cold, but the hot porridge and beans on toast helped. The ride was fairly easy we definitely descended more than we climbed. Gary was feeling strong and set a cracking pace, so fast that we missed Stuarts turning, which was just as well as looking at the maps it was a 10 mile diversion to cover a very steep hill.
We met a single Chinese/American woman on route who was cycling very slowly we overtook her on route but she stopped to say hi as we were finishing our lunch. She had a further 20 miles to cover whereas we only had 6 so she didn’t stay long.
Once we hit our destination we did stop at the library to see if we could go further but there didn’t appear to be any other camp sites until our next designated stop. Although you can wild camp in New Zealand (called freedom camping) there are certain rules which include the site must have a toilet. We could risk wild camping but we’ve been told there is an instant £125 pound fine if found, which is not worth risking.
The camp site was lovely and peaceful, with some beautiful views of the mountains it even had a resident wallaby and a couple of emus on site which made some interesting drumming noises.
We put the tents up in the sun, washed our clothes and headed back to town to have a look around and buy groceries. Pizza and chips for the boys (not a take a way), I had soup and chips, which was delicious.
Thursday 10th March
Murchinson to Reefton
Another cold night but much less noise than the previous night and not quite as cold either.
We woke to a very misty and dewy morning, and over breakfast agreed to change the route and to book a hotel for the night. Gary’s breakfast consisted of porridge with weetabix, 3 poached eggs on toast, another round of toast and marmite and an magnum lolly left over from the previous night! (Gary; and whats wrong with that?) Stuart and Gary fed the ducks separately both got a little scared as the bread ran out and the ducks got a little excited I think they feared they may lose their fingers. (Gary; scared! these were man eating ducks with no fear of us humans).
Stuart had left his adapter in the library so our first stop was to collect this unfortunately the library did not open until 10.30am so we passed the time by buying more supplies and oil for the bike as Gary’s bike was squeaking as we had more time to kill we went to a cafe for coffee and drinking chocolate (for the boys). We had hoped for an early start as it had been forecast gale force winds and heavy rain but fortunately the day was much better than expected.
It was an easy day although the road was undulating it was gentle hills. The rain came in at lunchtime and stayed with us until we reached our destination (an old nursing home). We crossed a number of scenic bridges which we stopped to take photos at. We rode together all day which was enjoyable and stopped us from getting too cold. At one point Stuart dropped off the back as the bottle of fizzy pop he was carrying had jumped off his bike and split, he managed to save it and catch us up – full respect.
We were very wet when we arrived at our destination and desperately wanted to get changed but the lady who greeted us dithered and gathered getting the keys she was quite amusing, it took a good 10 minutes for her to get the key and to show us where our rooms were.
Our accommodation was ideal we had booked a self catering apartment and a one bedroom room, which gave us the luxury of having own kitchen and TV area.
As I washed the days clothes out and put everything on charge the boys went to the shops and did a boys shop (lots of sweet things and expensive beer) – I will have to remember not to let them shop again it cost twice as much as normal.
Gary; as we sat in dry small room with its own little kitchen we commented on how this size of place would be ideal for us as long as we had a garden space and areas to keep all our boats and bikes. It makes our 3 bed home seems far too big, we are now so used to living in cramped conditions that our home is going to seem really too big for us.
My mind today keeps straying back to work, it not long now till I have too start to work for a living again and funnily enough I am looking forward to it, having had a talk to myself.
Friday 11th March
Reefton to Greymouth
Oh what a night, after a lovely evening with Stu and Gary, I spent most of the early hours in and out of the bathroom, not sure what upset my tummy but as I stood naked in front of the bathroom mirror I though I haven’t got enough weight on me to get ill, I thought Gary was tucked up in bed so I got the fright of my life when he walked into the bathroom, it frightened him too as he also thought I was tucked up in bed.
Stuart didn’t sleep well because he had spiders climbing over him (2 at different parts of the night) and Gary spent most of the night itching, twisting, turning and farting so he didn’t sleep well either. It was a fantastic place to stay but perhaps we’re all allergic to sleeping in doors.
I was up super early and after trying to go back to sleep I eventually got up and went and sat in the lounge area with the lap top. It is hard not to think about work so I spent some time researching what jobs are available in the UK, nothing jumped out at me but I have signed up to a number of sites in the hope the dream job will appear just in time for me getting home.
I suffered all day from the lack of sleep and week tummy, although I could keep up with the boys I didn’t have an energy to take the lead.
There was a lot of low lying cloud as we left the nursing home but this soon cleared to give us a beautiful autumnal day. Although it was cold, it was warmish however I have to admit it took me until lunch time before I took off my jumper. I am cycling with my balaclava on, Gary say’s I look like a muslim woman but it has many advantages including keeping my ear plugs in, keeping my ears and neck warm and keeping the flies off.
At lunch time the boys noticed that the tyre on my back wheel was thread bare, we agreed this would need replacing in Greymouth.
It was fairly easy flat day with a few little bumps to get our hearts racing. Gary’s pedal broke with only 20 miles to go, we pulled over to fix it and some cyclists doing the ‘bluff’ ride pulled over to see they could help (these guys are cycling the north and south island as part of a challenge/race). As this had happened before Gary soon had it fixed, it was nice of the guys to stop and offer their assistance.
In the afternoon Stuart and I were amused to pass a fence with a number of bras strapped to them. Gary was totally oblivious and cycled right passed them, whereas Stuart wanted to know where the half dressed women were.
We arrived at out campsite just before 4.00pm, the campsite is an established site set up for both cabins and tents. The facilities were really good with several toilet blocks, at least 2 kitchens, a laundry, a games room and a lounge. It was quiet when we checked in we will keep our fingers crossed that it remains that way.