Day 88

Now Rex and I know each other a little better he is happy to carry a piece of Dad's blue shirt.

Now Rex and I know each other a little better he is happy to carry a piece of Dad’s blue shirt.

Rex and I arriving at the West Coast beaches. The sandflies had beat us to it.

Rex and I arriving at the West Coast beaches. The sandflies had beat us to it.

Perpendicular Point. Admiring (and resting from) where I'd just come from.

Perpendicular Point. Admiring (and resting from) where I’d just come from.

Doing the Tourist thing at Punakaiki Rocks

Doing the Tourist thing at Punakaiki Rocks


What can you see?

What can you see?

One "strongman" and "strongbike" at the Strongman Mine Memorial where miners died in 1967 disaster. fitting place.

One “strongman” and “strongbike” at the Strongman Mine Memorial where miners died in 1967 disaster. fitting place.

Just caught end of local derby Ruanange vs "the suburbs" 18-11 to Ruananga I think

Just caught end of local derby Ruanange vs “the suburbs” 18-11 to Ruananga I think

Approaching Greymouth

Approaching Greymouth

All my possessions on display at Neptunes backpackers, Rex, Tent and my laundry drying in the background.

All my possessions on display at Neptunes backpackers, Rex, Tent and my laundry drying in the background.

Neptunes Backpackers, I'm still red faced after a steamy bath!

Neptunes Backpackers, I’m still red faced after a steamy bath!

10.30pm a very quiet Neptune Backpackers Greymouth

My reservoir of superlatives is drying up. Today’s cycle was another stunner but different to the Buller river. Here you have the expansive views of what’s ahead, namely outstandingly rugged coast and outrageously steep bush. Your route hugs a narrow strip of flatter (very relative term here) land between them. Another difference was the weather, here there was low cloud and a presence of nature ready to strike if you dare take it for granted. Luckily it held good for me and no more than a sprinkle of rain for a few minutes and at times you felt the sun about to break through. As an cup half full sort of person I thought this was ideal cycling weather, warm enough for a T-shirt , no head winds, so a good day. I managed to recoup the missed milage from yesterday as had set off early enough not to make it feel I was under any pressure (other than on my bruised saddle area). There were a couple of hills but I managed them without stopping although I was wheezing and wobbling at the tops.

Stopped at Punakaiki along with hundreds of others to do the pancake rocks and blow holes, even had an explore of a limestone cavern. I must say the rocks are impressive and it is so good that no one is charging to have a look. I think every other vehicle on this road is a camper van. This is fine and all give us cyclists a wide berth so far. I had a bit of a laugh where there was a queue at a roadworks when I edged to front and then waved everyone on to front again when the light changed and commending the choice of music in the car I’d sidled up against (blame it on the boogie by the Jackson 5 which I have not been able to get out of my head since).

I met my first other cycle tourer at Punakaiki. We had eyed each other at first sighting but didnt say anything at first as had that delay while you assess whether or not you want to engage in conversation which could potentially lead to them becoming your trail buddy from hell or best mate for life. Turned out to be neither. She was an Aussie (guilty as charged) and was having a day off to go horse trekking that afternoon (my buttocks clenched involuntarily at this moment). She is heading south too to Wanaka but has a mountain bike and was doing quite a few off road trails. She had months to do it in so not sure we will see each other. Shared a few stories about of routes down and I introduced Rex and then we wished each other luck as I set off with my pannier bags still open.

I particularly liked Lionel’s thought for the day. “Patience and presence will always overcome grit and determination but perhaps more importantly they will make the challenges we face both more enjoyable and more meaningful”

It may have been the 2 double shot flat whites but i had a hippyish moment and wrote down loads of deep and meaningful thoughts from cards in the shop from this west coast based company.

http://www.globalgypsy.com/shop/products.asp?Search=True&Group=700&ProductSubGroup=667&ProductSubGroupName=Note%20Cards&SubGroupDescription=105mm%20x%20150mm%20folded%20with%20envelopes

Stopped to read information about the coal mining town of Runanga and just before Greymouth i came across a local rugby league match including the Runanga team and went in for a watch (Runanga had produced some top international rugby league players and other sporting champions from bowls and marathon running). A fair crowd in there and was a local derby game. Some good players and also a few howlers of mistakes,I resisted a kiwi hot dog ( battered sausage on a stick coated in watties tomato sauce) but had a cup of chips and felt like a real kiwi fan. I then saw couple of girls I’d seen at the camp last night. We had a chat as the game had finished by then and I tried to explain there were 2 types of rugby. I also told them about the challenge I was doing. One girl was from Germany and the other Austrian, they had been in NZ since before xmas, had met here but one was going over to Aussie in a couple of weeks. They were interested in my raising money for cancer so I gave them the web addresses. I was also dying to ask them what the hell they were doing in their car in the middle of the night as when I’d got up for a whizz there were lights going everywhere. They explained they had needed to get rid of all the sandflies that had got into the car as they could not sleep. Aahh that explains it! Hello you two if you are looking at the blog and sorry I didn’t get your names ( at least I remembered one of you is most definitely Austrian!).

So here I am at another backpackers enjoying both worlds of the cosiness of my tent but also free reign of the backpackers.

I availed myself of my first bath for goodness knows how long and it was simply a fantastic way to relax after a tiring day in the saddle. Walked into town along the floodbank (Greymouth has had some major floods in the past) and bought a few supplies including sausage which I’ve had tonight. I am certainly eating more than when I was walking!

So finally to tally up

I only cycled 44km yesterday but managed 82km today

B/f 1109
Yesterday and today= 126
Left = 983

Got a choice tomorrow, to head for Hokitika, who’s name I just love saying and stay there, its only 40km away, or continue to Pukekura a full 90km ( or somewhere in between)

Found a good website on the route down to Hasst and beyond

http://travellingtwo.com/resources/newzealand/greymouth-to-haast

Suppose I better go to bed now.

Day 87

Westport's not so grand disused buildings

Westport’s not so grand disused buildings

Westport's grand "Municipal Chambers"

Westport’s grand “Municipal Chambers”

Can't smell anything yet!

Can’t smell anything yet!

Seal colony, how many can you spot?

Seal colony, how many can you spot?


"How many kms do I really need to do today"?

“How many kms do I really need to do today”?

West Coast- brooding prescence?

West Coast- brooding prescence?

4pm and still only 10km from Westport!

4pm and still only 10km from Westport!

Jack's Golstaf's Pizzeria and Camp, a little piece of Germany on the west coast.

Jack’s Golstaf’s Pizzeria and Camp, a little piece of Germany on the west coast.

6pm Jack’s Gasthof pizzeria and camp, little Totara river SH 6.

There is a pattern emerging here, I am following a long days cycling with a shorter one. I haven’t even reached Charlestown never mind Punakaiki!

I’ve just arrived in Germany! This place is owned by a German family and there are books, signs, menus and speaking in German as I wait for my pizza (which admittedly is not German ).

I didn’t get away until 12.30 because I met Terry at the hotel. Terry is amazing, he is a fountain of knowledge on all the conspiracy theories in the world. I’d only gone in to the lounge for a last look and there was Terry. We started innocently enough on the gallery at the hotel enabling local artists to display their works,one artist was into runes and markings of ancient civilisations. we then launched into the secret document being withheld by the NZ government which proves that the Maori were not the first settlers in New Zealand. It purports that Artefacts and mummified remains of pre Maori settlers have been found at over 250 sites. There were red haired Maori in the Nelson area before Tasman and Cook arrived, Portuguese mapping of the north island was produced in the 14th century at least when 4 year trading voyages were the norm, and Maori legends talk of clever white ghosts in the land. Terry then relayed non publically accessible recorded historical data that defies common understanding of China having the most advanced early civilisation because “Egyptian” like pyramids were there before the earliest dynasty reputedly bringing us writing and gunpowder etc. Vikings had settled in America and at least had been stranded in South America. We moved on to a whole range of other withheld “black ops” US knowledge including on the whereabouts of the missing Malaysian plane, as their satellites can see the whites of our eyes from 90,000 feet up. How all the internet is monitored and articles including his own gets deleted. Terry is a teacher and has been teaching in Turkey and Indonesia for over 20 years before he recently returned to Westland
where he is looking for work. He’s a bit jaded at not getting work at the local school, so is acting as a tour guide at the coal museum in
Charlestown until something comes up. He cited his own government colluding with the Chinese who they are in debt to. The cement works here in Westport will be closing in 2 years despite the reconstruction of Christchurch because all the cement is coming from China. He talked about all the money being taken out of the west coast. Hardly a cent has come back into the local economy be it from the gold rush, logging or coal. Even the abundant west coast fish are being processed in Nelson by NZ fisheries or on board by foreign trawlers. There wasn’t a subject Terry didn’t know some sort of political or corporate manipulation fact and that only when you are freed from being a wage slave can you begin to realise the wool is being pulled under our eyes. I haven’t relayed half the stuff I was bombarded with. While some of these topics were worthy of further analysis this global pandemic scale was all getting a bit heavy and I began to Iose the will. Somehow I extricated myself and Terry went back to his internet research. Phew! I was pleased that Rex is a man of few words.

Having sampled the delights of Westport earlier ( I’d walked to the
fisherman’s wharf and can verify that fish are at least being offloaded here in Westport, barracuda were being salted by a few old salty workers),used the internet in the library which is no longer in the beautiful art Deco building for some reason. There was a very impressive “Municipal Chambers”art deco building too from the early 1900’s so was some real pride in the town going way back. The coal museum looked modern and impressive but i didn’t partake. The town also looked a bit run down in parts with vacated buildings commonplace. Visited New World again for more supplies.

Anyway, I headed out of town for Cape Foulwind which the naming of turns out to be ascribed to Captain Cook who had tried to make a landing during bad weather and after days of this had said something about being thwarted by winds most foul. So there you go. Even the long drop at the carpark didn’t smell much, at least not until after I’d used it.

Had a walk up to the lighthouse and a bit beyond and exchanged pleasantries with people also doing the ” winds most foul” circuit. The seal colony was another 5km so headed there. The colony was visible from a viewing point quite a way up so couldn’t really see or smell them up close. There were about a dozen I could see including quite a few pups.

Next stop was a cafe near the seal colony as I’d run out of water and by time I’d had my lashing of Bundenburg ginger beer it was after 4pm. Whoa,where did the day go? I was feeling pretty tired in both the knees and thighs (and tender too) and recalculated my likely destination as
>Charlestown about 32km more than the piffling 16km I’d done thus far.

The weather has turned a bit with low brooding clouds but fortunately no rain and headwinds. I plodded along very steadily and then came across this place. 6 dollars a night to camp is pretty good and the comfort of this restaurant for a while has been great. Just had a very tasty diabolo pizza with a bottle of becks.

I’m going to have an early night tonight and get off earlier as I have left myself a tougher day to Greymouth tomorrow. Guessing I’ve done about 45km today but seeing as don’t really know where I am will check and verify!

Guten nacht.

Day 86 What a Stunner

Not the type of birds flocking to my tent that I'd dreamed about last night.

Not the type of birds flocking to my tent that I’d dreamed about last night.

9.45pm The Art Hotel, Westport.

Stunning, absolutely stunning. No I am not going to be facetious and talk about my calf muscles or even my noticable thigh enlargement now I’m cycling (maybe later!), I am talking about today’s journey following the Buller river down to Westport on the west coast. AW man, I am such a lucky person to be able to be here and experience this in such perfect conditions. Felica and others had said it was a lovely ride and they were so right. If you are going to spend a day covering 100kms on a bike then this is the place! Ill not say it was easy, when they describe terrain as “pretty flat” in NZ then take this to mean “a bit hilly” in English terms. I took it steady as I wanted to stop so often to just check out the views.

The day started a bit disappointingly with cold low cloud and I delayed setting off until 10. Within half an hour the sun burned its way through and was unrelenting until I got nearer the west coast and even then it cleared again as I came into Westport itself.

Where did all the mountains go?

Where did all the mountains go?


ahh ... there the mountains are half an hour later.

ahh … there the mountains are half an hour later.

What can I say, it is just a pleasure to be exerting oneself, and in so doing to feel that you have earned your right to be surrounded by such beautiful natural grandeur. The river is just captivating as it winds its way through the steepest and tallest of majestic bush clad mountains. Sometimes the river is broad and braided into many fast shallow channels, other times it is brooding dark and deep, sometimes its surges explosively through grounded out rocky canyons. The road hugs its banks practically all the way but often gives you a physical test by throwing in a long drag uphill followed by a “whhheeee” inducing downhill reward for your efforts.

Westport here we come

Westport here we come


Rex enjoying our lunchbreak as he doesn't get bitten by sandflies

Rex enjoying our lunchbreak as he doesn’t get bitten by sandflies


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I took the time to visit the swing bridge which I’d not appreciated was a fee paying attraction but I didn’t want to disappoint you my dear reader. In fact I thought I’d treat you to the spectacle of not just the longest swing bridge in NZ but also to the “Comet” which is essentially a seated type of flying fox that propels you back across the the river on your return trip. In all this I sacrificed my life, my integrity and not least 35 bucks to bring it to you in the comfort of your home (or wherever you are currently located).

It was a pretty nice place to be fair and there were a few pleasant and informative walks around the area including the historical gold mining settlement, native bush plants and birds,incredible river level rises, and the tectonic fault line running through where in 1928 the ground on one side of the fault line lifted 4.5 metres in one earthquake.

Interestingly I probably spent most of the time sat with a Weka watching it get used to me being there and it preening itself once it became happy with my presence.

my Weka mate getting used to me

my Weka mate getting used to me


He's just showing off now!

He’s just showing off now!


I'm getting better at photographing fantails!

I’m getting better at photographing fantails!

Another great thing about places like this in NZ is there is no after sales pressure. Here they film and take photos of you on the Comet and say these are available if you want but also offer to take pictures for you on your own camera and there is absolutely no push to get you to buy theirs (even when the PIC they took of me I ended up looking like Ian Rush’s uglier brother! )

Ian Rush's uglier brother on the "comet"

Ian Rush’s uglier brother on the “comet”


Only my hair belying the fact that I am hurtling at great speed across the Buller River (which my selfie doesn't even show!)

Only my hair belying the fact that I am hurtling at great speed across the Buller River (which my selfie doesn’t even show!)

Whilst saddling up for departure i had a quick chat with three attractive young ladies who were driving around together, one was English, from Lancaster, one a kiwi from Alexandria, and one Welsh but now lived in Wanaka. Girls chatting to me is another thing that only seems to happen in NZ too?! Maybe it was Rex who appealed to them as I couldn’t come up with an English welsh and kiwi joke at the time.

NZ'z longest swingbridge

NZ’z longest swingbridge

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On swingbridge over the Buler River

On swingbridge over the Buler River

I stopped for lunch at a scenic lookout but the sandflies had more lunch from me than I had so moved on quickly.

I stopped again at Lyell for a look round at what used to be a fairly big gold rush mining town with loads of hotels, banks, post office, suppliers etc. All gone with hardly a trace left of it other than the display boards. Some colourful characters ( BIG “Peter the Greek”, Little Biddy the 4 foot tall female prospector who spent all her gold money on booze, Fighting Doug Quinlan who was murdered) and events took place in these times so come on Peter Jackson can you make a film, also learned about a guy called Brunner who with Maori guides took 550 days to travel up the Buller valley to Nelson and back and had some tough adventures en route, his guides leaving him early on.

My only disappointment of the day was getting to Inangahua junction where there was a store mentioned in my Pedallers Paradise guide to the South Island. Alas the shop was closed down along with the only other shop in town which was a second hand shop. Whilst looking dejected about being deprived of a long anticipated and much deserved ice cream three ladies arriving separately to pick up their mail all informed me that the shop just closed its doors about a year ago and it was really sad that the town (population = 50!)no longer had a store and I had to agree with them. One lady offered me a granola bar as a token compensatory offer for not having an ice cream.

So it looked like another 50km to the next store in Westport itself. However my guardian angel up there was looking out for me and another 20km down the road was the unmentioned Berliner Cafe and bar where I met owner Deano and also his best mate from school. They had only reopened the place in December after it had been closed for 3 years previously. They also offered backpacker and camping and I was tempted ( it was nearly 5pm and Westport was at least another 2 hours away). Had a flat white (of course) and chatted a bit. Told me there was a German family cycling who were staying there. They had young children, one about 18 months, who were in those kiddie trailers behind the bikes. This is something I just don’t think you should do on NZ roads and my body shivers when I think about what could happen. Deano had a farm too about an hours drive away, had tried to make a fresh start with his wife but not worked out, they split but he had his 13 year old son living with him and this was working out well with the boy just getting into rugby and also getting on with his much elder brother who lives nearby. We talked about getting the place on pedallers paradise and the I site as it is a really good spot and I wished them well.

Deano outside his fantastic Berliner cafe, backpacker and camping, good luck with it all

Deano outside his fantastic Berliner cafe, backpacker and camping, good luck with it all

I was keen to get to Westport as it was what I set out to do today plus I have a little challenge formulating in my head that I could maybe get to Bluff in time for my 50th birthday on April 11th and maybe in so doing this would be my 3000km target achieved too. Need to investigate the feasibility and sanity of this undertaking over next few days. The next 20kms were absolutely stunning and when the mountains receeded for last 10km or so this was tougher as i was getting weary and sorer but I eventually rolled into town before 7pm. I gave Lionel a call to update him on progress (his thought for the day text is “the purpose of life is to live it”)

I’ve found a little gem of a place here at the Art Hotel. Its a lovely old hotel building with many original features intact. Owned by Cassandra and Zunka and their young family it is a super friendly place. Cassandra showed me all around and sorted out where my bike can go even though I think she was in middle of putting the kids to bed. I’ve got a double room to myself and all for 30 dollars. I had a shower to freshen up and decided not to have chips again and get something from supermarket instead. Bought lots of salads from deli counter plus fruit salad and a yoghurty raspberryey, marshmallowy dessert to bring back to eat at hotel. Got chatting to a multinational array of fellow guests including a delightful Swedish girl who was woofing there, a German lad who had been hiking a lot and was thinking of staying longer, and two French lads who were really pleasantly nice and lived near Cholet in the Vendee Bocage region. Had a bit of banter with them including how NZ wines were better than French (shared a bottle of merlot id bought with them) and how the english had grabbed the place before french could get a look in, all in a nice way and I think they quite enjoyed it. The Swedish girl was interested in what I’d been doing and I came away quite flattered for an old man. I’m beginning to like the idea of backpackers more and more, some of them are charming, and especially if can get a single room. it also brings you just that much more in contact with people than camping and its the connecting with others which I am loving.

The Art Hotel, Westport, a real Gem of a place to stay.

The Art Hotel, Westport, a real Gem of a place to stay.


My double room.

My double room.


Cassandra had also shown me a map of the area and warned me I was in for a fair few hills between Westport and Greymouth. She said there was a camp at Punakaiki about half way so maybe that’s the best option for tomorrow. I must also go to the place just up the road called Cape Foulwind as it is bound to be up on my lavatorial humour spectrum. There’s a seal colony there too which is probably the reason it got its name.

Weather is looking good for next few days changing at the weekend so I may need to make hay while the sun shines.

Finally the scores on the doors after today are

Total km B/F 1210
Today’s kms 101 ( I checked this again! I’ve done my first 100km day with Rex my trusty companion)
Kms left 1109km

There are 15 days to my birthday so i will need to average 74kms a day! Mmmmmmm? I can feel my perineum rejecting this proposterous notion outright!

Day 85

HU HA Bikepackers

HU HA Bikepackers

my fellow Mary Poppins club members Sabina and Joanna inside cosy Hu Ha bikepackers my fellow Mary Poppins club members Sabina and Johanna inside cosy Hu Ha bikepackers

Rex eye view of cloudless route to  Murchison

Rex eye view of cloudless route to Murchison

Rex and I enjoying the view and a rest

Rex and I enjoying the view and a rest

This farm was selling 8 legs of venison for 100 dollars. Do you think that's too dear? Come on think about it!

This farm was selling 8 legs of venison for 100 dollars. Do you think that’s too dear? Come on think about it!

How True (and beer helps!) How True (and beer helps!)
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8pm Murchison pub

Just waiting for my “Hampden burger” at the pub/hotel/restaurant/takeaway here in Murchison and enjoying a pint of Monteiths cider. I Don’t feel I quite deserve such a calorific feast as I have not exactly bust a gut today. I’ve been in Murchison since 1pm and only cycled about 45km, and that was mostly downhill.

Reason being I met up with Lionel here about 4.30pm , he’d come up from
Nelson on his motor bike after he had seen his clients for the day. As my spiritual guru he brought me a book to read, “the power of now” by by Eckhart Tolle.

Still, it gave me plenty of time to savour the now of a flat white and have hours in the sunshine to meander around the town and I quite enjoyed a trip to the museum of Murchison. The town used to be called Hampden (hence name of my burger which has now arrived and been devoured) but it was changed in the 1880s to avoid confusion with another Hampden in Otago. The great thing about the museum was that it was all recent history I.e the last 150 years of settlement. There were displays of the dentist’s chair and drill from the 1950s, the hairdressers shampoo and set head thingy from around same period and the old telephone exchange which only went obsolete in the 1970s. The 2 lovely old ladies looking after the museum were probably older than all but one or two of the museum contents! The town suffered a devastating earthquake in 1929 and there was a lot of pictures and news articles from the time showing the rubble and sad loss of life.

I had a good look round the I site which is sadly due to close this year because of cut backs and will be replaced by a kiosk, and where I updated and published the blog from yesterday for you my dear reader. I also went to the library only to find there had been no power or internet all day as it had not been switched on from Christchurch!?

The morning had passed perfectly. After marvelling at the early frost from the warmth of the woodburner I got off before 10 and said aufweidersehn to Sabina and Johanna who were heading to Greymouth later on today. The day was cool crisp and clear, totally blue skies and I was heading downhill.
Sometimes I need to pinch myself that I am doing what I’m doing as it is just so nice here, …… I know its sickening isn’t it. Even my knees were feeling better and the investment in heavily padded shorts is paying dividends.

Stopped a couple of times to take it all in and after about 3 hours I was here.b

I’m planning to get all the way to Westport tomorrow which is just under 100km, a few more hills but mostly downhill. Looking forward to the Buller River Gorge and NZ’s longest suspension bridge. Bet you can’t wait!

Km left prior to today 1255
Todays kms 45
Kms left 1210

Day 84 Hu Ha Hu Ha!

10.45pm Hu Ha “Bikepackers” (do you see what they did there?), Glenhope.

Hu Ha is a great name for this place as its the noise your mouth repeatedly emits involuntarily when you get off the saddle after 8 hours cycling when the hitherto restricted bloodflow seeps back into your completely numbed genitalia. Yes my backside took a pounding today as did my lungs and knees. What I hadn’t realised was today’s ride included a really steep ascent right at the end

Look at that bloody steep bit after 6 hours already!

Look at that bloody steep bit after 6 hours already!

What I pretended to feel like at top

What I pretended to feel like at top

The reality!

The reality!

Top of Hope Saddle as the shadows (and hemorroids) lengthen.

Top of Hope Saddle as the shadows (and hemorroids) lengthen.

This “Hope Saddle” as its is appropriately named (as in i hope i can get off this saddle soon after I get to the top) took me up to 634 metres from my sea level start this morning. I think I’ve covered about 90km in all as I went the scenic route up the Motueka West Valley road to a place called Woodstock where it joined highway 6, which was only a little less quiet ( worst bit being the double trucks which bomb past and you can feel being sucked into their wake). The German lady at the Motueka i-site had suggested this slightly longer but quieter alternative as it was a nice and steady route up the river valley passing lots of fruit farms full of apples, pears, kiwifruit, blue berries, raspberries, blackcurrants etc. There were fruit trees at the road edge and I enjoyed some lovely golden peaches (probably too many).

apples

apples


Pears

Pears

blueberries

blueberries

Hops (only place grown in NZ)

Hops (only place grown in NZ)


This hill reminded me of my recent close shave!

This hill reminded me of my recent close shave!

"Rex eye" view of changing scenery up Motueka river valley.

“Rex eye” view of changing scenery up Motueka river valley.

Bit of a German theme today as I learnt about the “industrious” Germans who had come to Motueka in the late 19th century when the settlement of the land was proving too difficult for many. The Germans worked hard and established the fruit growing area it has become today. I’m also sharing this bikepackers with two German girls, Sabina and Johanna, who are actually not cycling. We’ve had a good chat (their english is amazing) and even watched Mary Poppins together. They have been in NZ since October and here until May/June, they met over here and have been travelling together for a while (they have a car!). Sabina is older and is having a gap year after uni, Johanna is Amie’s age and having a gap year before uni in September. I’ve told them my German joke (accredited to Barry Munro who told me)

Why is crime so low in Germany?
Because it is against the law!

They were still talking to me after this so i told them my English joke because they didn’t have any English jokes.

Two Scotsmen, two Irishmen, two Welshmen and two Englishmen get marooned on a desert England.

They all get rescued after a week and the rescuers find that the Scotsmen had set up a distillery, the Irishmen were drunk and fighting on the beach, the Welshmen had formed a choir and the two Englishmen were still waiting to be formally introduced!

Anyway, now that I have not been on the saddle for a couple of hours, had something to eat, showered, and sang along to supercalafragalisticexpealidcious I am feeling fully recovered from my cycling travails. This place is really nice and cosy, has a big woodburner, old wooden floors and everything you can possibly need apart from a new bottom. I have even got a dorm to myself and luxury of a double bed (28 bucks). Met Jo and little Max who own the place and seem really laid back so “sweet as”.

Dorm all to myself

Dorm all to myself


One thing I have noticed about cycling (well probably a couple of things) is that you have more time to think than when walking. Walking on tramping tracks often demanded your full concentration as to where to place your feet. With cycling you just need to point the handlebars in the direction of the road. The other related thing is that you feel you can stop and detour more often. I did this in Tapawera ( where I thought someone should open a plastic crockery and other kitchen utensils outlet).
i bought two ice blocks, at Tapawera, guess where the other one is?

i bought two ice blocks, at Tapawera, guess where the other one is?

Bike theme at Tapawera Cafe.

Bike theme at Tapawera Cafe.


There was a cementary just out of town which I thought I’d stop at and look around. What struck me was the way some of the graves had been really personalised in memory for the deceased. Favourite objects, clothes, hats, toys, photos, even their favourite drinks were lovingly placed on the grave. Gave me an idea to do the same for my Dads grave and when I pop my clogs i would like something similar. This got me thinking about what objects would be put around dads grave and what would be put around mine. How do you sum up a persons life in objects reflecting their achievements, personality, traits, hobbies, favourite things etc.
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I struggled a bit with objects for myself which made me think about whether I had anything that stands out as my unique identity other than I once grew a village people type moustache.

Another completely unrelated thought is that I need to keep tabs on how many kms I’m doing against my 3000km target. I think I did around 1550km walking the North Island which leaves me 1450km to do in the South.

I’ve already done a few kms with axe head cycles, walks, and kayaks before getting Rex, my bike. Probably and coservatively ( i dont want anyone who has sponsored me demanding their money back) this would amount to around 50km so we are talking 1400km left

Yesterday I did about 55km and today was around 90km so we are talking 1255 left. I ‘ve got 31 days left so it would equate to 41km a day which is eminently doable and may even give me “time off” for some walking or I can extend the cycling ( or I could just sit around drinking flat whites). I will aim to do a daily tally of how much I have done and how much I’ve got left because I know you will like to be informed of this on a daily basis.

Lionel has been texting me and giving me a thought for the day

“The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom is courage”

I’m still thinking about that one!

Lionel has been really involved in what I’m doing and sharing thoughts and reminders for me, last one of his 10 texts today was to remember to tighten up the front brake pad screw which Amy had said works loose every couple days.

Rex has been very good and a bond of man and machine is forming. I only had to tighten up his handlebar which I’d adjusted and not tightened enough. He is a workhorse with what he is carrying (I must have at least 30kgs of stuff) and a thoroughbred as he moves so well on the road. I imagine he has done this journey several times with Amy and other previous owners so knows the pack drill. Fingers crossed and cheeks clenched.

Day 83 Beardless and now a Cyclist!

9.30am Lionels place Nelson

Spent morning removing the old beard ready for a fresh start as I become a cyclist. Heading off this morning

Before

Before

During

During

Maybe keep the Moustache???

Maybe keep the Moustache???

Naaah… clean shaven After!

Naaah… clean shaven After!

look like a cycling nerd at least

look like a cycling nerd at least

REX my new friend just about loaded

REX my new friend just about loaded

9pm Motueka top 10 holiday park

I am now officially a cyclist! I’ve had the easiest of first days after an initial glitch. Only 5 minutes after setting off I had my first puncture! Luckily Lionel was acting support crew and picked me up to go into town where I bought two new “puncture proof” tyres and new tube. Nick at the bike barn was great and got on to it straight away. Also got new rear brake blocks fitted. Didn’t charge for fitting and Gave me a good discount of over 40% (perhaps he’d heard about my virgin bottom from his colleague?)

Bought a cheapish pair of trekking shoes at the Warehouse which will double up as bike shoes, and some funky skull lights which you can strap onto your bike helmet from R and R. Lionel had to get off to meet a client so we said goodbye for now and he will come and meet me on his motorbike along the trail in a few days

By time I’d got a few bits of shopping from supermarket, sushi lunch and a flat white fix it was 1pm and time to go!

As you will now by now it was another sunny day in Nelson and all in the world was bright and cheery, especially when wearing Lionel’s tinted glasses which brighten up everything even more. Nelson has a good feel about it and is pretty near my top spot if I were ever to get chance to live here.

So on to the intriguingly named “taste trail”, which is a mostly off road flat cycle trail to Motueka some 54km away. It is scenic and mercifully flat all the way apart from one hill after Ruby Bay. It was a new cyclist’s dream ride. I am eternally grateful to all involved and to Lionel for suggesting this route. Far more tougher tests lie ahead but this was heaven. After being a walker for so long I now had a sense of dizziness at the speeds I could accomplish while sitting down and without lugging a pack on my back (albeit sitting a bit tenderly but for now I am now well padded in those regions). I felt moments of glee as I passed runners and other cyclists, I even clocked 20km a hour according to my GPS. I reached Rabbit Island after about 2 hours and then got the ferry over to Mapua. The ferry is cool, there is a timetable but you can ring, text or wave your arms wildly to see if skipper will come sooner. Clive, today’s skipper popped over a bit earlier after I text. He could see me a mile off in my floglow top!

Lionel, the mischievous devil, was waiting to surprise me and we had an ice cream and another deep and meaningful chat before planning another meet up in a few days time before I get too far away!

So all in all a good start, highest number of kms I’ve done in one day since I started and I have only cycled about 4 hours. Bum is a bit sore but not bad, similarly the knees are sore but OK. I’ll spend a bit of time in morning in Motueka looking into my route to west coast and beyond, mileages I need to do, how will get myself and bike back etc.

Must remember to stretch quads before I go to sleep.

The Taste Trail.

The Taste Trail.

Great Kiwi humour at Mapua ferry.

Great Kiwi humour at Mapua ferry.

Rabbit Island ferry terminal. Not a bad place to wait a few minutes

Rabbit Island ferry terminal. Not a bad place to wait a few minutes

Here it comes

Here it comes

Lionel surprised me at Mapua. Thought I'd seen the last of him!

Lionel surprised me at Mapua. Thought I’d seen the last of him!

view from the saddle. spoilt by weather and no hills on my first day cycling

view from the saddle. spoilt by weather and no hills on my first day cycling

Day 82

10.30pm Nelson

Another sundrenched day in Nelson! Skyped with Marie and Alice and had a good all round catch up and a laugh over my “disgusting” beard. It will be coming off soon!

Seemed a good day for a walk so we went to Rabbit Island, a few kms out of Nelson, one of Lionel and Michelle’s favourite spots, and i can see why. Seemed an idyllic walking, cycling, fishing, Kayaking picnic area all along a 10km or so forested sandy beach. Not a shop in sight and as you can see on a Sunday it was jam packed by NZ standards!

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I felt really relaxed and we (although mainly Lionel!) talked loads about lots , including living out of your comfort zone which is the time when you will feel most “alive”, not waiting for the “perfect time” (because this will never arrive) and about the magic combination of motivational factors needed to overcome inertia and our tendency to talk ourselves out of doing something new and challenging.

Sensing my own inertia I’ve combined the motivational factors of having my new bike all clean, kitted out and ready to go, my knee improving, the exciting challenge of a new adventure, and the ticking passage of time before I need to complete my journey and talked myself into setting out tomorrow.

Lionel’s been a great help with sorting me out with extra kit (gloves, fluorescent shirt and top, multi tool, and even anti chaffing “shammy” cream) and also with sizing and cleaning up Rex , the bike.

I took Rex for a 20min spin after he was all cleaned, lubricated and resized. it felt good, even the saddle was bearable, all the gears worked well, it also seemed quite a fast bike. I even managed to cycle it all the way back up the steep hill to Lionels house.

I’m looking to head for Motueka tomorrow on the “Taste Trail”, ( i certainly like the sound of this trail!) Apparently its a fairly new off road cycle route and fairly flat, section to ” Mot” is approx 50km away. Should be a good introduction to the joys/of cycling and there’s a good cycle shop in Mot so I can pop in there if need to. Intending to then head towards west coast and Westport using my “South Island peddlers paradise as my guide”

Spent evening talking some more and Watched some amazing clips of Micheal with his unicycle. Michael and his friend made it to the semi finals of new zealands got talent last year.

Go there!

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=h7eKwJglfjM

or Google Mike Padial. Amazing!

Day 81

Nelson is one of, if not the most sunniest place in NZ. Certainly lived up to this billing again today.

We went to see Andy, the physio, who lives in a lovely house in Atawhai and has his treatment room there. Andy is another Pom who has been here for 7 years. He was really good and listened to everything I said before looking at my legs and manipulating the knees. Long and short of it was that it’s a case of “over use” exacerbated by my right knee’s tendency to place itself over the inside of the foot rather than centrally (probably due to my lack of hip flexibility which Andy checked and found to be pretty minimal!). The soreness is the knee cap rubbing more over the underlying bone as a result but at least no cartilage or soft tissue damage. Whilst rest and some exercises to stretch the quads would be the best treatment Andy thought that my cycling may well be better than walking as the most acute position where feel most pain would not be happening while cycling. He gave me some strapping tape and suggestions of how best to apply this to slightly move the knee cap for relief. Came away feeling reassured that I am not in danger of crippling myself by continuing my journey on two wheels but need to be careful about putting too much pressure on knees. Lionel has good idea on best positioning of bike to minimise this.

Lionel and I had a wonderful afternoon kayaking around Cable Bay which is only 20 minutes from his house. We stopped for tea and cake at the beach and spent a most pleasant afternoon meandering around looking at some of the waterside properties (Lionel quite keen to locate here) and spotting sting rays before heading back around 5pm.

Lionels's mid life crisis extravagance (which he subsequently let fall over)

Lionels’s mid life crisis extravagance (which he subsequently let fall over)

dry land practice

dry land practice

Golden afternoon on Cable Bay

Golden afternoon on Cable Bay

Tea and Cakes on the beach

Tea and Cakes on the beach

Lionel showing how to kayak properly

Lionel showing how to kayak properly


Amy “with the bike” had text to say could meet up around 7pm at the paradiso backpackers in town but this ended up nearer to 8pm as she had been delayed picking up her stuff in Richmond about an hours cycle away. Amy way lovely in many ways and although I should have been wary buying bike in what was now pretty dim light took her at her word that the bike was sound. Lionel and I both had a spin on it and felt it was OK. Noted that brakes probably just need adjusting, chain needs cleaning, but gears and size were fine. So the deal was struck and I am now the proud owner of “Rex” (the name Amy and previous owner have given it) and will be giving him a bit if TLC in the morning.

Day 80

It took Phileus Fogg and Passepartout 80 days to get around the world, I’ve got to Nelson!

Lionel drove to Picton to pick me up around 11am and it wasn’t long before we were analysing my trip and why it had come about at this time in my life, how I had stripped my existence to a contented simplicity, what freedom really means, how humans have got so detached from our natural surroundings and how our evolutionary propensity to walk is being lost. And that was before we’d finished coffee!

Lionel is a real thinker and spends a lot of time considering the human condition and what motivates us. He loves to form his opinions over detailed consideration, reflection and analysis. He is spot on more often than not.

Lionel is looking fit and healthy and has now found a work-life balance which suits him to the ground, enough income comes in, he doesn’t know or really care how many hours he works. He loves what he does which is sharing his passion for swimming with others to coach them to be the best they can be.

On the way back to Nelson we picked up Will who is French (but was ok!) and has been in NZ (Christchurch) for 5 days after spending a couple months in Aussie including Tasmania. He looks like a cross between Orlando Blooms “Will” and Jonny Depps “Captain Jack”. He said he had no English when he’d left France but had picked it up in Aussie, quite impressive although I was disappointed he didn’t have an Aussie accent when saying ” bugger” which was obviously one of the first words you’d learn in Aussie.

We dropped Will off in town as he wanted to go to library and we went back to Lionel and Michelle’s new house which is on a steep hill but this gives amazing views over Nelson Bay and across to the mountains, quite stunning and could never tire of this vista. They often just spend evening looking out over the bay listening to music or chatting or simply just looking.

I’m in Jenna’s sunny room with a big window overlooking the bay (Jenna has recently moved to Wellington to work as lifeguard at main aquatic centre). Michael has certainly got bigger since I last saw him but looks very much the same. He is planning to move to Sydney in April to find a different job (has been working in supermarket produce for quite a few years now). He is still very much into his unicycling and will be able to do more when gets to Sydney including unicycle hockey!

Lionel and I walked into town via pleasant graveyard walkway and looked around, i bought a pair of flash bright blue bicycle shorts at bike barn. Lionel was flabbergasted at my conversation with the owner where I started to say

“I need a pair of shorts for my “virgin” backside which is sore”

Slightly phased the owner suggested I start by looking in the men’s section rather than continuing to look through the ladies.

Hopefully any misunderstanding were resolved as I may need to go back for more kit and Lionel’s reputation needs to remain intact.

We went up to the “centre of new Zealand” hill for a view of the city and re met our French friend Will who was chatting with some ladies. Said hello again and got a photo. Will was planning to camp nearby that night. Would have felt sorry for him but thought yeah, this would be a really nice place to put a tent and wished him well.

Centre of NZ with Lionel and Will. Not sure about naked boy!?

Centre of NZ with Lionel and Will. Not sure about naked boy!?

Met up with Michelle when we got home and had a delicious veggie meal of home made quiche, chickpea salad, feta salad and potatoes washed down with a cold beer and overlooking the bay at sunset. Ahhhhhhhh how lovely.