Clyde Holiday Park in tent 9.45pm
Back in my cosy tent after 3 nights backpacking, feels good, no nasty weather to contend with as my guardian angel has returned and its been a great day here in Central Otago.
The cycling has been fantastic, almost too good. After the final gentle climb from Ranfurly the trail reaches its highest point and then is mostly downhill for the remaining 80km or so. I even had the wind behind me on this. I say almost too good because I felt a bit guilty when I saw loads and loads of cyclists coming the other way. Their bodies angled forward in exertion against the gradient and headwind and their red faces only smiling a friendly gesture of recognition for a fragment of a second as I careered past them with effortless speed.
There were loads of people on the trail today, all shapes and sizes, all ages, people on their own like me, families, to big groups travelling together. Most were cycling but there were walkers too and some horse riders. A super advert for how creating “an experience in which to exercise” can work so well. The information on the history, the station passport stamps, the way the towns on the route have aligned themselves to serving the trail users all adds to a win win ….and I like that! I understand 20,000 cyclists come through each year and numbers are increasing. I could also see why it had been dubbed “the ale trail” when I saw how many people had stopped at the taverns along the way!
I must admit I found it hard to slow down, stop and take it all in once I’d set off from Ranfurly. I guess I was just enjoying the thrill of riding along and testing myself. I did of course stop for a flat white ( at Oturehua nice coffee and free WiFi), some things are sacrosanct! I also stopped at Chatto Creek tavern because everyone else seemed to be there. It was heaving, I had a strawberry ice cream waffle cornet which was divine and lashings of ginger beer.
Chatted to a few people and helped three girls who were having problems reattaching the rear wheel. Sorted it and also adjusted the rubbing brakes, I just hope I didn’t make it a death trap.
I arrived in Alexandra by surprise about 4pm (I must have missed a station called Galloway, Alexandra looked a nice town, Margys backpackers was full when I enquired at isite but I was informed that Clyde had a holiday park plus there is a food and wine festival here tomorrow, so that settled it. I took the recommended river route which was a bit longer and not as well formed but a glorious ride through golden autumnal woods flanked by the strong flowing blue of the river.
I’ve set up camp at this fairly busy site which is shared with the sports club. Kitchen however was deserted when i went to make my meal (i was starving at this point as i hadn’t really had a lunch). Wolfed down a pasta/bacon/cheese concoction I rustled up. A nice lady offered me a truly hot Hot cross bun straight out of the oven.
I then met Lisa who sells socks! She is a stall holder at the festival and is camping here (She actually owns her own business of sourcing the manufacturing of her own styles of socks unique in NZ). Originally from Brighton she now lives in Lyttleton, near Christchurch. We had an amazing chat about our experiences of walking , she had walked the south island before the Te Araroa trail existed. She said how this had transformed her thinking and how her life had become far more simpler and rewarding as a result. I was able to share a lot of my similar thoughts around recognising that the way we seem to live our lives around the workplace is almost alien to the way we are geared up to be fulfilled as humans. It was an ideal opportunity for me to be frank with someone, a stranger, but one who had similar views and seemed to understand my feelings on how my journey was making me reassess. Lisa was a good listener and it turned out she is trained in psychoanalysis. I almost cried when she came back later to give me a pair of socks to wear when I am back home to help symbolise the new me, and help recollect how my NZ journey of self-discovery has made me feel differently and more positively. (NB- just re-read this and apologies if seems a bit deep..it was how I felt though)
Before setting off this morning I’d had a leisurely look round Ranfurly, given Rex a bit of a rub down, said goodbye to Chak and Aaron giving them my blog address. Bill at the post office backpackers was really nice again and we chatted before shaking hands, I complimented him on the backpackers being such a nice homely place
I must have done 96km today in total but who’s counting
The scenery around the rail train must have been used in the LOTR and Hobbit. It looks like where Aragorn appeared to be lost when he fell off a cliff, it looks like where the three hunters (Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli) meet Eodred and the riders of Rohan, it looks like the place in the hobbit where they jump in the gap in the rock while being chased and then discover Rivendell.