South Island completed – bring on the North!

Finished

I arrived in Invercargill yesterday. In my mind I had this categorised as probably the most boring and potentially hardest ride. The former because it is flat and the latter because there is a high probability that you will be battling into a west or southwest gale. I was wrong on both counts, a stiff easterly tailwind pushed me along very nicely and the countryside was interesting enough. Komoot had suggested some alternate routes to get me off the main highway and these were deserted but dusty farm roads.

An interesting rural sculpture on the road to Invercargill
One of many dilapidated whitebaiting jetties on the Mataura river – this one was for sale. It was definitely a home handyman’s dream.

Today it is true to form and blowing a gale from the west with intermittent heavy and icy showers – the timing of my 83km ride was perfect.

The ride from Kaka Point was leisurely and pleasant. Cold starts and then cool sunny conditions. The roads were empt, On one I never saw a vehicle for 25km – admittedly it was a pretty awful road. But with quiet roads you also find what few services there are, closed or operating on limited hours. I had the ration my meagre supplies and deal with my caffeine deprivation. Owaka had 3 cafes – all closed on Monday when I biked through planning to have breakfast in the last town of any size for several days.

Heading towards Papatowai through a magnificent stand of bush with some great sea views thrown in as additional eye candy.
Bush, beach and bike – what more could I want – a beer maybe?

I enjoyed the Catlins, especially from Owaka though to Slope Point, the southern most point on the South Island. The bush was different to anywhere else and there are the expansive and deserted beaches.

I had decided to camp for two nights and again, as soon as the tent was pulled from its bag the sky clouded and the wind freshened. Fortunately, I was able to tuck into some flax which sheltered me from the winds.

The tent tucked into its flax shelter
Just to prove that I did make it to the very bottom of the island – I was worried that a gust of wind might blow it over the cliff (not me – a steep, often crumbling or unstable landform)

Well this was stage 2 of my adventure and was more enjoyable than I expected. The scenery has been stunning and the hills were less of a challenge than expected, more so once you have ridden over them. I think I have got my mental attitude right, certainly a vast improvement on those first few days in the Far North.

A little perspiration was still involved on those bigger climbs.

I am a little disappointed that I was not able to finish the North Island before heading south. I suspect that the balance of my North Island ride may be a little disappointing after the grand scenery and quiet trails, tracks and roads down here. But, I am happy to have enjoyed good weather and few people – that alone was worth not having a contiguous North to South ride.

The weather on the West Coast was an unexpected bonus – I sat out the only really wet day and reorganised my days to avoid the next bout of wet.

A few statistics from my ride:

  • Total distance 1,466km
  • Total metres climbed 12,760
  • Hours riding 100
  • Longest ride – 120km from Fox Glacier to Haast
  • Average daily distance was 56km
  • Highest climb – 1,280m – that was on foot, climbing Roy’s Peak at Wanaka.
  • Average daily metres climbed was 490
  • Number of wet days on the bike – 1.5
  • Number of days battling a head wind – 0
  • Most enjoyable aspects – having time to take the majesty of nature in – few cars – forgetting about all the shit going on in the World.
  • Least enjoyable – the uncertainty around food & accommodation in remote areas – many of the options I was planning on using were closed – some for ever.
Plenty of quirky accommodation – this ‘pod’ was at Kaka Point

Nothing too dramatic but having the time to take it easy was the difference between a grind and enjoyment. Riders on the TA brevit have to average between 100-120km per day – but for most of them taking 30 days out of a working year is a big ask. For me, it was just a case of getting Ruth’s agreement to shirk my household duties – she was happy to get me out of the house if it meant she did not have to participate. She doesn’t know what she missed out on.

Ruth missed out on Southland’s signature savoury – the cheese roll.

I have spent today cleaning the dust & baked-on animal excrement off the bike so that it is in a state where I can dismantle it and put it into my bike bag for the trip home. Because I had such good weather, I have arrived in Invercargill a couple of days ahead of my flight. I was planning on a bit of cycling around the area but during one of my trips into town I nearly got blown off my bike, on several occasions. It could be a case of seizing the moment between weather fronts.

No I haven’t taken on the role of a bicycle courier – just picking up my bike bag and backpack – I filled the box with camping gear and other bulky options and sent them home – much cheaper than buying an additional bag from Air NZ
Queens Park in Invercargill – between rain showers

3 comments

  1. Great! Here is the Gold Medal: O that’s almost 15 km/h on. push bike! and these experiences! Loved that picture of a dragon (as soon as I had figured out that it was a Paua Dragon) We have a German song that says: when you are on a hike you see many enjoyoable things and meet people, but “Not und Pein das muss auch sein” emergencies and pain need to be in there as well. With pain I mean lack of nice food and drink 🙂 Cheers, Inge

    Like

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