Second stage of the entire trip, but the first stage where we really cycled. We started in Picton, where we arrived by ferry and carried on to Blenheim, and from there to Christchurch. It was 346km and took us 5 days. In Christchurch we added a rest day before starting the next stretch.
December 26, 2004 Just completed our second day of cycling: 50 km to the tiny town of Ward (population about 50) on the State Highway 1 (SH1). An easy day, and a nice way to ease into the trip. The weather certainly had improved!!
Here is Roy, sitting on the doorstep of our home for the night, basking in the sun and enjoying the warm weather. The sheep were bleating in the field behind the motel and we would hear them on and off throughout the night.
We’re not the only crazy ones! John, a veterinarian-turned-school teacher from Australia, was cycling through New Zealand for six weeks during his summer holidays. He showed up at the motel that afternoon and we got talking, of course, so we decided to have dinner together.
The weather was good for the next few days. Not as hot as it was ‘supposed’ to be, but that suited us fine. The SH1 runs along the east coast of the south island to Christchurch. It is not as famous as the west coast, which is more moutainous, but it is very pretty nonetheless. In some places the road ran quite close to the beaches and the endless webs of seaweed were fabulous. We also saw, and heard, numerous seals and sea lions along this stretch. Cycling so close to the water also means very few hills!
One of our mid-morning breaks for a flat white (a NZ espresso drink that’s somewhere between a cappuccino and a latte), and Roy doing his due diligence by sampling the local carrot cake. Yes, it is a tough life being a bike tourist.
Our third night we spent in Kaikoura, a rather touristy town but in a beautiful location. Fortunately, part of the town stretches out onto a point that juts out into the ocean, which means you can get away from the noise of the bars and tourist crowds in the centre of town.
By coincidence, our hotel (Pier Hotel), which we had booked from Canada, was out on the point and from there we had a great view looking back the ‘mainland’ and its mountains. It was good we had reserved, because every place in town showed no vacancies!
Still in Kaikoura, from the balcony of the hotel, Roy got a great kick out of this seagull, who finally managed to find his balance sitting on top of a round beer sign. The gull seems a bit insulted though, don’t you think?
From Kaikoura we continued on SH1 via Cheviot, where we spent the night, and then on to Christchurch.
December 27, 2004 In Cheviot we stayed in our first motor camp, where we rented this little cabin with shared facilities. I had heard about the motor camps and their cabins, and this one sure was very quaint. It reminded me of a gypsy wagon or, for those of you who are Dutch, a woonwagen; I expected Pipo or Mama-Lou or Klukje to appear around the corner at any moment.