The flight from Wellington to Auckland was uneventful. The Boeing 787 had an up-to-date entertainment system and a good collection of films. My luggage arrived in good shape and most importantly all of it.
This is how travel is supposed to work: a nice breakfast, check-out at the hotel, a relaxing 25 minutes of cycling along the Wellington coast in the morning sun to the airport (all on bike lanes), then a quick electronic check-in, a friendly AirNZ guy at the service desk providing a bike box, packing the bike and ready to fly.
That’s actually how it did work!
No hassle, no problems. Well except for almost being eaten by Smaug and an oversized Gollum (he preferred a tasty fish after all). Gandalf and the Eagles saved the (first part of the) day, though.
My day in the Capital starts with a walk along the coast to Miramar, home of Weta Workshop. I’ve booked a tour at the famous special effects studio at 12.30 and as I’m running late I have to take the bus part of the (8 km) way.
In front, visitors are greeted by the three petrified trolls, which look stunningly lifelike.
The Weta Cave (aka shop) is cool by itself, showing selected pieces from various films from LOTR to Tintin and District 9 as well as a myriad of collectibles, books and trinkets.
On the road at nine, the steep uphill out of the Sounds is a good way to start the day. It’s cloudy today, looking like rain, which is a welcome change to the hot sunny days.
The first part of the road is flat, until I reach the The Grove Arm and the road starts following the steep shoreline. The view into the small bays is nice and I’ve got plenty of time until my ferry leaves at 2 p.m.
After a quiet night I start out around eight from the forest camp. Soon the first uphill, Rai Saddle, comes up and its 150 m ascent in the morning feels harder than the higher hills yesterday.
At Pelorus Bridge I only stop shortly as the sandflies are too aggressive here.
The mostly flat road to Havelock with medium strong headwinds is annoyingly slow and traffic is quite heavy. The town calls itself the ‘Green Mussel Capital of the World’, though I’m sure there are mussel capitals for all colours of the rainbow…
From Clarke Valley I start out around nine o’clock. While packing my tent the smaller of my aluminium tent poles breaks. I will need to get a replacement or repair kit in Nelson later.
After roughly 20 km downhill, the 150 m ascent to Spooner’s saddle almost feels like a welcome change. It’s not very steep and soon after I reach the village of Wakefield. Here there’s still a real bakery with ‘uncompromised quality’ and I get some good apple pie.
From Lyell I start out on the road around ten again, steadily riding through hilly terrain to Murchison (35km) where I go grocery shopping and rest in the small park next to the bowling green. The town is fairly nice with lots of Cafés but also everything else you need. I recharge my batteries and book the ferry to Wellington.
(note: title stolen from an amazing comic)
Starting with the sunrise at six, the road is all but empty. Around nine, traffic picks up a bit but doesn’t get too annoying.
I pass through Charleston and head on towards Westport not entering the town, though. Instead I go to Cartes Beach (some more old cars here) where I spend three hours at the beach enjoying sun and sea.
Being woken by the sun on your tent is usually nice. Today I woke round 8.30 because my tent was overheating, which isn’t that great.
Having gotten on the road round ten, I arrive in Hokitika shortly after eleven and find a small market going. I buy fabulous cinnamon rolls and good bagels (two of each) at Miriam’s stand.
The rest of the market is mostly trinkets so I go to the beach where I eat, blog and relax for an hour.
From Otto’s Corner I start out around 9.30 into another sunny day.
An hour later I think of the fact that I haven’t had any defect yet and stop to do something about that. One really needs to have had some defect on a bike tour like this (everybody’s had one). I decide to pump some more air into my rear tire which seems to be slowly loosing it. So I get out my, quote bike shop guy, ‘really good’ pump and note that I have to screw it onto the valve. This works fabulously, as I promptly manage to screw the whole valve off the tube. Defect accomplished! Changing the tube takes another 5 minutes, on presta valves the pump works fine and I get back onto the road soon.