Rain, Rails and Rocks. Franz Josef Glacier to Westport

Map of our route (Franz Josef Glacier to Punakaiki)  

Sunday, April 5th. Franz Joseph Glacier to Hari Hari. 64 km

No we haven’t flown to India but we have stayed in more than one town with a vaguely Indian sounding name (at least to my ear) like Manapouri, Hari Hari or Lake Paringa. 

As we rode out of Franz Josef Galcier in the morning, the clouds lifted and we got our first, brief view of the glaciered mountains above.  

Hari Hari was a short row of houses along the highway with little to do in our prison block rooms but take advantage of the free wifi. 

Monday, April 6th. Hari Hari to Hokitika.  72 km 

Chasing the storm.  Got an early start as we tried to reach Hokitika before a big storm due that afternoon.  Mostly successful, though it rained hard on us a couple of times. 

Sign at the Bushmans roadside restaurant where we took a coffee break from the rain and where we had to sit on newspapers in order not to get the possum skin seat covers wet: “Be patient.  Our toilet can only handle one asshole at a time. ”

Bought a copy of the Man Booker Prize winning novel, “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton at the bookstore in Hokitika, the town in which the story is set.  
  
Tuesday, April 7th. Hokitika to Greymouth. 41 km 

Another day’s ride trying to beat an approaching storm.  About 20 km before Greymouth, King’s bike slid on some rail tracks and he fell.  Lots of road rash, torn up clothes and a nasty bruise.    Thankfully the cuts weren’t deep and we weren’t going fast.  First stop in Greymouth was at the pharmacy to pick up more bandages.  Ouch! 


Wednesday, April 8th . Greymouth

We’ve decided to take a few days off for King to heal and to take a break from the foul weather.  I spent the day diving into the 800 pages tome The Luminaries while King fiddled with and changed his bandages. Outside was heavy mist and fog all day. 

Thursday, April 9th.  Greymouth  

Another rest and bad weather day.  King is feeling much better and the scrapes are starting to heal.  We spent the day continuing to eat massive amounts of food.  Despite not doing any exercise for the last two days we are always hungry.  

I managed to finish The Luminaries.  I loved it and found it clever and hard to put down.  After 800 pages in two days my eyes hurt. Highly recommended, especially if you’ll be visiting the West Coast of New Zealand and have a bit of patience and time to work your way through it.  

Friday, April 10th.  Greymouth to Punakaiki. 47 km. Heavy rain.  

Heavy rain on our ride today.  Beautiful coastal views and colors between downpours as we made our way North.    We are again chasing a big storm that is supposed to hit on Sunday.  King has healed well and seems to be feeling fine.  Despite the rain, two days rest has put us in good spirits as we head to Punakaiki, home of the pancake rocks and famous blowholes.  They aren’t only for whales.  

Punakaiki is an old Maori word for pancakes, introduced by Welsh gold miners and for which the town is named.  The local school cheers are “Pu-na-kai, pu-na-kai, iki, iki, iki” and “give me a P, give me a U, give me an N, give me an A, give me a K, give me an A, give me an I,” wait, I’m lost. 

Actually, I just made all that up.  

With seemingly endless bad weather we are starting to go a little bit stir crazy.  
  

Saturday, April 11th. Punakaiki to Westport.   

Pancakes for breakfast seemed appropriate before viewing the glorious pancake rocks and blowholes of Punakaiki and then racing north to once again beat a storm.  Unfortunately it was high tide so the blowholes weren’t  blowing with all their glory. It was more of a puff, albeit an impressive puff.  

Along the way we met a lone female cyclist headed South and stopped for a quick chat.  We complained rather bitterly about the cold and rain and swapped travel information. We gave her our e-mail and URL.  As we didn’t have a pen handy, she said to just google her.  When we later did a search for Ruth Storm we saw that she had skied to both the North and South Poles and had cycled Alaska. Impressive.  I guess we shouldn’t have whinged so much about the weather. We aren’t worthy. 

Sunday, April 12th. Rain day in Westport

Took a rain day again as riding in cold rain is miserable and rather dangerous.  Rain days seem to be turning into reading days (which isn’t so bad) and I managed to finish a very funny book by Geoff Dyer called Out of Sheer Rage, Wrestling with DH Lawrence, about writers block and procrastination and which makes me feel less bad about not posting a blog update for two weeks.  Actually there just hasn’t been much to photograph with all of the rain and clouds and the rides have been more “head down trying to get to the destination” than looking around, mouth open in awe and amazement at the scenery. 

Monday, April 13th. Rain day in Westport. 

The seasons changed today.  It feels like the first day of winter with hail and heavy gusts of wind and the hills covered with a dusting of snow.  To cheer up I read a book on the history of the Inquisition. I found solace with 2 new additions to my top 10 carrot cakes of New Zealand list (to be released at a future date).  This brought me great cheer. King is still healing and shouldn’t have any scars. 

 

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4 thoughts on “Rain, Rails and Rocks. Franz Josef Glacier to Westport

  1. Thanks for the update, Mark. I had been a bit confused by the Indian names. Despite the map, I wondered if I’d missed something global. Glad King is better from the bike fall. But does he still talk to himself? Fun to think of pancakes & blowholes & carrotcakes. Hope your weather improves, though you are heading into winter.

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    1. Hi Lorrie. The first part of the trip we seemed to spend days riding alongside rural fields of animals. The last 4 weeks there have been fewer though it’s hard not to shout out something when a when a herd of sheep or cows stop chewing and look up in alarm as we ride by 🙂

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