Pet Eels and Lolly Trees.  Westport to Wellington

Tuesday, April 14th. Westport to Inangahua. 48 km. 

The first big storm of the winter left a dusting of snow on the surrounding mountains as we rode past groves of pines surrounded by mushrooms. The red Amanitas are everywhere we go.  

 Despite it being the main road inland, there was little traffic for most of the day and it felt good to be making our final push to the top of the South Island.  Much of the day’s ride was in the shade as we followed the river towards Inangahua.  Inangahua is a collection of a few houses and a school, one of which had a backpackers sign.  When we knocked on the door nobody was home though there was a sign on the window of the side house saying let yourself in and make yourself at home if nobody is around.  It felt a bit strange but we did and the owner Lorraine showed up about 3 hours later.  By that time we were mostly unpacked and lounging on the couches. Very cold night but the beds and blankets were comfy and it felt like a home.  

Wednesday, April 15th. Inangahua to Murchison.  50 km. 

Short ride today and we checked into the backpackers lodge in Murchison.  Cute little town with expansive views, antique stores to poke around in, a roaring fire at the backpackers to keep warm and an excellent cafe to keep us in the cake and coffee. Highlight of the antique shop.   

 With such a prescient title I was very tempted to add to my book collection, but I resisted.     

Thursday, April 16th. Murchison to St Arnaud. 60 km.  

Got another late start as the mornings have been too cold and we are too lazy to get on the road early.  When we finally did get out the door we headed straight to a cafe with a fireplace for another hour.  By then it was time for an early lunch so we lingered a bit longer.  At about noon we started riding and made it a good 100 meters when we met Annika and Roberto, a Mexican/German couple with their loaded touring bikes headed in the same direction.  After a good long chat we found that they knew our friend Heike (pushbikegirl on Facebook) who is riding around the world solo.  She had stayed with us in Hong Kong last fall.  Annika remembered us from her blog.  We will meet up with them again on the road and said goodby at the turnoff to St. Arnaud.  After the turnoff we had the road to ouselves.  The road and weather were perfect for cycling.  Rural, quiet, farmland with glimpses of mountains in the distance and our first Kiwi crossing. 
 Friday, April 17th. St. Arnaud to Tapawera. 54 km 

Another beautiful day of riding small back roads.   

 We wanted to spend another night in the small mountain town of St. Arnaud but everything was full for a big footrace around the lake on Sunday.  St. Arnaud is also the start of the highcountry gravel Rainbow Road which we wanted to ride but there was still snow from the storm a few days ago and more forecast in the near future. Visited with a friendly family off pigs at one of our breaks. Everyone loves a selfie.   

 Instead we were rewarded with the brightest rainbow of the trip after checking into the Motor Camp that was lost in time in Tapawera.  It was as if nothing had been touched for 30 years.  We were the only ones staying there.  

 Saturday, April 18th. Tapawera to Motueka. 49 km

Another day of small winding back roads through tree farms and vineyards as we approached the coast.   

 The last 3 days have been some of the nicest riding of the trip.   

 

Sunday, April 19th. Rest day in Motueka.  

The food in Motueka is great.  Some of the best on the trip.  Toad Hall is a great place to while away a few hours over lunch.  The kids at the table next us having a serious discussion over which would be better, a chocolate tree, an ice cream tree or a lolly tree.  I’d have to go for the chocolate.  We wandered along the seashore before catching Woman in Gold at the cinema, our favorite day off activity. 

 Monday, April 20th. Hiked last leg of Abel Tasman Great Track. 16 km. 

Spent the day hiking the last leg of the Abel Tasman great track.  Beautiful beaches and good to get some non-cycling exercise in.   

 The vibe here is nice and you could spend days lazing around on the beaches in the summertime.  It would be worth coming back for. 

 

Watch out for the seagulls!! 

   

 Tuesday, April 21st. Motueka to Nelson. 55 km on The Great Taste Trail.  

We are back on the road headed to Nelson before more bad weather hits.  The Great Taste Trail was our path for the day taking a circuitous route to Nelson.  Highlight was feeding the pet eels at the Jester Cafe while having a pot of their Ceylon tea. Who keeps pet eels? 

I guess they would make a good pet for someone else…   

Wednesday, April 22nd.  Nelson 
Couldn’t help it. Going out of business sale at the local used bookshop, cleverly named Litterarty. All books $1. I had to limit myself to 4 books.  I could have easily bought 20.   So after much deliberation and with “slim” aka lightweight books getting extra consideration I settled on 4; Julian by Gore Vidal; The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark; The Plumed Serpent by DH Lawrence ; and Aimez-Vous Brahms, by Francoise Sagan.  The faster I read, the lighter my load as I will just leave them for others as I finish them.  Also, this is an excuse for procrastinating on the blog.  I was reading!

Thursday, April 23rd Nelson. 

Rain day in Nelson.  Also a quick trip to the doctors for a skin problem.  Ouch.  I’m $125 poorer but hopefully soon cured.  

Friday, April 24th. Nelson to Havelock. 74 km. 

Beautiful ride towards Nelson today and lots of excitement.  We had stopped to take photos when there two hard jolts on the ground as if a large truck had just passed by.  This was followed by about 5 seconds of rolling ground and you could hear the trees creaking on the hill behind us.  It was an earthquake and it felt big.  We later learned that it was centered in St. Arnaud where we had been last week and was 6.4. A picture in the news showed the local store with it’s shelves emptied on the ground.   

 Met also met Eric and Jenny Jansen.  Passed through Rai valley and took lots of pictures for our friend from Nepal, Bhisan Rai.  We found where his people drink! 

 Saturday, April 25th. Havelock to Picton. 38 km.

Anzac day.  

 After watching the small memorial parade in Havelock to commemorate Gallipoli, 

 

and after meeting a whole gang of long distance cyclists, we rode with Roberto and Annika to Picton on the beautiful Queen Charolotte’s drive.   

The news this afternoon of the massive earthquake in Nepal was shocking as we looked at photos of all of the places we had visited in August reduced to rubble.  I can only imagine the loss of life and hope that our friend Rajeev who lives there is ok.   

Sunday, April 26th Ferry to Wellington on North Island. 

 Beautiful ride to the North Island on the ferry on a grey and stormy day.   After so many weeks of riding it feels sad to be leaving the calm beauty of the small towns of the South Island and it feels like we are nearing the end of our New Zealand adventure.  

After so many weeks in small towns it feels strange to be in a large city.  We feel out of place.  How quickly things change after being away from Hong Kong for such a short time.  

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