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Published: April 15th 2006
Heading West 11-18/03/06
After a day mooching around Picton we're heading for Renwick in the heart of Marlborough wine country; we catch a nasty, thin, cold rain just as we crest the hill out of Picton, but soon afterwards the sun appears and the road flattens out. It's an easy ride into Renwick and we soon arrive at Watson's Way Backpackers. The next day we tour some of the local vineyards, but my tastebuds are misbehaving and I declare every wine I sample "foul" and spit it straight into the spittoon, Vern seems to like most of them! We find a decent local beer, some good olive oil and a Vern recommended wine, which we'll try when I've got my taste buds back. In the evening we drink the beer and play petanque.
On the 14th we head off to St Arnaud, uphill all day at very shallow gradients, 58 miles into a headwind. There are a number of cyclists going the other way and they're all much faster than us. We see a couple of cyclists eating their lunch and stop to chat (and eat our lunch as well), they are heading our way and agree that the
wind and the gradient are a pain. We wave them off and finish our lunch before starting the slog again. When we reach Kowhai Point DOC campsite we are tempted to stop, but decide to cycle the last 16 miles. When we arrive at St Arnaud we get accommodation at the first backpackers we try and they have a spa pool so we book it for an hour to ease the aches and pains.
The next day we stay in St Arnaud and walk around the peninsular at the northern end of Lake Rotoiti seeing and hearing bell birds, NZ robins, silvereyes and the ever present fantails.
Later we chat with a couple of German guys at the hostel before repacking our panniers, in the endless quest for weight balance.
The road to Westport beckons and on the 16th we're on it, downhill for 15 miles to Kawatiri Junction after which the road rolls to Murchison. Wherever we stop the sandflies find us after a couple of minutes and shortly after that they find the one square millimetre of skin which hasn't got DEET on it.
We eat at the River Cafe in Murchison, each choosing nachos after
we see a bowl of them being taken to another table. The only trouble is, when they arrive our bowls are about twice the size of the portion we first saw. After such a blow out meal we decide to stop in Murchison and head for the coast tomorrow.
The road to the coast runs through the Buller Gorge which is a beautiful and dramatic area and we stop often to take photographs. We reach Inangahua by lunchtime and stop at a remarkably poorly stocked shop for icecreams. Outside there is a sign asking (in English and German) for all bikes to be locked under the Mobil sign; we look round the right side of the building, the left side of the building and finally the back of the building but we still can't see a Mobil sign. Oh well, the bikes will just have to disgrace the front fence instead!
We carry on towards Westport, having to take evasive action once when we meet a lorry on a bend in a single lane section of road. The rest of the ride is uneventful and we roll into the backpackers to meet the two Canadian cyclists we first met
on the road to St Arnaud.
Later we go for a pizza and a beer and get talking to a couple of Americans who ask us to explain the Keirin to them, don't know who was more confused in the end.
The next day we stop in Westport and meet one of the German guys we were talking to a couple of days ago, it's getting to be a small world!
Tot: 0.429s; Tpl: 0.043s; cc: 12; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0094s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb