First of all, we noticed not everyone is receiving our mail after we update our blog. This is something we are unable to fix at the moment. We will look into that once we get back home. So if you don’t receive any mails, I guess you just have to check the website every now and then… sorry about that!
Our last update ended in Westport, the last place we saw at the westcoast. At this time we noticed that one of our headlights was missing. A quick phonecall to Punakaiki learned us that is was still there at the campsite. As Mathijs and Petra are heading that direction they could pick it up for us while we head inlands towards the Abel Tasmanpark.
We had once again great weather and luckily the wind in our backs so we were able to bike the 100 km to Murchison in one day. Up and down (of course because there are no flat roads in NZ) following the Buller river into the gorge. Nice riding! However lots of sandflies there and also in Tapawera which lies another day of easy cycling up north. Whenever we stop it takes about 4 seconds before they find us. No time for picknicking!
The vegetation is changing again from tropical bush to pine trees and deciduous forest, and when we pick up the Great Taste Trail to Motueka there are fruit trees (apples, plums, blueberries, and oranges) and vineyards everywhere. We even see a lot of kiwi’s* there! The great taste trail turns into a gravel road and even goes through a bikepark! We camp in Marahau, on the edge of the Abel Tasmanpark to get right into the park the next day. We take a 2 day kayak tour and in the morning we get extensive instructions (they need to of course for safety reasons) although Ivar is already very experienced with kayaking. After a ride with the watertaxi we are off by ourselves on the water. Great fun! Amazing colour of the water, beautiful golden beaches and tropical bush at the shores with nice lagoons to boat into. We have a nice camping spot in the park only accessible for kayakers. Luckily we can borrow a stove from a nice german couple as our stove seems to be blocked and no fuel is getting through the hose. While kayaking we spot furseals, shags, seastars, a stingray and a swimming penguin just near the boat! Unfortunately no photos of the penguin, because before we knew it, it was gone again. We were totally flabbergasted that we even saw one swimming!
After our kayaking trip we hear from Matthijs and Petra that their quest for our headlight has failed. The person who had found it was in Wellington and the person at the campsite had no idea where it was… to be continued.
We keep on following the great taste trail to Nelson, which is a very nice ride, with a small ferry ride to Rabbit Island in between. Once in Nelson we hear that the city campsite is full, so we have to go back to the beach campsite in Tahunanui some 6 km back unfortunately. There however we meet up with Marc and Katarina again, we trade some stories about our times in Abel Tasman park.
From Nelson it is a 2 day ride to Picton, after a stayover in Havelock everyone warns us about the Queens Charlotte Drive going from Havelock to Picton. A scenic road and apparently very windy and narrow and no good for cyclists according to some kiwi’s. It appears to be a very nice ride with a lovely view, with hardly any traffic at all. We should invite those kiwi’s to the Netherlands if they want to experience real traffic…
In Picton we take the ferry to the North Island. Picton itself is rather dull and the campsite is no fun at all. The place for tents, ‘tent village’ as they call it, is 95% cars and 5% tents. We are glad to be away from there in the morning. In the meantime we learn that our headlight has travelled to Wellington as well, being taken by the founder who lives there. Next plan is to meet there and be reunited with the headlight again.
The ferry ride to the North Island is a nice one, it goes through the Marlborough sounds with some nice views. We hope to see dolphins, but alas, they don’t show themselves. We still hope to see some before we leave New Zealand.
Once in Wellington we stay at a hostel for 2 days as there is not really a campsite in the city itself. We do some sightseeing, Ivar gets a haircut, we visit the Te Papa museum, which is very nice and above all, it is free to enter.
The second day we go to the Weta cave, which belongs to the Weta studio. One of the companies, which made a lot of props (miniatures, costumes, accessories and bigatures) for the lord of the rings film and the hobbit. Outside the Weta Cave are the three trolls from the Hobbit to greet us. In the documentary film we also learn that the company also did a lot of the digital special effects for a lot of other fancy movies. We even take a tour through a part of their workshop to learn more about prop making, which is very interesting.
And guess what? When we call to agree on a place to collect the headlight, the headlight appears to be back in Punakaiki again !?! Accidentally… Hmm, not sure what to think about this. From Mathijs we hear that finders-keepers is quite custom at the campsite. We do agree however on an alternative plan: she will send the headlight to Rotorua where we will still go.
A beer tasting from Mac’s brewery finishes up our stay in Wellington, as we want to go cycling again but not directly from Wellington. We want to take a bus out of the city, to Whanganui. This is not quite straightforward as the bus driver has the final say on whether the bikes can go on the bus and you cannot make a reservation in advance. We arrive way before the bus leaves to be able to talk to the driver. Then, a very helpful other busdriver volunteers to check whether there is space on ‘our’ bus for the bikes (no, it turns out) and then offers to take us on her bus but only up to Bulls (she goes to Auckland). Tick tock, 2 minutes to decide and 3 more minutes to put all the gear in the bus. Off we go! Very grateful to this lady! The bike ride from Bulls to Whanganui however is not that pleasant. Very busy highway with narrow shoulders. We are glad though to make it (alive and well) to Whanganui that day and enjoy a quiet evening at the campsite. From here we will start the mountains to sea cycle trail. We will let you know how that will go in our next update!
*Kiwi fruit unfortunately, not the the Kiwi bird. The birds a very rare and only active at night so it is difficult to really see them.