Lake Wakatipu - brrrrrr!
Bike fence - Athol
Amy and Albert - Invercargill
Tip of the South island - next stop Antartica.
Margaret and Pip Martin
Penguin viewing hut - Nugget point
Richard and Louise
A secret passage from church - Oamaru
Alice, Johnny, H
Ben, Fay, Alice, Johnny, Meg, H and me
Alice, Johnny, Meg
Route: Queenstown - Kingston - Mossburn - Invercargill - Owaka - Balclutha - Dunedin
Distance covered: 3122 kms
After spending one more night in Queenstown at Lucy's friend Nigel's we eventually set off South. It was great to meet Nigel and we'd have loved to spend more time with him(and the hottub!)but time was of the essence. We headed South following Lake Wakatipu, camping on the lakeside the first night just near Kingston. A refreshing dip in the glacial waters is just the thing to wake you up in the morning. The next night we stayed the night at Mossburn camp site as the rain was torrential. Thanks to Brian for letting us stay half price. We were trapped in Mossburn the next day waiting for the rain to stop but passed the time talking to goats and watching peacocks "doing it". It finally cleared up about 2 o'clock and we set off. Arriving at the Te Anau turn off at Five Rivers we headed West hoping to arrive at Te Anau(78 kms away) later that day. However the wind had other plans for us. We persevered with the headwind for 10 kms or so knowing that all we had to do for it to be over was turn around and head straight down SH6 to Invercargill. Loads of people had said Te Anau near Fjordland was a "must see" but not for us, we need to go with the wind baby so that's what we did. We were blown all the way to Invercargill with huge grins on our faces, cruising at 35kms/hour. We did 130 kms that day and reached Lisa's friend Amy's house that night. Thanks to Amy for putting us up, we enjoyed the short time we spent with you. We spent Sunday at Amy's too, looking round Invercargill. I eventually got my own cycle computer which puts an end to my incessant questions, "how fast are we going?", "how far have we come?", "what time is it?" At least it gave us something to talk about. Thanks to Rob at Wensley's cycles for giving us a discount. Leaving Invercargill, we headed East on the Southern scenic route through the Catlins on the South Coast. The weather was absolutely FREEZING the whole time we were in Southland. The persistent cold, rain and getting pelted with marble-sized hailstones kind of dampened our spirits a bit and the daily mileage dropped quite a bit as we camped early to get out of the bad weather. On the bright side, the tarpaulin which Ben's Dad Paul gave us before we left has really came into it's own. There's nothing Ben likes better than diving under his trusty tarp at the mere suggestion of rain. " It's spitting!" The first night on the route we wild camped in a clearing just off the road and set off to the village of Papatowai the next morning. Here, we bumped into Pip Martin. Throughout the trip, we've been meeting uncanny doppelgangers of folk back home. This time we met the New Zealand version of my old friend Ian Johnston from Bolton. Pip, a sheep and dairy farmer took us back to his house to stay the night where he and his wife Margaret made us dinner and gave us a lovely bed to sleep in. On the way back to the farm, as Pip plied us with Coruba(rum and coke in a bottle) we drove up to a lookout point to see the lay of the land. Pip and Margaret, thanks to you both. We set off from Pip's in the pouring rain the next morning, aware that we were running out of time to get back up to the Marlborough sounds for New Year. On the Southern Scenic route, you can either keep moving along on the main road or take little side roads down to the coast to see points of interest. This is easy enough when you're in a campervan but a 16 km detour up and down a gravel track isn't so tempting on a bike. However, there were a couple of places we felt we had to see and I'm glad we did. Shortly after Owaka, we went down to Cannibal Bay, a beautiful, isolated sandy beach but a tough climb to get in and out of. We then headed to Nugget Point. Here, we had the pleasure of watching yellow-eyed penguins coming in and out the water and bouncing up the hillside to their nests. We also saw sea-lions and dolphins from the viewing hut. It was really tough getting to Nugget Point, the climbs were steep as hell and the last kilometre was on rugged gravel but it was worth the effort to see the wee beasties. I tried to coax one into my panniers but he wasn't interested. So without further ado we made haste to Balclutha at high speed and camped in a forest just beyond the town and next morning hotfooted it into Dunedin. We headed straight to the pub and got chatting to Louise and Richard originally from Barnsley, who have been living here for 14 years. Richard bought us a drink for our heroic cycling efforts and then directed us to his house, where he said we'd be welcome to stay the night. Arriving at the house, we were welcomed in by Richard's Mum, Maureen and Richard and Louise turned up later after going out for a meal. Next morning we met their girls, Ella and Avi. It was a real shame we had to set off that day as we thought you two were great and would have loved to have spent another night with you. Indeed, we could have discussed the finer points of "Kes"well into the next day. Richard was growing up in Barnsley at the time the film was made and was inspired to steal himself a barn owl to train up just like the famous kestrel. Funny stuff. Louise, we hope the arm and ankle are better soon. Thanks for giving 2 strangers the benefit of the doubt.
By this time, we had been invited up to the Marlborough sounds for Xmas by our friend Lisa's family. We were also keen to get to Christchurch to see our friend Alice who was over from Edinburgh for Xmas. We realised we wouldn't have enough time to get there for Xmas and decided to finish our NZ cycle at Dunedin, hitchhiking up to Christchurch. We don't feel bad about not cycling the whole way back. We had done the length of both islands and simply didn't have enough time. A good long rest before we start Australia will do us some good anyhow. Now, hitchhiking with 2 bikes and 8 pannier bags isn't easy but we did it. There are no trains from Dunedin and the bus wouldn't take all our stuff so we had no choice if we wanted to get up North for the 25th. We made it to Christchurch through a series of short lifts in yutes, landrovers, vans and estate cars. One guy Ben, even managed to fit the stripped down bikes into his tiny car! We did a bit of cycling inbetween times to get to better hitching stops, sleeping behind a church in Oamaru the first night. As we thumbed a lift in Ashburton, a passing driver shouted "ride your bikes you lazy bastards!" Fair enough. We set off cycling the last 70 kms to Christchurch and were cycling down State Highway 1 at nightfall expecting to get there for around 1am. It was pretty scary in the dark as the cars zoomed past us. About 30kms into the journey, a camper van pulled over and Mandy and Terry, worried for our safety, stuck our bikes in the back of their camper van and drove us into Christchurch. We really appreciated that lift you two, thanks a lot for stopping. We arrived in Christchurch at Alice's friends, Meg and H. We'd met these guys once before in Edinburgh just after they'd been cycling round Europe for 6 months. Alice's boyfriend Johnny was also there and we had such a good time. We went out for a swim and sauna in the morning and went for an Indian at night. Johnny, it was great to spend time with you and we look forward to seeing you in Berlin next year. Meg and H, we wish we'd been introduced to you in Edinburgh. We feel we met in you real kindred spirits and really hope to see you again. H, thanks for delighting us with your dinosaur impression and fashion show. Alice, 10 penguin points for good behaviour, you are amazing. Yesterday, Ben and I went round to the hairdressers where Meg works and got a trim. Well, in my case it was a bit more than a trim. You made a great job of my hair and I still love it this morning.
Last night, we cycled out to Sumner 13kms out of Christchurch to stay with our friend Emily. She's staying in an amazing house with a cliff top view of the ocean. We are just chilling out today while she's at work and we'll set off hitching up to Blenheim tomorrow to get there in time for Xmas. Emily's taking our bikes and luggage up in the car for us and I'm sure hitchhiking without bikes will be a damn sight easier.
This first 2 months of our trip couldn't have gone better. We've have adapted to our new lifestyle easily and feel hopeful and excited about all the other wonderful countries we will cycle through and the amazing people we have still to meet. New Zealand is a great country and we want to say thanks to all the friends, family of friends and complete strangers who have helped us since we got here. We wish all our friends and family back home a Merry Christmas and hope you will keep reading our blog of the next part of our journey, Sydney to Darwin, approximately 5,000kms of cycling. As soon as we cycle North from Sydney, we will be creeping our way slowly nearer to home(in NZ we were cycling further away towards Antartica!). Watch this space.