Leg 8 – Christchurch to Wellington

Wow! You’ll have to forgive me if I’m not very accurate on this blog. I’m sure I’ve forgotten heaps of details since I’m halfway up the north island as I write this. One thing I do remember clearly is the wind! Jeepers it was tough.

Leg 8 - ChCh to Picton

Day 43 – Christchurch to Waikuku Beach – 28.6 miles

I set off really late from the luxury of Dirk and Nicole’s gorgeous apartment, thinking that it would be an easy day cycling on the flat. Unfortunately the wind had other ideas and I found it terribly hard work.

Trying to keep from the main roads and stick to the coast as far as I could, I headed for New Brighton. I enjoyed cycling through the suburbs and there were some pretty areas though I was very surprised with just how far Christchurch appeared to extend. I know I didn’t cycle particularly far but I didn’t feel like I got back to the countryside all day.

After stopping at a little shop and grabbing what I thought was a mini pizza but was apparently something to do with spaghetti, I decided I wasn’t going to do a full day. Surprisingly, I had plenty of miles to play with back then and I just decided the wind was too much. I had also seen a town called Pegasus (Peggy’s full name) and I really felt drawn to it.

Well, when I got there, I was very excited by the sign but there was something odd about the place. I think it is a community that has sprung up since the earthquake and everything is brand new. It gave me the heeby-jeebies somehow. Did you ever see the film Pleasantville? Well this place had that kind of white picket fence, look down your nose at the smelly outcast cyclist feel to it. I was glad that there was nowhere to stay.

A great find as a result of this trip was the cycle path that led me to Waikuku Beach. I could have actually joined it further back but I enjoyed the stretch despite its many gates! The trees provided a little respite from the wind, too.

Waikuku Beach was the perfect spot for me. The campsite was dated but clean and the American lady who ran the place was simply delightful. She let me pitch up between some of the permanent caravans for free! A double bonus, giving me shelter from the gale without depleting my funds. The store had a great takeaway service with delicious kumera chips and fun decorations to look at while you wait. They were just lovely, too and gave me a postcard to remember the spot. Big thumbs up to beautiful, friendly Waikuku Beach. You are awesome and I much preferred you to your perfectly groomed, pretentious neighbour!

Day 44 – Waikuku Beach to Cheviot – 54.7 miles

Today I was vastly more prepared for the wind and finally managed to fix the bug with my audio book apps. So, I set off nice and early (for me) with the first chapters of Little Women keeping me entertained (recommended by one of the children I taught in Year Six and I had been meaning to read for a while).

It was an interesting route out of Waikuku Beach, along a forest road but it all seemed quite fun in my high spirits – I had really missed having books to listen to.

I don’t remember much of note that day apart from the appearance of a strange pair of boys. Russians, one of whom either spoke no English or was some kind of vampire rendered unable to speak during the day. The talkative one tried to give me fistfuls of cereal bars claiming they were Clif bars (they were not). I politely refused and he continued to tell me that they had been taking an alternative route, that he found it fine but that the vampire, I mean, his friend, found it too difficult. I let them go on ahead and was glad they’d be stopping in a town just before my planned stop.

They appeared again as I decided to have a late lunch at a café (delicious Venison burger, a great pitstop) and low and behold, they were at my campsite too! I couldn’t believe it and fortunately didn’t have much to do with them!

The campsite at Cheviot is awesome. I loved it. They had a donkey and free WiFi, you could camp anywhere and they had a pool. It was such a cool spot and I made some feline friends too. Highly recommended! They have cabins and motel rooms too.

Day 45 – Cheviot to Kaikoura – 43.5 miles

What a scorcher! Such a hot day, I was ALMOST glad of the headwind. This was a spectacular ride and even the springing of another spoke couldn’t get me down.

I spent about half an hour of riding with hundreds of dolphins swimming along the current out at sea. It was incredible. Just a shame I had no binoculars – I’m assuming it was dolphins and not whales but they were quite distant so I can’t be sure but they were still mesmerising.

There were fun tunnels to pass through along the way and I was so happy to be alongside the coast. I’m still not sure how I feel about the messages in Little Women – it’s very preachy – but I fell in love with the characters and really enjoyed listening to their tales (though some of the readers were dreadful). And I thought it was great fun taking pictures at Goose Bay – I like the word Goose. I’m so weird.

The Albatross hostel in Kaikoura had just sold its last room but the owners are amazingly friendly towards cyclists and they let me pitch up in the parking area at the side of the hostel. It was a little noisy but I can’t complain – it was a busy weekend and everywhere was full, I so appreciate the favour.

I took Peggles to the bike shop and the poor guy was already trying to true a wheel though he wasn’t a full time mechanic. Again, such a lovely guy and we had a go at trying to straighten the wobbles out together. It wasn’t perfect but I decided it would do. I bought a few bits and pieces but declined a beer before going to stuff my face with Thai food. I also received a $20 donation from one of the other shoppers.

Good luck also to the moustachioed Canadian cyclist who was staying in Kaikoura – thought I might have seen you on the road again!

Day 46 – Kaikoura to Ward – 54.2 miles

I think this was a good, solid ride. I can’t remember an awful lot about it. I think it was the day I had a delicious roadside smoothie from a lady who clearly thought I was nuts.

Ward was a great place to bed down, though. I went into the pub to find out when they finished serving food and they said I could camp in the paddock for free. So I treated myself to steak. They were a lovely couple, Kiwi-Brit and had recently moved to Ward after a long stint in Blackpool and a shorter time in Picton. Keep eating there people and don’t leave your dirty nappies outside – it’s not a dump stop!

This is where I met the geezer who wanted me to marry one of his sons! It was all very well considered and I was thoroughly checked out before the offer was made! Someone told me there’s a shortage of males for all the ladies in New Zealand but this dad thought differently – honoured!

Day 47 – Ward to Picton – 47 miles

South Island – done! I seemed to fly that day and made it to Picton well before the ferry despite a few stops for roadworks.

At the ferry terminal, I met a guy who was down on his luck, so I decided to pay forward some of the kindnesses I’d seen by buying him a bag of groceries.

The Russian duo reappeared and I found out that they’d caught a bus from Kaikoura to Blenheim and I’d still made it before them. Of course this wasn’t the speaker’s fault – it was all the friend. I felt a bit smug.

It was a beautiful day and I laid on the foreshore for a while before heading for my evening sailing back to the north island. It was perfectly straight forward and I was very excited to be greeted by Gerard at the other end. (It was pitch black and quite late so cycling wasn’t a good idea – I was glad I had chosen a night ferry when I saw the hill up to their house)

Rest Day

I failed to do Wellington justice really but I loved staying with the Creamer-Watsons! I feel like I’ve known them forever and felt such a part of the family. Thank you so, so much! I could have stayed so much longer!

The lovely Kerry was another reason Wellington didn’t get much of a look in – we met on our way into the city and got on so well that we ended up chatting over two large glasses of … apple juice… rather than doing much exploring though we did stroll along the waterfront. I think this was a great choice – I’m definitely a people/experience over place person. So I can safely say I have a soft spot for Wellington.

Before I headed home, I caught up with Dr Emily’s cousin, Becca, again who had hosted me on my southbound journey through Wellington. It was like greeting an old friend and I hope we meet again when she comes over to the Isle of Man and to see her family in the UK!

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