Cycling New Zealand Part 6: Bleating competition with local sheep

New Zealand Rocks by Bike

New Zealand Rocks by Bike

Cycling New Zealand Part 6: Bleating competition with local sheep

Country: New Zealand

From Greymouth to Motueka

Lesson learned: No visa needed for wasp territory

Laughed about: Four dancing naked men

Most wonderful miracle: Apples – so many apples!

Greatest challenge: Keeping things dry on the West Coast

Days on the bike: 5

Kilometers cycled: 337.91

Average Kilometers per day: 67.58

Total Kilometers cycled till Motueka: 18,465

Meeting Ruth

Meeting Ruth

Greymouth was the first actual city (at least for South Island standards) with nearly 10,000 inhabitants. We stopped for groceries and left the shop with a huge bright orange high visibility vest, that we wrapped around Roberto’s baggage. Now he was visible from the back and I had my bright yellow cover for the handlebar bag. In combination with the strong Reelights bike lights, we did not need to fear fog, shade, rain or darkness anymore.

Penguin Country West Coast New Zealand

Penguin Territory! We know you are there, so where do you hide?

It was a cold day and we cycled with gloves and jackets. The further we biked up north, the less rainforest we saw. Instead we biked along long sandy beaches, that were home to penguins. None of them were interested in meeting us though. The sea was churning and high, foamy waves splashed against the rocks. The air smelled like salt and humidity. Apart from all those fern palm trees we also saw “actual” palm trees and many tall trees that grew sidewards in the ever-present wind. In between grazed sheep and the odd llama and alpaca. It was a rough landscape and somehow would have reminded me unknowingly of Ireland, hadn’t there been all those palm trees.

Silvia, Justin and Ruth

Silvia, Justin and Ruth

As so often we met another cyclist. We waved and she slowed down. You never know with other bikers. Some would stop immediately, happy to have somebody to chat to and ask about the way, others just nodded and continued. Ruth was of the first sort, just like us. She cycled solo and gave us plenty of tips for the road, as well as for our upcoming Alaska adventure. She was a very humble and happy cyclist and only later did we wind out what an adventurous person she was. She had sailed to many continents and walked to North Pole and South Pole. This bike travel through New Zealand seemed like a short stroll through the park, compared to her former adventures.

Beautiful beaches on the West Coast of New Zealand

Beautiful beaches on the West Coast of New Zealand

As we stood there on the side of the road, a car approached us. Ruth smiled and waved. It was Justin and Silvia, Ruth’s friends. They lived near Westport and invited us too, to spend the night with them.

There was not much more time for chats, because Ruth still had a bit to go to Greymouth and we wanted to see the Pancake Rocks and blowholes in Punakaiki. It was less than two hours till high tide, when the blowholes were most impressive.

Annika writes a message

Annika writes a message to the Girls who ride horses

Nevertheless we stopped once more at a knife maker’s house, where two girls were said to spend the night. Kendall and Larissa were riding their horses across New Zealand since 2012 and we wanted to meet them. Ever since Fox Glacier all cyclists we had met, talked of nothing else but them. Unfortunately we had just missed them, but left a little note with the knife maker.

Pancake Rocks with Blowholes

Pancake Rocks with Blowholes

Outside the Pancake Rocks we met a Chinese travel group from Chengdu, China and their Kiwi guide. They knew how to count “one two three cheese” in English, but that was about it. The guide didn’t know a single word in Chinese. But yet everybody had a great time.

Our Cheng Du People

Our Cheng Du Friends

High tide had just passed and we saw huge water fountains mixed with vapor being pushed out of the blowholes. The Pancake Rocks got their name thanks to their shape: they looked like giant stacks of pancakes. It was absolutely impressive. But it was also so cold, that even with gloves and woolen hats we couldn’t bare it too long and biked the last two kilometers into town.

Beautiful Pancake Rock Scenery

Beautiful Pancake Rock Scenery

Bikes Parked at the Pancake Rocks

Bikes Parked at the Pancake Rocks

Every place charged stiff places. Camping cost us $17 per person! But at least we could use the kitchen with a nice and warm fireplace. My friend Emily had given me some German instant dumplings that we had saved for a special moment. This moment was now. Later in the evening, when the kitchen and eating room got emptier, we smuggled our wet tent and the damp sleeping bags inside and let them dry next to the fireplace. It really wasn’t easy keeping things dry at the West Coast.

Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki

Don’t they make you want to eat pancakes?

Roberto enjoying German dumplings - yummi!

Roberto enjoying German dumplings – yummi!

After an hour’s work with towels, pegs and the last bit of heat from the fire, we were satisfied and went out to pitch the tent. It rained down on us at night again, but in the morning the sky was blue. It was the second blue-sky day on the Westcoast. This time we let the tent dry before we packed it. It wasn’t far to the Westport junction and the road passed beach after beach. The sunshine made us both happy and twirly. I sang out loud and started a bleating contest with the sheep. I won.

My Bike Resting Near the Beac

Roberto’s bike resting near the Beach

Walking with Sunshine

Walking with Sunshine

Annika

Annika

Silvia and Justin awaited us with juice and a delicious Chilean dinner (Silvia grew up in Chile). They told us the story of how they met and got married. Justin had spent several years living in the bush, in a DOC hut and in a holiday home further up the coast. He met Silvia, who lived in Westport, at church. Both gave us plenty of tips for a happy marriage. They don’t quite like the fact that after 5 ½ years we still hadn’t gotten married and asked Roberto several times to propose either here and now, or at least very soon. We promised to keep them updated about our progress. We spent the evening playing the guitar and singing and it was quite fun.

Just the Two of Us

Just the Two of Us

Silvia prepared a delicious breakfast for us and even packed us some lunch boxes. She told us that we were going to cross wasp territory, where it was not a good idea to sit too long preparing food.

Nic the Light Tourer

Nic the Light Tourer

We had left the coast just before the Greymouth Junction, and now followed the beautiful Buller River. It was a gradual climb, but nothing too hard really. In google maps it had looked worse. Just at lunch time we met Christine from Canada and Nic from Scotland. Both rode much faster than us and also – as most other cyclists – in the other direction. I hope that someday we will have the chance to cycle together with somebody.

Annika, Roberto, Christine and Nic

Annika, Roberto, Christine and Nic

Arriving with Justin and Silvia

Arriving with Justin and Silvia

While The Guitar Gently Sings

While The Guitar Gently Sings

Justin and Silvia

Justin and Silvia

We compared our bikes, bags, kickstands, mirrors and parking systems and all learned a lot from the others. We had already eaten most of our lunch when the wasps smelled it. Too late.

Fat People Scultpture

Four naked dancing men Scultpture

The road was beautiful. There were easy climbs and downhill parts and not too much traffic. We looked out for house number 555. This was where a warmshowers host offered his field for camping. “It’s just behind the four naked dancing men”, was, what they had told us in a shop at lunch break. And – voila – just a few minutes after sunset, a small stone statue with four naked dancing men appeared.

Berlins in New Zealand

Earlier that day we biked through Berlin(s)

There wasn’t a house number visible, but there was a long driveway down to a house. The garden was filled with toys, clothes and gardening tools, and there were geese all over the veranda. I nearly tripped over a playing tent. I wasn’t sure if this was 555, but knocked the door anyways. It wasn’t. A nice woman in her late thirties named Amy opened us. She had never even heard of warmshowers, but allowed us to spend the night in her cozy sleepout! A sleepout is a little building near the main building with some furniture and sometimes with water and electricity. Ours had a very cozy bed and we slept great.

Farm where we slept.

Farm where we slept.

Nice Family Letting Sleep in their Hut

Amy and her family let us sleep in their sleepout

Sleep Out Time!

Sleep Out Time!

I woke up at sunrise, looked out of the window, saw the grey rain and decided to turn around and sleep on. At 8 am the rain had stopped, but we were surrounded by dense fog. When we came to thank her again by the following morning, Amy and her three youngest children explained us, that their four-dancing-naked men statue had been quite famous in the South Island. “They say that south of this point, there was such a small population, that people married within their own family. Of course this was not true, but just one more of the Kiwi jokes.

Mark and Ken

Mark and King

With all the fog, I was cold even with beanie and gloves. After 14 kilometers we reached Murchison, where we purchased a nice and hot breakfast: Chips (French fries). We strolled through town and when we came back, the clouds and fog had disappeared. We were just getting our bikes ready, when two other cyclists approached us. Mark from the US and King from Malaysia now lived in Hong Kong. They biked in our direction and we exchanged phone numbers, hoping that we would meet again.

Art in the Café in Murchison.

Art in the Café in Murchison.

The road was hilly as always, but nothing too bad. I had found a cool short track in the map, but when we reached it, there was a sign: “Careful! Long, steep, narrow, windy gravel road”. We changed plans immediately and stuck to the main road. Traffic wasn’t too bad after all.

Heading North

Heading Northeast

We forced ourselves up the Hope Saddle (central wasp territory, but no cyclists wounded) and rolled down on the other side. We spent the night at a big rest area with a nice and grassy field. It was a cold morning and again we started in gloves, fleece, jacket and beanie. An hour later the sun appeared and we continued the ride in T-shirts. We had left the palm tree area behind us and now biked through several fields with sheep, cows and even more sheep.

Don't count sheep while driving - seen in New Zealand

Soooo many sheep! Want to know how many? Nope, better don’t even try.

In between there were orchards. I stopped at the first apple stand I could find. $2 for a huge bag of apples! Roberto thought this a bad idea, who would eat all those apples? But I had been craving apples for a while now and devoured the first five big yellow apples while riding the bike. Good that there weren’t any potholes.

Annika on her Bike

Annika on her Bike

Nice View

Nice View from the Hope Saddle

From the Hope Saddle on about 700 meters, we rolled down all the way to Motueka at sea level. There were more and more apple orchards, pear orchards and sometimes even nashis (a mix of apple and pear). For a while we cycled through wine fields, then back to apples and pears. The weather was just perfect. Now I could see why many of my friends from Christchurch picked this area for their summer holiday.

Apples on the Road

Apples on the Road. No, I am NOT trying to sneak off!

In Motueka we spent two nights with 72-year old Ken. Ken was our flat mate Alan’s ex-wife’s stepfather and we had a great time with him. Most of the days he went out for walks and bike rides through town. Ken loved music and introduced us into the world of Bluegrass. Great times.

Roberto and Ken

Roberto and Ken

Motueka Beach

Motueka Beach

 

 

 

2457 Total Views 2 Views Today

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*