A very grey and drizzly day could not detract from the scenery as we took the Inter-Islander ferry from Wellington to Picton in the South Island; sailing up Queen Charlotte’s Sound between Islands and the precipitous coast of the mainland.
A tortuous road along the coast to the little town of Havelock was slow going with vertiginous drops down sheer cliffs; but was well worth the white knuckle ride for the views. Continuing on State Highway 6 through Nelson was easier going, with a stop in Richmond for supplies we arrived at the tiny settlement of Motupiko, the blue dot in the picture above. Keith’s son Stephen manages a dairy farm here and is kindly hosting a three night stay.
Yesterday (27th Feb) the three Musketeers, (well Gavin, Keith and me) set off in high spirits to ride into the Kahurangi National Park, up the Wangapeka valley; surprisingly past acres of hop farms in the lower lands. There are numerous large dairy farms in this region making for one very happy cycle tourist. After the first seven miles, the road became ‘un-sealed’ or ‘metal’ in Kiwi speak – for the rest of the world this translates into very dusty, bumpy, gravel roads. Every passing vehicle left a cloud of dust in their wake. We arrived home looking like we had been on duty in an icing sugar factory! It was hard going on these roads, so slow progress, compounded by having to negotiate fords where rivers crossed the road – the cold water soaking our feet was actually quite welcome on a lovely hot sunny day. Due to Gavin’s severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) we had to cycle to the end of the dusty track, some 14 miles each way! Whilst the scenery was awe inspiring, the bones were somewhat jangled.
Local knowledge is a wonderful thing and Stephen’s suggestion for a quiet road, 50 mile circuit, to one of the Nelson Lakes, made for a superb ride. Ever helpful, Keith drove us to the start to avoid the main highway, and then secured a table at the coffee stop some 20 miles on, just before we arrived at Lake Rotoiti. The photo below does not do justice the the awe inspiring beauty of the landscape. Stephen’s description of the size of the eels in the lake may have had something to do with a decision not to take a dip (nothing to do with the very cold water – honest). A grand ride – all on real roads with undulating, bike friendly hills, was rounded off by a quad-bike tour around the farm -perfect.