Dunedin- Moeraki – Oamaru = 129kms (2 days cycling, 1 rain day)
Oamaru – Kurow – Waimante – Timaru = 201kms (3 days cycling + 1 rest day)
Timaru – Mount Somers – Methven – Ashley Gorge – Christchurch = 303kms (4 days cycling + 1 rest day)
Total: 633kms (9 days cycling, 1 rain day, 1 rest day)
Total distance covered: 2041kms – 30 days cycling, 10 rest days
Total days lost to bad weather: 1 day to rain, ½ day to wind
Longest day: 99kms [Timaru – Mount Somers: 8+ hours cycling, not including breaks]
Fastest speed recorded: 63.3kms per hour (recorded on Jana's bike going downhill from Middlemarch - Dunedin)
Best advice: pushing your bike will only take longer
Worst advice: anything ever said to us by a motorist.
Hardest lesson learnt: there are absolutely no flat roads in NZ – NONE! - there is only up and down, and somehow most of it is up.
:) I can't believe this is our last NZ blog! Sorry about the map if you are following it. – it is not an accurate account of where we’ve been because I can’t be bothered to set the pins in every place we’ve been – this goes for the entire blog; just use your imagination liberally as our route has not always been the most direct one…
It would appear our last blog ended abruptly as I didn’t manage to copy & paste the last few sentences over so I’ll start from there. Dunedin is meant to be the 'Edinburgh of NZ’ and as luck would have it, we arrived on the day the Fringe Festival started. We managed to get tickets to a Comedy Show on the opening night and then felt obliged to look somewhat presentable; the easiest way to do this was to get haircuts as I was developing one single white dreadlock from biking in the sun and wind and Daryn was starting to look like a Chia-Pet. In our best (read: least dirty) clothes, we hit the town. Ironically, the headliner was from the UK, but it was such a nice change to be out with other people rather than huddled in our tent watching TV on the netbook and asleep by 9pm that we really didn’t care.
Leaving Dunedin, we set off north up the East Coast, heading back to Christchurch; we cycled for what felt like days but in reality was only a brief 8 hours up seemingly endless steep hills to get to the Moeraki Boulders. Rolling into the campsite, we were greeted by no less than 30 ducks who happened to live at the campsite; we felt confused by our feelings about how cute they were versus our feelings about eating them for dinner; luckily we were quickly distracted by our nutritious go-to after long cycle days: instant cheese-flavoured mashed potatoes… you would think that we’d opt for a healthier option than instant food but after 8 hours of cycling, the food needs to be ready within about 90 seconds so our options are limited.
We had planned to shorten up the daily distances between Dunedin and Christchurch in an attempt at some ‘leisurely cycling’ (haha - as if that exits in NZ!) but somehow a few 80kms+ and our longest day - 99kms - snuck in. The monstrous hills of the West Coast were replaced by unbelievable wind – after trying to leave Methven, Daryn was blown off his bike into the ditch (a flat, soft grassy ditch – he’s fine, thanks to his heavily padded cycle shorts, only his pride was injured) forcing us to give up and go to the pub for the rest of the day. Biking back to Methven, I recorded the speed as 36kms/hr on my bike – and I wasn’t pedalling – that was just the speed I was going with the wind pushing me
During the long days on the bikes, we spent hours debating, amongst other things, which was worse – wind or hills; the verdict: wind is worse – hills will end eventually but the wind never stops and is always in your face. ALWAYS! I myself think the wind messes with your brain - when we arrived in Timaru and I was arranging our campsite, the nice lady at the front desk asked how I was; what I meant to say was ‘I’m good thanks, we’ve had a really long day and Timaru is a really hilly city’; what came out was [in a barking tone with a deadpan face]: ‘your city is too hilly’. My mom thinks challenges such as hills and wind 'builds character' but I can confirm that all it does is increase your capacity to come up with new swear words.
In addition to the on-going topics of conversation (listed in the first cycling blog), we’ve added a few – a new favourite being ‘would you rather?’ – as in, ‘would you rather be stuck in a field with 3 mad bulls or stuck in the water with three hungry sharks?’. Or ‘would you rather loose both thumbs or one foot?’. we have spent HOURS on this game (further proof the wind messes with your head) and have learnt some very interesting things about each other. We’ve also been working on our Irish accents, but to no avail, they still somehow sound Jamaican. For those who asked – the Irish series we were watching was Love/Hate.
2041kms and 42 days after setting off, we arrived back in Christchurch, threw down our bikes, head-butted our helmets together and cried tears of joy. Though the past 6 weeks has been - without a doubt - one of the most amazing experiences of our lives, I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a bit tired of cycling…. and camping (we’ve only slept indoors 4 times since we started)… and trying to get bike grease off of my legs every day… and wearing the same clothes for 4 days in a row…and carbohydrates – all of them… Would we recommend you visit New Zealand?: absolutely - it’s beautiful. Would we recommend you cycle it?: maybe; as long as you are crazy or have poor decision-making capabilities, you’ll be fine. Would we every cycle it again? NEVER! Parts of it – yes; the whole South Island – NO!!!
Next stop: Sydney Australia! Very much looking forward to sleeping in beds again!