To the Beat of the Birds

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Pine Grove Motel

Flag of New Zealand  , West Coast,
Monday, May 23, 2011

The sand flies had really left their mark and it was an itchy uncomfortable night. Over breakfast it was evident that Anton had also suffered such discomfort.  We left our Swedish friends behind in Haast, hopefully our paths will cross again.

Cycling out of Haast and across the river mouth it struck us how calm things were.  The wild South Ocean which we have been warned about was actually very clam indeed.  It made for a relaxed first 10 miles, shielded by sand dunes on pretty flat road. 

We the hit Knights Point, three killer hills in the space of just 12km. They really tested us again and we were very much in need of an early lunch.  We stopped at a viewpoint where seals, penguins and whales can be seen.  We didn't see any today.  Polly was convinced she had found a rock covered by penguins but we decided they were more cormorant like.  The seal colony resting on the sandy beach on the head also turned out to be nothing more than some washed up rocks.

Cycling through miles of beachy wood was a very different ecosystem once again.  A feature of the day was the jukebox of bird noises coming from somewhere up in the trees.  We didn’t spot one bird but the electric like beats and riffs were pleasing enough.

It was one of those lovely days where there were so few cars around, we could ride alongside making plans for next year and talking about some of the random places we have been over the last few months.  As we were planning our last biscuit break we saw a cycle tourer coming the other way.  Mariano was from Argentina and on a very different bike ride to us.  He was brilliant, in his jeans and hoody, with guitar strapped on the back, he had only left his overnight stop an hour ago.  We had been cycling 5 hours already.  It was getting dark so surely he was getting ready to set up camp again.  His friend, Sebastian, was close behind.  They had been camping on the beach and were on their way down to Queenstown to earn some money.  They were a great pair with a very different view of the world to anyone we have met, I hope they continue to enjoy their bikes which they only decided to buy a month ago.

We were then tailed by another bike.  John was in his sixties, a real local from Bruce Bay and out for an evening blast on his clapped out old racer.  He had worked in forestry all his life and has now retired to run a lodge.  He has completed The Coast to Coast twice in recent years, a brutal race across New Zealand which involves cycling, running and kayaking.  It really is on a par with Ironman and he was doing these races in his sixties.  Top man.

The day finished at the ever so welcoming Pine Grove motel.  Tomorrow we hit the glaciers and some big up hills.  Early to bed tonight, New Zealand cycling, as rewarding as it is, is also very exhausting.

Miles cycled: 56 wild west coast miles
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