Helen Findlay

My adventures in Middle Europe and The Colonies. This blog contains my own views and opinions and does not represent those of my employers, or any other organisation with which I am involved. Remember, just because it isn't Singletrackworld, doesn't mean it isn't shite !

Sunday, February 08, 2009

It's just like Scotland really

Except for the fact that it is 7pm, and still sunny and 25 degrees.

Having a great time in New Zealand, this is a picture of lake Rotoiti at Saint Arnaud. I stayed here for one night on my recent 784km circuit of Nelson lakes and the Kaikoura ranges.

Started my tour in Wellington, caught the 8.30 ferry over. The first day was very hard, and nearly put me off the entire enterprise. I didn’t start until after midday, had 90km of hills to get to Nelson, and it was at least 35 degrees. Wasn’t used to riding with the weight of panniers, you have to drop to a low gear and slow right down for the climbs. And I miscalculated water consumption, and how far you can be from a town on New Zealand roads. A black dot on the map with a place name can just mean a dog tied to a letter box. Had to take a bit of a risk about 30km from Nelson and fill my bottles from a stream, but the damage from dehydration was starting already, so just took the risk of nasty giardia bugs. So far so good.

Had a few issues with my saddle too, some minor discomfort, had to keep moving it around and adjusting the height. It was about day 5 before I finally cracked it.

Anyway, apart from these minor problems everything went fine, I had a great time riding through some beautiful places. Got very sunburned, met some nice people and consumed some high quality coffee and cakes. New Zealanders are so friendly, every time I sat down in a café with my bike somebody would be over to ask where I was from, what I was doing. Stayed in Blenheim with Viv and Les, some friends of Mother and Winton who were just lovely and made me very welcome.

Did a circuit of 784km in 9 days with one day off, so averaging nearly 100km per day. Nelson – Saint Arnaud – Murchison – Springs Junction – Hanmer Springs – Kaikoura – Blenheim – Picton. The longest day was 139km over the Inland Road to Kaikoura from Hanmer, very hilly, the road kept dipping down from the plateau to cross over the river, then back up again. Absolutely stunning and worth the strained hamstring by the end of that day !

Met up with my friend Kim in Kaikoura who is over for her bro’s wedding and the Coast to Coast. Went out dolphin watching which was amazing. The dusky dolphins were all around the boat, surfing under the bows and jumping up out of the water. I wasn’t quite brave enough to don the wetsuit with Kim and swim with them, thinking (rightly) that I would be sick as a dog the whole trip (and I was) but again it was worth it !

My bike died on the last climb of the day. The front shifter refuses to work. Meant I had to coast down the ferry, but could have been a disaster if it had happened a day earlier.

Having a nice relaxing week this week, caught up with Jo and her two boys, Adrienne and Mike and their two boys and Stephanie and Paul. Always brilliant to see everybody and I wish I had some more time in Wellington. Was trying to talk Adrienne and Stephanie into meeting somewhere in the middle for our birthday this year. Mexico ??

Off to Te Papa just now to meet with my kiwi equivalent and do a bit of research.

Back in Scotland at the weekend !