South Island/Te Waipounamu Part 1 / by Rachel Banfield

Wellington to Greymouth: A total shock to the legs

Dec 27 2014 - Jan 3 2015

Given that cycling the South Island is something I've wanted to do for years, with it just a ferry ride away from my current home city, Wellington, it seemed too close to pass up. So, I loaded up my bags with Mum's amazing gluten free Christmas cake, my camera gear (and apparently everything else I own) and set off. 

Wellington harbour

With Rafiki (my trusty steed) safely stowed with the campervans and dogs below, I spent most of the ferry trip braving the crazy wind on the top deck as we wound our way through Queen Charlotte Sound. 

On the ferry to Picton

I was feeling pretty smug to be the very first off the ferry, well, until I realised that it was up, up, up out of Picton. 

View over Queen Charlotte Sound

I was taking the photo below when an Aussie cycle tourer pulled up next to me, coming from the opposite direction. He was feeling a bit worse for wear after getting giardia from drinking stream water. I was very sympathetic until, in good old Aussie style, he said "It's great to see someone else not all decked out in lycra. I'm glad I'm not the only one going bogan." 

What a charmer. 

BLog 1  (6).jpg

As I wound my way over hill after hill, I instantly regretted taking about half the things filling up my panniers and it was with shaky legs that I hobbled into the campground at Pelorus Bridge. A swim in the icy river (also a great way to 'wash' cycling clothes) followed by a steaming cup of tea was enough to bring me somewhat back to life.

The next morning I felt much better and set off, my loaded bike causing quite a lot of interest from four legged spectators. 

I was pretty unimpressed heading into Nelson, the sunshine capital of New Zealand, considering it looked like this:

But, with the warm welcome and super comfy bed I had at my friend's house, the rain could be forgiven. 

The next day I rode uphill all day, past vineyards, 

Farmland (note epic homemade waterslide to the right),

Forests,

 

Interesting sculptures,

I rode uphill for hours, my legs increasingly heavy and my morale dropping with every hour that passed. 

Finally, I rode into St Arnaud, stocked up on provisions (chocolate, cider and other equally healthy items), and rolled down to my campsite. 

Which was here...

Pretty spectacular. 

 Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park

Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes National Park

After a terrifying experience of very nearly being sucked into the slipstream of a massive truck which hurtled past me so closely that I had to pull over and calm myself down afterwards,

I pitched my tent in Murchison.

With forecasts for severe rain and wind, turning to thunderstorms, I opted for the bus to Westpost. 

Something, a few hours later from the comfort of my hostel room, I was very grateful for. 

The next day I rode a hilly, hot, headwind-filled 103km to Greymouth along a road that is rated one of the most scenic in the world. A reputation it certainly deserves...

I stopped for ice cream, I mean, to see the famous 'pancake rocks'.

Before continuing on past some poodle-llamas (llamoodles? poodmas?),

And waterfalls, 

Until I finally reached Greymouth, checked into a hostel with the flimsiest bunkbeds ever, and realised that it was only day 6 and my hands looked like this: 

Stylish, as per usual.