After a horrendous nights sleep thanks to squeaky plastic mattress covers and snorers in our bunk, one of the Aussie guys got up at 5.30. Whyyyyyyyyyy. Well, maybe to do with the fact he is carrying 2 panniers each side with a roll bag on top. Soooo muuuuch stufffff! He even has a real pillow, eh?!
It was a chilly morning and just enough to scare me for what is to greet us when we get to the South Island. We had our porridge, packed up and set off.
The first part of the trail was a huge climb up to 1000m, and off we went. Wiggling through trees, it hardly felt like we were climbing because the birds were tweeting and we were under trees, it was great.
Then we got to an area that had been logged, the path changed to sandy mud which was just sticky and sucked all our the energy from my legs.
In my head I was trying to guess how high we were based on how long we had been climbing and thought around 500m, James checked and we were actually at 900m!
Eventually we started descending which was awesome. Proper single track and we could jump around and flow, the descent seemed to go on forever. Of course it couldn’t go without hiccup, James’ water bottle fell off because his water bottle cage broke! Dammit!!!
We got to the bottom and we were starving. One and a half portions of porridge was not enough. We saw a poster on the trail which mentioned ‘Camp Epic’ who were serving food at around the 40k marker. There was a lodge also listed in the guide book, we get to the signs. It was 11am. We thought the lodge and camp epic were the same thing. I was ready to cry.
We agree to carry on to the 40km marker and then if there’s nothing there we would cry and eat the freeze dried apple pie we had been carrying with us since Wellington.
Thankfully we got to the 40k marker and there were signs of life! We rock up and for $10 eat as many toasties, tea, coffee and a fizzy drink – the dream! Eventually the others arrived too and we had lunch together. Paula (one of the Wellington ladies) decided it’s where we should get married, it was quiet, in the arse end of nowhere and really quite pretty!
We jump back on the bikes and I started to feel yuck, just no energy and would rather have been anywhere in the world than on that bike.
The trail descended again, but had been flattened and widened by DOC which made it so boring to ride. At one point the DOC worker was coming up around a blind bend on a tractor with a trailer of gravel as we were flying down and I “was shocked” and I’m still not sure how I managed to stay on my bike!
Eventually we get to the bottom, and bump into a holidaying couple from the UK who were in NZ for 8 weeks just touring the north island. They were amazed that people were cycling 3000km for fun. At that point so was I!
It started to pour with rain so we hid under a tree until it passed.
Eventually it stopped so we cracked on to the next town which was 40km away. The gravel road felt like it was never going to end. At one point we were chased by a farm dog trying to herd us, I was terrified and James just yelled ‘hey’ as he used to do with Mya and the dog stopped. Phew!
Eventually we get to the town to a supermarket, pick up lunch for tomorrow, oat bars and a family sized cheesecake, all for me.
Another few riders who we had started the day with were also in town so in the evening we went for pizza and chilled, literally as it was freezing!
The adventure continues…