After waking up to squawking kids at the campsite, James finally woke up and was still tired and grumpy. His body battery was only on 16, so he went back to sleep for an hour. So long 8am starts!!
We made some porridge and tea and sat out in the sunshine. The weather forecast for the day was bleak, so it would have been a good idea to get going early, but it didn’t happen like that.
After a mad panic because we couldn’t find the lid to our saucepan, then finding it again in the camp kitchen from the night before, we packed up out bags and set off.
Soon we were on our way with a glorious tailwind behind us pushing us into Tapawera. On the way we passed a ‘gallery’ which was closed but they had a tree carving out in the field opposite which was pretty cool.
Stopping in Tapawera for some lollies and lunch supplies we set off again. This time with a 28km long straight road and a headwind. EUGHHHHHH. James was struggling so I took the hit going in front.
The road rolled on and on with lots of little hills which just sap the energy from your legs, but we kept on going trying to get as far as we could before the rain came.
Before too long we left the pleasant tarmac road and were greeted with gravel. Myyyy favourite*.
*so much sarcasm. I’d rather spoon out my own eyeballs than have a day cycling on gravel.
We kept having a couple of spots of rain and could hear claps of thunder but we were out cycling it! Pedal faaaster!
We stopped for lunch at the side of the road, to be blessed with a million sandflies who also wanted to join us. Even with bug spray on they were still biting me. Apparently my genetically deformed blood tastes good 😫 I just wanted to eat my spinach, cheese and Pringle wrap in peace!!
We got to the first big climb of the day, and about 200m from the top had to stop to put on rain jackets, we had learnt our lesson from Picton and getting soaked there. We started to descend and the heavens opened so we hid under a tree for 10 minutes until it had mostly passed. It was so cold it was hailing and my fingers were frozen.
Back on the road mostly downhill was nice, until we cycled past the sign for Lake Rotoiti, which is where I thought we were going to. The map hadn’t beeped at us to tell us to turn off so we carried on going. Then turned down a road to Lake Rotoroa instead. The sign said 11km. It should have said 11km but will feel like 111km.
Our legs were shot, we were tired and every time we stopped at the side of the road for a breather we were swarmed with sandflies. We had hit the metaphorical wall and it hurt.
We cycled past a sign that said coffee so stopped in for a coffee for me and coke for James. A cute old couple served us liquid gold and the wise words of ‘it’s just up one hill then mostly downhill to Murchison’. We continued.
We got to the lake and it was beautiful, but also a million sand flies which was hellish. They were biting us everywhere. Fingers, legs, elbows, forehead.
The lake was a photo stop on the tour meaning we had to have a picture there. We asked an older person to take a picture. cue 20 pictures on my phone with no view 🤦🏻♀️
Back on the trail, it lead us up a gravel track which climbed a couple of hundred meters in just over 2km, it was pretty steep and James wasn’t having a good time. Thankfully the coffee had kicked in for me so I was ok again.
The downhill took us through a beautiful valley, with fords to cross, thankfully no wet feet (have learnt my lesson the hard way with that one!) and through farm land. We spot some calves up ahead on the road, think, this is rural NZ this is what they do here, as we’d seen it elsewhere in the north.
We try to get past, but the calves were having none of it, and each time we moved then ran further down the road away from where they were supposed to be! A truck came up behind us and reversed into the farm, we then assume he called the farmer who came hurtling down the road in a car full speed through the middle of the cows. So that’s how you get past them.
She then opened the boot of her car, got out a dog who herded the cows back to the field they were supposed to be in and we could continue on our way, just with a half an hour delay.
We wiggled our way down the valley and before too long the thunder grew louder and rain heavier. We decided to carry on as we were so close rather than hiding under a tree.
Eventually we made it to town, most disappointed the pizza place was closed so stopped off at the supermarket for some goodies and veg to go with dinner.
Whilst eating dinner in the shared kitchen, the news was on. Turns out we were very lucky to get away with a little bit of hail, rain and thunder, where we had come from looked like this!
The adventure continues…