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Manapouri Road

We have started to play a game that we are calling “favorites”. Our best yet was inspired by the trail food we are eating.”What is your third favorite nut?”. This is the stuff that passes the time on a bike and makes us laugh.
We enquired at Te Anau about the trips to Doubtful Sound in Fijordland National Park. They were eye wateringly large figures indeed. My goodness you could run up a big bill traveling in New Zealand, the prices for camping leave us standing in slack jawed disbelief on occasions.

Sheep country

We are moving further south now with every pedal stroke.This is without doubt the land where sheep are King and also, and more worryingly for us, of the big wind. Lake Manapouri on our right looked perfect with early morning clouds late to clear on what are now, cold mornings. Coffee at the Hotel turned into a two hour break, and in a strange way. Tourists are not coming to New Zealand at the moment because of the Quake and to try and get the message of normality across we were in a photo shoot for the NZ Tourist Board.

Hotel Tourist Board Photo Shoot with typing error

Morris split screen

A little note on classic cars here – we have seen many roadside barns with beautiful rust free examples of cars from the 50’s and 60’s. Right hand drive as well! There is a fortune to be made.

Southern Scenic Route

Climbing Blackmount

The road we were on is called The Southern Scenic Route, and that day it became perhaps our favorite road of our journey. Mountains rising up at both sides of a fertile, classically glacial “U shaped” valley, under a blue sky with just enough small white clouds to give scale to the panorama. Just about as good as it gets and a tail wind as well.

Trudy, ready for the school bus multitasking

A few days before we had met quite a big proportion of a farming family who were in Arrowtown at the end of a day competing in the off-road marathon through Shania’s land. ” If you are passing our place drop-in for the night. It is about here,by the pillions turn first left”. Richard then put a biro line on our map and we had a plan.
Up over Blackmount and then we could see the power lines starting to cut across the hill side to our right. They stayed high for quite a few K’s and then made a dive for the road. Trudy had no idea we would be there that day, but nothing fazes a Kiwi farmers wife, certainly not this one.
Possibly the worst thing about traveling is that you very quickly have to say goodbye to people who at home would become great friends. We already have a sizable list in a book of contacts of these wonderful people. Trudy and Richard looked after us that day in amongst doing the school bus run, and running a farm and family, all in high Kiwi positive attitude and style.

Old School, Merton Creek

We had an appointment with our new favorite road the next day, and it did not disappoint. At Clifden we turned right and headed for New Zealand’s most South West point and a whole bucket full of high winds. We snacked at Tuatapere ” sausage capital of NZ”on a sausage roll of course. Then rode on to meet the East coast for the first time for a while.

Furthest point South West

Predominant wind - not difficult to guess

Not a single tree grows straight and tall along the road, and a little more force would have seen us grabbing for our handle bars to pull us back onto the black stuff. As on every day,  the last 10k of the day into Riverton turned legs to jelly. Our host for the night was Joan and John who are Trudy’s folks. They had said nothing about living at the top of a 19% grade hill. Kiwi hospitality again left us humbled.

John & Joan's 19% grade

Leaving Riverton

The ride the next day was again a chance for the wind to show just what a misery it can make for the touring cyclist. Every indication of a turn up ahead to the left was a sign that hard work had to be done and right turns signalled relief. We gave Invercargill a wide birth to the North and stayed on minor roads until forced to join Highway 99 into Gore ( Country Music Capital of New Zealand).

Even God needs a wind break here

So, what have we learned from our travels so far? Kiwi hospitality knows no bounds and is given with not a moment’s hesitation. Always use the furthest shower or toilet in the block and you need 32mm tyres for these abrasive roads.  For some unknown reason Beef is much cheaper here than Chicken here and perhaps that is as things should be.

Mataura, a strange little place.