A New Zealand "Sabbatical"
Permanent link to archive for 02/02/06. Wednesday, February 06, 2002

A Few More Photos

Here are a few photos from my ride to Oara:

Posted at 9:19:53 PM  

Riding into a Gale of Wind

Well, the rain stopped and I was committed to leave (since you have to let them know the night before so that they can tell the next bus how many can stay) and the southerly wind was back. The weather report said 40kph, gusting to 100kph. Since I was planning to travel only 20km to Oaro, I headed out into the wind.
It was fairly tough going in places, but there were not too many hills, certainly no big ones. The views were spectacular. There was a tremendous surf all along the coast, which is mostly rocky. The hills come right down to the water (I actually went through a couple of short tunnels where the hills were so steep that they came right to the water. There were places where the gusts were bad and I was in my second lowest gear on the flats with the salt spray in my face (the glasses needed a good cleaning when I stopped. There were also stretches where the hills blocked the wind a bit and I could make fair progress.
There were places where I'd be riding along well above the water, with no guard rail, and could look down and see it crashing against the rocks and seawall below. There was one spot where I came down from a rise to a low point and looked to my left and up at the waves. I stopped and took a picture of that one. For some reason someone had built dozens of tall cairns on the rocky beach at that point. They were originally built by some Easter holidaymakers who couldn't get out fishing. Many have eveidently been knocked down, but new ones get rebuilt as sort of folk art. The folks at the place I'm staying had photos of some quite elaborate creations.
There were also more seals. What I was describing as sea lions are actually fur seals. The first one I came across was actually sitting almost on the road shoulder. I stopped and took a picture of it. There were more later, including one who actually climbed over a guard rail onto the shoulder about 10 yards ahead of me and one who was asleep on its back against the guardrail not more that 3 feet from me when I passed. It didn't even budge.
Even though it was windy, it was worth the short ride, but I doubt that I could have done another 35km up into the hills in this wind.
Oaro is a little settlement of about sixty houses, right on the coast, part of the Kaikoura disrtict. About half of the houses are holiday homes. I'm staying farm homestay (B&B) called Waitane Homestay. It is a little more expensive than my usual stays at NZ$40 plus $15 if I want dinner (there isn't much else around), but it has a much higher quality amenities as well, like lots of towels and blankets and a sunny comfortable room. My hosts are Kathleen & Peter King.
The Particulars:
  • Waitane Homestay
  • Kathleen & Peter King
  • Oaro R.D.2
  • Kaikoura, New Zealand
  • tel:+64 3 319 5494
  • fax:+64 3 319 5524
  • mailto:waitane@xtra.co.nz
  • http://www.bnb.co.nz/hosts/waitane.html
Kathleen is your classic grey-haired grandmotherly type, probably late 60's. She and her husband have 48 acres here where they raise a few cattle for market a few sheep for meat and grow fruit trees. They have citrus fruits and Feijoas, a Brazilian fruit that looks sort of like a smooth avocado. She sells them to a small market chain and at market in Kaikoura, as well as making it into jams and preserves. She also makes great cookies, as were just served for afternoon tea.
Peter just came in as I'm writing this. He seems to be in his seventies and was up in Kaikoura today raising money for the local ambulance at a Waitangi Day tournament. He runs a sausage stand (with beer & wine) for the local Lions club at the tournament. Not a good day for golf (or sausages & beer) with the wind.
They used to have a larger hill farm just up the road, raising sheep, but since Peter had both hips replaced, the hills seemed have gotten steeper, so they moved into a smaller place. That they already owned and are semi-retired (if you call raising sheep for lambs, cattle for market, having about 60 fruit trees and a B&B retired).
Oaro seems to be a point which is wide enough to allow a siding for the train so that the north and southbound trains can pass each other. Twice since I've been here, I've seen a southbound train pull into the siding to wait for the northbound train to pass. They seem to run a fair number of freight trains up and down the coast.
I walked down to the shore to look at the waves and saw that, although the road goes into the hills at this point, the train line goes right along the coast clinging to the side of the hills that go right down into the water. It must be a spectacular route. I will probably take it back when I'm returning to the North Island.
I also walked over the railroad bridge (which has a walkway on one side) that crosses the local Oaro river right along the beach. The river ends at a bar, with a small channel through the bar. As I was on the bridge watching the birds on the beach that I had just walked over, when a big roller came in and washed over the bar across the beach I'd walked on and about a 100 yards up the river. I walked back along the tracks.
One the things I noticed again while riding along today was the noise from the hillsides. I also heard it on the trip to Kaikoura. They have a cicada (I saw one on a light pole today) that is very noisy. There are these heavily wooded patches of hillside, where thay are so loud that the noise drowns out the wind and the surf. There must be millions all scraping away.
It has been raining on and off all afternoon. I'm glad it didn't happen on the road. I hope that it will end and the wind will blow itself out, since I will be tackling those hills tomorrow.

Posted at 9:12:10 PM  

Rain & Wind in Kaikoura

The decision to stay in Kaikoura another day was good one since it poured most of the day. It was sprinkling when I got up but rained steadily from about 9am. I have to decide by 7 whether or not I'm going top stay another night. I'm sure glad that I bought the rain gear; I certainly needed it to do my shopping in morning.
I'm glad for the break, as I've been pretty weary and I felt a little queasy stomach this morning, but I felt better when I went for the walk to get groceries. I hope that I'll feel better tomorrow. I haven't really been sleeping well and wake up pretty early each day.
I guess the Kiwi Experience Bus leaves every morning at 9:30 and a new one appears around noon. It gives the passengers a chance to do an activity in the afternoon as well as an early morning trip like a whale watch that leaves at 5:30am. It was rather boisterous last night, but it was all out on the back terrace, so I was able to retire without being bothered. I don't know what it will be like tonight, if the terrace is too cold and wet. I have to say that the glass and can recycling bins were overflowing with beer bottles and cans this morning.
The place clears out around 9-10, and the left fairly clean as everyone cleans up after themselves. Kat, the manager here, says that it depends a lot on the bus driver and the group, some groups are great and others are "wankers". Once everyone not staying over has left, Kat and two other women make sure everything in the kitchen is clean, empty out the refrigerator and food cupboards (they must never have to buy food, with all of the left behind, unopened stuff they take away).They scrub down all of the counters, appliances and sinks and wash the floors and vacuum all of the carpets as well as change all the beds. They keep they place quite clean.
Aside from the daily tide of Kiwi Experience riders, I'd recommend the place. It's clean and relatively comfortable, has lots of kitchen space (3 stoves, two sinks), a collection classic (but somewhat scratchy) albums, a great view, a TV room and free Internet access. It also has a pleasant and attentive manager.
The Particulars:
  • TopSpot Backpackers
  • 22 Deal Street
  • Kaikoura
  • Tel:+64 3 319 5540
  • Fax:+64 3 319 6587
  • Mailto:topspot@xtra.co.nz
Beacuse of the Kiwi Experience Bus, reservations ahead of time are just about essential. I was able to stay only because of a cancellation.
I was in the kitchen, making lunch, when today's bus showed up. What a zoo. The entire kitchen filled up with people with giant backpacks and bags of food. Among the collection of mostly twentysomethings, was a guy from Columbia, with his parents. I'm not sure who it must be tougher for, the parents, attached to this group of kids or the son, who has his parents in a group of folks his age.
In the afternoon I headed out and found the nearest ATM; technology comes through again. While I was in town, a couple came by on cycles with full touring gear. They definitely looked pretty bedraggled, making me even more glad of my decision to stay put. By the time I got back to the hostel, it was about time to make dinner. My pasta dish was pretty good for me, but I was just winging it--probably too little seasoning. It's amazing the range of dishes being cooked as various people came in and made their dinners. It seems that many on the bus are either traveling together or have coalesced into sub-groups for meal preparation.
The weather forecast for tomorrow is mixed, so I think that I will move on to Oaro, which is only about 25km away, but it is at the foot of the hills I have to cross. Hopefully, it will not be raining, since it's after 7 and I had to let the manager know if I wanted to stay another day. If I get to Oaro, the next step is only about 30km, all up hill (actually four big up hills with a couple little ones thrown in). In theory there are places to stay in Oaro and Hawkeswood Pass. I'll see.
Things were much quieter here this evening compared to last night. The rain & cold seems to be keeping people indoors and the music is not as loud, since it doesn't have to reach the terrace. The beverage of preference seems to be wine, rather than beer. Must be a different crowd. Either that or they're all out at local pubs.
I have been sitting in the kitchen writing and talking to the folks around me who are from Germany, Austria, England, South Africa, Canada and the US. The guy from the US used to work for Goldman Sachs and then at a medical web site start-up. He was probably in his late thirties. Actually, several of the men that I've spoken with tonight seem older than I expected. Everyone I've spoken with has been really friendly. When I sat down, I took out my reading glasses and one lens popped apart and the screw dropped out. Two of the guys helped me look for it for about 10 minutes. I eventually found it, thankfully. As the volume of talk in the room cranked up, the fellow from NY who had been traveling on the bus for the last three weeks said that one thing that you didn't get traveling on this type of bus is much quiet time.

Posted at 6:06:31 PM  

Daily Digest 6 Feb 2002

  • Cycle Dist: 22.7km,
  • Total Ascent: 205m (this seems a bit high, I suspect that I didn't let the GPS lock in first)
  • Ave. Speed: 14.6 kph
  • Riding Time: 1:33
  • Total Elapsed Time: 2:32
  • Spent: NZ$50 (B&B abd dinner)
  • Start: TopSpot Backpackers, Kaikoura
  • End: Waitane Homestay, Oaro

Posted at 2:56:20 PM  

Daily Digest 5 Feb 2002

  • Cycle Dist: 0km,
  • Total Ascent: 0meter
  • Ave. Speed: 0 kph
  • Riding Time: 0:00
  • Total Elapsed Time: 0:00
  • Spent: NZ$95.75
  • Start: TopSpot Backpackers, Kaikoura
  • End: TopSpot Backpackers, Kaikoura

Posted at 2:52:47 PM  

Last update: 2/22/02; 10:27:18 PM
Copyright 2002 - Steven Magnell

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