A New Zealand "Sabbatical"
Permanent link to archive for 02/02/15. Friday, February 15, 2002

Daily Digest 15 Feb 2002

  • Cycle Dist: 52.4km,
  • Total Ascent: 236meters
  • Ave. Speed: 17.7kph
  • Riding Time: 2:57
  • Total Elapsed Time: 4:51
  • Spent: NZ$67.00
  • Start: N&L Jones, Park Lane, Timaru
  • End: Hills Farmstay, Waimate

Posted at 6:37:33 PM  

200 Kilometers to Dunedin

I left Geraldine this morning and headed to Timaru. I originally thought that I might stay in Geraldine an extra day, since it seemed a nice place. The Olde Presbytery was more like a B&B without breakfast (just a B) than a backpacker hostel. The accommodations were simple, but comfortable, and Fay the hostess was pleasant. Her husband, Peter, on the other hand, was a bit intrusive. (This made the place a C-).
It is interesting, but about half of the small places that I've stayed in were with people who have lived in the area most, if not all, of their lives and half have been transplants from the North Island. The natives, by far have been the warmest. And the stays that I've had at out-of-town locations, better than in-town.
So far, Kathleen & Peter King, who had the homestay and mini-farm in Oaro, have been the nicest. The Rudds, who operated the Pedallers Rest on their farm were also quite nice, but d din't spend much time with them since the hostel bulding was separate from their house. Pete, at Clifford Bay was interesting, but think of spending an overnight stay with Dick Koolish, as an old bachelor farmer. The Cutforths at St. Ita's were very nice, and although they had recently moved there, Miriam was from the area. Brent and Kelley were also nice, but much younger than I.
Actually, the only ones that have been disappointing have been the stay in Chevoit, where they smoked and last night.
It was cold and gray again today. By the time I got from Geraldine to the main highway, it also started raining. I was afraid that it would continue since at that point the roads were wet. Fortunately, it stopped very shortly after I got onto the highway. The ride itself was pretty uneventful from there. Just the usual fields and sheep.
I did stop by a flock of sheep for a drink stop. The reaction of sheep is strange. If I am moving by, even very slowly, they seem to pay no attention, but as soon as I stop, they all get up and start moving away. I also saw a big flock of birds, too far away to identify, that were riding a thermal out in the distance. You could see them spiralling up like a big column. The only other encounter of interest was as I passed some cattle. I mooed at them and a bull, who I hadn't noticed, put his head up and gave me this grim stare until I passed by (probably for longer than that, but I didn't look back).
I got to Timaru at about noontime. I am off the plains. There were a series of small hills into the town and the town itself is quite hilly, sort of like a miniature Auckland. It is a small city of about 30,000 and is the second largest fishing port in New Zealand. It also has a lot of shipping. The two hostels in town looked pretty grim, so I am staying an a homestay in a nice neighborhood about a kilometer or two from the center--up hill of course.
It is owned by Nessie and Len Jones, who are an older couple. They have a rather interesting house with lots of rooms and lots of interior details. They have been here 38 years and Nessie said that the house was half as big when they bought it. They raised five children and Len is a builder, so it kept getting bigger. Since their children have all moved out (one lives in Merrimack, MA), they have taken in homestay guests. Like the one near Ashburton, they don't advertise, but are listed at the local tourist information center. So it is another nice find.
They are quite nice. I had hardly walked in the door when Nessie offered lunch. She said that she only had bread and cheese, if that was okay. It turned out to be fresh french bread, two cheeses and a selection of vegetables and relishes to go on the bread. I have a bright twin room with a view out to the harbor as well.
Speaking of nice finds--as I was coming into Timaru, braking coming down hill, I noticed that my headset bearing seemed loose. After finding a place to stay, I went in search of a bike shop, since they have a couple here and I don't have a wrench big enough to adjust the headset. When I went into the shop and explained my problem, the fellow there stopped what he was doing and adjusted the headset and wouldn't even think of charging for the service. Steve's Kiwi of the day!
I'm hoping to go on to Waimate tomorrow, but I have been feeling a bit poorly this afternoon. I hope that I've recovered in the morning. Only 200km to Dunedin--but it gets hillier again from here.

Posted at 12:29:40 AM  

Summer is Still Missing

It's another gray day in paradise. It was raining when I got up and it drizzled all morning, but stopped by about 11. So, I decided to cycle on in the gray, since the weather report didn't indicate much improvement for the next couple of days. It was real hard decision to pass up on Kelley's wild duck for dinner.
I went around with Kelley in the morning as she fed her horses. She has a stallion, three mares and two foals, plus two others that are there temporarily, one just bred to her stallion and another who is the mother of one of the foals, that she had leased for breeding. It is a lot of work every morning. She competes in equine endurance events. It is evidently the most popular equine sport worldwide, but doesn't get much exposure since it isn't much of a spectator sport. The rides are through varied terrain for as much as 160km. Just finishing the long ones is an accomplishment.
I also talked a bit with Brent when he got up about fishing. He was showing me pictures of the last trip he guided for an American. They were catching 25lb trout. He had a picture of the daily catch with five 25 pounders all lined up with the puny looking 10 lb one they also caught. The fillets from these things looked like they came from salmon.
The ride today was pretty cool, temperaturewise, and to windward. Fortunately, the wind wasn't really strong. I put on both my long sleeve and short sleeve cycling jerseys under my windbreaker (which sometimes doesn't seem like it breaks much wind). I was still pretty cool when I stopped. The sweat just doesn't evaporate in the dampness.
I decided to deviate from my course along the main road and go to a town called Geraldine, about a 40km ride. It is about 15km inland from the highway and is where the road heads upward towards Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook. I'm somewhat tempted to go in that direction but there is too much climbing for me at this time.
Once I got off the main road for the last 15km to Geraldine, it was a whole lot quieter,and, even though it was a side road, a bit smoother. The only challenge was the fairly long one lane bridge with no shoulder, but that wasn't as bad as the other really long bridge that I crossed on the main road today.
The really long bridges are quite nerve-racking. They have no shoulder and are pretty narrow, so you can't really get over far enough to let traffic pass. To make it worse, they have been repaved several times and, as a result, have a narrow deep gutter right next to the concrete railing. Getting a wheel caught in that would really hurt.
Geraldine is a town that is partly a tourist spot, so it has a selection of accommodations, but it is still not on the main path and is pretty quite. I'm staying in the one backpacker hostel in town, The Olde Presbytery, which is quite small with a double room, a single room and a four bed dorm. I splurged and took the single room for NZ$22. It is full tonight, so I was pretty lucky to arrive when I did. It is pretty comfortable and the rooms all come with full linen and blankets on the beds and towels. It is more like a guest house than a backpacker hostel. The only weak spot is a primitive guest kitchen, with a single burner and an electric fry pan as the cooking sources. I decided to eat out tonight--blue cod fillets with a salad and baked potato, which was pretty tasty.
The guests are a bit older as well, there is a Dutch fellow traveling on his own and a Dutch couple, also cycling. They are all about my age. There is another American, probably in his 30's and a young Korean couple arrived last to fill up the dorm room. I guess that they are fortunate that I took the single.
The building was the old parish house for the local Catholic church (this is the second ex-catholic building I've stayed in), having been replaced by a new one recently and my hosts are a friendly 40ish couple, Peter & Faye Koelet, with a teenage daughter.
I think that I will go on to Timaru tomorrow, which is about 40km from here and on the coast. It will mean that I'm about a third of the way to Dunedin. I hope that the weather gets a little better soon.

Posted at 12:21:41 AM  

Last update: 2/22/02; 10:27:38 PM
Copyright 2002 - Steven Magnell

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