| Thursday, February 28, 2002
Stewart Island Retreat
This is relatively modern house. It is right on the bay and has great views to the northeast directly on the bay. It is 4km from the town and ferry dock, but Valerie will pick up and deliver. She, unfortunately, does not offer dinner, so getting into town is slow. The guest rooms are upstairs and comfortable. They share a bath and toilet.
- Stewart Island Retreat
- Valerie Edgar
- Horseshoe Bay
- PO Box 52
- Stewart Island, New Zealand
- tel:+64 3 219 1071
- fax:+64 3 219 1071
Posted at 12:04:14 PM
Montecillo Travel Lodge
This is an older motel that also serves breakfast. It was pleasant enough, but not really worth the NZ$76 they charged. They have phones in all the rooms, but charge heavily for local calls.
- Montecillo Travel Lodge
- Marian & Harry Keil
- PO Box 141
- 240 Spey Street
- Invercargill, New Zealand
- tel:+64 3 218 2503
- fax:+64 3 218 2506
- tel:+64 800 66 68 32
Posted at 11:56:24 AM
Daily Digest 27 Feb 2002
- Cycle Dist: 39.6km
- Total Ascent: 130m
- Ave. Speed: 18.7kph
- Riding Time: 2:07
- Total Elapsed Time: 3:35
- Spent: NZ$291.25 (incl ferry and two nights lodging)
- Start: Montecillo Travel Lodge, Invercargill
- End: The Stewart Isalnd Retreat, Horseshoe Bay, Stewart Island
There was also an hour ferry ride in here.
Posted at 11:46:20 AM
Daily Digest 26 Feb 2002
- Cycle Dist: 103.6km
- Total Ascent: 321m
- Ave. Speed: 18.9kph
- Riding Time: 5:30
- Total Elapsed Time: 8:01
- Spent: NZ$111.50
- Start: Strathearn Cottage Farmstay, Wairuna Road, Clinton
- End: Montecillo Travel Lodge, Invercargill
I didn't really want to go all the way to Invercargill, but there was no place to stay before then.
Posted at 11:42:35 AM
A Short Delay in the Web Log
It's been a tiring week traveling, so I haven't been as good as I should have been updating the log. Since I'm now taking a break on Stewart Island, I have some time to write. The following sections will bring things up to date, so this will probably be a long posting.
A Lazy Sunday in Milton, February 24, 2002
When I got up on Sunday to continue to Clinton, it was blowing strongly out of the southwest, so I decided that I'd had enough pushing to windward for a while and stayed over another day (and should have stayed even longer, but that's a later section). It was just as well that I stayed, since it also rained as well during the day.
I spent a lot of the day doing nothing but reading. It really was the first day that I've been able to do that. It might have something to do with being in a small town on Sunday with absolutely everything closed. It was restful none the less.
The hostel just about filled up again, several sets of people arrived throughout the afternoon, including a couple from Cincinnati and another cyclist who was heading north. He came up through the Catlins, the coastal route from Invercargill. He has a mountain bike and the route has 45 km of gravel road, not recommended for a road bike with a trailer.
Aside from the earthquake, nothing much happened on Sunday. It was only a minor tremble, like a very long train passing by the house, but there was no track nearby and everybody felt it.
A Monday Meteorological Mistake, February 25, 2002
Meteorology in New Zealand has a lot to be desired. The forecast Monday morning was for light southwesterlies. By the afternoon I was pushing into the strongest winds since Kaikoura...and this time it was in the hills. The rolling hills were bad enough but it is the wind that really drains me. Every ten knots is at least a gear downshift and the rough road surface, which was frequent, adds another one, throw in a hill and I'm out of low gears in a hurry. I spent most of the day in the small chainring. Perhaps I should have stayed in Milton another day, but for how long will the wind go on. Many expletives deleted on this ride.
It was all up and down hill from about 5km out of Milton all the way through Clinton. I climbed over 1000 meters in total. It took me about two hours to go the first 14 km after Balclutha. You run faster than I was moving against the wind. I spent over five hours pedaling and almost 8 hours in total to get here.
The wind was so bad that I passed an accident where an 18 wheel truck overturned on a curve where the wind changed from a tailwind (for him) to a crosswind and blew the truck over. This was a little chilling, especially after reading in the morning's paper of a solo woman cyclist who was stuck and killed by a tour bus yesterday on the west coast road. I spent a lot of time as far into the shoulder as I could ride.
By the time I got to Clinton, which was my original goal, and was the first town after Balclutha, I was beat. Unfortuntely, the hostel there was a little too shabby, even for me. I had stopped in the Balclutha Info Centre as I passed through and copied down the number of a farmstay that was near Clinton.
I called and they were available. It was, however, eight kilometers further. So into a roaring crosswind I went. It was blowing so hard that the fences along the way were howling. The only thing that made it humorous was a herd of cattle. As I was slogging along, head down, I heard this thumping next to me. I looked up and there was this whole herd of cattle running along with me. As they ran along more joined the group and ran along. I had to stop. They stopped. I took a picture of them watching me and as I continued they continued until they ran out of paddock.
I finally got to the Strathearn Cottage Farmstay and it was worth the extra ride (although I don't think that I could have gone much further). Strathearn Cottage is "Grandma's House"on the fouth generation, 3800 acre farm of Warwick and Ngaire Taylor. It is a modern two room cottage on there farm. The story is that Warwick's grandfather, a bachelor farmer, built the original house to court the local school teacher and was successful (The Grandma of the story). They lived in the original house until he retired and built a smaller house on the farm. When he passed on and Grandma was in her 90's she had this cottage built to make room for the next generation. Grandma is still alive at 101, but is in a rest home in Balclutha. So the family decided to turn the cottage into a guest house a couple of years ago.
The view was delightful with large glass doors out to a deck overlooking their fields and the train line in the background. As I was eating dinner, a hawk flew right past the window and circled over the field of barley in front of me. They have mostly sheep here, but also provide winter grazing for dairy cattle. They also are being to breed alpaca and keep a rare breed of pigs, called Kunekune pigs.
The Kunekune are an old crossbreed between Vietnamese pig and a Polish pig that was brought into New Zealand by the second European vessel to come to New Zealand. They were traded to the Maori and became the prized Maori animal for many years. As time went on they fell out of favor and were rescued from extinction in the 80's. They are pretty cute... for pigs.
Unfortunately, I had to move on the next morning, since they had the cottage booked...and, as the next entry will note, I sonn found out why.
Onward to Invercargill--Unintentionaly, February 26, 2002
Well, I've made to Invercargill, not that I intended to do so--a 103 kilometer ride. Zero more miles to Invercargill. 1118 km total on the bike odometer, but that includes Waiheke and Auckland (I guess they count).
When I got to the farmstay last night, I asked Warwick Taylor if I could stay an extra day if the winds continued. He replied that the cottage was booked and it was their first advance booking in the two years they have been open. He said something about the guest coming for the field days. I didn't ask what he meant, but I sure found out today.
When I got to Gore, my intended goal for the day, I went into the Gore Info Centre only to find out that there wasn't an available bed in 50 kilometers. The "Field Days" is a giant trade show that comes to Gore every two years. All of the manufacturers of farm equipment and supplies come and set up booths to show their wares for a two day show. Hence, everything was booked. The next place where ther might be something available was Invercargill, another 60 km beyond Gore.
So off I went. Fortunately, the road from Gore to Invercargill was virtually flat with only two hills in Edendale (a bit of a misnomer). So after eight hours of travel, I made it to Invercargill. An then a bit of panic set in. As I was heading toward the center of town, I passed many motels, all with "No Vacancy" signs. By the time I got to town, I had missed getting to the Info Centre before it closed. Both of the hostels in town were full. So, I dug into my bag and found a B&B guide that I'd picked up in a hostel in a free books pile and started calling. I found one that had a free room due to a cancellation. I turned out to be a B&B Hotel (basically a small motel with breakfast). So that's where I spent the night, The Montecillo Travel Lodge. It turns out that much of Invercargill was also booked due to this trade show.
The ride today, from the farm to Gore, was particularly nice. There was no wind and the road just wound and gently undulated through the countryside. It was sunny and I had the time and energy to look at the scenery as I rode along (and to stop and take pictures, as well). There were lots of farms with rows of very tall skinny trees that reminded me of the farm country of Tuscany, but not quite as steep. It was a very pleasant ride to Gore. The ride from Gore to Invercargill was not quite as interesting. It was basically flat, with the exception of the previously mentioned hills, but there still wasn't much wind, except from the oncoming truck traffic. The traffic was a bit much. Since the road was flat and straight, The traffic really whizzed by. I doubt that anyone was below the speed limit. There wasn't much to see besides big open fields.
The town of Edendale was about halfway from Gore to Invercargill. It was advertised as being the home of the best cheese in New Zealand. I never found the cheese and the only things I saw going through town were two factories of some sort (not cheese) and a big power plant, with an even bigger one being built next to it. Some much for Eden.
Gore was a nicer town, with a pleasant main street and an Oatmeal mill. It also has a Giant Brown Trout, much like the Giant Salmon of Raikaia. I have pictures of both. There is supposed to be good fishing in the area.
Invercargill seems flat. I arrived around 5:30pm and most of the stores were already closed. Compared to Dunedin, it is pretty dead in the evening. I did ride around town a bit. Most of the downtown architecture is British colonial. They do have a very pretty park with a big aviary, which still open, and winter garden, which was already closed.
It seems even more Scottish than Dunedin. I stopped at a restaurant to look at the menu and the man at reception had a definite Scottish brogue. It was a buffet restaurant and I passed it up. I probably shouldn't have. The cafe (one of only two I found) that I had dinner in was a bit of a bust. Well, the dinner was anyway. I ordered the lemon risotto with smoked salmon. It was, in reality, lemon flavored sticky rice with pieces of smoked salmon arranged around it. The salmon was good, but it was definitely not what I expected.
On To The End Of The Road--and then some
I've gone to the end of the road, S.H.1, that is, and then on to Stewart Island.
I decided that if the weather was going to be lousy for the next few days, it would be better to be someplace nicer. So I went over to the Invercargill Info Centre and found a place to stay on Stewart Island. It is easier said than done. The woman at the info centre made at least 6 or 7 calls, slowly increasing in price, after she first called the Stewart Island info centre to get the fairly short list of those they thought to have availability. I ended up at the Stewart Island Retreat on Horseshoe Bay. A nice location to look at, but a little far out of town.
Once we made the reservations for the B&B and the ferry, I started off towards Bluff, where the road ends and the ferry leaves from. But first, I stopped to find out about airfares. It turns out that the one-way fare to Auckland is NZ$545 not including a charge for the bike and trailer. Slightly more than the $389 is saw advertised. So I decided to stop at the bus station to find out the fare to Christchurch, where airfares are much lower. The bus company has stopped taking bikes on the bus from Invercargill. This has, of course, come into effect since they stopped the passenger train service. Arghh! I'm going to try to call a couple of the smaller bus lines to see if they will take a bike. Maybe Invercargill is Hotel California.
Then I started towards Bluff, which is 30km beyond Invercargill. I was told the road was flat all the way. It was, except for the hills, small ones at least. It was an almost uneventful, but tiring ride, probably because I am a little tired from the last two days. The only event was when I was standing on the shoulder about a kilometer outside of Bluff, taking a picture of the harbor. This tractor trailer zooms by behind me, blasting his horn and leaving about six inches between us. I wasn't on a curve or anything and I wasn't exactly invisible with my florescent yellow jacket and bright yellow trailer bag. If I had been riding, I probably would have gone off the road. It would have been terribly ironic (or is that moronic) to have been run over by a truck a kilometer from the end of a 1000 km ride.
Anyway, I got to Bluff in one piece. It is the heavy-duty port for Invercargill. It imports and exports the bulk stuff like oil and grain and wood. Not much appealing to it. I rode past the ferry terminal to the end of the road at Stirling Point. The furthest south you can go on the South Island. I have ridden the entire length of the main route on the South Island (and I have the picture to show I was there).
After waiting a couple of hours, the ferry arrived. I gave myself plenty of leeway, since there is only one afternoon ferry. If you miss it, you're stuck until the next morning. They let me store the bike and trailer, along with bike parts and tools, in their shipping warehouse, since there is nowhere to ride on Stewart Island. The ferry is a new catamaran that carries goods and passengers daily to the island. We left and arrived on time.
My host, Valerie, met me at the ferry dock and gave me a ride to The Retreat, about 4km and three steep hills from town. She is a crusty older Scotswoman. I could tell right away that she wasn't a Kiwi, when she bawled out a couple of pedestrians for walking down the middle of the road.
The Retreat is a fairly modern home overlooking the beach at Horseshoe bay. I can hear the waves as I write, It isn't exactly the cozy warm cottage I was hoping for, but it will be a respite for a couple of days where I can do nothing much more strenuous than writing and editing my journal.
Since Valerie doesn't have a dinner plan, although her listing in Invercargill listed such, after I showered I headed off down the road to the town at Halfmoon bay. It was about 8pm at that point. I got a lift from an old guy and his cousin and his cousin's wife (all in their 70's) in what seemed an equally old Land Rover. I got to town at about 8:30. Unfortunately, Valerie didn't mention that the restaurants all close there kitchens at about that time. It would have been disastrous if I'd actually had to walk the whole way to find everything closed.
With the help of the staff at the restaurant I stopped at, who called around to all the others to see if any were still open, I was able to get a cheese board and a seafood chowder at another place in the town. The seafood chowder was excellent, probably the best I've had. The cheeses were from a well-known organic cheese maker in Oamaru, Whitstone Cheeses, that was closed on my way through last Sunday. They were also quite good.
The restaurant that I was originally going to, the Church Hill Cafe, has a courtesy car to give you a lift to and from the restaurant. They were nice enough to give me a ride back anyway, even though I didn't eat there. I will eat there this evening.
I did get to Stewart Island, where it is now raining (which I expected) and I am holed up resting. Boy, do my legs ache after the last three days of riding
Stewart Island is pretty wild, probably because it is very hilly and a temperate rainforest(sort like the Pacific Northwest) and mostly owned by the government. The population, all 390 of them, lives on a short stretch of the east coast, around Halfmoon Bay and Horseshoe Bay. Probably a 5km circle on an island that looks to be 20km wide by 60km long. There are no roads outside of the area around the town. Unlike the rest of NZ, there isn't any large scale agriculture here and the economy is basically fishing, aquaculture and tourism. Almost the entire island is state owned, and will become a national park as of next week, much to the dismay of the islanders.
As I am here primarily to rest before trying to find my way back to Auckland, I probably will not be doing much while I'm here. It is a 40 minute walk into town, so I probably won't even do that unless the weather gets better. Maybe it's time to take a nap.
Posted at 11:32:57 AM