A New Zealand "Sabbatical"
Permanent link to archive for 02/03/02. Saturday, March 02, 2002

More Stewart Island Thursday, February 28, 2002

The sun has come out on Stewart Island. It is quite beautiful here. The vegetation is quite lush with lots of ferns deep forest bush. I walked into Oban, the town, today for lunch. It was rather damp and gray on the walk in but sunny on the walk back, taking about 40 minutes each way.
I ran into the man who gave me a lift into town last night, along with his wife and his cousins. He is the local surveyor. He has been here quite a while and has both a house in the town and a 200 acre farm, all in bush at this point. That is a lot of land for Stewart Island. The island is going through a bit of a real estate boom at the moment, with prices rising 300% in the last year.
I was talking with the woman who owns the small cafe where I had lunch (great smoked salmon sandwich and a good cafe latte). She said that many of the buyers are Americans, since even with record high prices, real estate is really cheap by our standards. She is originally from Iowa and has been here 12 years. I asked her if many Americans came here and she said that most of the foreign tourists were from the US. I thought that unusual, since I hadn't met many on the way down. Evidently, the ones who come to Stewart Island tend to be older, with more money, out to see the less discovered places. Sure enough, while I was there having lunch, at least eight other Americans came in.
I wonder if there isn't some kind of hidden magnetic effect based on nationality. She gets a lot of customers from the US. The place I stayed at in Milton, the Happy-Inn, is run by a guy from Switzerland and he gets a lot of Swiss coming into the hostel. Those Internet cafes in Auckland and Christchurch run by Asians are full of other Asians, while those run by Kiwis are not. The last example is probably not as interesting as the first two, since they have signs in Japanese and Korean, while the hostel and the cafe had no outward indication of the nationality of the owner.
I'm going to stay here another couple of days as it is a good place to rest (and I can't go any further south). It is a bit more expensive than the rest of the places that I've been, but it seems worth it. The island effect, I'm sure. I'll probably take a couple of day hikes, but nothing too strenuous.
I had dinner tonight at the Church Hill Cafe, which, as the name implies, is on the hill next to the church. It has quite the view overlooking the harbor and to the north. The food was pretty good as well. The interesting thing about the restaurant is that they have a courtesy car that will pick you up and return you from anywhere on the island (where there is a road). The waitress who served me was also the driver. She was the person who also gave me a ride last night when I showed up too late. She was very nice and very friendly.
She and her husband, a sixth generation Stewart Islander, have a 54 acre property on the island. I asked about it since it seemed pretty large. She said that they purchased it just a couple of years ago and were pretty lucky. They had a house that they owned in the town, but wanted someplace larger so they would have something to pass on to their two boys. This property came on the market, so they started to negotiate for it while selling their house. There were two very interested buyers for their house, so a little bidding war erupted. Meanwhile the people with the 54 acres were a little desperate since they had bought somewhere else and had to sell quickly. So, my waitress and her husband got a good deal and a good price and a homestead for the seventh generation. She said that they would never be able to afford it today. The things you learn on the ride back to the B&B.
Friday, March 1, 2002
I wonder if people living on islands are a different breed (they must be). There seems to be a rather fuzzy concept of opening hours here.
I was sitting in the JustCafe reading the paper after having lunch there and the proprietress comes up and says "Can you do me a favor?". I replied "sure" and she asked if I wouldn't mind if she closed the cafe since there hadn't been any customers for a while and her boyfriend asked her to lunch. This is a about 1 pm. The JustCafe is only open for breakfast and lunch anyway.
Valerie, the woman who has the B&B I'm staying at has a little shop attached called "Crystals n Coffee" where she sells crystals and polished stones and coffee and muffins to the trampers who pass by (the house is on the access road to the favorite three day walk on the island). She just closes up whenever she feel like, so there seem to be no regular hours.
The restaurants that I have been to, the Lighthouse Cafe and the Church Hill Cafe both indicate that they are "open til ???". In their cases, it seems that "???" is about 8:30pm.
I walked into a shop in the town (more like a village) today. No one was there. A couple of minutes later, the woman who was my waitress/chauffeur at the Church Hill cafe pops in and says that she'll be right back. Turns out it is her shop. A small Island; keep running into the same people.
As I was walking back to the B&B I ran into the old surveyor again. He was checking a benchmark along the side of the road. I asked him if he hadn't surveyed the whole island yet. He said that the folks who had been here a long time had built on the north sides of the hills to get the sun and there were still a lot of south side lots available. They would eventually be subdivided and built on. Still plenty of work. He also said that as recently as two years ago one could still buy a decent section of land for NZ$1,500. (That's a little more than US$600), but you can't get anything for under about NZ$20,000 today I saw an advertisement in the town for a section at NZ$150,000.
Just observations on Island life.
Saturday, March 2,2002
I was just watching dogs playing on the beach in front of the house here. Horseshoe Bay beach is a fairly wide sandy beach at low tide (now) and probably a kilometer long. There have been a couple of packs of dogs that have been up and down the beach (with their humans) since I've been up and they have been having a great time sniffing and romping and splashing.
Yesterday was a fairly lazy day. I walked into the town twice with a detour through the native gardens on the way. The gardens are basically paths cut through the woods with a couple of open areas. I suppose that they are to show the native vegetation. Maybe I missed something but there was no identification of what I was looking at. It was beautiful non the less. Nothing blooming at this time, but lots of lush greenery.
As I was walking along the road, I came upon a little house built into the woods at the side of the road with nothing else around it. It reminded me of the fairy houses on Monhegan, but significantly larger and more substantial. Home for at least a Leprechaun or Gnome (or Hobbit, these days). The first time I passed it, it was just closed up; the second time it had a figure standing in the doorway and the third time, the figure had been moved. I took a couple of pictures. It was a rather cute endeavor by someone, probably aimed at the trampers who walk by continually, since it is on the route to the Rakiura Track, the three day "Great Walk" on the island.
I've taken a walk to the entrance to the new National Park. There is a controversial sculpture there, which is a giant anchor chain attached to the island. In Maori tradition, Stewart Island or Rakiura, is the anchor of the great canoe, the South Island, that brought the ancestral ones to New Zealand. Everything here seems to be rather controversial. In true bureaucratic fashion, they have covered the sculpture with tarps, since the park isn't officially open yet. It is a response to the "unauthorized" publication of a picture of the sculpture in the local Southland newspaper last week. It is quite large and the path leading to the track takes you through one of the links. One would think that since the cat is out of the bag, covering it up is foolish.
It didn't start raining until after I got back to the B&B and was about to head into Oban for lunch. I suppose that I will have to do it sometime. I'm hoping it will stop.
I was talking with an Australian couple, from Melbourne, at dinner last night. They had come to Stewart Island 30 years ago on their honeymoon and this was the first time back. They said that there were many more people living on the island then, but there was little accommodation and the tracks were more primitive. He works for an outdoor equipment company in Melbourne and they do a lot of "product testing".
When I was talking with Valerie this morning, I mentioned this conversation. She agreed and said that back then there were many families, so much that there were two schools and 15 teachers. Now, there is one school with only 30 students. The drop in population was a combination in the drop in the ability to do small boat fishing competitively and the government dropping the ferry service. Once the government pulled out, it became difficult to get back and forth to Bluff. At on point there was one ferry a week and it took four hours each way. It is only recently that the islanders instituted their own fast catamaran with twice daily service. The rise in tourism has helped make it self-supporting, although it is fairly expensive at NZ$48 each way.
Privatization of transport and utilities in New Zealand seems to be even more controversial than in the US. While we went from regulated to unregulated industries, they went from government-owned to private companies. Certainly in the transportation area, it has led to the deterioration of the railway services, the cancellation of the Southern passenger service the latest blow. There is some competition in the buses, but there is no longer the regular services to just about everywhere that there once was. Electrical privatization has had the same result as in the states, bills that are incomprehensible, a local monopoly on delivery to the house and rising, not falling, rates.
The other big controversy on the island is the spreading of a poison, called 1080, by the government, to kill possums in the nation park. The method being proposed is to drop pellets of the stuff by air. The poison is an indiscriminate poison and not only kills directly, but is retransmitted if the dead animal is eaten. It will evidently kill mammals, insects and birds equally well. If a possum eats it, it dies. If a deer eats it,it dies. If a dog or cat or sheep eats it, it dies. The maggots feeding on a tainted carcass die, as do the birds who eat the maggots. I suspect that if a child eats it, it dies. This is supposed to be to save the kiwis from possum predation. It sounds more like chemical warfare to me. The islanders seem to be completely united against the idea, but are having a difficult time fighting the Department of Conservation, who are determined.
The politics of small communities.
The afternoon was a pretty changeable one, weatherwise. I went to the JustCafe for what has become my usual sandwich and latte and a chance to read the newspaper. As I was sitting reading, the rain started again, very heavily. This went on for quite a while. I found out that the woman who owns and runs the JustCafe, the one from Iowa, has a PhD in Social Geography. The options for such a degree on Stewart Island is running a cafe.
Once the rain stopped (temporarily, it turned out) it was already after 4pm. I drifted over to the waterfront to see what was further up the road,where I hadn't been before. Just the post office, a new community center and a diner/takeaway.
As I was walking back towards the docks, it started to blow and pour again, so I ducked under the porch of the general store to wait it out. By the time it stopped it was nearly five so I went back to the diner for dinner. It was the only place serving that early. As I was leaving the rain started again, so I chickened out and took a taxi back to the B&B. It has started and stopped a couple of times since then, including once when the sun came through and created a really bright rainbow over the bay in front of the house. I took a photo, but I'm not sure if it will come out.
I certainly hope that the weather is better tomorrow, since I have to ride 30 km from Bluff back to Invercargill late in the afternoon. The predictions are not hopeful.
Another guest turned up this evening from the afternoon ferry. She is a woman about our age from Colorado. She is a professional mountain guide there and is here in New Zealand for about three months walking the tracks. She is researching the possibility of bringing groups over from the states and guiding them on several tracks. Her target market is older adults, like us, with time and money to come this far and a desire to do things in the outdoors. (And she gets to write off her trip, this year, as a business expense). She is off tomorrow to do the 10 day route here on Stewart Island.

Posted at 10:58:27 PM  

Reflections on Equipment and Cycle Touring

Here are some things that I would have done differently (or will do differently next time)
The Bicycle
I would use a different type of handlebar. Since I don't really ride on the drops, my drop handlebars only gave a couple of different positions. The touring bars that look sort of like an infinity sign, look like they would be preferable.
I would have much different gearing. I must admit that there were many hills that I could not have climbed without the low gear that I have on the Shimano Mega-range cluster that was put on just before I left. On the other hand, It was too big a jump from the next lowest gear. Also, I think that I actually used the large chain ring for about an hour total on the entire trip. Next time I would have a cluster that had fairly even stepping from gear to gear and smaller chainrings so that the lowest gear was as low as or lower than what I have now and there were more intermediate steps. The highest gear would be higher than on my current middle ring bu tit would not need to be as high as on my current outer ring.
I was pretty happy with the trailer, but might try to figure out how to separate the contents of the trailer bag better. Being a single large bag, I basically had to completely repack it every morning. There might be some way to pack multiple bags or multiple compartments in the bag.
I also wonder if there might be some way to fit a trailer brake. I was very careful about not going very quickly down hill after talking with a fellow on the ferry, who had had an accident with a BOB trailer coming around and jackknifing as he braked hard at the bottom of a hill (and this was just as I started my trip). It might be more problem than it's worth though.
Bigger water bottles next time, or a backpack bladder. I had to stop somewhere to refill on almost every ride.
The cadence sensor on my cyclocomputer gave up the ghost the first week. This was unfortunate, since I found it quite useful in pacing myself. I was never quite as even as when it was working.
I'm not sure whether a bike with fatter tires would have been more comfortable. One of the most vexing problems was the rough sealed roads. The pavement here is done with gravel spread over tar and rolled flat. The newer pavement uses gravel about the diameter of a quarter, whereas the older pavement used gravel the size of a pea. The new stuff is very rough and has a lot of rolling resistance. Would fatter tires have helped? They might have been more comfortable. A couple of kilometers of that stuff and my hands would start to go numb.
I am glad that I brought the set of tools that I did, even though they were heavy, although I didn't use most of them. I'd still be beside the road, if it weren't for the chain tool. The toolkit with metric and allen wrenches was key and the leatherman was also useful, particularly for the pliers. Also, the hand cleaner towelettes, that I just happened to have, were invaluable after working on the chain.
The Fuji produced fine pictures and being able to upload them to the computer and post them was quite simple. But the next time I will use a camera with a zoom lens. The relatively wide-angle lens was quite good for landscapes, but I could not really get close enough for details with other subjects, particularly animals.
I would also want a camera that allowed multiple shots without waiting. Storing each picture on the Fuji took about 5-10 seconds. This is way too slow for pictures where there is any action.
A built-in USB or 1394 connector would also be helpful. It would mean one less piece of gear needed.
The Sony N505VX worked quite well. It was relatively small and I could carry it in the trailer bag, padded in my fleece clothing.
In the future, something smaller would be preferable, as the big screen, wasn't really necessary for writing or editing still photos. The Sony Picturebook would be half the size. If it has built-in modem and ethernet, that would be even better.
I'd take an extra battery. There seemed to be a lack of power outlets in many of the places I stayed, particularly near tables where one could sit and write. I could usually find an outlet to charge overnight, but I was quite low on power several times.
The Actrix account was a real find. A prepaid dial-up account was ideal for my use. It was cheap, one NZ cent per minute, and dial-up was the primary (only) means of connection outside of the major cities (Auckland and Dunedin were the only places that I could get Ethernet access).
Other Gear
I didn't need the tent or cooking/eating gear at all. If one is willing to spend the extra for a homestay/farmstay/B&B when a hostel isn't available, then camping out isn't necessary. I think that I incorrect choice by leaving the sleeping bag and taking the tent.
A light sleeping bag that completely opens up seems to be ideal if you are using hostels. Also a full size sheet. Every place I stayed had clean bottom sheets and pillows (although sometimes, not very good pillows). The old-fashioned sleeping sheet that I had was less comfortable than a regular sheet would have been. The sleeping bag would have made a good duvet. Most hostels would supply one (sometimes for a fee), others might have just blankets. There were a few, that I didn't go to, that did not supply any linen.
I'm glad that I brought the mini-espresso maker and frother, even though they were a frill. It was good coffee and was a conversation starter as well.
I really needed a better daily windbreaker, particularly in the cool and damp. My rain jacket was waterproof for the few times that I needed it, but didn't breathe. So it was warm, but damp inside. Something that combined both and was florescent would be ideal, but better windproofing is needed.
I would bring several pairs of padded cycling undershorts next time, rather than cycling shorts and combine them with a couple of pairs of the lightweight convertible trousers (the one that allow the lower legs to zip off). While my microfleece tights worked, they weren't ideal for around town.
A lighter fleece jacket (microfleece) would have been more compact and practical, particularly with a better windjacket.
I need to work on layering better. There were many days that I was really cold because i was very damp under my windjacket and it wouldn't evaporate. I really light base layer under the cycling jersey would help. One of the cool days I wore both of my cycling jerseys and that helped.
A bigger budget so I wouldn't have to cook would be ideal, but there were a few places that were way out of the way. The biggest problem was that I couldn't carry any thing liquid or perishable. So I had to try to find small containers of things like milk and juice at every stop. Traveling and eating for one is a pain. Perhaps a single insulated pannier or rack trunk, tall enough for a quart of milk, would help. Food carriage is still a quandary for me.

An Ideal Cycle Tour
What would I do differently with respect to touring? First of all I wouldn't do it alone. The ideal tour in my mind is a small group, four to six, with a sag wagon. It would be similar to a commercial tour, but done independently with much more flexibility.
It would seem reasonable to do a tour of one to three months by renting of buying a small van, capable of carrying the entire group, plus gear and bikes. To do it independently, either one member of the group, who wasn't into cycling, could act as driver, but more reasonably, each member of the group would take turns. The van would carry all the gear except for minimal personal items on the bike, such as rain gear, snacks, water, etc. It would go ahead to the next destination and get everything ready for the rest of the group.
If the riders also had radios or cell phones, the van would also be able to pick up anyone who tired or had a breakdown. Or it could just follow along and pick up any stragglers.
As an independent group, it could flexibly change plans; could decide whether to ride to a place, or just load the bikes and drive to a new area, skipping from interesting ride to interesting ride. Sharing the driver responsibilities not only shares the burden of moving gear, but also gives the day's driver a regular day of rest from riding.
Using the van as “command central” also allows flexibility in places to stay. The trip could be fairly economical by using campgrounds and the daily rides could begin and end at interesting sites and the van used to get to the next evening's lodging, either an economical camp or a luxury abode. By keeping the group small, B&Bs, homestays and farmstays remain an option as well.
Any volunteers for trying this on the next trip?

Posted at 8:54:43 PM  

Reflections on Lodging

These are in the order of stay.
Waiheke Island - Mark & Marine's House
A great place to stay. The best lodging of the trip. Wonderful hosts, good converstaion, good food, great location, good shower and a comfortable guest room. Having good friends is the best reward.
Picton - Bayveiw Backpackers
A good place to start. It is about 4km outside of Picton overlooking a small bay. It was not too large. It was clean and comfortable and had a pair of well equipped kitchens. The person running it was quite pleasant and helpful. There was a small store in the bay and a dairy about half way to Picton.
Blenheim - Jack's Backpackers
The only good thing about this place was Jack, the dog. The place was rather grubby, The staff inattentive. About the only place where there was any hot water was in the shower. The kitchen was small and not very clean and had only cold water taps. Not a place I would goto again.
Lake Grassmere - Clifford Bay Farmstay
Run by a middle-aged bachelor farmer, it was pleasant after Jack's. A little messy but breakfast was good and the comapny pleasant.
Waima/Ure River - Pedallers Rest Cycle Stop
One of my favorite stops. This is a little, 6 bed, hostel on a 3000 acre farm. It is relatively primitive, being a converted sheep shearers shed out overlooking the farm paddocks, but was absolutely clean and well kept. It is oriented towards cyclists, has a fairly complete kitchen, barbeque and free washer. The view from the porch into the hills is quite nice. They also have a small store that has food, including fresh lamb from the farm. They also have a line of Merino wool cycling jerseys.
Kaikoura - Top Spot Backpackers
I was here two days because of the weather. It is a large hostel with a personable, active, involved hostess and was well kept, clean and well equipped with a good kitchen, as well as a collection of classic, if somewhat scratched, vinyl albums, a large separate TV room and free Internet access. It's only fault was that it is a primary stop on the Kiwi Experience bus route. This meant that every day a flood of people came and left and it could be a bit loud at night. I would have preferred a smaller quieter
Oaro - Waitane Homestay
This was a homestay at the home of an older couple, the Kings. They were semi-retired with a small farm, 48 acres of orchards, a small flock of sheep and yearling cattle. They were a very nice couple and they had a very comfortable small room. They also have a pair of cabins available. It was a pleasant evening, with a good dinner and breakfast.
Cheviot - Cas del Bosc B&B
This was another small homestay in Cheviot, a small town. It was also run by an older couple. The room was fairly comfortable and they were pleasant people, but they smoked. It made sleeping a little difficult. My clothes were reeking when I opened my bag at the next stop and had to wash everything. I wish that I had known.
Waipara - Waipara Sleepers
This was a unique hostel. The rooms were old train cars--Guards Vans. They each had 6 berths. The kitchen was in a separate buliding, an old small train station. It was pretty comfortable and uncrowded. I had a car to myself. They had blankets available, but it was pretty cool that night. This was one place where I could have used a sleeping bag. It was clean and well kept and even had an herb garden for the use of the guests as well as impressive lavender and rosemary hedges. It had no phone available, so I could not exchange mail.
Christchurch - Foley Towers
This is a large hostel. It was fairly crowded, but had good facilities, including a locked bicycle shed, where they also did long-term storage of such things as bike crates for people starung from Christchurch. The thing that turned me off about the place was that they closed half of the facilities, including the lounge and larger kitchen for the evening for an owner's private party, which didn't include the hostels paying guests. I moved the next day.
CHristchurch - The Olde Country House
This was a much smaller hostel. It had recently been completely renovated and had a nice feel to it. It had one of the best hostel kitchens that I came across. The hosts were owners and quite nice. It was a couple of kilometers out of the center of town but in a neighborhood with lots of shops and eating places. Its only disadvantage was that it had only a payphone and a coin operated internet station, so I was not able to connect.
Rakaia - St. Ita's Guesthouse
This was probably the most elegant place at which I stayed. It was a brick convent and school that had been converted to a home. The room was very comfortable with a double bed and its own bath. The house had a lot of original dtails and a nice formal gardens. Miriam & Ken Cutforth, the owners, were very nice. I'd defintely return.
Ashburton - Adventure Homestay
This was a small "lifestyle block" with new house on 10 acres outside of Ashburton. It was owned by a young couple, Brent Duncan and Kelley Mitchell. He was a fishing guide and mechanical engineer; she was a veterinary nurse. They also raised endurance competition horses. I found them through the Ashburton Info Center, they were not advertised elsewhere. I had a comfortable king-size bed and shared a bath with another guest. They fed me lunch and dinner as well as breakfast and were very nice. Since they were both avid hunters as well as Brent's fishing all of the meat and fish they served was from their own efforts. I had a lunch of salmon and venison for dinner.
Geraldine - Olde Presbytery Backpackers
This should have been a nice place. Geraldine is a nice small town about 10km off the main road on the way to Lake Tekapo and Mt. Cook. It is a very small hostel. The single room I had was pretty comfortable, but the kitchen was extremely basic with only a hot plate. It was too small for the hostel. The biggest problem was the host. He was friendly enough, but quite opinionated and overpresent. At most of the hostels, the ownerss/managerss fade into the background. This one was right on top pf all activity.
Timaru - Home of Nessie Jones
This was a nice house in a good neighborhood of Timaru. It was owned by an older couple, Len and Nessie Jones. I had a nice double room overlooking the ocean in the distance. They were very nice and provided a good breakfast and tea when I arrived. It was another homestay found by the local info centre.
Waimate - Hills Farmstay
This was an ostrich farm just out of Waimate. I stayed two days to rest. It was run by a middle-aged couple who bred ostriches and sold them at a few months to other farmers who grew them to market size. They were an interesting couple. He was studying to be a naturopath and built web sites on the side. They had a semi-detached double room with it's own toilet and shower. It was probably the most comfortable bed that I slept in on the whole trip. They also served three good meals a day. I didn't even have to leave the farm. Needless to say, getting a phone line for Internet access was easy.
All Day Bay - The Hall Coastal Backpackers
This was a beautiful location. All Day Bay is along the coast about 20 km past Oamaru. The hostel is about 100 meters from the beach. It is a small hostel with a 4 person bunk room, a double room and a twin room. It is a new building with a nice sitting area, good wood stove that the owners light in the evening and a good kitchen and showers. They also have a washer, but no dryer. The location is remote and the nearest stoe about 4km away. They only have a pay phone so there was no way to connect to the net. The owners live in a separate house and are minimally involved beyond checking people in and starting the fire. It is very well kept and clean.
Palmerston - Pleasant Valley Camp
This was the only campground I stayed in. It is about 4km beyond Palmerston. It had cabins and they were abke to supply linen. The double cabin was large and comfortable. The kitchen, showers and washing machines were in a central block. They were rather rudimentary,particularly the kitchen, compared to the backpacker hostels. I suspect that campers expect to bring their own utensils. They also had a recreation building with a game room and a TV room. It was remote from Palmerston over a steep hill, so having all the food you needed was necessary.
Seacliff- The Asylum Lodge Backpackers
This was at Seacliff, about 35km before Dunedin. It was probably the hardest hostel to get to since the hills from Karitane to Seacliff were very difficult. It is on the grounds of an old asyalum in a fairly modern building. It wasn't the neatest of hostels that I have been it, but the owner was quite intersting as were the grounds. It is sort of medium sized with aboout half a dozen rooms, several of which are doubles. There are no bunks, which is pleasant, There was a separate TV and billards room from the living room which had a warm fire at night. The kitchen was well equipped and the showers decent.
It seemed to attract more long term guests than the other hostels I stayed at. If you had a car, which most did, there were good surfing and kayaking beaches nearby and the hostel supplied the gear. It was also within easy driving distance to Dunedin. It is in a remote location, so unless you had a car, having everything you needed was necessary. I stayed two days to recover from the climb to get there, since there was another big climb into Dunediin.
Dunedin - The Dunedin Lodge
Dunedin had a severe lack of accomodation when I arrived. This was the only hotel that I stayed in. It was actually an old unrenovated hotel that had just been bought by another hotel, the Leviathan. It was in rather shabby condition, but the room was relatively clean and it had its own bathroom. The thing that disturbed me was the lack of any staff in the building, as was shown the second mornimg that I was there when the fire alarm went off and it was about twenty mminutes before anyone responded. I stayed two days to rest after climbing Mount Cargill to get there and becuase it was raining in the morning. I obviously had to eat at restaurants, since it wasn't set up as a complete hotel.
Milton - The Happy-Inn Backpackers
This was a really nice place in a small town that was off the normal backpacker paths. It is run by a Swiss immigrant, Toni Bachmann, who renovated this former church hall into a nice small hostel. It has two bunkrooms and two doubles. It has a nice kitchen and a comfortable living room, with a warm wood-stove. Toni made it easy to connect to the Internet by providing an extension cord to a phone line. I stayed two days, partly because of the wind, but also because it was comfortable and Toni was a pleasant host. It was actually fairly full both nights. It had only a single shower, but two more were under construction.
Clinton - Strathearn Cottage Farmstay
This was a godsend after the hardest ride of the trip. This is a self-contained cottage on a farm about 10km beyond Clinton. It is a wonderful little house that was originally built for the family's grandmother. It was absolutely clean and had a nice kitchen and bath with washer and dryer and a comfortable bedroom. It had a great view overlooking the farms fields. They supplied the fixings for breakfast, but it is up to the guests to prepare it. It is remote from the nearest town, Clinton, so having your own food for other meals is necessary. Most guests just go into Clinton to eat, but that was not practical in my case. Unfortunately, the kitchen equipment is scaled for the preparation of breakfast. The farm had some unique animals such as Kunekune pigs and alpaca and the owners were quite nice. The cottage came with its own phone that allowed 800 number calls, which was fine for an Internet connection. I would have stayed another day, but they already had a bookingfor the next night.
Invercargill - Montecillo Travel Lodge
This was a bed & breakfast motel in Invercargill. There was a serious lack of available accommodation in Invercargill (and from there all the way back to Clinton). It was rather expensive for what it was. It was only a little room with a shared bath. It was comfortable enough, but not what I would have chosen given more choices.
Stewart Island - The Stewart Island Retreat
This is a small B&B almost 4km outside of Oban on the way to the beginng of the Rakiura Track. It is right on and overlooks Horseshoe Bay. The owner, Valerie Edgar, is a transplanted Scot. There are two guest rooms, a double and twin that share a bath. She serves only breakfast, so all other meals must be had be going into Oban, a 30-40 mimute walk. The facilities are nice, but the hot water pressure in the shower is a bit weak.

Posted at 8:53:57 PM  

Daily Digest 1 Mar 2002

  • Dist: 16km walking
  • Spent: NZ$48.00 (Meals only)
  • Start: The Stewart Island Retreat, Horseshoe Bay, Stewart Island
  • End: The Stewart Island Retreat, Horseshoe Bay, Stewart Island
Just walked to town and back twice, with a detour to the native gardens

Posted at 9:37:23 AM  

Daily Digest 28 Feb 2002

  • Dist: 8km walking
  • Spent: NZ$55.95 (Meals only)
  • Start: The Stewart Island Retreat, Horseshoe Bay, Stewart Island
  • End: The Stewart Island Retreat, Horseshoe Bay, Stewart Island
Just walked to town and back.

Posted at 9:35:26 AM  

Last update: 3/2/02; 11:12:49 PM
Copyright 2002 - Steven Magnell

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