We lay in bed reading, just listening to the sound of rain on the tin roof and hoping that by morning it will have stopped !! It hadn’t !! We woke to more rain and large puddles, we got up anyway and headed for the kitchen to make breakfast. We had a trip booked and we weren’t about to cancel it or we’d lose money. Luckily for us though while we were having breakfast Wilson’s the trip organiser called and cancelled, phew !! We certainly weren’t looking forward to being out in kayaks in that weather but we would have done if they hadn’t cancelled !
We waited a while longer before we headed over to Wilson’s satellite office to get our money back, while we were there we started asking what other options we had, we didn’t really want to stay another day but if needed we would, we just wanted to see some of this fabulous coastline. They suggested that we could take there shuttle at 1.00pm to Tonga Quarry, walk back to Medlands Beach and pick up the shuttle back to Kaiteriteri at 4.45pm, they reckoned that by the time we left the weather would be much better. We thought this was a great option so went with there recommendation, this meant we got a fair bit of money back but would still hopefully see some fur seals and get a good look at some of the coastline.
We packed our bags with waterproof gear just incase and headed for the beach, the shuttle was on time and we went aboard, like most people we headed to the upper deck. Cameras ready we set of round to Tonga Quarry, it’s about an hour by boat as it stops a couple of times to pick up and drop off people who are doing similar trips to us but from different locations. On the way we saw “Split Apple Rock” and finally some fur seals, not many but at least we saw some. We were then dropped off on the beach and given some instruction on which way to go and where to meet up with shuttle.
The walk is meant to take two hours but we reckon that’s so that there’s no chance you’d ever be late back to the shuttle. Having said that the first part is fairly steep uphill through the dense, lush forest, you seem to keep going up until your head pops out of the canopy, it’s beautiful !!
The path is easy to follow and it teases you with glimpses of turquoise waters in the bay, thank you to who ever invented digital photography, it’s moments like this where you can’t stop taking photos !!
The path winds downhill around an inlet before climbing yet again, all the while your surrounded by lush vegetation on one side and a beautiful coastline on the other, the waters just sparkling in the afternoon sunshine. Once more you descend and if it was low tide you could walk across the sand to the other side but then you’d miss the waterfall and swing bridge. We of course stopped at both for more photos before continuing on to the pick up point, more opportunities for photos along the way as we’re now closer to the sea.
We arrived at the beach in plenty of time so ate a leisurely packed lunch while we waited. The shuttle back was on time, we boarded but this time we headed downstairs, we both fancied a coffee, it was a fairly quick trip back or was it that we were distracted by coffee !!
Back at camp we met our new next door neighbours, Jack and Laurie, also cycle tourists, they both hailed from California and it seems they’ve already done a fair bit of touring but were interested in some info about Lands End to John O’Groats. As Naomi has completed this trip already she was more than happy to give them some advice.
So that was Kaiteriteri, bed soon but first a few photos….you thought I’d forgotten didn’t you ?
What beautiful place, just wish we had longer but alas we must move on !!
We woke to blue sky’s and sunshine, such a contrast from yesterday. We quickly packed, sorted breakfast, checked out and set off for Tapawera, about 60km inland.
It meant that we had to first climb the hills out of Kaiteriteri and head back towards Motueka, the sun was coming up and the tide was a long way out just as we crested the last hill, such a beautiful sight !!
Before you get to Motueka you turn right on Swamp Road and then onto road that runs by the river, after the third bridge though you cross back to the other bank and follow the road all the way to Tapawera. For the most part it’s flat or rolling countryside and your surrounded by either apple and fruit farms or by hop growers. The river gently meanders it’s way through and there’s very little traffic to disturb your progress, about 10km out of town there’s a decent hill to test your legs and lungs before you plummet into the valley for the final run into town.
The town is small but has everything you need, first stop for us was the cafe, two large flat whites and two cottage pies were swiftly dealt with, then two more coffees, it’s not like we’re in a rush.
A little shopping followed before we headed off to the camp site. It’s a proper camp, run by an English lady, it has a great little kitchen with all the utensils and equipment you could ever need and free tea and coffee !!
The showers are great and also free, there’s a laundry if you need it and plenty of space to put our tents, perfect, we felt very at home in the Settle Motel and Campground. Anyway here are a few photos from our ride….
A good day for riding but not for photos !!
After I’d gone to bed the wind really started to howl but despite that I slept well and by morning I felt pretty good, a breakfast of porridge and bananas just made me feel even better.
When we cycled out of camp the sky was blue, the sun was shining and there was hardly any wind. We’d decided to take the back road to Glenhope, 37km and about 16km of that would be on unmade roads. We turned left out of camp, crossed the river and got stuck into our ride. The scenery as always is pretty impressive, huge hills looming in the distance while for now we were in a valley following a river and surrounded by lesser hills carpeted in pine trees, at lower levels there are still fields of cattle and sheep and occasionally hop and fruit farms. About 10km into our ride things started to go wrong, the wind started to get up again and our pace dropped accordingly. Despite now heading straight into a tough headwind we still managed to catch and pass a couple of cyclists that had started a good 20mins before us. At the 22km mark things got even tougher as we were now on a unmade road, pretty tough with a 50kilo bike, especially uphill. The scenery at this time started to change as well, gone are the fruit farms and fields of livestock, they’ve been replaced by a valley of dead or dying trees. We weren’t sure whether there had been a fire or disease or whether it was the remnants of the logging trade, either way it had an eerie look and now we were without the trees for cover. At this point the wind seemed to increase in ferocity and with it came rain, fine rain but driven hard by the wind it actually hurt where it hit !!
Eventually we came to the end of the unmade road, we now had a choice, turn left for Glenhope and a backpackers hostel or turn right for Murchison. The hostel would have been a ride of only 1.5km with nice warm showers and a cosy room but instead we turned right for a 43km ride to Murchison and a windy field at a Motor Caravan Park…..we really must be mad.
The wind didn’t let up but fortunately the rain abated occasionally and when it did the sun came out long enough to warm and dry us. The route was now pretty much downhill, again it followed a river and we were back to sheep and cattle farms. We made good progress despite the wind and just about 18km out of Murchison we came across the Owen Tavern and Motel. We were cold and hungry so in we went and feasted on egg and chips with bread and butter or chip butties as they soon became. In no time at all we were warm and ready to leave, back out into a howling gale !!
Another 10km on we came across a Motor Caravan Park and stopped to see if there were any more closer to Murchison. We got talking to the lady about our intended route and thanks to her input and telephone calls we changed our route slightly, having done this we decided to pitch up where we were. It’s a relatively new camp and therefore the trees aren’t matured yet so there’s not much shelter from the wind but we’ll manage and the facilities are certainly up to scratch so it’s all good.
Well I suppose you’ll be wanting to see a few photos from the days ride, here you are then…..
Great scenery but a tough day at the office !!
Well that was a wet night, rained, rained and rained some more !! Nothing I dislike more than having to pack away a soggy tent, well actually there is but that’s a completely different story !! Anyway finally got the tent packed along with a half gallon of rain water before sorting out breakfast. After dutifully washing up and tidying up we said our goodbyes and headed into Murchison, only 8km and a fairly flat ride. We stopped at the iSight (tourist office) to make sure there was somewhere to stop on tomorrow’s ride through to Maruia Springs. Not only is there somewhere to stop but the lady in the office was able to book us a room there and then, we then needed somewhere to stop tonight and we were told that the Riverside Camp has cheap cabins, we booked one of those as well. Jobs done we had a quick coffee before heading to camp, we ditched our kit, changed and went back out on our bikes, we were looking for a walking route called The Skyline, we found it just a few km out of town. After making sure the bikes were well locked we started the walk, it’s only 1.7km but it’s all uphill. By the time we’d reached the top we both had a bit of a sweat on but man the views were certainly worth the effort !! We stayed up there for a while just cooling of in the breeze and taking photos before heading back down to collect our bikes. Lunch was next on the agenda and there’s plenty of choice in town, we decided to eat at Rivers Cafe, it looks like it was formerly a garage, workshop but it does some great food now !! A little bit of food shopping to get us through the next few days then it was time to head back to camp. Arriving back at camp it was time to do some washing and with the sun now shining and a stiff breeze it’ll be dry in no time, we were also able to get the tents unpacked and dried, bonus ! New Zealand certainly comes up trumps with the camp sites, most of the time it’s as cheap for us to get a cabin as it is for two tent pitches and all the kitchens are usually well equipped, absolutely brilliant !!
Well I guess you’ll be wanting to see a few photos then…..
I wasn’t lying about the views, they are stunning !!
Kit packed and breakfast eaten and we were on our way, 61km to Maruia and a little Motel. It’s a stopping off point before the big push up the Lewis Pass ! It started cold and damp, the mist was still clinging to the hills, draping them in an ethereal cotton wool.
The sun was trying desperately to burn off the mist but for now we were both well wrapped up. We were following the Matakitaki River Valley and it was beautiful, steep sided hills full of lush forest and fields of cattle and sheep on meadows full of wild flowers and herbs. The sealed road gave way to an unmade road after about 18km but despite it making it harder we were enjoying having this lovely road to ourselves. Just as the road turned to gravel there was a sign post, there’ll be a photo later, it did make us wonder about our choice of route but we weren’t about to turn round !!
The river wound through the valley and for the most part we had it in sight, sometimes we crossed but usually we had it on our right hand side. After about 30km we stooped briefly for snacks and to check directions, the signpost for Maruia Saddle was where we were heading. As we came down a slight hill we rounded a bend and there it was, the 7km climb to the summit started right there. As you can imagine it’s no easy feat to climb a fairly steep hill in unmade roads on touring bikes weighing 50kilo, it’s our choice but it’s still tough. It was a fabulous climb though, great forest with the occasional glimpse of the river at the bottom of this now very steep gorge. As we climbed we were only passed by one vehicle so again we had it all to ourselves….perfect. For the most part it was all uphill but a few times the road dipped down to pass through a stream, six times in fact, and every time it did the road seemed to get steeper afterwards. The summit seemed to arrive quickly despite the hard climb and for the next few km we descended, still on gravel we were taking it easy !! The road finally met up with the state highway and we were back on Tarmac, good in one way but now we had traffic and it was moving fast, fortunately we only had 17km from there to Maruia and it was a good road with only a couple of small hills. We arrived in no time at all and headed straight to the cafe, we deserved a beer and we both needed food, it had been a wonderful but tough morning and we were both tired but thrilled with our efforts !
The motel although small was very well appointed, clean, tidy and relaxing. We were met by a friendly guy called Jake who showed us to our room, it had cooker, pots, pans, kettle, toaster, in fact everything you could need. If we’d known we would have brought food to cook with us but we were told the store here would sell groceries….it doesn’t so it’s the cafe for us and that’s expensive !!
Anyway, here are some if today’s photos….
Great but tough ride !!
We were in no hurry to leave the warmth and comfort of the motel or our duvets so we had a lovely lie in, we eventually got up and hit the road by 10.00am, no hurry as we only have 35km to our next stop. We left in heavy rain and to be honest it never stopped, we took a break from it at a cafe after about 18km but we were still cycling in the rain when we left. The last 17km was up hill, we’d started on the lower slopes of the Lewis Pass now but we’d finish the climb the following day. It’s funny, when the sun shines here it makes you realise how many different greens there really are and the landscape looks so vibrant and lush, but when it rains and that heavy mist hangs over the mountains it turns everything grey. It’s quite depressing after a while, you end up cycling just looking at the road anyway to try and keep the weather out of your face but when you do look up it’s just grey, damp and uninspiring !!
Thankfully we had a short ride and soon enough we’d made it to the Maruia Springs Hotel, our little treat 😉
Our room wouldn’t be ready for a while but that didn’t mean we couldn’t use the hot springs, we wasted no time and headed straight for them. The temperature was fantastic, 40 degrees in the rock pool and about 14 degrees out of it, with a backdrop of dramatic looking hills we felt great. The only thing to spoil this moment was the sand flies and they were hunting in packs !! I finally withdrew and headed to the indoor bathhouse, a wonderful 42 degrees, the best bit though was there were no sand flies. After a good hour or so we headed back to reception to collect our key, the first thing we did when we got to our room was to set up a clothes line and turn on all the heaters to dry our clothes. If anyone has come to our room they would have thought we were running a laundry 😉
With no where else to go for food we’d booked into the restaurant, fortunately the food was very good and there was plenty of it so we went to bed happy. We were looking forward to the following day, we’d be meeting up with one of the kiwis we met on the TDA Cairo to Capetown trip, if you want to find our what happened you’ll need to read the next blog, in the meantime here are a few photos from the ride and the hotel…..
Not to many photos as everytime I took my camera out it got water in the lens and I just fave up in the end !!
Anyway that’s as good a place as any to stop, I hope you enjoy it and continue to follow our travels.