New Zealand has always held this allure in being so far away from the US, but so similar. I have wanted to come here for many years, but not for any specific reason or to see anything in particular. Really, I had no idea what to expect from this place. We had heard that cycling here is very popular and that it is a beautiful country, but our own country is stunningly beautiful and I hadn’t counted on being blown away when we got here. Since we landed a few days ago, we’ve been in big cities and have had shit weather; we’ve also been tired and cold and trying to figure out how to prepare for this ride. It all came together, a bit haphazardly this morning and, from my position, tucked into our little 2-man tent right on the beach, I totally get why we’re here.
Riding out of Blenheim
Vines as far as the eye can see! Is this heaven?
Yesterday was a blast, of course, but it was all about food, wine, and good people. These are things that we like to think we have in our home lives on a very regular basis. I’m not saying that we don’t appreciate it, just that it is not exotic. Starting off this morning under perfectly blue skies with a gentle wind and, oh my god, is that what I think it is….sun?, we still had no idea what was in store for us today. We made it out of Blenheim before we hit our first set of hills- modest, but a bit of a kick in the butt for us, who have been off the bikes for a while now. We rode through wine country and saw the vineyard staff trimming and fixing up the vines. We hit the highest point of the day (only 192 meters) in the first 20 km or so, although the hills continued to roll on for the rest of the ride. By 30km, we made it to the next town of Seddon and stopped for some impromptu and outrageously good meat pies. We made sure to stop at the visitor’s center and the supermarket, which turned out to be a stroke of luck, as they were the last of their kind that we’ve seen today. After another 45km, we saw a fancy cafe-cum-deli where we were able to get an extra bottle of water for a whopping $5. We left still reeling from sticker shock, but were glad to have the extra bottle when we rolled into our gorgeous campground that has lots in the way of natural wonders, but nothing to offer in terms of basic hygiene or hydration. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Erosion! It lurks everywhere!
Lunch stop in Seddon. Tasty treats for everybody!
The landscape changed remarkably through the course of the ride, but it never seemed very dramatic a change. Vineyards gave way to sheep fields, which were framed by blue mountains through which we were able to see a shock of turquoise ocean. The last third of the ride followed the coastline in a series of picturesque scenes. R, normally forced to wait for me while I chug up a hill or take one of my frequent beauty rests, was way behind me every time I looked over my shoulder because each photo op was more magnificent than the last and he couldn’t ride more than a half a kilometer without stopping to take a picture. What made it so beautiful was the golden light shining on the hillsides á la Tuscany and the wind blowing through the tall grass like wave on the ocean. The ocean itself was like nothing else I’ve ever seen before: jewel-bright blue water washing up on gravelly black beaches. Not quite tropical, but not as rugged as the Pacific Northwest beaches that I grew up visiting. The sad thing is that, even with our hearty serving of sunshine today, it wasn’t sufficiently warm enough or calm enough to warrant a swim, so we at least have our first beach day Down Under (does that apply to New Zealand?) to look forward to.
Oh look! More vines!
Salt flats, no photoshopping- it’s pink!
Whatchu lookin’ at?
Meeting the coast
And so now we are here, all cozy and comfy in our little tent that we said goodbye to over half a year ago in Texas. It is even better than we remember it being and I think the campsite has more than a little to do with that, but we are still cooing over how wonderful it is to be camping again, to be in our little portable home, how awesome New Zealand is. It is! The waves are so close that I could probably catch a fish from bed and it is clean and peaceful and perfect. No rain in sight and it feels very safe here- that’s a big change already. The sun finally set close to 10pm and that is the perfect end to a lovely day. Up and down with the sun, with the wind at our backs and the ocean by our side all day long.
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