R:’Please include that I was feeling very snacky today’
Waking up on the beach after a full night’s rest is definitely one of the best things in life. The sun started shining with a ferocity that suggested that it was making up for all the gray days in the beginning of our trip. We slept in until 8am because, with sunset at 9pm, who needs an early start? We were excited to get on the road and elected to put off breakfast until an unspecified rest stop on the way to Kaikoura. We underestimated our water supply, however, and didn’t have enough to make up the oatmeal that was supposed to be breakfast. By the time we reached town (and the first source of water in almost 30km), our bottles were all bone dry and I was starving. We walked into the first little cafe we saw in the side of the road and asked if we could fill our bottles. Shockingly, the woman behind the counter said ‘Not unless you buy something’. I get that she has a business to run, but we were on bikes in the heat of the day and only wanted to fill up our own bottles with tap water. But we didn’t press the point and bought a crappy bacon and egg pie (sounded good; wasn’t) and a cup of coffee for $10. With bottles full, we headed across the street to a rest area (that weirdly didn’t have a water spigot) and I finally got my oatmeal.
Following the traintracks along the coast
From the rest stop, we slowly made our way deeper into town, making stops at the grocery store for supplies, followed by a coffee shop (another $5 coffee) for internet access, then the visitor center for camping information, and after that, the town library, where R wanted to check out some local recipe books. On our way out of town we stopped at the public restrooms and picked up some free sausages (there was a Christian folk band playing in the green space out front, giving away grilled sausages as an incentive to stay and listen to their music. Didn’t work.). While snacking on our sausages, we ran into Valentin, the German cyclist we met the day before. He had ridden 150km in a fraction of the time it took us to ride our 100km. Egos were deflated. As we said our goodbyes to him, telling him we’d see him on the road when he passed us the next day, we were stopped by a Swiss tourist who saw our bikes and stopped to chat. He had ridden his bike around the South Island 2 years ago and was back for another holiday (his 4th visit to New Zealand) by car. By the time we finally left Kaikoura, it was almost 4pm and we had only ridden 35km.
Our hosts: Liz and Patrick
That’s, of course, where the long days are helpful. We hopped on our bikes, stopped after about 10km for a snack, since it had been so long since we had eaten on our arrival in Kaikoura, then pressed on along the gorgeous coastline until the road turned inland. There was a set of moderately difficult hills in the next 15km. We decided to tackle the hills, then stop at a little river at the base of the last one for the night. We had grown confident about ‘Freedom Camping’ (the Kiwi term for camping on the side of the road) since yesterday, but when we got to the river, we found a little turnout that had a big ‘No Camping’ sign posted out front. In the same moment, we saw a couple on quads and asked if they knew where we might be able to pitch for the night. That is how we ended up in this totally idyllic campsite right along the river, all clean and cozy. Patrick and Liz (our hosts) bought this property as a vacation home only a year ago and said that they’ve had all sorts of people stopping over for the night, including an entire motorbike rally. It seems like New Zealand has our best interests at heart because, after a few minutes of chatting, we were offered warm showers and even arranged to camp at their place in Christchurch when we get there! I would say that all of this is too good to be true and that there must be some kind of bad luck to balance all of this out, but after our time in Central America, I think we’ve earned a bit of down-home hospitality. It’s only our second day on the bikes in this country, but it feels like we’ve got our groove back.
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