Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Abel Tasman and Queen Charlotte

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To Abel Tasman National Park and back

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This morning I did some shopping and then collected my bike. From the docks in Nelson I caught a catamaran water-taxi to Pohara, the other side of the Golden Bay Park. Like Milford Sound only one road goes out to Abel Tasman National Park and back and I thought I could avoid riding it both ways by going by boat on the outward journey. I was the only passenger on a trip which took four hours. Mostly we had parcels to deliver. At Pohara the camp-site was only minutes away. I was greeted by extremely inquisitive ducks and during the night, when it was raining, my tent was visited by a hedgehog who made a hell of a racket rummaging around my rubbish bag in the tent foyer.

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The next day it rained on and off all day. All I managed was a short fifteen mile ride to Takaka where I did some shopping and watched some cricket in the pub. It was also a very dreary drizzly evening.

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At last the sun came out and I had a chance to dry the tent. I continued my ride along the northern coast of South Island and found another camp-site on the sea. After setting up I continued by ride, without panniers, to Farewell Spit the westernmost point on this coast. I also travelled a bit south on an unmade road to Whanganui Inlet. This was very isolated. In the afternoon I sunbathed and walked along the beach. It was a beautiful and hazy evening.

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Today was another perfect and cloudless day. My ride was back along the way I'd come to Takaka, with a side-trip to Collingwood. At the base of Takaka Hill I stopped at the Rat Trap Inn and had a beer whilst watching some cricket. It then took me an hour to ride the five miles to the top of the hill. Definitely the steepest climb yet. After that it was an exhilarating downhill ride until I discovered one more hill to climb before reaching the camp-site. I had a couple of beers in the Paradise Cafe that evening.

Marlborough, Vineyards and Queen Charlotte Drive

The ride to Mapua was a short one of about two hours. Once again I spent the afternoon in the sun and walking around the beaches. This is a very antiquated place with a fifties feel.

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The following days ride took me through Nelson and then over two steep climbs to Pelorus Bridge. The camp-site was peaceful and quiet, apart from the sound of rutting deer. I took some nature walks through the forest.

The next day was also a short ride to Havelock, but after setting up camp I rode further on to Renwick and visited several vineyards. It was a bit of a struggle cycling back.

My final days ride in the south Island took me along the Queen Charlotte Drive into Picton. The road itself was atrocious but the views were very picturesque over the sounds. I found a motel in town and booked in for the week-end as Jo was coming over from Wellington.