Start a new Travel Blog! Blogabond Home Maps People Photos My Stuff

John and Claud

21 Blog Entries
1 Trip
139 Photos


Cape Reinga to Bluff

Shorthand link:


Day 20: Winton to Bluff

Bluff, New Zealand

We leave Winton at a leisurely 9am, noticing the feature town statuary. We have, by chance, timed the final stage of our cycling epic for Waitangi Day, (New Zealand Day). So Invercargill is very quiet as we pass through, pausing to book in at the Tuatara Lodge YHA.

Claud carefully reads the sign welcoming us to Bluff. "WHAAAAT!???" he exclaims. "Don't worry, Claud, for us it's the end of our trip."

As I cycle the last few miles from Invercargill to Bluff, in conditions so grey and dull that I have my rear light on and the cars all have their headlights on, I reflect again on the trip. It has been truly amazing. There had been a little empty corner of my mind just waiting to be filled by those perfect mountain and lakeside scenes. But it was too immense, too beautiful, too everything to take it all in, no matter how long I stood gazing, goggle-eyed. Did I really cycle up Lindis Pass? sit by Lake Tekapo? look down on Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables? It already seems a somewhat dreamlike memory. So many amazing scenes, smells, stars, silences and friendly and helpful people along the way.

Still, there are more important things in life than looking at mountains. I miss my wife and family and friends back home. I wish I had had someone with me to share and, in future, reminisce with about these experiences. I am sure we will come back to New Zealand; there is so much more to see.

Bluff nestles below "The Bluff" hill itself. The "Welcome to Bluff" sign is about the only colourful thing about the town, which seems rather neglected, though the people I talk to are cheerful and friendly, as they have been everywhere in New Zealand.

As we glide to a stop at Stirling Point, the end of the road, the sun breaks through the clouds and the point itself suddenly looks very attractive in the sunshine.

I say to Claud: "Well, Claud, you are a legend!(in fact, a Claud Butler Legend) We've done it - Cape Reinga to Bluff in 20 days! At this moment, I feel almost as one with the astounding land of the long white cloud. I'm sad to finish, really. What about you, Claud? Tell me your inner thoughts?"

"Can you get off now, please?" replies Claud, not unreasonably, as he has had his saddle in total darkness for three weeks, embedded in my, by now, rather tautly rounded and tensile buttock cheeks.

But then Claud adds, perhaps more aptly for the occasion:

"A upane kaupane whiti te ra! Hi!"


PS By the way, you may wonder why you have never seen Claud's face on this blog. Well, that's only because, like his saddle, it has been covered all this time, by the bar bag. But the handsome visage of my faithful companion for the last three weeks can now be revealed.

Distance today: 62 Km, cumulative: 2313 Km, remaining: 0 Km

permalink written by  John and Claud on February 5, 2007 from Bluff, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cape Reinga to Bluff
Send a Compliment

Day 19: Queenstown to Winton

Winton, New Zealand

"OK, am I dreaming, or are the sheep turning pink?" asks Claud, as we near the metropolis of Winton, Southland. "No, you're correct there, Claud", I reply. The merino sheep, instead of hiding from the heat, as earlier, like little hot woolly mammoths, under the shade of the trees, are now frisking around in thin white-seamed pink pyjamas, glowing a rosy pink in the evening sun.

The explanation comes later, after we check into the Winton Hotel (est. 1889). I ask why everyone in town has a Scottish accent. "Och, it's because we're a' sheep shearers frae Scotland, over tae help the kiwis shear their sheep fur the season." replies my Winton Hotel guest interlocutor. Boy, do these Scots lads ever shear the sheep closely, though!

After five luges last night and an hour admiring stupendous views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu, I meet up with Craig, from Swansea, and Beccy from Southampton (a teacher). They are on their nine-month honeymoon, travelling the world, having given up their jobs in Gosport.

In the morning, the cycle along the edge of Wakatipu, with morning misty clouds on the flanks of the Remarkables range, is another and, probably final, amazing Vista for my cycling adventure.

To my left, the sides of the mountains are so sheer that, in shadow, they appear to be rising above me like an immense, concave, jagged-toothed tidal wave, about to crash onto the valley below - very scary!

The mountains and lakeside finally give way to fairly flat (apart from the Devil's Staircase and Josephville Hill) farmland.

Distance today: 159 Km, Cumulative: 2251, Remaining: 60 Km

permalink written by  John and Claud on February 4, 2007 from Winton, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cape Reinga to Bluff
Send a Compliment

Day 15: Ashburton to Fairlie

Fairlie, New Zealand

At last, we leave the horrible Highway 1 and head into the foothills of the alps, through the pretty town of Geraldine and on to Fairlie.

Claud and I contemplate the hills ahead. There are some pretty testing climbs and, combined with headwinds, they make for tough cycling into and out of the aptly-named Beautiful Valley.

Fairlie is not really a tourist place and I have a very quiet night in a cabin in a deserted camper van site, watching a beautiful sunset over the distant mountains. Time for laundry again.

Distance today: 100Km, cumulative: 1778 Km, remaining: 503 Km

permalink written by  John and Claud on February 3, 2007 from Fairlie, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cape Reinga to Bluff
Send a Compliment

Day 16: Fairlie to Twizel

Fairlie, New Zealand

"In the heat of summer, the high altitude, sun-baked MacKenzie Basin can make for harsh cycling. Even the cans by the roadside are roasted back to bare aluminium." I decide to plug Claud's ears with a spare pair of socks, so that he cannot hear me read this particular passage from the guidebook, about our next stage. Claud reclines, oblivious to this danger, his red and black decals resplendent on the clear-lacquered aluminium tubing of his athletic frame.

Leaving Fairlie, the morning is spent scaling Burke's Pass, at which point the scenery changes to much more wide open vistas and dry tussock grass with brilliant lupins all along the road up to Lake Tekapo.

At Lake Tekapo, there is a statue in honour of the loyal, smart and hardy border collie dogs which used to be left at the perimeters of huge early sheep stations, before these were fenced. These amazing dogs would stay on their own for days on end, watching for, and turning back, any stray sheep.

"Yes, and there is also a statue to the brave and hardy bicycles who have carried their fat-arsed riders up and over Burke's Pass over the decades!" says Claud. "Oh no, there isn't, Claud", I retort. "That's not a statue, it's just a picture of you posing on some rocks!" "Well, there should be one, anyway!" grumbles Claud.

Lake Tekapo is mind-numbingly beautiful - just look at the view they have from the window of the little church.

We press on along the enormous hydro canal to Lake Pukaki and eventually stop in the town of Twizel. I stay in a shared Lodge on a holiday park and have a nice evening in the company of Gerald, a lawyer on a fishing trip from Tauranga. I also meet CJ and Simon, who are travelling the world for 9 months. They hail from Ayr in Scotland.

Distance today: 101 Km, cumulative: 1879 Km, remaining: 405 Km

permalink written by  John and Claud on February 3, 2007 from Fairlie, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cape Reinga to Bluff
Send a Compliment

Day 17: Twizel to Cromwell

Tarras, New Zealand

Palaentologists assert that triceratops had two brains: one in its head and one lower down, which controlled its huge and powerful back legs. Well, I think perhaps I am developing similar separate and rudimentary ganglia of synapses (that's ganglia, not danglia, ladies!), which control my back legs, separate from conscious thought. This morning, I just sort of dialled in the appropriate cadence and the nether regions took over, propelling me over the fearsome Lindis Pass and on to Cromwell! There was neither stop nor refreshment for 110 Km, so not much option but to press on.

All along the road from Twizel and through past Cromwell, cars are outnumbered by large capacity motorcycles. Many of the riders are early Dennis Hopper look-alikes. And no wonder, this is easy-rider country - vast skies, huge open country, crystal clear air with visibility forever to distant horizons. The sun beats down mercilessly. Cycling is OK, but you wouldn't want to be out here walking!

To be serious and honest for a second, coming down from Lindis Pass, through vast landscapes, I had goosebumps, a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. You just don't see this sort of thing everyday and it has been the most amazing cycle ride yet on this trip. Wow!

Covered today: 149 Km, cumulative: 2028, remaining: 287

permalink written by  John and Claud on February 3, 2007 from Tarras, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cape Reinga to Bluff
Send a Compliment

Day 18: Cromwell to Queenstown

Frankton, New Zealand

My shortest distance on this trip - a nice little cycle over from Cromwell to Queenstown. Very pretty ride through the Kawarau River gorge, where I visit the world's first commercial bungy-jumping site, founded by AJ Hackett, who gained his initial fame by bungy jumping from the Eiffel Tower. I watched the jumpers, but did not partake (chicken!)

The other highlight was "Roaring Meg" the power station on the river - see photos. Of course, Nigel would already know to lookout for roaring Meg!

Queenstown looks very touristy and commercialised, but is on a very pretty spot by Lake Wakatipu. I'm off now to catch the gondola and maybe one of the daring sports tried out by the Smug Adventurers last year - after all, what have I got to luge?

Distance today: 63 Km, cumulative: 2093 Km, remaining: 219 Km

permalink written by  John and Claud on February 3, 2007 from Frankton, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cape Reinga to Bluff
Send a Compliment

Day 14: Waipara to Ashburton

Rakaia, New Zealand

"Well, this is the junction with Manchester Street, Claud, so do we turn right here?" Claud shakes his head. "Oh, so we turn left?" Claud shakes his head even more vigorously. "OK, so it is straight on, then?" Claud shakes his head madly and begins nodding his head, too, in the most alarming way. "Oh, my god, Claud, what's wrong with you?!". Claud clanks a few times and throws a wobbler. "I think my head is about to fall off", he squeaks.

We judder to a wobbly stop. Then, believe it or not, I look up and see Penny Sport Cycles' shop, right in front of us. Claud has broken down literally at the street junction in Christchurch which is the site of New Zealand's biggest bicycle shop! We have not actually passed a bicycle shop since we unpacked Claud in Whangerei two weeks ago. What kind of luck is that? I do not carry the large spanners needed to adjust the headset, so anywhere out in the country and this would have been a stopper, as Claud has suddenly become unrideable.

The mechanic in Penny's tightens Claud's headset - he now has his head screwed on properly and we are off again through pleasant Hagley Park and heading South down a boring stretch of Highway 1, reaching Ashburton at 7pm, our latest stopping time.

Another touring cyclist, Ray, arrives and we both jump across the barbed wire fence and the railway line, to Robbie's bistro, to have dinner and a few handles together, swapping cycling stories. Ray has a collossal load on his bike, maybe a hundred pounds. He even has a two-man tent and a folding solar panel! It all seems most odd, until he explains that he is from Calif-ornia - ahah, say no more! I show him my modest 28 pounds of equipment. "You only have one cycling shirt?!" he exclaims, "how do you manage?" "Well, I wash it each evening and it dries in about 30 mins, I explain. Ray shakes his head at this bewildering news, while anxiously fingering his portable satellite navigation console for comfort.

Ray tells me proudly that he averages ten hours cycling per day, and has once covered 100Km in a day, stopping at 10pm. He walks up nearly every hill.

No photos today, as the route is very flat and dull, except for the following one, of a very weird rainbow effect around the moon. People were standing outside their houses at 11pm, all gazing and gasping at this unique sight. Unfortunately, the picture does not capture the colours - you had to be there, I am afraid.

Distance today: 153 Km, cumulative: 1678 Km, remaining: 603 Km

permalink written by  John and Claud on January 31, 2007 from Rakaia, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cape Reinga to Bluff
Send a Compliment

Day 13: Kaikoura to Waipara

Waipara, New Zealand

The pretty young blonde girl turns her head towards me and, from her pillow, murmurs, sleepily: "Good morning - did you sleep well?"

OK, I had better explain and recap last night.....

You see, the Chinese (or Korean?) manager of the Lazy Shag backpackers, who is a bit of a joker, put me in a shared room with three girls and two boys last night. This is despite there being many other "more mature" guests. I ask if this is a good idea, but she replies, by way of explanation and reassurance: "You rook smirey person - all smirey people in room 3 - you be fine!".

So off I go to introduce myself to the two young girls who are already in occupation of room 3. "I am afraid you drew the short straw, girls, and have to share with the old guy!". "Oh, that's alright!", says the blonde one, as she exchanges a quick look with her companion, that seems to say "Did you remember to pack the pepper spray?" "Don't worry, just imagine that you are sharing a room with your dad!", I add, brightly. It doesn't seem to help. However, I find out that they and another girl are doing a gap year along more or less the same itinerary as the Smug Adventurers, so that breaks the ice and I then quickly repair to the Kaikoura Hotel, where I debate the merits of Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters (who played a storming concert last night in Christchurch, apparently), with a guy from British Columbia and then the merits of Liverpool FC with a fan from Melbourne, who is a BMW salesman on a sales junket in NZ; a reward for selling the fifth highest number of BMWs that year.

I have seen only one other touring cyclist on this trip - going the other way. However, I often have the eerie sensation that I am being shadowed!!

From Kaikoura, we are climbing yet again, up and into, then up and out of Greta Valley. These are some of the biggest climbs for a few days and the right knee is beginning to creak again. But the last 30 miles from Cheviot onto Waipara are mainly downhill and I glide into Waipara Sleepers, the backpackers hostel, at 4:30pm.

"Sleepers" is an unusual backpackers, where the facilities room and dorm rooms are in an old station house and old railway guards vans, respectively. These have been retreived, along with lots of memoribilia, from the old glory days of New Zealand steam railways. New Zealand now has a very minimal rail system.

But Waipara is otherwise another truckstop/bend in the road sort of place, so I wander around, take a photo of the backdrop of hills and get an early night.

Distance today: 126 Km, cumulative: 1525, remaining: 759

permalink written by  John and Claud on January 30, 2007 from Waipara, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cape Reinga to Bluff
Send a Compliment

Day 6: Pukakohe to Putaruru

Hamilton, New Zealand

"You can go up the hill and through Bombay, or you could just join the Expressway here!", said the lady at the BP garage. "Bombay is a nice little place that........". But her words tailed off, as she realised that the strange English cyclist had already gone, his chubby little white legs pumping away down the Expressway in the direction of Hamilton, with a blessed tail wind behind him!

Not fantastic scenery today and rather grey and misty, but I covered 55 miles in 3 hours cycling, by quarter to 12:00. After a long stop in Hamilton, I then cover another 40 miles in three hours, reaching the small town of Putaruru. Check into a huge old rambling and characterful hotel, the Putaruru Hotel.

I am shown around by the hotel's cook, Arthur, and later join him and some of his pals, including Pogo and Lido, for a really nice time in the bar. When I mention that I need to eat, Arthur escorts me to the kitchen and insists that I have his own dinner!! He assures me that, now he has started drinking for the evening, the dinner will otherwise go uneaten. Whatever, I woolfed down Arthur's pie, peas and mash with relish! Thank you Arthur. And thanks Pogo and Lido, too, for advice on the route! it was a pleasure to meet you all and I hope to see you on the way back! (Would you believe that New Zealand won that match in the end!!).

Distance today: 153Km, cumulative: 713 Km

permalink written by  John and Claud on January 28, 2007 from Hamilton, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cape Reinga to Bluff
Send a Compliment

Day 7: Putaruru to Taupo

Taupo, New Zealand

The saddle sores start bleeding again after an hour or so. The worst of this is not the pain of riding on bleeding sores, so much as the anticipation of taking the shorts off at the end of the day, by which time the inner seams will have embedded themselves in, and slightly fused with, the broken flesh! Yes, I made the mistake on yesterday's long ride, of forgetting to apply the vasaline - big mistake!!

Also, it is another grey day and the rain gets steadier. Legs are very weary, so I stop in Taupo at 1:30 and simply cannot face starting again. So I check into the "Go Global" backpackers. Taupo is grey and rather commercialised and seedy - maybe I did not catch it on a good day, or it me! Either way, the only highlight was my first New Zealand fish and chips: $9.50, including a free beer - delicious! Managed one photo of the terrain, during a brief break in the rain.

Distance today: 91 Km, cumulative: 804 Km

permalink written by  John and Claud on January 28, 2007 from Taupo, New Zealand
from the travel blog: Cape Reinga to Bluff
Send a Compliment

Viewing 1 - 10 of 21 Entries
first | previous | next | last

author feed
author kml

Heading South?

Online Spanish lessons with a live personal tutor FairTutor can hook you up with Online Spanish lessons with a live personal tutor. It's pretty sweet! Online Spanish lessons with a live personal tutor www.fairtutor.com

create a new account


Blogabond v2.40.58.80 © 2021 Expat Software Consulting Services about : press : rss : privacy
View as Map View as Satellite Imagery View as Map with Satellite Imagery Show/Hide Info Labels Zoom Out Zoom In Zoom Out Zoom In
find city: