Today we are heading to the ferry across the Cook (as in captain) straight to the South island, but the sailing is not until 1330.
We headed out just after 7 and made for Mike’s favorite coffee and scone spot for breakfast. We then rode out to the Eastbourne Bays and then back and over the hills to the Wainuiomata Coast.
It was still pretty early, but we went to the dock to check in and hang out on this glorious sunny day.
They load the trucks first and then the bikes. There are some sketchy dirty ropes to tie the bikes with as we had been warned and we were glad we had some the the BMW tie downs from the shipping with us.
The crossing is 3.5 hours and the first 2 1/2 are a bit rocky in the strait.
The last hour you are behind the shelter of the coastal islands and travel down a narrow passage to the port at Picton.
The unloading was pretty quick and we headed 28 km south west to Blenheim and the Top 10 Holiday Park that is right on the riverside.
We had a river front spot for the tent and duck viewing. The walk into town was about 20 min and we found a locals only watering hole for a drink and a steak sandwich. There were some very colorful characters here tonight. Once the sun went down it was very cool and we showered and hopped into the sleeping bags. Despite being near the highway and the bridge it was pretty quiet all night.
Today’s plan is to ride 208 km to Hanmer Springs via the Molesworth Station road.
First you ride 23 km to just north of Seddon to the access road to the Awatere Valley.
The first 30 km are paved and then it is a good gravel road until 2 km from Hanmer Springs. The Awatere Valley road passes thru the Molesworth station, which is said to be the largest station in the southern hemisphere.
There is very little traffic since the coast road SH1 has opened again this week after being closed in 2016 after the Kaikōura earthquake. We had 3-4 oncoming large trucks, which hurl towards you at 80 km/h in a massive dust cloud and can be a bit scary. We did not come up on any vehicles and thus did not have to eat anyone’s dust. The road is in good condition and we can travel at speed except on the tight corners for fear of oncoming traffic and the poor performance of the Shinkos in loose gravel.
It was a pretty hot day. We left about 1030 when it was 24, but by Moleswoth Station 100 km later it was 29. We stopped here for a snack in the shade at a picnic table.
Arriving near the town we chose the maintained Jack’s pass road and arrived to the camp spot at 3 when it was 31 degrees!
We did a bit of a walk about this cute village and bought some supplies. We noted that the forecast has changed and now they call for rain starting at 5 am and so we packed up as much as possible and went to bad after a beautiful cloudless evening.
It was indeed raining briskly at 630, but there was a break just after 830 long enough to get the tent down and the gear stowed. We only have 125 km to Christchurch today and the rain stopped about 30 km from Hanmer, but we did have a few heavy showers on the way.
It was sunny arriving to the city and to Budget Motorcycles Spares where we had arranged for tires. Very nice guys here and professional work. They even charged us less than the quote and all said this was about 400$ cheaper than the tires in Wellington. Everything is expensive in NZ. A pint is 9$!!!
We had been invited to the home of Neil and Lorraine a UK couple living here. Neil met us in town and guided us to a spot for lunch and then set us up in their air B&B suite=sweet.
The forecast is not that great, but we decided that if it was not raining we would all ride out together today to the Akaroa Peninsula.
First we rode up the Evans Pass road, which no longer goes thru to Lyeltton since the earthquake 8 years ago, but they are still working on it.
If you go left at the summit you can ride along the Summit road dodging cyclists for a view south over the Akaroa Peninsula where we are headed.
Back down at the junction if you go straight instead of back down to Sumner or can take the Summit road left over the hill side to the valley thru residential streets and then connect to the tunnel to Lyeltton.
Here you follow the Govenor’s Bay-Teddington coast road and then on the Christchurch-Akaroa Road out onto the peninsula.
We took the high summit road, which rides the crest of the mountain and then falls down into the bay at Akaroa town.
It had become hot and very sunny and we enjoyed some great fish and chips at Murphy’s. Riding back we retraced our steps and finally arrived home after 7. We opted to stay in for dinner and a few beers. It was great to hear Lorraine and Neil’s stories from their trips around the world, but they have a lot more book worthy adventures than we have had including having a serious accident in SA and having to come home.
The idea was to ride north west to Greymouth over Arthur’s Pass and then the next day back to Hanmer. From here we can do the off road route on “the Rainbow” to St. Arnaud (google will not route past the camp ground). This will then put us just south west of Nelson and we can go to the west coast from there. It is more often then not raining on the WEsT coast. Looking at the forecast is is supposed to be sunny on the coast for the next 2-3 days and then the weather everywhere is rain as a storm hit the island.
Plans have to change sometimes. We will ride to the coast at Greymouth over Arthur’s pass and then head down the west coast. It is more likely to be nice at some time in the future for the rainbow and the north west road than it is on the west coast itself. (good thing we did this since after the predicted cyclone on the coast the road is now closed behind us). The next cyclone caused a massive landslide on the Rainbow, but that is another story.