Deep in the Southland

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24/02/08
Well kids, things can really change overnight around here. Yesterday, the riding was seemingly easy, with great weather and good wind. I was in very high spirits for the evening, and decided to stay up a while and have a few beers with all the motorcross people. After all, they were going to be up late and making noise, so there wasn’t much sense in trying to go to sleep early anyway. I also figured that the next day would be a pretty easy day, as I was only heading a little over 85km, and the trip was supposedly pretty much downhill. That meant I could have a somewhat lazy morning, and not have to be on the road right away. However, to add to the issues related to staying up late drinking beers, it also started pouring while we were still all outside on the front deck. Not nice. Luckily, I had the foresight to put my bike, trailer, and most of my gear under a protective roof so that it was kept nice and dry. Anyway, read on, check out the map, pictures, etc.

So, like I said, to get the night underway, I first headed to the pub to get some grub. Food for me? Chicken Schnitzel, served with a baked potato, pasta salad, and green salad. It was actually quite good, and while I was waiting for the food, there was time to pop 2 bucks in the jukebox and pick a few tunes to pass the time. From there, back over to the hostel across the street where I had a 6-pack chilling. I cracked one open and sat outside where the motorcross folks were seated. Halfway through that beer, I finally asked them if I could sit with them, as drinking alone is no fun. From then on for the rest of the night, I sat around with them, enjoying the warm evening and learning a bit about sheep shearing, motorcross, and Dunedin. Nice.

After crawling into my soggy tent, I fell into a fitful sleep as the rain kept tap tap tapping on the nylon all around me. Eventually I drifted off, and when I re-woke at 7:30, there was no rain. Huzzah! I set about taking the fly off the tent and hanging it up to dry. I knew it would take a while to get sorted out before leaving, as I wanted to dry the tent, the ground sheet, and fly. I was a little slow on the get go as well. By the time I hit the road, it was almost 9am. No biggie I figured. However, the weather had another little surprise in store for me with a little thing known as wind. Not just a breeze either, but a full-on wind.

On the good side, for the majority of the ride, the wind was either at my back or at my side. The gusts were up to 60km/hr, which made the going quite tricky when it was a side-on wind. I was certain a few times on the ride that the little trailer would be blown right over. At a minimum, there were number of times when keeping control of the whole setup was quite unstable. I had to swerve in and out of the center lane on more than one occasion. That might be okay normally, but when there are kiwi drivers around, you don’t want that to happen too often.

As far as the scenery is concerned today, it was more of the same as yesterday. Basically, farm country and rolling hills. With the challenges from the wind, I didn’t spend too much time snapping pictures. It just wasn’t possible. However, I didn’t come back out along the coast once again, which made some nice spots to stop and take in the sights. This included a nice stop at McCracken’s Rest where I had a nice pie for a late breakfast. Overall, I found the day sort of a challenge, and felt a little tired at the end of it all. Luckily, upon arriving in Invercargill, I had pre-arranged a place to stay through my list of contacts – sweet. When I arrived at the place, there was a fellow outside, but he didn’t know anything about me or my arrival, as my contact hadn’t told his roommate that I was coming. Oops. A quick phone call sorted it out, and I was soon enjoying a shower and some desperately needed fresh clothes.

Once I was out of the shower, Rajesh, my contact, was back from his work at the hospital, and before I knew it, we were off to Oreti Beach for a quick dip in the Tasman Sea. The wind was still howling hard, which made the beach trip a little annoying. You couldn’t get out of the car without getting completely full of sand. Regardless, it was still a refreshing swim, and it was cool to actually go swimming in the sea facing the continent of Antarctica. Remarkably, the water was actually quite warm, but the wind made things not as comfortable. After the beach trip, plans were also made to have a BBQ at one of their friends’ house, so we hit the grocery store and bought massive quantities of meat. We had enough to feed 20, but were only 8 or so eating it. Lamb, chicken, steaks, skewers, potatoes, salads, bread, etc. etc. Needless to say, I definitely got my protein fix for the day, so hopefully my muscles will be thanking me.

That brings me to my next steps. I haven’t planned them. Not at all. I’m getting up tomorrow completely unsure what I’m going to do. I want to head to Stewart Island, but I discovered that it’ll cost me at least 110NZD just for me to take a boat from Bluff to Invercargill. Then, I still have to get to Invercargill, and decide whether I’m staying overnight or not. Oh well, we’ll keep that decision making for tomorrow morning. Till then, take care kids.

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