New Zealand – South island
Here we are, on south island. After a nice crossing through Cook strait. Although north and south island are just few kilometers far, they remains very differents islands. The northern one is mostly hills, where the southern one host few bigs mountains (and some glaciers). But paradoxically the southern island is a bit easier to cycle (ve are following valleys) but the climbs are harder (that’s, when we are not following valley anymore…).
So, we arrive in Picton, from here, we take the western road, then we’ll get down along the coast then cross the south island and get back by the eastern coast…
Almost arrived on south island that we are welcomed by a NZ family, Naomi, Mikael and their two daughter (Courtney et Cushla) and quickly girls adopted us and we are requisitioned to play cards. Our first days in south island are not so quietly, the first valley is a bit boring (80 straight kilometers and headwind) but as soon we leave it, landscapes and back country valley are lovely, and give us back our moral.
As on north island, there is lot of bike trails (MTB) that we use to avoid traffic… Still unadapted to our heavy loaded touring bikes, it remains a good alternative to the heavy traffic of main roads.
In south (as in North) it’s difficult to know the weather forecast, headwind in the morning switch to tailwind in the afternoon (or not…). The weather is a bit capricious, we know that the south west coast was synonim of rain jacket, and we checked it. Hard to describe landscapes on that coast, it was white and rainy. But as soon we leave it, we get nice weather back, and bike trails 🙂
In the course of meetings we adjust our itinerary, and on the way. We met Alice and Jeremy (through Warmshowers) and we realize that Alice was living on the same street as Marion 20 years ago. World is small !!. A bit later we met Toby and Kate, that I met on the road two years earlier, in Uzbekistan (they also are on warmshowers.org). Still some trails and we are back in the north (of south island).
Before leaving, a last preview of what NZ can be… on the night from November 13th to 14th, a earthquake of 7.8 magnitude shake us, it have been at 150km form the place where we were camping. During the night, the feeling is strange, probably more because we were sleeping directly on the floor… It’s a bit like if some people were shaking our tent, during 30 seconds… then we had few replicas during next days. Finaly we don’t had anything, but Picton and Wellington harbor have been damaged.
We’ve been lucky, we are once again hosted by Naomi and Mikael before leaving south island, just perfect to have a good night while outside weather conditions are worst and worst, roads are blocked by landslides or floods. But we had our ship in time. We are going back to Wellington where we find our friends Patrick and Dolores before taking a train to Auckland.
We still have few days there, but Katie and Steven invited us to their christmas party (after that they’ll move to UK to have christmas party with Katie’s family). So, we spend our last days here in joy, good mood and Christmas party…