Coast to coast
Trip Start Oct 12, 2011
74Trip End Aug 07, 2012
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Where I stayed
Coast to coast via Lewis pass.
Day 1 SAT 10TH MAR – 76km to lottery bush (middle of nowhere) at least we know where nowhere is
We set off from Kaikoura after a very leisurely breakfast and packing our panniers properly. We headed down to the beach to dip our hands in the water of the east coast PACIFIC OCEAN and a perfect starting point photo opportunity. Then off we head we are shortly on the inland road to Waiau. Wow what a journey as we leave the large Snowcapped Mountains behind for a beautiful backdrop for our ride. We hit undulating hills throughout very very quiet scenery… there really is nothing here other than landscape for miles
Randomly/fantastically along the way a car with loads of girls in checks my Dan out and just round the corner we have seen they have stopped and behind them is a bottle of beer on the road… Dan gets to it its FREEZING COLD and waves to the girls as they head off!!! We can’t wait till later to have a cold beer – thanks girls, then around the next corner (on a large hill) they have stopped again and another bottle is waiting on the road we both wave and shout thanks!! A really nice reward for a hilly day. But what we really need is water, We set up our tent in a hidden little area called Lottery Bush just off the road after unsuccessfully pitching on top of a bush – we had to take it down again and move after finding a good spot that is hidden from the road and not squashing a bush or animals we settle down for the night
Day 2 - 22KM SUN11TH MAR
After our first hot and sweaty night – there was no wind to cool the tent we headed off to Waiau for breakfast. We decided not to do too much distance as it might be a heavy day to get to Hanmer and Gens knee was not great. Even though it was a Sunday there was a great little café/shop open very early so a great option for breakie but we had already eaten our porridge in the park under a little shelter. There are a few things in Waiau, a motor camp, store, garage, fuel station, library, historic church so a great place to stop for the night if you need. We bought a large bottle of water from the shop as we have not been carrying enough that’s 5 bottles now – especially as there are not many chances to fill up the bottles. As it was so early and not much was open on a Sunday we decided to make tracks along our way so we headed for the little village of Rotherham as it has a freedom camp site (free)
Day 3 MON 12TH MAR
Rotherham to Hanmer Springs – 38km 250m+ height gain
Set off after a massive bowl porridge and gingernuts to the view of low clouds
Day 4 TUE 13TH MAR
A full on Rest day cold wet day, Dan successfully has a cold now and sniffles, so nothing better to do than spend a day in the hot springs, with all the olds cleaning their feet in the pools very nice!.
Day 5 WED 14TH MAR
Hot day, nothing better to do than another day in the springs – we went on some mountain bike tracks into town in the forest which was very fun and pretty scary on thin tires touring bikes but worth it. Later we cooked flapjack which went all over the oven in the shared kitchen nice. In the evening we were joined by two more intrepid cycle tourers these guys however strolled into the kitchen head to toe in goretex, I looked out of the window expecting rain but today the weather was fantastic as it had been all day. We haven’t got all the kit with us but these guys did, even down to the pomegranates and avocados and about every other vegetable under the planet, full bottles of milk, salt pepper, whatever you can think of all in the nicest whitest newest panniers and bikes you can imagine. All I know is that we’ll let the legs do the talking. Against their advice we set off in the wrong direction into a westerly wind im not changing my rout because of a wind that’l change anyway!!
Day 6 THUR 15TH MAR
Hanmersprings to DOC campsite Deer Valley
73km – very strong head wind, undulating to final 500M climb, 8 very hard hours riding
We set off against the will of the Germans (they said to change course because of the head wind), we said we liked a challenge and it wouldn’t be that bad. 5mins into our ride we knew it was going to be a hard day, but we carried on. Stopped and chatted to a guy who had been cycle touring or carbon free travel for 4 years, and just made it to NZ from France pretty cool. Anyway we persevered on up the never-ending valley, only to the delight of the ever changing view. The wind was so bad we had to bike downhill just a hard as on a normal flat, flats felt like a moderate climb and hills were so exhausting, but astonishingly we didn’t get off too much we trudged on a hyper slow speed. With very few road signs or features marked on the maps(which we had 3 maps) it’s hard to know if we are making progress,, at 4pm only 42km done we were exhausted ( it felt like we had done double) but we knew we still had another 30km to do uphill youchhhh. Every time we thought we were getting close we added a few more km’s on. There is not really anywhere to camp to cut the day shorter as it is a national park. The only thing that spurred us on was seeing a touring bike on the back of a pick up (they had given up and hitched) and the thought of a free legal camp sight!! We had to boil water out of the stream as we had completely ran out and we carried 6 litres today up hill
Day 7 FRI 16TH MAR
25km deer park – Marble hill DOC campsite via lewis pass
Very short day today as we need to recover after yesterday, so a last min push over the pass 907metres, Dan climbed it in middle ring at the front awesome!! The top however was about as rewarding as an empty sweet shop. No sign with hight, no view, no real ‘pass feeling’ (as we are used to in the lakes) but we did it. Got to the top finally and what a descent. Dan only got over took once and we raced cars in their slip stream, a good reward 8km downhill. Arrived at Maua springs and enjoyed a coffee cake and tea before a dip in the thermal pools to heat up the joints. Great day. Headed off another 9km to the camp site on the Alpine fault line, where you can walk over from one plate to another. And its 200 years overdue for a movement which is usually 6m horizontal and 1m vertical
Day 8 SAT 17TH MAR
60km Marble hill DOC/springs junction – slab hut creek DOC /Reefton 3.5 hours
Today we woke to find our friends from wales had 2 laptops and both their passports stolen from the front seat of their car during the night as they slept in a tent. Couldn’t be more gutted for them especially as we had all our bags outside the tent and both bikes unlocked!! We are so very very lucky, we’ll be extra careful with our stuff from now on especially at sites so close to the main roads!! Well today we had the enjoyment of a café breakfast including chips and sausage roll (cheapest on the menu) this was because we had to pack up in a hurry as the sand flies were literally hammering our tent down in the morning!! The ride today having over 35km downhill was a nice change after the hardship of the other day. The main climb came after spring’s junction to Rahu saddle at 690m nice climb followed by what seams like never ending decent our favourite. Our hearts went out to another guy going up the other way, nether the less this is the direction the book tells you to go we went the wrong way but I recon a little head wind (or perhaps a lot) for the ride we have had was so much more rewarding, East to West climbs shorter steeper and interesting while descents more gradual and longer, with better views. Just before making camp at the picturesque slab creek hill camp, the town of Reefton a gold and quartz mining town is just an awesome stop off point to grab supplies and water eat at the café’s and drink lots of well-earned coffee, it’s also the first town to get street lighting in the southern hemisphere cool
Day 9, 18th march
Slab hill DOC – Greymouth 70Km A little rainy
Set off nice an early today after a peaceful night in the camp site to a nice mornings ride, a few steepish short uphill’s to keep us switched on but otherwise it was downhill/flat all the way. The rain set in about 2 hours to destination but we emergency poncho’d up and the rain was so appalled with our attire it stopped just in time for a flat tire. Our first. We were biking down a hill and a car flew past us and we heard an almighty bang – we thought it was the car back firing or someone was shooting, and carried on. Played Tomas the tank engine for a while to hide from the rain in an original steam engine – by the road and as soon as we set off Gen felt sluggish and it wasn’t her legs. DAM!! But like we said the rain suddenly cessed so we could do the repair in relative peace and comfort. Gen was so happy her breaks worked so well after Dan had cleaned the rims of the wheels with his hands dirty rim break bike!! We eventually got going again and moved to a quieter road as all the tankers were coming out in force and the road was getting smaller and in general they tended not to pull out of their lane – they were too close for comfort. The quitter road snaked its way along Coal Valley – 50% of New Zealands coal came from this valley and has had 2 horrendous mine accidents one in 1884 or something where 65 people died and one in 2010, where 30 people died. We arrived in Greymouth very tired and sore after a long ride today but the sun came out for us. We soon found a great hostel Duke backpackers and bar, They offer soup in the evenings, bread and jam for breaky and tea and coffee all free!!! nice – a purple building. Went for a Mcdonalds as that was all that was open on a Sunday. Burgers for the legs. Walked to the water!! We made it!!! Coast to coast East to West a total of 364km. takes our total on these bikes to well over 500km!!