The Westport Galaxy

Wow, I forgot what it’s like to go faster than 13 MpH

Ok, this is a new one, bike loaded in the hull of the Intercity bus Nelson to Fox Glacier and soon to be on my way to Westport.

When I woke up this morning the weather was not terrible, but not great either. After a bit of weighing things, the decision really could be only one, the bus. There are 60 miles to Westport and it is a nightmarish undulating road that would take more than 7 hours cycling which in turn would translate into more than 10 hours on the go, and that’s being very optimistic.

There were two possible alternative as there is a camp 20 miles from Murchison and another one 20 miles before Westport. Had the bus not taken the bike it would have had been one of the two, probably the second, and then on to Westport, tomorrow.

I’m pleased though I got on the bus, I’m gambling there is nothing between here and Westport to see better than what I have seen between Hope Saddle and Murchison already. I also am very keen to get hold of a new mobile phone as soon as possible. It is amazing how naked one feels once learned to rely on this technology. Perhaps, as part of the development of my cycle touring career I will shed bit by bit all the pieces of technology I rely on and, in a few years, I will graduate just to a paper map and a handful of homing pigeons.

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I’m going to get into a hostel in Westport today. I want to store my stuff safe while I go out to get the phone and, at the same time, I’d like a good night sleep as I have two probably fairly though days ahead of me.

Tomorrow I want to get to Punakaiki and camp, the day after to Hokitika where I will probably spend 4 or 5 days of enforced rest while I await for some sort of turn in the weather. There appear to be a couple of nasty weather fronts that are heading this way. In fact the two days in front of me might be a bit wet too, but I was told that Hokitika is a nice place to spend some time, so I’ll make do with a day of wet cycling in exchange for a nicer place to spend the following few days.

As there is little to do now and indeed the bus journey is not depriving me of anything I had not seen before let me tell you a bit about yesterday. In the end it turned into quite a nice day. Despite my advancing years I still mix well with youngsters, probably quite amused by the Santa Claus looks mixed with the tattoos.

Picture of me reading taken by Tim
Picture of me reading taken by Tim

There was little to see in Murchison so I spent the day in the lounge of the hostel socialising with the other people that were also there as the weather stopped them in their tracks. Four of them, whose names I did not get apart from Tim, were aiming for a two days hike and had to abandon at the starting point, then there were three older kiwi, whom I later shared the dorm with, who, I think, had just finished a trek, and finally a Chilean chap that was there to fly fish the Buller River.

Tim and his partner, two of the unsuccessful hikers were from Colone, and the other two were a couple of young girls just fresh from army training in Israel. They explained to me that New Zealand is one of the three destination for Israeli gap year youth, the one preferred by the, as they put it, “Nerds”. The other two are South America for the “Conformists” and South east Asia for the “Trendies”. This goes some way to explain why I’m seeing so many of them in such a short space of time.

The conversation was stimulating and, later on, we all got engrossed into a set of wooden puzzles that are obviously there to trap any visitor in staying longer just to see if they can get them completed. In the evening, after a slice of the hostel provided delicious chocolate cake we started, in a very kiwi inspired way to watch The lord of the Rings extended version. I did not even make it with Frodo to Rivendel as I knew I wanted to be up and ready for the bus so I left the rest of the group and I went to bed.

The bus ride was fine, I don’t feel I missed much apart from some pain and misery in the innumerable steep ascents. There were a couple of stunning gorge pictures that were asking to be taken but I did not have the camera handy and I also do not like to take pictures from behind glasses.

I had a brief chat with a bloke from Blackburn who is doing pretty much what I am doing. I’m saying pretty much as the bus seems to feature more prominently in his plans than in mine. What attracted me to the conversation was the fact that he was doing the thing on a Brompton bike.

i centre in Westport, look close.
i centre in Westport, look close.
Yes what you see is his bike, but without the front bag.
Yes what you see is his bike, but without the front bag.

I have been thinking about Brompton bikes a lot lately. If I really move to this kind of riding in which every so often I move back to base it would make life remarkably easier. Also the securing of the bike and the belonging would vastly gain from the switch. The Brompton front bag not only would be big enough to accommodate all the valuables but it has a strap so it would dub as a day bag for when the bike can be left behind. I think next time I’m in Europe I might just have to borrow one and give it a spin to see if it is a viable replacement for my bulky bike.

The town is a lot smaller than I imagined.

I am now in Westport, staying in the Brazil’s Hostel BBH, I’m quite impressed with the BBH hostels so far. This one has less of an intimate feel to it and I think it caters more to surfing community.

I actually have the impression that the “staff” are just surfer kids that get the lodge for free in exchange for some work in the morning to tidy the place up. It is nevertheless very clean and it has made me think that perhaps this might be a worthwhile activity that I could entertain the future as a, sort of, lifestyle business.

Reception in surf paradise
Reception in surf paradise

The room was not ready so I dumped the bags and went into town to take care of the business of the day. I now am the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy S5 phone.

I am not yet used to the different menu settings but I have already loaded up most of the stuff I need and it is charging. A bonus of this new phone is that I now have a kiwi socket usb transformer which means I will have less problems charging all my usb 5 amp devices without the need for the heavy adapter.

All done, just how I like it.
All done, just how I like it.

it took me a little to get it set up but at least now I have all the apps I need and I can restart the ride with confidence.

All that done and a little food ingested I was ready for a little trot through town. As usual it took very little to get around and in nearly the only thing there was to do was admire the structure of the main street, which reminded me the town in far west movies.

Some nice buildings in the border town.
Some nice buildings in the border town.

I got some minor shopping done too, AA batteries, and invested in a vitamin boost in the shape of the Twister juice. This mix of apple, carrot, spinach, mint, pineapple and cucumber was just a zest bomb and compensated for the complete lack of anything green in last night meat fest.

Funny thing is that in the same place, next to the till they were selling the less healthy looking pizza I have seen in a while, go figure.

Great juices, I wonder why don't we do them when at home.
Great juices, I wonder why don’t we do them when at home.
Not so great pizza, but an opportunity to stretch my new phone's capabilities.
Not so great pizza, but an opportunity to stretch my new phone’s capabilities.

Not much more to do once I put to rest this post, might just get the ukulele out.

Can't seem to stop taking these postcard pictures.
Can’t seem to stop taking these postcard pictures.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Cathy says:

    Phone twins. I just got a new S5 too. 🙂

  2. Cathy says:

    Can think of some great beaches to set up your new lifestyle business. You be in charge of the bar, I’ll be in charge of the hammocks.

  3. Andrew Clowes says:

    Murchison – a white water rafting capital…and dangerous too! Too bad you took the bus 🙂

  4. Shirley Harrison says:

    I don’t mind a bus, from time to time…

  5. julca says:

    Va beh,ma non vale! Li è tutto stupendo!!!

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