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And the dirty old track, was the…

It’s good to be good!

Did not know what to do this morning, It did rain a bit in the night, but I slept like a log, and I was really eager to go. The washing I did yesterday had not dried properly so I dumped it in the tumble dryer and bought myself 45 minutes of spare time to, once again, check the weather forecast. I was none the wiser.

Cathy was on Facebook and we had a chat, after that I decided that, being  the weather I could see with my eyes so good, it was not a day to just sit in the camp with not much to do.

I had breakfast, toast and Nutella, collected my beautifully dry clothes, packed up and left.

Hokitiki Presbyterian church
Hokitiki Catholic church, even down here they have to overdo it.

I thought it was a shame to leave Hokitiki without getting into town so I made a detour with the bike and cycled around for a while. There was not much to see, but what was there I saw. I guess I could have gone to the Jade experience and learned how the polish the green stone, but I’ll leave that for the next time I’m around.

The road out of Hokitiki was much like the road into Hokitiki and in zero time I got the first 5 miles of the ride under the belt. I was fairly confident that even my enlarged plan for the day would have been over with in the early afternoon, so I started what was going to be a succession of scenic and other stops.

First I turned into the road for Lake Mahinapua.

The tunnel to Lake Mahinapua. i can’t get over how thick the vegetation is.

Once on the lake front I noticed that a heron had just landed so I started taking pictures with the zoom extended to max. I then proceeded getting closer and closer but in the end there was water between the bird and me so the pictures below are the best I could master.

There is a sanctuary some miles south of where I am staying tonight, this one, being some 60 miles north, must have had a day off.

White heron, they told me they are indigenous to this region.
Not so polite though, he was walking away.

The lakefront, as well as being quite stunning is also the location of a DOC Standard site. I went around it a little to see what the facilities were like, this, as I only have camped so far in DOC Basic sites, was a good opportunity to see what a standard site is like. It looked super, with kitchenette and basins as well, and to prove the fact that this must have been a good one, there was a rather large complement of campers, caravans and tents.

Lakefront, very beautiful and full of birds.

After a good drink and a checkup on the map I set sail again but it was not long before I was pausing. 3 miles after the lake I saw in the distance a cycle-tourist coming in the opposite direction. I waved and he took off his earpieces so I decided to slow down and he cut across the road to come and talk to me.

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It did not take me long, even if his english was really good, to pin point his provenance, he was Italian. Thin, fit  and, as I discovered, in his early thirtis, this chap from Verona was here in New Zealand since December on a year long work visa. He told me that after University he had spend the last seven years traveling and working in many parts of the world including South America and that now, after having worked for a few weeks in the east coast of the south island he was cycling around it to get to Nelson and find some more work. He did not think he was going to stay past June but he told me that the cycle south was well worth the pain, and the shape of rain, that I was going to endure.

While we were talking another cycle-tourist (Dan) approached going in my same general direction and indeed saying he was aiming for my same resting spot in Harihari for the night. He left and I wound up the conversation by giving the Italian lad one of my cards. I sincerely hope he writes me a note as I did not even got his name and it would be fun to hook up for a glass of wine when I’m back in Italy.

Gold rush town.
A bit of extra energy with atomic colouring.

In another few miles I got to a town I did not expect, I guess I’ve been so focused in looking at the accommodation that I have not paid any attention to the towns where there was none.

Anyways, Ross grabbed my attention and it was almost time for second breakfast so I decided to stop. Apparently a 3.1 Kg gold nugget was found here in 1909 and the whole town seems now to live on the benefit of that fact to the day, there even is a gold mining experience place.

I had an excellent coffee and a slice of cake that could keep me going for a week or so. I was happy to carb up as around the corner from Ross there was a junction where the Google map advised me to get out of the state highway and to follow alternative route.

Does it not just look like it would be a gold rush town?

Google got me in troubles before with these off piste suggestions. It is as if the Google riding directions are not designed for touring bikers but for mountain bikers. I chose to follow the suggestion anyway and in the end did not regret it.

What if something happens to me out here?

To start with it looked like the road to nowhere with no appreciable benefit other than being fairly flat and with little or no traffic. It was not sealed though and that made the riding a bit slower. I thought it would be good training for when I get to the top of the north island where, they tell me, most roads are not sealed.

After a little while I got to a very interesting spot where there appeared to be a large lagoon surrounded by all sorts of thick vegetation. As I approached a brace of ducks moved away and shortly after I saw a bird I had not seen the like of before, blue neck red head and the shape of an elongated chicken.

Next to Shearer Swamp

The place appears to be Shearer Swamp a large wetland of great ecological value  of which, in my opinion, more should be made of.

I continued on the path and after the road took a 60º turn to the south it proceeded straight for almost three miles with the only company being the accompanying telegraph and electricity posts you can see in the image at the top.

Some people have a great sense for garden decorations.

After that the detour ended and I was back on the main road. The road started climbing too just for the last two miles towards Lake Lanthe which was the original planned end of today’s effort. Just as an aside the change from this otherwise splendid DOC site to the place I’m staing in Harihari is only due to constant fight against the mixed weather conditions.

When I got to the lake I positioned myself to take a good shot of it, I wanted to do something interesting, like risking to get all mi gear into the lake, but to do so I had to wait in a queue of Japanese people taking what looked like a “multify” with a remote control stick.

What is the name of a selfie with multiple people in it.

In the end I managed but not without finding more people wanting to take pictures of the bike and indeed enquiring on the functioning of the solar panel.

It was a nice spot, I would have been happy there if the weather was better. As it turned out I made the right choice as not long after I got into the place I am, which incidentally has a roof, it started to rain and it has not stopped since.

this could have been my view in the morning and no, the bike did not end in the lake.

After I left the spot and started cycling south I had not done more than 500 yards when I saw something in the middle of my side of the road. I stopped and picked it up and it was a slightly scratched but other wise perfectly operational iPhone.

I checked if it was working and it was, then I checked if it was locked and it was not. I tried to look in the call log to get a clue of the owner but it was obviously owned by a Chinese as the majority of the characters were from that alphabet.

I was a bit lost as to what to do as I could not just ring a random number and hope for the best then I remembered that there were two Chinese couples by the lake so I turned around and went down there to see if they could help me solve the problem of who owned the device.

I met the first couple as they were leaving the parking and they said that they were from the mainland and this phone was owned by someone from Taiwan. So I went down to the parking and approached the other couple. The moment they saw me holding the device they both positively beamed, I guess it was theirs.

One half of the lovely couple from Taiwan

They thanked me profusely and asked me where I found it, I explained and thanking them for their thanking me departed.

I did not made much of it in the following miles other than basking a little in the warm and fuzzy feeling of having done the right thing and having been instrumental in bringing what must have been some difficult moments to a positive conclusion.

However they must have though about it more as not 4 miles from Harihari I saw them parked on the side of the road ahead of me waving me down. They had a little bag of Chinese foodstuff largely rice based and very light. He explained to me that he wanted to give me a token of their appreciation but he realised that weight was an issue for me as he himself cycled all the way around Japan one or two years ago.

We had a little chat where they told me that they were here on honeymoon, I congratulated, we took some pictures and then we all left for our respective destinations.

Ah! they also got a calling card so if they mail me and I go to Taiwan I’ll make sure I catch up with them.

Other half of the couple and the actual phone owner.

There was little road left for me to do to get to the Hotel, just enough to cross the bridge on the Wanganui river. I am getting close to glacier land and the first sign is the water in rivers is turning that very light almost ice colour looking.

Might stop two nights in Harihari as the weather tomorrow is hell but the day after is glacier day with both Franz Josef and Fox.


In the m/hotel I found Dan that by now was relaxed and checking his mail. We did not have dinner together but after dinner we had a long chat about cycling, working and living in London, banking, the UK economy, the next general election and all the things Brits feel like talking about when they are on the other side of the world. we’re not that sad really, just homesick sometimes. On the whole a very nice chap.

Time to go to bed now, much later than my usual, but I’ll leave you with the song I could not get out of my head in this far west like day, and especially while riding on the dirty old track with the telegraph posts.

2 thoughts on “And the dirty old track, was the…”

  1. Hi Alex,

    what an incredible adventure you’re having? I know it must be hard work at times though. Seeing your pictures on NZ reminds me of when I was last there in 2006, hiring a camper van and driving round both islands for a month. Probably my favourite country and favourite people in the world.

    P.S. Watch out for the ‘Black flies’ along the west coast – they have a real appetite for human blood.

    be safe


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