In New Zealand sheep outnumber people by 9 to 1. This says more about how few people there are than how many sheep there are but, none-the-less, 36 million is still a lot of sheep. I think the industry really took off when they realised that, apart from the obvious, sheep could also be exploited for their meat and wool!
Of the population of about 4 million people, approximately 5.5 million are ‘travelling’ (working behind a bar in Earls Court) meaning that the country is actually devoid of human life and the sheep run the place. When you arrive in New Zealand you have to prove that you are not a carrier of scabies and do not have any mint sauce in your luggage.
However , I have so far seen precious few of them. Cows, on the other hand, are a very different matter. Everywhere I have been there have been fields full of them and many dairy farms. Now, I don’t want you to read too much into this, but they are very pretty cows! So far I just enjoy waving to them as I cycle past but give it another week and who knows?
Another creature of note in New Zealand is the bee. I’m not sure if experts in the UK are still wondering about where all the bees have gone but I have the answer…..New Zealand. Every time I stop for even a moment I am immediately surrounded by bees, attracted to the bright colours on my cycling jersey. They don’t do me any harm but they are a sodding nuisance and I always worry that if I brush one off it will sting me.
Anyway, the cycling. I enjoyed a nice evening at the campsite last night. Amongst my fellow campers were:
– a bunch of Merican college kids who were having an awesome time enjoying all the awesomeness on NZ
– some backpackers who are waking top to bottom. Most nights they stay in mountain huts and they all now have mad beards and a faraway stare (especially the girl)
– a motorcycling Brit who now lives in Dundein where he helps conserve skinks (during the hour I chatted to him I cleverly engineered the conversation so that I could find out what a skink is…..some sort of little lizardy thing apparently)
This morning I had a leisurely start and for the first hour there was a gratifying lack of wind. Later the wind picked up again but never too strong and I was following a gentle down slope which carried me to Murchison, a fair sized town where I had a laze, did some inter-webbing then pressed on to Reefton…..a regulation 60 miles. I am staying in a lovely packs packers hostel and for £15 I have a nice bed, hot bath, clean clothes and a kitchen to cook my evening meal in. Apart from the wind the weather is perfect with clear skies and highs of around 25c.
Tomorrow I aim to get to Greymouth, largest town on the west coast and jumping off point for the glaciers. Time to get cooking!