So, I extracted maximum possible value from my nice hotel room. The fluffy white towels were left grey and sodden, the little sachets of coffee and milk were either consumed or stolen, I used both sides of the bed and all the pillows and I may have left a bit of a mark where I oiled my chain.
This morning I availed myself of the inclusive breakfast. This was only 'continental' (does that term apply down under I wonder?) but it is surprising how much cereal, toast, croissant and coffee you can consume when it is laid out for you. Two vaguely interesting snippets from the TVNZ breakfast show:
1/ the government has announced that 12 Christchurch schools will be closed because of declining numbers as families leave the city for somewhere safer
2/ Richard Briars got a full 5 minute obit – I told you they like their British TV!
Thanks to my hard work yesterday I was only required to do 50 miles today, heading inland up the Haast Valley. I haven't really commented on South Island scenery, mainly because it is pretty much a given that it is fantastic, but today really was gorgeous! At the head of the valley I had to climb Haast Pass, an 1900 foot swine of a hill, but the views from the top made it all worth while. For the last 3 days along the west coast the weather has been cold and cloudy with a lot of mist but as soon as I reached the pass the weather cleared and I now have full sun and temperatures of around 30 degrees C. South Island is stuck in a heatwave/drought and I am very grateful for it – I am told that when it rains here it is measured in feet not inches.
I doubt the photo will do the views from my campsite justice. I am surrounded by magnificent hills and snow-capped peaks. My choice of accommodation was very simple, between Haast (where I started this morning) and Wanaka (a further 50 miles on) there is this campsite…..Absolutely nothing else. In terms of planning a cycling trip this is pretty much as remote as Highway 50 (the loneliest road in America) was.
I was settled in camp by 2pm so did a few chores than lay in the sun to give my eyelids a careful check. I was awoken by the arrival of a neighbour. Greg is a freelance sheep shearer who spends the winter in Oz making big bucks and the summer just bumming around South Island spending them. He exited his car with a beer in one hand and immediately offered me one. I gratefully accepted and he opened the passenger side door to show a pile of empties about a foot deep. He rummaged around and found a live one for me but I reckon he had drunk close to a dozen on his drive to the campsite……certainly the glassy eyes and slur are consistent with a fair session. While we chatted he drank 3 more then hopped back in his car to go and visit a rock pool a few miles up the road. I am very glad that we are sharing a campsite and not the road!
My friend Greg has confirmed that the Maori are, indeed, mostly absent from South Island. His explanation is quite simple….'it gets f@&£ing cold down here in winter mate'.
As I write this I am hoping that they manage to restore electricity in time to cook me my dinner. Last night it was expensive room and cheap dinner and tonight I intend to reverse things but someone has demolished an electricity pylon down the valley (possibly Greg?) and they are working to fix it. The power company reckoned about 3 pm………it is now 5:30.
Tomorrow will be another short day. I have 4 days to do the remaining 220 miles so there is no point rushing – I am headed to Wanaka, a tourist town at the foot of Lake Wanaka.