So how can it be possible that, having arrived in Picton – a sea port and therefore presumably at sea level – the next 20 miles were all downhill?
I have no idea either but I am not complaining. I was in Blenheim in no time thanks to the slight gradient and a fair tail wind. After I had visited the palace I found a bike shop and bought a spare tyre (my rear is looking very worn….my rear TYRE, though actually my rear is also showing wear!) and a spare gear cable (I had to change a cable yesterday) then turned inland to start to work across to the west coast.
At this point the wind strengthened and was coming from dead astern and I flew. The road was uphill (well, rising about 50 feet per mile) but I was cruising at 18-20 mph without breaking sweat. Sadly I have had to stop early as the alternative is a further 50 miles to the next place with a campsite. If the wind changes direction in the morning I won't be happy.
My home for the night is a patch of grass behind the Wairau Valley Tavern. This 'town' has a small church, a public toilet (they really are VERY good!) and…err….a tavern. I get to camp for free in exchange for spending money on my evening refreshments and everyone is happy. I like NZ pubs – they are very 'old school' and blokish. They have a huge open plan saloon, a pool table and a collection of gnarly old geezers muttering into their beer. I am not aware that there is any bar on women coming in but they seem to do the right thing and stay away regardless.
With yesterday's tummy bug and this morning's sea sickness my food input has been mostly food output and I am now starving. I am eagerly waiting for my regulation $20 steak while watching The Bill (circa 1990) on TV. There is a great deal of British TV on the main local channels and British soaps of any description seem to be very popular. 'Corrie' is virtually a religion here!
According to my sat nav I need to average a tad under 60 miles per day for the next 11 days – I am not complacent because there will be some big climbs but at least it feels manageable.
I am not sure if the photo will really capture the big difference in the scenery, it is already starting to be more Mordor than Hobbiton and the Southern Alps are still a long way away.