January 11, 2006

1/11/06 St Arnaud NZ

92.4 km / 221 km total

Didn't really get a chance to see Nelson, but not sure if I would want to. It's a big tourist town. One of the guys at the bike shop says the population doubles during the summer. We rode by some pretty impressive beaches but didn't stop.

We decided to head to St Arnaud today. It's the same amount of climbing, but shorter steadier climb and it's off the main highway. Looked to be another sunny day as we rode out of town.

George & Mike take a break in the shade

If it wasn't for the wind, the steady climb would have been easy. We stopped off in Brightwater to get some supplies in case we have to cook tonight. This is the town where physicist Rutherford was born. The highlight of town for me was the automated public restroom.

One last flat kilometer before we start climbing

Mostly it was farmland we rode by. First vineyards and such, with pastures here and there for cattle and sheep. Still pretty sunny and warm when we stopped in Belgrove for an early lunch. Had fish and chips. Must be an acquired taste.

This is where we get off busy Hwy T and start climbing more to St Arnaud. A pretty easy climb for a few kilometers, but one section was so steep, I had to get off and push. It would have only been a 'hard' climb, but the strong headwinds made it 'grueling'. By now, the skies were getting overcast again.

Finally, a spot out of the wind

Kind of overcast but great views anyway

Our day was almost 90% climbing, somewhere around 900 meters total. Once we got on the Kerr's Hill Road, we were in a deep valley with mountain tips towering overhead, some not visible because they were in the clouds. Up here it was mostly cattle and timber.

When we made it to the highway, it was getting pretty cold. My bare feet in the bike sandals nearly froze on the descent into town.

Not much to the town but a hostel, lodge and gas station. We tried to eat at the lodge restaurant but you needed a reservation. Yes, out here in the middle of nowhere. So we grabbed something easy to cook at the gas station. Got signed in at the Nelson Lakes National Park office two minutes before they closed for the night. But our campsite was another four kilometers down the road.

Our campsite was much like you'd see in a State Park in the USA. We seemed to meet all sorts of folks up at the bathroom/showerhouse. A couple from Dunnedin, a father and his boys from Christchurch, and a few others who gave us a hearty hello.

We're all pretty tired. Discovered I'm sunburned in several places I missed with the sunscreen. By the time I set up camp, showered and began cooking, it was after 9PM. My stove leaked real bad, so George lent me his. I'm sure when my head hits the pillow, I”ll fall asleep instantly.