Bike Odyssey
New Zealand 2004

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Journal for 25-Feb-2004 : Westport

Quick and relatively easy riding to Greymouth. The single lane bridges just a touch tricky. They have a train line down the middle.

Greymouth not exactly the most beautiful town in New Zealand. Mostly a ramshackle collection of warehouses. The river is rather nice now the wharfs have been decommissioned. I've no idea how they ever got ships in over the sand bar.

It was a very nice day, with a hint of tailwind, so we decided to push on while the getting was good, even though it was nearly noon.

The scenery along the coast was bloody brilliant. The road hugged the coast for nearly 20ks en route to Punakaiki, with lots of magnificent views of the coastal cliff formations and thunderous grey surf.

The Punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes rather nice, and even more poopular. Thousands of tourists cramming round the walkway getting blowhole spray all over them.

Our Lonely Planet cycling guide didn't bother with a height profile for this leg, and described the route as "gently undulating". Undulating yes, gentle no. In fact there was about 600m of climbing between Punakaiki and Charleston we were not expecting. The strengthening tailwind made the flat bits pretty easy. The trouble was there weren't any flat bits.

Charleston might have been a good stop to stop (we got there at 6pm), but we'd committed the cycle tourist's cardinal sin of booking ahead at Westport. The Charlestown pub had a sign "don't ask to have your water bottles filled as the answer will be NO". Their patrons would clearly rather cyclists not block their road either, especially when they are trying to drive home pissed.

It was very late as we approached Westport, a smallish town on the coast just up from Cape Foulwind. Fortunately enough this stretch was reasonably flat and we flew along that foulwind up our tailpipes.

We're getting a bit sick of Kiwi drivers. Traffic in NZ is pretty light, not all that impatient but very often pretty careless. It all stems from the well known Kiwi trait of having inbred sheep shit for brains. In a not untypical example today a car came up behind us. Rather than turn the wheel to steer his car around us, the driver decided to lean his body away from us instead.

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