I am now in Christchurch and survived the two hottest days on record (according to two people in a shop in a place called Cheviot ) whilst cycling two 60km days including the vertical hill! I am very happy about this but have found out how exhausting doing stuff in that kind of heat and getting up at 5 am to avoid doing stuff in that kind of heat is!
I realised that I have not been telling you about the places that we are staying so I thought I would do that. For those of you who said I would last two days cycle touring and then that we would book ourselves into one hostel and do day trips I would like to say that we are doing well camping. For people for whom camping means staying in a tent with no running water or toilet we are not achiving that (yet) but we are staying at motor parks or hostels that accept tents and have kitchen facilities if we want them. It is amazing what a hot bowl of porridge will help with in the morning! In the next couple of days we are going to do some DOC (Department of Conservation) camping where there is a toilet and running water only so that will be a new experience and one that could be challenging in the rain as the tent is no where near big enough for cooking in. We are now equipped with enough light wieght cooking equipment and food that it should be doable but I will let you know how it goes!
Most of the places that we have stayed have been lovely, we have had a tent site where you could see a snow capped mountain if you got out of the tent and moved 4 meters sideways (onto a sloping bit of ground), somewhere where you could just hear the sea when there was no one talking, a field where there were two other people staying and no utensils/cutlery/crockery in the kitchen that I had been promised existed and my favourite, the Peddler's Rest. The Peddler's Rest was in a farm and was a house with a kitchen, bunk room and twin room, showers and toilets. It was run by a family who lived in the farm and farmed the land around and I felt like it was a Prairie house. The kitchen was brilliantly equipped and you could buy eggs and onions from the people along with a range of stuff that didn't go off. The thing that I loved most was that there was this house (with windows and doors but not really fully closeable) but Nancy and I and the other person staying there were all camping outside the house. This was perfectly acceptable and cost about 7GBP per night but none of us said: "I know what, there are plently of beds for all of us with no one else in, for an extra 3GBP per night, lets sleep on beds".
We are now in Christchurch and staying in a converted jail. It was a jail until 1999 and then closed because it is now too near the city due to the expansion of Christchurch. It was vacant for several years and there were plans to turn it into a brothel (legal in New Zealand) or a warehouse. However a couple bought it in 2006 and have turned it into a hostel. The rooms all have very comfortable bunk beds in and the toilets are clean but prison sized. The dining area is just like prisons have always looked on tv. The ironic thing is that the best and most comfortable night's sleep I have had for a while was in a prison!
The swim that I talked about in my last blog entry did not happen, it was more paddling as it had gotten cold by the time we got to the beach. However, on one of the really hot days we were recommended to go to a riverside shady spot where we sheltered out of the sun and we got to get in the water and be carried about 80m before getting out again. This was brilliant fun but the locals all had swim boots on which meant that they could get out much more gracefully than us. It was perfect for cooling down on a hot day though and showed just how pwerful the river is as the bed was about 80% dry. In spring it would be a raging torrent.
Tomorrow (subject to there not being a typhoon which was mentioned by the same person as the one in Cheviot who told me it had been the hottest day on record) we are going to head into the Mountains. We are going to cycle uphill for 80km, down a gorge and up again and then down for 80km. We are hoping to do this in 2 days and stay in the gorge tomorrow night but this is very weather dependant. I am really excited to be facing a full-on mountain tomorrow though.We are then going to stay in a place called Geraldine which is a great name I think.
Lots of love,