We are in Invercargill. All the promotional material for the area has quotes such as:
"I never realised that there was so much to do in Invercargill"
"I wish I had discovered Invercargill years ago"
It is fine but not the most amazing town in the world. However we are staying in a hostel with lovely beds and there are supermarkets and shops and it is a great place for a rest day. The last couple of days have been tiring. We left Dunedin and did a short (30km) day along the most beautiful cycle ride I have ever done. We are on a route at the moment called the South Scenic Route and there was long sandy beach after long sandy beach, followed by beautiful headlands and rolling countryside. The weather was perfect (not too hot and not too cold and not raining or windy) and we had just had twos days off - nearly.
We arrived at the campsite and were almost the only people staying there which was strange. A lot of people seem to leave their caravans in one fixed place so there were caravans around but not in use. We then went for a walk along the beach which was lovely. I was wearing all the clothes I have with me as it was cold at this point. It stayed cold and windy all night (this was a common theme for the last 4 nights so I have now bought a thermal top to sleep in) so we didn't get that much sleep.
The next day started with a big hill that we could see from the campsite. This is never the best way to start a day, it is good to have about 1/2 an hour of flat cycling before anything too challenging to wake your legs up and remember how wonderful cycling is. However we attacked the hill, passing a man who could see we were working hard. He said, smilingly, that it was only 5km more uphill. I smiled and thought he was joking but he was right. It was 5km of up! Although hard it was a great way to start the day and going down the other side, with a panoramic view of a lake, was wonderful. There is something amazing about going down a long hill when you know that you have used your own effort to get yourself up the hill beforehand.
We then did two 80km days which were beautiful and a lot of fun. We were cycling though the Catlins which are rain forest like and have waterfalls and stunning trees. They have lots of rolling hills too but we were doing pretty well. We got to Curio Bay and camped in a campsite which was packed because of a national holiday. It was beautiful and our tent was surrounded by flax. We also got to see a seal (about 1m away from Nancy who is hard enough to swim in the sea in the cold before camping all night but I am not) and dolphins playing in the waves along the beach which was amazing. They were just there when we were on the beach which was really cool and even more fun because it was unexpected.
After Curio Bay we decided to cycle to Slope Point, the most southerly place on South Island. This was hard! It was along a road with lots of hills that was not sealed. There are lots of roads in New Zealand that are not sealed but we usually avoid them as our bikes aren't designed for gravel and when they are fully loaded it is nearly impossible to get them to go up without digging themselves into the ground. However, having crossed the 45th parallel a few days before I really wanted to go South to the nearest point to Antarctica. We got there and I have the pictures to prove it! We then walked/cycled/dragged bikes back to the road. I also have pictures to show the point where the road became sealed again. This was a momentous achievement! I had also gone quite low so the next 40km were a big achievement too! I am pretty proud of the day all round. We ended up in Invercargill and had curry for dinner which was a great end to the day!