Sorry I haven't written for so long, I have been away from internet access and busy cycling. We are now in Reefton, the "city of light" because it was the first place to have street lighting. It is a small town (which means village by UK standards) but does have a computer and shops so we are having a rest day before heading over the Lewis Pass. This is one of two passes between the east and west of New Zealand and is one of the things that Nancy and I have been building up to over the last two months. I am scared but very excited. If I need even more motivation we are then going to stop in Hanmer Springs which has hot springs and pools and a spa to relax in!
Since I last wrote we have been cycling up the west coast which is the rainy coast. We have been soaked multiple times but the rain can often make the scenery even more stunning so I am trying to remind myself that the rain is part of the beauty! There are lots of signs in tourist spots saying "This is a rain forrest - of course it is raining" and similar! One of the brilliant things about the rain and forest is the amazing waterfalls. I love waterfalls anyway but the ones here are out of this world. We cycled one day from Fox glacier to Franz Joeseph which was only 25km but over about 700m total in hills (up and then down and then up and then down etc) in torrential rain. The amount of rain is something I have never seen in the UK, it is like a bucket being poured onto the ground, there are no droplets, only sheets. The water was running off the road and I was trying to decide if I could swim well enough to save myself or Nancy if the water got deeper... Anyway, the water was spurting out of the ground and waterfalls in a way I have never seen before. Gallons of water were coming out of the rock, I assume between porous and non pourous layers, under so much pressure that they were leaving the rock horizontally rather than vertically like normal. I was happy that we were only doing a 25km cycle but it was amazing!
We have also done the Haast Pass! For anyone that doesn't know, Nancy showed me a picture of the Haast Pass (a snow capped mountain) in September saying that she wanted us to cycle it. It was in a book given to her by her Trailwalker team the year before. In normal fashion I said ok and expressed reservations about it being possible to cycle high enough to reach snow and survive. Well, there is no snow because it is summer here but we did it! It wasn't actually as hard as the highest sealed road in New Zealand which we had done the week before but it is brilliant to have done it. We also managed to do about 4 days when there were no opt out places to stay which was an achievement. Until then there was usually somehwere to stay if we didn't make the full planned distance each day but along the west coast there was only one campsite every 80 ish km and we made them all, which was good as I don't know what the alternative would have been!
The sandflies continue to be a problem but there is not a lot that anyone suggests to do about them. I get very annoyed when we stop every hour for me to do a blood test and have a snack and they wait about 10 seconds before decending. However, when we are on the move they don't tend to land on us. It is a good incentive not to slow down too much on the hills because if you slow to walking pace (I am capable of cycling at 3.8km/hr up steep hills which is slower than walking pace) they will land and bite but it is not possible to swat them off when trying to hold a fully laden bike upright and cycle. I think I am building up some resistance though as they stop itching after a couple of hours rather tahn days now!
I am now going to go to the supermarket to stock up for the next couple of days before we get to civilisation again and before it starts raining. Then we are going to go out for dinner. I love being on holiday!