“Only those who risk going too far will possibly find out how far one can go” T. S. Elliot
Today I raced all over Dunedin looking at old buildings and climbed over the Otago Peninsula, just because. Over the city hung grey clouds and light drizzle. It was hardly a day for cycling, but I can’t sit still, there is too much to see.
In only a few days I have cycled over 610 km, (172km of which was on gravel roads), hiked 125km and kayaked 25km. This holiday was planned on a whim with a very ambition schedule, but it has paid off in buckets. A few of the highlights:
There were the character building days like my first 170kms; and the 115km to Queenstown via the Erie plains to Walter Peak Station in awful weather, 85km of it on gravel, fording rivers, herding cattle, battling the wind, mud and cow shit, fixing punctures in a downpour, scary bulls intent on having a stand off with me, freezing temperatures that had me teetering on the edge of hyperthermia, my hands useless with cold, ripping my food packaging open with my teeth and sucking out the contents like a savage animal, until I no longer had the strength or energy to get up the slightest rise on my bike. Those last 12kms to Walter Peak Station felt like the longest and most miserable 12kms of my life.
There were the interesting moments like being stalked and followed around by the local weirdo in Ranfurly, and that creepy Italian in the Dunedin backpackers who kept touching me; or being attacked by two Oyster Catchers that had me tumbling off the rocks and into the sand on Stewart Island.
There were the amazing days like camping wild on the Otago plains, where as the sun set I romped like a child over the fields with the sheep, jumping from schist outcrop to schist outcrop feeling like I had the whole world to myself; or feeling at peace lying on the litter in the midnight darkness of our forests under a giant Rimu hoping a Kiwi will stumble upon me; or being blown away by the sea of golden grass as far as the eye could see as I ground my way up to Pukerangi with the temperature rising well over 30 degrees; or waking up after a freezing night to fresh snow and sunshine on The Remarkables; or having a triple rainbow welcome us back to Milford as we kayak the last kilometre home; or feeling very alone as the Erie plains stretched out in front of me with no one to rely on but myself.
There were the generous and amazing people I met on the road like the lady who gave me a packet of caramel popcorn from her stall just because I’d cycled so far; the guys on the Earnslaw who made it their business to get me warm and dry on the trip back to Queenstown; Phil and Jo who scrapped me off the tarmac just beyond Alexandra, bundled me into their car and took me to Wedderburn giving me historic commentary along the way; Boyd who took me on a spontaneous sightseeing kayak around Lake Manipouri; Nerk who feed me up on potatoes after my nightmarish 170km bike ride; hanging out with my roomies Piete (Peter) from Finland and Helen from Switzerland on New Years Eve.
Below are some photos of the changing scenery as I peddled my way from Te Anau through Queenstown and across central Otago to Dunedin, enjoying the hard, the weird, the beautiful and the generous along the way.
I love my country … no where else is this good!!!!