I turn north’ish facing Queenstown leaving the windy Catlins behind me. The wind 🌬️ hasn’t abated, but does lie to my starboard flank. All I require now is to throw up a spinnaker ⛵ and I’ll be away!
10 kms or so to Walmahaka and stopping for a bit of lunch. Once again it’s a pie 🥧 An easy tummy supplement!
I’m heading to Mataura for the night, as I’m aware they’ve a public swimming pool 🏊 Matuara is centred around it’s large meat processing plant. The smell from this seems to come from any direction regardless of wind! I first search out a spot to stealth camp for the night, before I hit the swimming baths for a splash and hot shower. $2 (£1), money well invested in my books.
I perch myself in the porch of the tennis club 🎾 Firing up my stove and getting a brew under way. This is to check if anyone observes me before I produce my tent. There’s nothing worse than getting the tent up and someone informs you; you can’t camp there. Not that anything like that has ever happened. But this court could well be private 🛑 property, so one should suss it out first. You’ll never believe it, then; a guy rocks up to mow the grass. Lawn tennis perhaps, me thinks not! He says good-day, won’t be long, and I’ll be out of your way. I was stunned. Surely, I should be saying that to him! Free living here!
It wasn’t the best nights sleep with the meat factory receiving its supply of trains through the night, plus lorries on the road nearby using their engine brake … dam inconsiderate!
I was fortunate, though, to have some protein 🥩 with my morning coffee. How that got there, I don’t know? It’s about the only wildlife I’ve observed in my whole time in New Zealand. The only other wildlife has been lots of Possums. Which have been flat on the road … not a live one to date. Even ‘my’ maggots deceased!
I normally prepare my tin mug before I retire with instant coffee ☕ sugar and the kettle loaded with water. All I’ve to do in the morning is, reach out, light the meth’s burner, and the day begins.
The next day is pretty flat. I arrive in Gore as the clouds are near to dumping on me. Thankfully, Gore library has free Wifi, so I embed myself in the corner for the rest of the morning. By mid-afternoon with what looks like the worst of the weather passing, I roll out of Gore. Nice library, wish there was more like it.
It doesn’t take long until I’m seeking shelter once again! As the afternoon counts down, hence does the rain, and the blue sky resumes its logical place 🌤️ I discover a secluded area a few hundred metres out of Mandeville.
They say don’t camp next to still water … Mosquitos, but this place is just too pleasant to think of looking anywhere else. Anyhow, these Mossi’s aren’t carrying malaria or such like, so no harm will be done. Except my sanity! With the temperature cool 🌡️ I should be fine.
Mandeville has a steam engine named, Roger 🚂 Just sitting there alone on a single length of track, that’s it!
Instead of following route 94 to Lumsden, I opt for the back roads which line the base of the Hokonui Hills. The road starts as tar, but soon grades to gravel. We like gravel, makes one feel like a genuine adventurer! A lunchtime stop is made in Lumsden for fresh supplies and drinking water. Old Lumsden railway station quietly sits on its own with no custom, but one can still imagine majestic steam 🚂 engines trundling through.
Promptly, the search goes out for a suitable spot to throw my tent up for the night. It’s started to drizzle, and I’d like to get undercover 🎪 before one gets too wet. Drying clothes in damp weather, in a tent, is not easy. The river near Athol has my name on it. So I duly take up her invitation. Lovely spot, and in the nick of time.
The day starts wet and pretty much stays that way until I reach Queenstown.
As Ralph Fiennes once said, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just poor clothing” We march on.
Before long I’m out of Garston. I spot smoke above a railway line in the distance. Could it be a train? 🚂 It’s not travelling too swiftly, therefore gives me plenty of time to set up my video camera. The Kingston Flyer slowly steams past me with cheering tourists. We exchange waves 👋
It all times quite well for me as I don’t have to wait too long for The Kingston Flyer to arrive back at Kingston Railway station. Such an idyllic setting and a gorgeous piece of engineering.
As soon as I make my way from the station the clouds dump on me once more. I escape to a bus shelter. Lunchtime it is then. The rain hasn’t fully passed, but I hit the road nonetheless. The road from Kingston to Queenstown is overcast ☁️☁️☁️ but this additionally has its own beauty.
Lake Wakatipu looks steely blue along its shores as it conveys me onward to Queenstown. On arrival in Queenstown the sun makes an appearance to add a crowning cherry 🍒 to a superb journey up from down south.
The plan now in Queenstown is to hook up with my brother Andrew at his offices.
After a few well-earned beers, I load my bike into his car for the journey back to Cromwell.
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