371km Marahau to Greymouth
We’d heard all about the legendary wet weather, especially on the west coast of the South Island. But we didn’t really appreciate what we were in for until we found ourselves dripping wet for the fifth day in a row, soaked by just the latest downpour to come steaming our way.
We did a quick calculation. Let’s see. That’s 11 days of cycling so far in New Zealand. Minus 2 sunny days and 1 overcast day. That leaves 8 days of rain. It hadn’t been all damp, of course. Every so often a patch of blue sky would appear or maybe even a brief ray of sun but it always disappeared too quickly, leaving behind a steady stream of water that slowly soaked through our clothes, leaving us looking, well, like the proverbial drowned rat.
We’d long since given up the idea of packing the tent away dry but was the luxury of just one piece of dry clothing too much to ask?
At least we could take comfort in knowing that we were hardly the first to have this problem. A frustrated Captain Cook imortalized New Zealand’s bad weather in 1770 when he gave the name Cape Foulwind to a tip of land, after he was unable to land there because of the storms.
More modern explorers – two cyclists we met in a campground kitchen – told us one evening that it was perfectly possible to cycle the whole 660km from Westport to Queenstown and never see the mountains. And then there were the two Italian bikers we met at the grocery store. “We’re not camping. We’re staying in a cabin tonight,” they said. “Yesterday we felt like fish, swimming instead of riding.”
With that in mind, we felt quite lucky when the sun finally returned to warm our backs for our final stretch into Greymouth. It was the kind of cycling we hoped to see in New Zealand: quiet roads, a stunning coastline and blue skies as far as the eye could see. There was even a glimpse of some far off mountains.
Now if only the forecast holds…