339km Napier to Wellington
The quiet roads can be really quiet sometimes. That’s why we take them after all. No cars means heaven to a cyclist. But while we expected long spells of isolation in places like Kyrgyzstan, we didn’t plan on quite so much of it in New Zealand.
We certainly got it though. Our route from Napier to Wellington took us down all the little gray roads on our map, so small they didn’t seem to have a number. Cars could be literally counted on our fingers. Shops were at least a day apart – sometimes more – and for the first time in ages we really wondered where we were going to get water. We ended up knocking on doors and people like ‘Old Jim’ (as he was introduced by his neighbour) came to our rescue more than once.
When we asked for the nearest payphone in the village of Pongaroa our request brought only laughter from the woman serving in the cafe. “I really don’t know,” she said, thinking hard. After a few minutes she decided there wasn’t likely to be one before Masterton, 100km down the road. It turned out to be the right guess.
Yes, we’re definitely in a land with far more sheep than people (a cliche about New Zealand but one that’s true – there are 10 sheep for every New Zealander, in case you were wondering). But what a beautiful land it is. Hilly, yes. Fickle weather, yes. But when we saw the sun rise over the hills after a few days of rain we realized what keeps cyclists coming to New Zealand. It’s gorgeous.
Our trip over country roads ended just south of Masterton, where two good friends from the UK, Conny & Mel, picked us up in their car for the last leg to Wellington. Looking at the road, we’re glad we didn’t cycle it. No shoulder. A steep and winding road with lots of traffic and rain pelting down. That’s not safe or fun. We’ll save our two-wheeled miles for the best spots.
Tonight we head to the South Island for what will be at least 6 weeks of blissful riding. Like everywhere we’ve been lately, it doesn’t seem nearly enough time. Can we add a couple months? Oh and a few more months to go back to Australia too please? And how about 10 more years to cycle all the places we’d like to see on our bikes?
The more we see of the world, the more it seems we want to experience.