The final leg of my ride, as you know, was along the South Island’s West Coast, the land of the sandflies and moderate hills and wonderful rainforest-like scenery – but mostly the sandflies.
It was New Years Eve when I rode the easy ride from Haast to LakeParinga. There were three moderate inclines, but they were all long the beach front. Every now and then, through the trees I would see a glimpse of a blue horizon where I couldn’t tell the difference between the sea and the sky. A small battle with a gravel pathway was my only obstacle, and before long I was at the top of the mountain at Knight’s Point.
As I pulled into the lookout I did a quick round on my bike to check for escapes, in case of zombies, and also to see where to best stop with my bike. As I rode around I felt eyes watching me, and I quickly found the head to which they belonged. Eating lunch at the lookout were also two other cycle tourists. Shortly after stopping we greeted each other. The Mexican had lived in Auckland for some time and was cycling around before going home, and the Beautiful French, like me, was on holiday. We soon discovered that we had been visiting and staying in the same towns, but we never seemed to cross paths. Their plan was to continue past Lake Paringa and sleep on the beach somewhere, where they would have been eaten by the sandflies.
After some chatter and realising that we had also met the same people along the way – the most interesting being the Russian expeditionists who had already travelled all around America – we parted ways as they had finished eating. I later continued to Lake Paringa.
I had settled into my room and explored the grounds when the Mexican and the Beautiful French arrived at the grounds. They had decided to stay and together we’d ring in the new year. Usually I spend my New Years eve drinking wine and making and then eating Mexican food – so I figured this was close enough. We later also met some hikers who were also staying at the grounds as well. They were from all over the world. We ate banana cake and drank champagne until it was 2012.
The next morning I left early for an easy ride into Fox Glacier. I arrived half an hour before the Mexican or the Beautiful French and went to the glacier (another gravel road). The glacier was beautiful, and lovely to touch, but as the Beautiful French said ‘There are much more beautiful in Europe’. Of course. Then we drank more wine to celebrate the end of my trip and the continuation of theirs. It was a nice and surprising end to the trip.
Now I have caught first the bus to Greymouth (dirty ugly city) and then today a train to Christchurch where my journey ends. Ah – it has been such a lovely trip. I think next time I have to take more time to do it slowly, and I will try harder to camp… maybe.
I will share my photos with you soon, dear Gerwood, I didn’t want to carry more cables with me than was necessary.
Thank you for keeping me company on this trip, and already I am researching a tour through Europe, I think. 🙂
Love & affection,