Two out of three months of our stay in New Zealand were gone as we arrived in Picton. We had a wonderful time on the North Island, but now it was the time to explore the South. We were welcomed by rain and clouds covering the surrounding hills. After a sleepless night on the ferry cycling was the last thing we wanted to do…
Somehow we forced ourselves to get to the nearest campsite and put up our tent right next to the shore.
We woke up to discover swarms of mosquitoes waiting for us in our vestibule. There were hundreds of them! Luckily there is no threat of getting dengue fever or malaria in New Zealand.
We followed the road leading west, cycling along the coast. We wanted to get to Nelson, and when we heard about an alternative route leading through the mountains, we could not resist.
We rolled down on the other side of the pass, ending up on the west coast.That is the beauty of cycling in New Zealand – you can spend your morning up in the mountains and enjoy the sunset at the beach.
There is only one road leading south. We planned to follow the coast all the way to Haast, and the perspective of spending most of the time on a highway did not sound like fun. To our luck there were sections of different bike trails here and there, that we could ride on.
The best thing of riding on bike paths was that we could enjoy the beauty of nature without hundreds of tourists, without their barking dogs, screaming kids, loud music and slamming campervan doors at night.
Wherever we could we cycled either on bike trails or gravel roads. Main roads of New Zealand were built to accommodate light traffic of local inhabitants, not hundreds of tourists in their campervans. Most of the bridges on the South Island are very narrow and have only one lane, so we had to be very careful crossing them.
We were not very lucky with the weather. In fact we spent almost an entire week cycling in the rain. All the spectacular views, all the dramatic landscape that we had heard so much about, disappeared behind thick layers of clouds. We were limited to the view of pastures and thick forests and could only imagine all the snow covered peaks and turquoise rivers.
Therefore when the sun finally decided to kick the clouds away, we could finally see and enjoy the South Islands nature.