Jan 12, Nelson New Zealand

I left Ngatuka Bay a bit late yesterday morning, heading to the city of Nelson, about 99 km away. It was a wonderful ride, with near-perfect weather. There were a couple of respectable climbs right off the bat, but with rewarding views.

View of the bay after a climb

Between peaks there was a nice stretch of farm land on a saddle, that seemed to go on forever


At about 3:30, I started up the first of two difficult climbs for the day, and I was not feeling good at all. I still have this chest cold and it seems to have moved down a bit. You all know the feeling–that rice crispy sensation when you exhale deeply. I got very out of breath on the way up the first hill and had to stop several times. It was 4:30 by the time I got half way down the first hill, I was shot. No way I could tackle that second hill without a rest. Given that Nelson–and the campground–was over 30 km away, I decided that a strategic fall back might be in order. I passed a little picnic area with a small stream and made camp for the evening.

Yesterday’s route.

I cooked some pasta and thought that some of my new “Foot spice” was in order for flavor. Can you believe this? As I was shaking it on, the top came off of the shaker again and this time spilled all over the food (that tells you how out of it I was!) Well, that about wraps it up for the spice.
Near midnight, the wind began to really pick up. My tent was pitched among the trees, and I had a bit of shelter. By the next morning it was clear that the wind was going to be a major factor in the day’s ride. We’re talking severe head and cross winds on the road, with lots of gusts–the kind of wind that blows over iconic trees (Sad about that, isn’t it?). I rode about 100 meters along the¬†highway as an experiment, and could not control the bike. Given that the shoulder was non-existent in places, and I would be riding slow in the climb, I opted to not risk it. Taking some advice from my friend Marcos, I found a box for fast-food chicken amongst some garbage and made me a sign:

A plea for help!

Then, I parked my bike on the side of the road near a place that would give a driver time to stop if they so chose to. Two small cars passed me by, but the third–a large van–stopped. The driver said that he couldn’t actually read my sign. He just stopped to make sure that I was OK, and was happy to give me a ride for free! Three minutes is all it took. Apparently, all you have to do to get a ride in New Zealand is stand by the side of the road and look pathetic. The interesting thing is that the driver was from England. We both agreed that, in our respective countries, getting a lift would have been difficult under similar circumstances. But there’s something about New Zealand. I guess friendliness is contagious–it must be in the water or something.
I got a ride to the bottom of the hill, and then finished up the final 15 km into Nelson. The wind was still pretty bad, but it changed directions to be a bit of a tail wind for a while. I decided to stay in Nelson for the balance of the day, since it is now raining pretty good. I found a “backpacker” hotel. $25 a night, but you sleep in a dorm and provide your own bedding. I’m the only one here and I have a large room to myself! The internet is quite good too! There’s bar and a Thai restaurant attached to it.
Tomorrow I ride to Motopicto along highway 6.

4 Responses to “Jan 12, Nelson New Zealand

  • So glad you are feeling good enough to ride. Hope you get back to 100% quickly. The landscape looks beautiful. Keep pedaling.

  • Stay safe and see a doctor.


  • Sounds like the Good Lord is looking out for you! And I agree with Heidi: See a Doctor!

  • For many people, Nelson is a place of astronomy-pilgrimage, because for 6 decades, the world’s best visual observer of both variable stars and of comets lived and observed there. Albert Jones died a few years ago. But my wife and I still want to go to Nelson. Of course, we also want to go to Nelson because of the awesome views like you are showing. So we’re jealous of your awesome trip.

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