Depart Moana: 2413 km (10.30)
Didn't get up until 8 today, and Nick a little bit after that. Late nights are catching up with us!
The weather was clear and bright, with a bit of hazy, high cloud. Bit windy again today though.
We took the road south through Moana and down to Jacksons then headed east towards Arthur's Pass. Nick was determined to cycle up the pass despite lots of people pooh-poohing the idea. The weather was encouraging, but a little too windy for my liking. Mind you, the drive up the pass made me think that it was perhaps doable, it didn't seem as steep or as long as I had been expecting.
Just before the top we stopped at a lookout point which looked back to the viaduct which had carried us up. It is supposed to have a gradient of 16%, but it was hard to see it. What we did see were Kea, the only alpine parrot in the world. Intelligent and mischievous birds, they apparently like to rip rubber bits from your vehicles. As we drove into the lookout, one of them was standing on the roof of someones car. We parked at the bottom of the lookout and walked the 100m or so to the top. As we looked back, we could see 2 or 3 of the parrots on the roof of our camper, but the windscreen seemed to be to steep for them so they didn't seem that bothered and soon seemed to disappear. We admired the view, and it was only when we started walking back down the road that we realised the birds had in fact started to devour our bikes! Great holes ripped in our saddles and they were also pecking at the break levers. Cheeky peckers. Nick was chatting to a man later who said he had stayed overnight in a hut on the mountain once and they had left their shoes outside, and the Kea's had taken their shoes and laces.
We continued up the road over the top of the pass and down a little way to Arthur's Pass village, which was pretty dull. Then we came back a little way and took at 45 minute walk up to Devil's Punch Bowl Falls, which turned out to be quite a steep climb, but well worth it.
Back at the camper Nick decided that even after the strenuous walk, he was deffo going to cycle up the pass, so we drove back down the valley again the way we had come and measured 5km from the summit to the bottom. That might not seem like too much, but I can tell you that on the way back down the road I completely changed my mind on how hard it was. The degree of steepness seemed much, much worse coming down than it had coming up. No way was I going to be able to do that. So when we parked up at the bottom of the pass, Nick set off alone on the windy, steep climb. I waited in the camper at the bottom, made some cheese on toast, had a cup of tea, and caught up on my journal. One hour later (we'd reckoned on 2) Nick came back down chuffed to have made it, if a little wind-swept and chilly. Bravo! 47 minutes on the bike to cover 6.6 miles. He said it was hard, especially because of the wind, and that he used his lowest gear. He never normally goes anywhere near that, whereas I'm always in mine, so I think it's probably a good thing I didn't go!
After Nick warmed up on cheese on toast and tea, we headed off back down the valley again and back towards the sea. We followed the path of the Taramakau River which was a huge riverbed hundreds of metres wide, with varying amounts of cystal clear turquoise blue water flowing through it. In contrast to the colour of the sea in Abel Tasman that cheated you into thinking it was warm, this water looked icey cold! It was beautiful to see the river with the snow capped mountains in the background and the cystal clear blue cloudless sky. Lovely.
We drove into Hokitika where we are now, at the Shining Star Beach Front Accommodation (motels and camper sites). It's pretty good, but very busy, compared to last night it seems a million miles apart.
We had left over spag bol for dinner, and as it is now 20.15 and the wireless is not working, I think tonight it will be an early night！