NZ Day 18: Westport to Nelson

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Buller River Gorge – Motueka River Valley

Best weather so far, best day of riding

Saturday, December 17

Best weather I’ve had so far! I’ve been waiting for one day with no rain and no wind and I finally got it. Also got to ride one of the nicest roads I’ve ever been on.

Westport is coal country. There are a number of old mines in the area, some of them still operating and producing mostly metallurgical coal. I’m told the cost of transport by rail to the port of Lyttleton near Christchurch just can’t be justified for cheaper thermal coal. The global slump in prices is hurting, but the area is fairly diversified in tourism. One of the old mines is open as a tourist attraction and they have a Coaltown Museum in the center of Westport, but the town’s welcome sign doesn’t even include a reference to that piece of town history.

I rode up the Buller River along highway 6. The main road runs east along the river, then north to Nelson on the east side of the Tasman Bay. I decided to take a detour north along the Motueka River. Had a quick warm drink and a bite to eat at the Kohatu Flat Rock Cafe where the two roads diverge, then rode north

The local sheep would like us all to wear wool. I am doing so on my feet. I guess if you’re a sheep and the choice is “wool socks” or “lamb chops” the choice is obvious.

It was a wonderful ride. Despite the fantastic weather I saw few cars and only a handful of motorcycles. A great road that shouldn’t be missed, terminating on the west side of the Tasman Bay across from Nelson. From there it was a quick ride around the bay, through Richmond and straight to my motel.

Nelson is a port town with a small historic downtown area where I had dinner. Then I enjoyed a few glasses of wine in the adjacent wine bar with some locals. I’m getting close to the end of the trip and it was fun to splurge a bit on nicer restaurants and wine.

My plan is to see the Queen Charlotte Sound tomorrow. Part of me thinks I should just declare my northern escursion as a “win” after today and head back to Christchurch, but I’ve already got my reservation and the weather is forecast to hold.

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