NZ Day 20: Blenheim to CChurch

A long day in mostly challenging weather with a glorious end

Monday, December 19

No pictures today, for reasons that will be obvious.

It would have been nice to have another great day like Saturday, and that’s generally what the forecast called for, but it was not to be.

Earthquake-related road and rail closures are forcing all southbound traffic from the Picton ferry terminal to detour through the mountains. Some container traffic has been rerouted by sea, but there’s more traffic on this road than normal. I wanted to ride the Lewis Pass, but really wasn’t looking forward to doing it with a lot of trucks. The trucks should have been the least of my worries.

The road west was straight and flat by New Zealand standards. However, the winds that met my arrival in the Wairau Valley yesterday did not subside overnight and really picked up in the morning. I rode in gusty headwinds that seemed to body-slam me regularly from both directions. There was no choice but to slow down and take it easy.

I ran into occasional rain as I approached the Lewis Pass gas station, which is still 15km from the top of the pass. The only good thing I can say about the rain is that the wind died off in the rainy sections. I added my rain layer at the gas station, making me feel like an overstuffed teddy bear.

The Lewis pass is much less spectacular than Arthur’s Pass. It’s below tree line in thick forest, so there’s never a spot that offers much of a view. It’s a nice, mostly sedate road that would have been beautiful in weather that was just a little better.

Things improved on the east side, though I never really lost the wind. Just before joining highway 1 (the coast route) it cleared up completely and I stopped to remove all the extra layers. The final hour of the ride to Christchurch was in glorious sunshine and lighter winds.

I’m now ensconced in my “Swiss army knife” hotel room at Breakfree. (Because it’s compact, well designed, and has pretty much everything I need all in one package.) Opted again for the inside windowless room because it serves my purpose well and I found that I’d rather spend time talking with people in the lobby than being in the room anyway. I’ll get a good night’s sleep and see about tomorrow. I told Motorent that I’d return the bike on Wednesday, so I have options. If the weather’s good I might ride out to Akaroa, in the crater of an ancient volcano that’s now an inlet on the coast.

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