To Lake Tutira - New Zealand 1991 - CycleBlaze

December 24, 1991

To Lake Tutira

We awoke shortly before 6 and prepared for our 8AM train departure to Napier.  The wather was stormy, blustery and wet - a good day to be off the bikes (we later heard that there was a tornado back over Marlborough Sound on this day).

The train is much more biker friendly than in the United States - stated regulations call only for reversing the pedals, turning the handlebars and wrapping the chain.  As it turned out, not even this much was required.  

This was a much more enjoyable train ride than the one from New Brunswick to Quebec City on last year's tour - no obnoxious passengers, fairly comfortable seats, and we weren't either sick or trying to get some sleep.  Our neighbors coincidentally were also bikers, from Britain.  Neither was too communicative, but they were friendly.  The man had an immense beefy frame and a large risque tattoo on his upper arm.

The weather broke open by the time we reached Napier at about 2 - warm, sunny, suddenly it felt like southern California.  After packing our bikes we located the National Bank of New Zealand for an important stop - we collected money that mom had 'swifted' to us to help us get by the rest of the trip, necessary because of my lost wallet at the start of the trip.  It was quite a relief that it all went to plan.

We wandered through Napier, enjoying the sunshine, attractive Art Deco architecture, and a delicious pizza at an outside table.  The people here are noticeably different than in the south - there is a much greater Maori population, many with tattoos.  After pizza we strolled around some more, saw a delightful, energetic troope of Morris dancers (whom we recognized on the front page of the paper the next day), then got back on the bikes.

We got off to a bad start when I tore another tube at the valve stem - the second time I've done this on this trip, both with ultrathin tubes I bought in Wanaka.  Fortunately we found another spare just before the town shut down for the day; and finally, about 6, we headed out for Lake Tutira after some indecision over whether to just stay in town.

We had a minor tragedy soon after we left town - we pulled into a campground to see if they had space and flattened a 3 year old boy who turned around the hedge right into my front wheel.  The poor kid looked terrified but seemed OK.  Fortunately I had been travelling very slowly due to the speed bumps.

The first 20k went quite fast - the road was along Hawkes Bay - flat, downwind.  I thought we were making great time until another biker whizzed past us.  After 2 or 3 more riders zoomed by we realized we were on a triatholon course.

After this, the highway veers inland away from the bay and begins climbing sharply, over a series of ridges.  The countryside and hills are hauntingly beautiful here - rough hewn hills and valleys with an odd, pale blue-green cast.  It was getting quite late, we were tired, and it was becoming intermittently misty when we finally reached the lake, 40k from Napier.  The lake is a bird refuge, and was covered with black swans, herons, ducks and stilts.  We set up tent right next to shore, and were entertained by the birdlife, some of which approached us very closely as we ate our suppers.

The train to Wellington, Napier
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Dinner companions, Lake Tutira
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Today's ride: 25 miles (40 km)
Total: 821 miles (1,321 km)

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