Friday, 16 December 2011

Oamaru, New Zealand - Alps to ocean

Since cycling away from home 17 months ago, I’ve really enjoyed writing “the bicycle diaries” and many of you have said you’ve enjoyed reading them. And so I strive to make my writing as professional as possible. Now any professional writer would tell you that every good story needs some romance and on this point I am pleased not to disappoint! So as the journey continued from Mount Cook it was not as “I” but as “we”.

Our journey from the Southern Alps to the Pacific Ocean started on a rock where Bart and I sat for maybe an hour on our descent from a high trek in the mountains. Before us the view stretched up the Hooker Valley to its black, rock-covered glacier and grey-blue glacial lake below the spectacular slopes of Mount Cook. On a hot afternoon, we soaked up the views and the joy of each other’s company. Both cycle touring around New Zealand, we'd met by chance in Twizel as we were about to pedal up into Mount Cook National Park. After three wonderful days there we got back onto our bikes and our little convoy headed east, pedalling along a route known as “Alps to Ocean”. The first night we threw our tents up at a gorgeous little spot in woods by a small lake. An elderly couple pulled up beside us in their old campervan and we enjoyed the romantic scene as they set out their table and chairs by the lake and happily spent hours sitting quietly together in golden evening sunshine, feeding the ducks while their old, fat, half-blind dog was curled up at their feet. In another three days of pedalling we had left the high mountains, passed across the dry lands of the Waitaki Valley, cycled through limestone gorges and weird rock formations to eventually pop out on the coast at the beautiful town of Oamaru. We strolled hand-in-hand through its historic Victorian quarter where restored warehouses with wooden floors and high vaults now house cafes, delis and artsy-fartsy little shops. Bicycles from a bygone era with flowers in their baskets were propped casually against the walls and old-fashioned shop signs hung above, adding charm to the narrow lanes. In a bitterly cold southerly wind we hugged each other for warmth as we sat on the shore watching surfers riding the waves while Bart explained the finer points of the sport to me and how to tell a goofy from a regular surfer!

Alas, no amount of creative writing can the change the fact that on another grey, cold morning a bus whisked Bart north to Christchurch to catch his flight home. And so we had to say goodbye … at least for now.

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