Sunday, March 23, 2014

Day 25: Hunterville to Apiti

March 22nd 2014
Distance cycled: 75 km
Total distance to date: 1375 km

Well, I was wrong about last night's camping place being a peaceful spot. I was woken at 2:30 am last night by a bunch of hollering teenagers in trucks. I guess I'm in the middle of Hicksville NZ and because it's a Friday night, of course there will be buzzed teens zipping around in pickups and randomly stopping in the woods to whoop and yell at each other from their cars. I'm just glad they didn't see me and that it wasn't the logging machinery coming to life as I had feared. I'm not mad, though. We did similar stuff as teens and we weren't even really country kids. 

In the morning I slept in a bit to make up for the sleep disturbance. Aw, who am I kidding - I probably would have slept in no matter what. I got up at 8 and was out of there by 10. If I cook breakfast (which I did - coffee and oatmeal with Brazil nuts and crystallized ginger), it always takes 2 hours to leave camp in the morning. If I don't cook, I can get out in one hour. Today I also had to tape up my rack a bit, since the pannier grips weren't fitting the rack correctly. That took some time as well. The days are getting shorter so I may have to start getting up earlier to fit all the cycling in. But I can't imagine getting up before the sun does...

Today has to have been one of the most scenic days to date. And it was remote - I saw maybe a total of 5 cars the entire day, except for the 6km I did on SH1, which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. 

The first leg was finishing the remaining 10km into Hunterville, where I stopped at Crank's Cafe for lunch. I chatted with Richard, the owner, who collects and works on old bicycles and cafe racers. 

Richard made me a delicious (and cheap!) cheeseburger.  It was almost 11 by the time I got there, so I guess I can call it lunch and not second breakfast. I of course followed it with a coffee - a nice big flat white. 

I left the cafe around noon, darted up SH1 for 6km, then turned off onto Highway 54 and soon found the campground I had wanted to stay at the night before:

Looked nice. Oh well. 

From the campground, my guidebook had me turning off onto a gravel road. Yay. The views were pretty fantastic though. 

After about 15km of gravel, I hit seal again and the riding got better, even if there was a lot of climbing to be done. I saw a lot of animals today: sheep and cows of course, but also wild turkeys, a hawk, several kinds of bird and even some deer. Here are two bucks who watched from the hillside as I ate my (second) lunch:

I climbed up through more stunning scenery. 

Eventually I got to the Pemberton Corner, which marked the transition from one bike trail to the other. (I did an amalgam of 3 different rides from the guidebook.)

Pemberton used to be a town, led by settler Charles Pemberton and his wife, but was eventually abandoned because newer settlers created Rangiwaiha just 3km down this road:

Apparently Pemberton turned into a ghost town after that. I thought Rangiwaiha looked rather ghostly:

What a sad playground! I rode the Rocktopus regardless of the tape. I think it needs at least two people for it to be fun. There was no one around to ride it with me. Or scold me, even. 

I could have camped in this ghost town, but I only had 21km to go to get to Apiti, where there was camping AND a tavern. A beer sounded like a nice reward. I headed out towards Apiti. 

More beautiful scenery awaited me. 

I had a little fun photographing my shadow in the late afternoon sun. 

There was this rainbow in the hills that I kept trying to capture on film. Can you see it?

This part of the trail had a few gorges that were very pretty but frustrating, because I would go downhill knowing that I'd have to come right back up again. In this picture you can see the river I descended to, and the brown plain above it from which I started (this was taken on the ascent on the other side):

There were also a few short sections of gravel, which it looks like they are in the process of sealing. Other bits had been recently sealed, by the looks of it.  

Thankfully, after the second gorge, the road turned westward and the wind that had been blowing towards me for two days straight suddenly became a tailwind! So the last few kilometers had me flying down the road in high gear, which was great. Before long, I rolled into Apiti. 

And I passed the pub... which is now closed. No!!

Oh well. I found the campsite, pitched my tent, and made myself some soup for dinner. Apiti is like Rangiwaiha in that there is nobody here. It's a Saturday night and the town is dead. I should have guessed Apiti would be like this, based solely on the lack of traffic I encountered today. I briefly talked to a lady who had a produce stand selling veggies on the side of the road. She was just bringing the veggies in and I bought some tomatoes off her for my soup. But other than her, I haven't seen anybody. It was just me, the cows and the beautiful sunset. 

Tomorrow I will be ending my day in the city of Palmerston North, where Andrew and Pamela from WS will be hosting me. It will be a far cry from the remoteness of today's journey. 

I'm writing this at night in my tent; it's 9:30 and dark out. The stars are beautiful and it's windy. I'm also getting hungry again, which is a sign that I should go to sleep! Goodnight!


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