Thursday, April 10, 2014

Day 33: St Arnaud to Murchison

April 4th 2014
Distance cycled: 60 km
Total distance to date: 1965 km

As promised, I took some photos of the lake in the daylight. Stunning. It was a good, clear, warm day for it, too. (Kiwis are always saying that as a greeting: "Good day for it, eh?" Sometimes it is meant ironically, sometimes not.) Anyway, the lake:

As one might imagine, I took plenty of time to leave the campground (Kerr Bay, if you ever are in the area. Go there. It's good.) Finally I left town at noon and made my way towards Murchison. 

The first 25km were fantastic. Barely any traffic, beautiful scenery, mostly downhill and well-graded. I was flying and having a good ol' time. 

Before I knew it, I was at the junction with Highway 6, where there was a rest area and campground. I stopped there for lunch and to air out my rainfly, which was still drenched from the morning's heavy dew. There were lots of sandflies though, so I got moving again pretty quickly. There were also lots of bumblebees, which I know won't hurt me if I don't swat at them, but their buzzing scares me! So I swat them away. They are attracted to my bright blue panniers and my purple riding jersey. It's driving me nuts. Then there were some wasps, which I know WILL hurt me even if I don't swat at them, but oftentimes I don't hear them anyway because they don't buzz. And of course there are sandflies. Always the sandflies. Everyone told me the South Island would be better, more beautiful, more scenic, but that there would be lots of sandflies. And they were right. That sums up the South Island, basically. Just add "except for the sandflies" to the end of your sentences when you refer to anything about the South Island. Example: "Milford Sound was great, except for the sandflies."

Sorry for the tangent. Back to our story. 

Highway 6 was markedly less pleasant than the other road before it. No shoulder for much of it and the traffic was moving much faster. I even had one guy honk at me, presumably for no reason other than to tell me I shouldn't be on the road. I stopped at the first cafe I saw for coffee, but mostly to get away from the jarring traffic. It was a bar/lodge and had this awful alcohol awareness ad campaign on the walls. There were a few different posters but all were geared towards women and had the same message: watch your drinking or you may get sexually assaulted. 

Victim blaming. Great. If there had been one for men, too, I would have been less angry. Maybe "Watch your drinking, otherwise you may lose control and do something horrible like hurting somebody sexually"? Just an idea. At least the coffee was decent. 

Anyway, I rolled into Murchison around 5:30pm. There are 2 campgrounds here. I chose the cheaper option and have been happy with my choice so far. It's right on the banks of the Buller River. The owners are from Hawaii. The husband checked me in and recommended I camp right next to the river where there is a defunct cafe. I could even camp on the cafe covered patio if I wanted. Cool! So I have this as my view:

It's protected from the wind. And I don't need to use my rainfly tonight, for the first time since the start of the trip! Woo! There are even a few nice wooden chairs and tables on the patio, where I sat and had a drink with another camper, Adrian from Dunedin, and where I will likely have my breakfast. Murchison itself is a charming little place so I will probably call in for coffee in the morning in one of the cute little caf├ęs in the town center. 


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