February 17, 2002- A Sunny Sunday

It was finally a sunny day with a northerly breeze and, given recent weather patterns, it was a riding opportunity not to be missed. I packed up after a full breakfast, although I opted not to have bacon, particularly after last night's dinner of several slabs of corned beef with four different vegetables right out of the garden, followed by a fruit tart and fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

There was a new dog this morning, Daphne's sister arrived late last night, well after I retired, and brought along an eight week old puppy, a miniature poodle-bichon frise cross. It was really cute, but tiny. They were also boarding a little terrrier, Jacko, who was the only dog allowed in the house; he had no compunction about climbing onto my lap while I was sitting in the living room watching the Olympics. He and the puppy got along just fine.

After getting pictures of my hosts and of an ostrich in the middle of hatching,and paying for my stay (NZ$60/night, but that include three meals a day), I headed off to Oamaru. It was a slow start, but things felt better after about 25km and the first tea room stop. I finally had a sunny day and a tailwind. I sailed to Oamaru fairly quickly, as the roads were flat and fairly smooth. There was an awful lot of traffic, though, more than I expected. Going out for a Sunday drive is alive and well in New Zealand.

I arrived in Oamaru before noon and ambled through the town before stopping at the information center at the other end. Being Sunday, virtually everything was closed. Oamaru has some interesting Victorian architecture built from the local white stone , called Oamaru stone. I looked at the accommodations book and found a couple of hostels that looked interesting. I headed off to the first one which was directly up the steepest hill I've seen yet. I got within 50 yards of the address before I had to get off and push (if the Kilmogs are even close, I'm going to have to take the bus to Dunedin). It was okay, but not really exciting, so I headed for the next one, which involved going across one street and a little more climbing (why do they always seem to build these towns right into the hills.

Then I went down a fairly steep hill to the street where the next hostel was located--it was on an even steeper street than the first. At that point I decided that nothing was open in Oamaru anyway, so I continued down the road to All Day Bay, 18km further, just past Kakanui. It was the right decision. The road wound along the coast, up on cliffs above a long empty brown sandy beach, with rolling farmland along the other side. It was a delightful ride with a great view. After Kakanui, there was a two kilometer hill, that then descended to All Day Bay.

Along the road, I stopped to watch two farmers harvesting wheat. One was driving a combine, which cut the wheat, threshed it and spit out straw. The combine was followed by a tractor towing trailer that looked sort of like a street sweeper. It would suck in all of the straw. Every once in a while it would stop and disgorge a giant circular bale of straw.

The view coming down into All Day Bay was also pretty spectacular. I took a couple of pictures here. The Hall backpackers hostel is quite nice; a new building with a porch and lots of windows overlooking fields, with the beach just across a paddock, but out of view. It is pretty small, with only three rooms, a five person dorm and two double rooms. I was the only one here when I arrived, but two couples, one with a toddler and a single guy arrived later. They were all separate groups and, interestingly, all German.

It is quite comfortable, but has two small deficiencies. First, there is no settlement at All Day Bay, meaning that the closest store is 4km away in Kakanui (and I had no food for breakfast, tomorrow). The other problem is that there is no phone except a pay phone, therefore no network access.

Having no food for breakfast meant riding back to Kakanui, climbing two hills. So I unloaded the bike, removed the trailer and headed back to windward. It wouldn't be a complete cycling day without going upwind. It was significantly easier without that extra fifty pounds. This little detour brought my daily distance to 76.4km, one of my longest rides.

After a shower, a walk to the beach (very nice, complete with a Lab and owner walking by) and dinner. I settled down to write you. The hosts here are Jenny & Ieuan (He's Welsh) a 60ish couple, who have retired to running this place and raising a few sheep. They have a separate house, so we don't see them much, although Ieuan came by a short time ago to light the fire in the wood stove.

I will probably go on to Palmerston tomorrow, if this weather holds out. There, I will have to decide whether to attempt to ride all the way to Dunedin, since the really tall hills are after Palmerston.

Updated: 26 March 2002