February 27, 2002 - On To The End Of The Road--and then some

I've gone to the end of the road, S.H.1, that is, and then on to Stewart Island.

I decided that if the weather was going to be lousy for the next few days, it would be better to be someplace nicer. So I went over to the Invercargill Info Centre and found a place to stay on Stewart Island. It is easier said than done. The woman at the info centre made at least 6 or 7 calls, slowly increasing in price, after she first called the Stewart Island info centre to get the fairly short list of those they thought to have availability. I ended up at the Stewart Island Retreat on Horseshoe Bay. A nice location to look at, but a little far out of town.

Once we made the reservations for the B&B and the ferry, I started off towards Bluff, where the road ends and the ferry leaves from. But first, I stopped to find out about airfares. It turns out that the one-way fare to Auckland is NZ$545 not including a charge for the bike and trailer. Slightly more than the $389 is saw advertised. So I decided to stop at the bus station to find out the fare to Christchurch, where airfares are much lower. The bus company has stopped taking bikes on the bus from Invercargill. This has, of course, come into effect since they stopped the passenger train service. Arghh! I'm going to try to call a couple of the smaller bus lines to see if they will take a bike. Maybe Invercargill is Hotel California.

Then I started towards Bluff, which is 30km beyond Invercargill. I was told the road was flat all the way. It was, except for the hills, small ones at least. It was an almost uneventful, but tiring ride, probably because I am a little tired from the last two days. The only event was when I was standing on the shoulder about a kilometer outside of Bluff, taking a picture of the harbor. This tractor trailer zooms by behind me, blasting his horn and leaving about six inches between us. I wasn't on a curve or anything and I wasn't exactly invisible with my florescent yellow jacket and bright yellow trailer bag. If I had been riding, I probably would have gone off the road. It would have been terribly ironic (or is that moronic) to have been run over by a truck a kilometer from the end of a 1000 km ride.

Anyway, I got to Bluff in one piece. It is the heavy-duty port for Invercargill. It imports and exports the bulk stuff like oil and grain and wood. Not much appealing to it. I rode past the ferry terminal to the end of the road at Stirling Point. The furthest south you can go on the South Island. I have ridden the entire length of the main route on the South Island (and I have the picture to show I was there).

After waiting a couple of hours, the ferry arrived. I gave myself plenty of leeway, since there is only one afternoon ferry. If you miss it, you're stuck until the next morning. They let me store the bike and trailer, along with bike parts and tools, in their shipping warehouse, since there is nowhere to ride on Stewart Island. The ferry is a new catamaran that carries goods and passengers daily to the island. We left and arrived on time.

My host, Valerie, met me at the ferry dock and gave me a ride to The Retreat, about 4km and three steep hills from town. She is a crusty older Scotswoman. I could tell right away that she wasn't a Kiwi, when she bawled out a couple of pedestrians for walking down the middle of the road.

The Retreat is a fairly modern home overlooking the beach at Horseshoe bay. I can hear the waves as I write, It isn't exactly the cozy warm cottage I was hoping for, but it will be a respite for a couple of days where I can do nothing much more strenuous than writing and editing my journal.

Since Valerie doesn't have a dinner plan, although her listing in Invercargill listed such, after I showered I headed off down the road to the town at Halfmoon bay. It was about 8pm at that point. I got a lift from an old guy and his cousin and his cousin's wife (all in their 70's) in what seemed an equally old Land Rover. I got to town at about 8:30. Unfortunately, Valerie didn't mention that the restaurants all close there kitchens at about that time. It would have been disastrous if I'd actually had to walk the