Happy to be Alive

Date: Monday 11 March 2013
Route: Murchison to Motueka
Distance: 134km
Weather: mist in morning, very hot in afternoon
Accommodation: Vineyard Tourist Units – recommended for friendliness and value for money

We totally overdid it today, and also almost got killed by a stupid driver.
We knew the Murchison – Nelson road was bad for bicycles due to lots of traffic from our previous experience on it coming down from St Arnaud. We left early to try to avoid some of the traffic and the first hour or so was not so bad. We had a bit of fog again but it lifted more quickly today (or maybe we just rode out of it sooner) – we could still see it lying in the valleys.

The road follows the Buller river and has many small climbs and downhill runs. There is a long climb after the St Arnaud turn-off.

It was around here that we had a terrifying experience with an oncoming car that decided to overtake a truck as the truck was approaching us. I thought it will hit us as it came towards us at speed and was very shaken afterwards. I would advise all cyclists to avoid NZ roads like these. In this case there is no alternative route. There is too much traffic for cyclists, too little space and drivers are in such a rush, they are willing to risk lives.

We pushed to get to the Motueka turnoff (onto quieter road) in record time – it was around 70km and we were there around midday. There is a cafe there and we stopped for a coffee and scone and to refill our water bottles.

Our original plan was to stop at Tapawere, as we knew there are cabins and meals available in the town. However Kris persuaded me that it was too early to stop and we should go on a little further.

This ride, which follows the Motueka river valley is one of the most beautiful we have done and I recommend it highly. In some places the trees and grasses beside the river look like a landscaped garden. Some of the trees are already getting their autumn colours. It was a relief to be on a quiet road again. However it began to get hot and we were worn out for the last 20km or so.

The land along the river is fertile and many fruits are grown . We bought delicious strawberries from a roadside stall with honesty box. They tasted fragrant, as though they had just been picked – we polished the whole punnet off while standing on the stall.

A little further on we stopped to buy some blueberries, and had our water bottles refilled by the stall holder. And yet further on we bought some plums and peaches (spray free!) from another stall with honesty box. These are the most delicious plums I have ever tasted – they were as sweet and soft and juicy. Kris even stopped and picked some pears from a tree that was growing wild at the roadside.

We saw hops being grown and harvested for the first time. The hops are vines that grow upwards on long strings. When they harvest them the remove the whole vine. Then they let the sheep graze where they have just harvested.

We arrived hot and tired in Motueka . We were lucky to find the vineyard camping ground – and obtain a very reasonably priced fully equipped two room motel unit. The best thing about it was that it had air conditioning – which helped us to cool down. The owner was very kind and gave us some free range eggs from her chickens for our breakfast. I was so exhausted Kris had to go out and get take aways (roasts) while I dozed on the bed. Later on we revived enough to go into town for a beer – it was very quite (may because it was Monday night?)

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