Blog // Tales from the trail
- Total distance - 50 km
- Time taken ~ 3 hours
- No. Road Cyclists - 2
- Hills - 1, but very steep!
- Honesty boxes paid into - 2, for a delicious punnet of strawberries and 6 free-range eggs
Tapawera, we gathered wasn't high on everyone's list of places to visit. Neither here nor there, it was one of those places you passed through rather than stopped in. For us though it was a nice halfway distance between coastal Motueka and the in-land town of Murchison, had a campsite with good reviews about its homeliness and stopped us just short of a slow uphill gravel section! Although we could have happily carried on following the coastline, it was time to head inland and to the west coast.
The ride was very pleasant; slightly muggy as we left the fresh sea air and travelled into a valley - the hills looking ominous with dark clouds over them as we approached, but apart from one sharp hill that came out of nowhere, it was a gentle incline all the way and didn't cause us too much trouble.
We cycled passed an array of kiwi fruit farms and lots of hops - the fuel behind all those great craft ales we'd been sampling along the Great Taste Trail! Rather interestingly, the hops were cut back at the base, to encourage growth above sheep-height off the ground so that the fluffy white sheep punctuating the space underneath and between the rows after rows of crop, could graze, and presumably, fertilise the earth. The kiwi farms were also distinctive, for their pyramid-shaped structures, encouraging the climbing plants to head upwards and form a dense canopy to protect the fruit growing underneath and in-turn to become next year's crop.
We bumbled into Tapawera quite unexpectedly, the first time we'd ever reached a destination before lunch! Taking advantage of this we stocked up on some fresh ingredients from the local Four Square supermarket, checked into the campsite and rustled up some gourmet sandwiches in the rustico campsite kitchen.
Owned by an English couple, we learnt that emigrating to New Zealand and managing a campsite while they got their four kids through the rest of school was part of their 10-year lifestyle plan - fresh air, time with the kids and a generally slower and fresher pace of life. With one son left at home and due to head to University next year, they were contemplating extending their 10 year plan into something a little longer, unsurprisingly. Although perhaps a little too out-in-the-sticks for us, it was in a beautiful location and, apparently, there were murmurings of extending the Taste Trail cycle path through Tapawera which could only mean a boost for the local tourism industry. Tapawera borders the eastern side of the Kahurangi National Park, specifically Mount Arthur's area and was already abundant with some classic tramping trails across the mountain range. Not something to attempt with heavily-laden bikes, but definitely something to consider for the next time we're in the area!
Having had a very relaxing afternoon catching up on blog 'stuff' and using the walking track behind the campsite to visit the local art exhibition, where we voted for our favourite 'piece', we were ready to tackle the long, uphill ride to Murchison the next day. The weather the next day however had other ideas.
By 11am it was still raining and we were huddling in our tent discussing our options, clearly, my view was that it was raining, so 'I ain't going anywhere'. We decided to stay another day, feeling guilty that we weren't going to make progress that day, but it didn't look like much fun. Of course more or less as soon as we'd made the decision not to cycle, the rain stopped and the area was baked in sunlight within the hour, which didn't help my guilt thing! Not that Keith was too worried, still feeling a bit drained from the Nelson ride. We managed to wash a full suite of laundry, sleeping bag included, complete a 'World Series' Petanque Championship (which, ahem, I won) and mostly successfully avoided the quirky American dentist, into conspiracy theories and fishing, who was trying to dole out 'fresh' fish fillets from his recent expedition - a nice gesture that we almost took him up on, until the the campsite owner having had the full story, frantically signalled for us not to take them as they'd been frozen, defrosted, re-frozen and re-defrosted in the last 48 hours. So, while we managed to escape potential food poisoning, that night whilst BBQ'ing our steaks and meaty field mushrooms, we were subjected to continued theories of capitalism and corrupt government and the slightly accusatory questions about the reasons for the crammed state of British and Irish teeth, compared to the big, toothy smiles of, say, the Latinos. There were some questions, we just didn't have the answers to!
Comments on this posting: