Day 10, 64 Miles from Westport to Murchison. 520 miles in total so far.

Murchison, near the top of the South Island, right up in the hills.

Two things to capture today – 1) how the actual biking is going, and 2), I think I’ve cracked how to post photos in sufficient detail without taking three hours to upload them to WordPress.

As some of you will have already been notified, I’m putting a daily selection up on Google+, and the link to yesterday’s post, with lots of wonderful Western Coast road and all photos, including those of the amazing glacier flight, now annotated and captioned, is here.

A link to today’s photos, capturing a fabulous but if in the end rather wet grind uphill from Westport to Murchison, is here.

And, a further link that should work for the first pictures, is here

Yoghurt for real men…. Read the bits at the bottom.

I’m now 10 days biking into what is absolutely one of the best cycling trips I’ve ever done, and massively to be recommended to anyone who likes a Real Ride, not one for the girlies in other words (thinking of NZ yoghurt, photographed in yesterday’s posted pictures.)

Some 520 miles so far in all, averaging anything from 40 mile on a slow day with hard hills and a headwind, and up to 75 miles when things flow, which is what I clocked on Saturday’s  amazing burn with gorgeous evening tailwind north up through Greymouth to Punakaiki and the Pancake Rocks.

Punakaiki on a quieter evening.

Note that the sea was a LOT quieter this time than 18 months ago when Kat and I were there. These are extraordinary layered rock formations which have been weathered by the sea to create blowholes and fantastical columns.

Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki May 2011, when the waves were ever so slightly higher
Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki May 2011, when the waves were ever so slightly higher

But back to the biking, let me add some info for fellow cyclists who might be interested in my gear.

Raven's Rohloff hub gear
Raven’s Rohloff hub gear

I’m riding a Thorn Cycles Raven Nomad, with 14-speed Rohloff hub gears – just perfect for heavily loaded long-distance riding, as they require virtually no maintenance, and above all you can change gear at any point, standing still, heading uphill, without the misery of chains being always on the wrong derailleur sprocket.

My Raven also has what are called S&S couplings, which allow the bike frame to be broken, as it were, in two for packing in a large suitcase, or more often just in the back of an ordinary car.

One VERY nasty moment earlier in the trip – when I discovered that the couplings had come loose, which left the bike on the brink of breaking up in mid-flight. And this after a very fast downhill south of Franz Josef, when I was still cycling with Gerben.

We mused on what might have happened if Raven had disintegrated beneath me at 40mph. I most certainly wouldn’t be writing this blog if she had. But a good lesson not to let that happen again.

Like almost every long-distancer I’m meeting on this trip (and others, but most of them German, Swiss or Dutch), I’m using waterproof Ortlieb panniers, but have been very disappointed in the Garmin Edge 705 GPS computer. Ideal for performance cycling, but crap for touring.

Besides which, it’s died on me, completely, possibly because I used the wrong charger?


I appreciate having a small Primus cooker with me, and use Lock’n’Lock plastic boxes in a giant sailing barrel bag on the back to keep all my food. And believe me, in a country where you can have to cycle for 100 kms between food shops, you need to have enough on board to keep you going.

I love camping, of course, though Sue my wife emphatically does not. And find that a supposedly two-person Vaude tent does the business very nicely. Not too heavy, and easy to pack up. Plenty of pictures of it around the albums linked above.


Let that be enough for the moment. I need to get back to my tent, in what’s now the pouring late evening rain, ready for a 120-km ride (confusing, I know, as I’m registering my own distances in miles while NZ does everything in KMs) to Motueka through some just lovely mountains, which Kat and I drove in the very early morning 18 months ago.

Besides which, I can’t see the keyboard any more. And while my touch typing is almost perfect – damn well should be – not everything on this little Acer is where I would like it to be.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this post. Not as much as I enjoyed today’s ride, I can bet you! And a reminder, do click the links to the photos, and let me know if you find them fun and/or interesting,

Oh yes, and finally. New Zealand is FULL of larks. A right cacophony as I pedal along. Click the next audio link to hear what I mean. birds best

5 responses to “Day 10, 64 Miles from Westport to Murchison. 520 miles in total so far.”

    • Excellent advice Alex. Many thanks – I’ll take it, and get one of these on my return to the UK. BTW I also have some great photos of roads, which I might send also when I get a moment after the trip, Best.


  1. Hi Mark,

    I was looking out for you on my bus-transport to Punakaiki, but didn’t see any cyclist going north… Good to know you’re still going strong and enjoying your trip! Love to read your blog. Westport is indeed a strange place, but wow, what an incredible joy it was to cycle from Punakaiki to Westport! A late afternoon sun and a considerable tailwind were added to the already magnificent scenery. After some rain/drizzle in Nelson I now am in Picton where the weather returned to it’s “normal” fine state. Today I hiked a part of the Charlotte Track, very nice (as was the Charlotte road yesterday, by bike). Tomorrow I’ll start with a kayak-trip, which will end this “holiday in a holiday”. I will then go south again, inevitably cycling towards the end of my trip, next Friday (28)….

    See you somewhere at the top!



    • I must have been in Hokitika when your bus came by, Gerben. But great to hear you’ve continued well. I’m now in Havelock about to cycle the Queen Charlotte to my hosts for tonight in Anakiwa. Then tomorrow by ferry to the north. It was great fun cycling with you, and thanks for all your wise advice on your carefully laid-out plans. Do let me have your email and physical address – Sue and I will be coming through NL from the Hook in August on our way to Berlin on the tandem, and if our route comes anywhere near you, it would be fun to say hello briefly. I enjoyed our days together. All best, esp for Christmas.


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