24 days into #TandemTA, and enjoying the HuHa bikepackers near Murchison…

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Two further rewarding 70km days heading towards the bottom of New Zealand,  BAD sand flies approaching and enormously enjoying ourselves in this rather more bucolic and gentle terrain.

We’re now at the Hu Ha Backpackers near Nelson Lakes, with v slow Internet connection not allowing much photo uploading, but Facebook seems to work.

Do search for Mark Brayne there and enjoy the public photos.

Daughter Katie and partner  Mela are having a tougher time than they’d hoped back up north in the forest trails which we avoided, so just short of Murchison we’re going to slow down a bit to try to let them catch up.

We’ve now cycled approaching 1600km – that’s 1000 miles in old money – and since setting out from Cape Reinga three-and-a-half weeks ago we’ve climbed (and whizzed down again) a total of nearly 30,000 feet, enough to get to the top of Everest and back.

And we’re both feeling absurdly fit – getting up hills now, even at 65, is (mostly) just like choosing a lower gear in the car and just moving through it. Highly to be recommended.

Kiwis continue to prove utterly delightful. Our latest WarmShowers hosts Des and Kirsty in Nelson couldn’t have been more lovely, with stunning home-made beer and the warmest of welcomes, and much shared enthusiasm for the craziest and longest distances, for Thorn Bikes (we each have them) and Rohloff gears, and for being in our 60s and Not Giving Up Just Yet.

Everywhere we go (apart from the occasional yobs, especially on North Island who shout and try to scare us as they zoom past) we’re met with kindness, with matches from a flagged down car last night for our cooker, with ideas where to pitch our tent or to stay or to detour delightfully off the main road.

And while there’s heartbreak in the knowledge of what was lost when the Europeans arrived in the 19th century, in terms of forest, animals, birds and so much more, the scenery is stunning.

Enjoy the photos over on Facebook. Especially the one illustrating what it must feel like to be a black alpaca in the family, and how the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

The one with the gate is of a fellow TA rider, going massively faster than us, with a much lighter bike and minimum of gear. Daisy also did enjoy the shade of that Nelson palm tree.

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