Bike wheels and rails – a hazardous combination

It was a cool, cloudy start and we anticipated our first wet ride when a few tentative drops fell late in the morning. Then the clouds dispersed to leave us with a warm sunny afternoon and evening. The cycling was easy but the scenery uninspiring, the road being too far inland for sea views and the mountains far away to our right.

We’d originally planned to stay at Hokitika but arrived mid-afternoon so we just took a break there before pressing on to Greymouth. I’d been intrigued by the comment “enjoy the road/rail bridges” in the Hokitika to Greymouth section of Pedallers Paradise. We soon found out – there are two river crossings where State Highway 6 shares a single track bridge with the freight branch! Later we came upon a roundabout bisected by the branch. The trains aren’t very frequent but road users aren’t protected as they are in Britain. Minor road crossings just get a warning sign with no lights or barriers and the onus is on the road user to take care.

Cyclists never pass cafés when they’re spaced as far apart as this, so there’s a good chance you’ll soon have company. Our afternoon stop brought conversations with an Alaskan and a couple from Wellington in the North Island. We took a $40 tourist cabin at the Seaside Holiday Park on the outskirts of Greymouth. This was one step up from the $32 standard cabin and included an equipped kitchen, easier than using our camping stove. After dinner we enjoyed a sunset walk along the shingle beach.

Day 17: Punakaiki