Our weight saving ruse of packing a small tent was not a good one – for the rest of the holiday we relegated it to strictly emergency and thankfully we only had to use it on the one pre-planned occasion. I’d been awake most of the night and we rose a little before 07:00, leaving at 09:10 to begin the long ascent to the Lindis Pass, thankfully starting with a long level stretch. To our surprise we caught up with Hans, a Swiss cyclist and fellow camper, and we rode together all day. Hans was financing his holiday by fruit picking in Cromwell, the main growing area of South Island, and cycled on his days off.
It was very cold at first but the day remained cloud free and the sun turned it into a hot one. As the temperature rose I started suffering from my sleepless night but finally made it to the top behind Christine and Hans where a car driver handed us each an apricot – even the motorists are friendly round here and many of them give you a cheerful wave! Perhaps it was once like this in Britain.
I found it hard going even after passing the summit with a headwind and undulations still to cope with. It was a relief when we reached the one oasis in 113km, the shop at Tarras with a wooden bench outside where we ordered a triple scoop boysenberry ice-cream each and cold drinks. Then the long slog to the motor camp where we booked a cabin, equipped with bunk beds, a sink, cutlery and crockery for $30 – that’s less than five pounds each! You had to provide your own bedding, towels and pans and use communal showers, toilets and kitchen.
These motor camp cabins were great – the price for a basic cabin ranged up to $40 for two and you could either borrow or hire pans or alternatively take the next level up, a tourist cabin, which incorporated a small kitchen kitted out with basic equipment. Whenever we got fed up of sleeping bags we hired bedlinen and a duvet for a small charge – occasionally this was provided with the cabin. If you really wanted to be self contained you could take a motel unit for around $80 but the communal kitchens are wonderful meeting places and are a big part of the holiday. After the first couple of nights we didn’t book in advance, this being the tail end of the season, knowing we could always fall back on the tent. The type of serviced accommodation common in Britain is unusual in New Zealand outside the cities and exists mainly in the form of homestays (similar to British B&B) rather than hotels.