Feilding > Hunterville > Taihape > Waiouru > Turangi

15 Dec

Day 38 – 19.1 km/11.9 miles later…

It was a short day from Palmerston North to Feilding so I left in the early afternoon to arrive around 4:30 PM to the household of Carl and Karla Hesseltine.  The house was bouncing with their three boys, Ashton, Boston, and Kingston.  It was a fun relaxing evening with a wonderful steak dinner in their quiet, laid-back area in the outskirts of Feilding.  They were all very friendly and supportive, giving me contacts for later in my voyage and referring me a sweet phone app (Viber – GET IT!) that makes it a ton easier to get in touch with people overseas.  Anyways, despite being a short day, it was a chill stop with a nice family and good rest for the next leg.  Thank You, Thank You to the Hesseltines for hosting me in Feilding!

Day 39 – 45.4km/28.2 miles later…

I was off by 7:45 AM to the next stop, Hunterville.  I wasn’t expecting a proper roadside cafe stop when I started this day but I was lucky to come across a conveniently placed cafe 25 km from Feilding and it seemed to miraculously appear just in time to get me out of the rain/projected thunder storms.  I still got rained on in the second half but it only lasted for an hour and a half and it was more fun than annoying as the day eventually warmed up and dried me off.  Got to Hunterville and came across a trucker who passed me and mentioned it in the bar of the motel where I was staying.  It sparked a few other conversations and I ended getting a $10 donation from a sweet woman sympathetic to the cause.

Day 40 – 47.3 km/29.4 miles later…

Ended in Taihape this day and was discounted on my room for the evening at the Gretna Hotel.  The receptionist was very nice and asked about my origin and what possessed me to do what I am doing.  I explained it and she helped me out immediately.  It was a quick stop other than that, and I was off in the morning to my next stop.

Day 41 – 29 km/18 miles later…

Waiouru: This day was short also, for it was the calm before the upcoming Desert Rd. and the longest trek of my run thus far.  Waiouru was pretty quiet which was nice to settle myself and mentally prepare for the next day.

Day 42 – 64.2 km/39.9 miles later…

I woke up early to face the 64.2 km and the Desert Rd.  Leading up to this, everyone I mentioned this leg to, gave me a crazy eye, expressing how they did not envy me in this task.  Yes, it was quite far, and yes it was hot, but it turned out to be my most scenic and exciting run yet!  I was psyched to rage the day and took it without hesitation.  Even though most of you have probably seen the pics from this run, I suggest you do if you have not on the faceboook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Give-Phil-5/144617748933460).   It started with some small rolling hills covered with dry lands and thirsty plants but then opened into the Tangariro National Park, one of New Zealand’s oldest and most treasured.  The latter part of the day offered windy roads, with great valley views and lush river banks.  It was a mini-triumph, to get to Turangi that evening and it gave me an encouraging feeling of encouragement.  The northern region of the South Island had me second guessing my ability to complete this challenge, for injuring my ankle and Achilles clouded my confidence.  But after this run, my heart felt free and it lifted my spirits with feelings of true exhilaration and drive to further push my limits.  It was great to surpass my prior personal best and to feel stronger after, rather than weaker as I did in the South.

The day ended at the home of Johanna, a super-sweet couchsurfing host.  She welcomed me with a meal and allowed me to kick back, do some laundry and carry some enthralling and culture-sharing conversation.  She had some great stories and showed true passion about meeting travellers and helping them along their way in foreign land.  She has hosted over 500 travellers in the last 4 years and has organized several highly successful events bringing people from all over the world to Turangi for her exciting events.  A huge shout out to Johanna for being a fantastic host and treating me to a fine bed, dinner and breakfast!

Another week down and another blog posted…be sure to keep on checking the daily facebook page pic/comment updates…Thanks for reading!

Big Cat

Porirua/Wellington again? > Paraparaumu > Levin > Palmerston North

13 Dec

Day 33 – 22km/13.7 miles later…

So I left Wellington, saying goodbye to the great city once again, en route North to complete the challenge of a lifetime…and then my backpack broke after 22 km in a suburb called Porirua 😦  Luckily, Porirua was only a 25 minute train ride from Wellington, so I hopped one to get back in time to hit an outdoors shop and grab a new and better backpack.  Lighter, softer, and nicer.  The broken backpack was a godsend and allowed me to surprise my buddies and chill for an extra night.  Thanks again to Carrie and her flatmates for having a surprise guest that night.

Day 34 – 31.8 km/19.8 miles later…

Ok… off again and this time to Paraparaumu.  After taking the train back to where I left off the day before I raged on up to find myself on the coast again.  The Kapiti Coast this was and a beautiful one at that.  A relatively short run, but I decided to take a break at a cafe along the way and was approached by a woman, Julie Walley, about my running.  She had passed me on the highway and was curious about why I was running.  I gave her the (well-rehearsed) spiel and she mentioned how her husband suffered a similar event to what my dad suffered.  However, her husband was lucky enough to be within the proximity of a defibrillator and survived.  Julie asked about where I was staying that night and, at that point, I hadn’t received any confirmation from the hotels/motels/backpackers I had contacted in Paraparaumu.  Immediately she was on the phone calling her friends and the hotel where she was staying to find me a place.  We exchanged numbers and an hour later I got a text saying that I would be able to stay at the Raumati Sands Resort (http://www.raumatisands.co.nz/ ) free of charge!  A huge shout out to Julie for the help and encouragement and to Heather and Tom at the Raumati Sands for having me for the night’s sponsorship.  Hooray for good luck!

Day 35 – 48.9km/30.4 miles later…

Levin… Once again I had to depart from the coast and head inland towards the center of the North Island.  But I was making northern progress and moving further towards my goal.  This run was relatively uneventful, but I made it, stayed in a typical motel and waited to depart for the next day…

Day 36 – 48.6 km/30.2 miles later…

Palmerston North… Boy, did this run seem long.  It was an average length run, a bit warm, but otherwise no different than most.  But I was looking forward to meeting up with Hannah and Nathan Mooney.  I hadn’t met them until I arrived that day, for I was put in touch with them by a rugby buddy I met in Seoul, Simon Walsh.  Hannah is his sister and the day I arrived, they were having a party for Nathan’s 30th birthday.  Initially, she was unsure if it would be too loud and not the proper atmosphere for someone who was doing excessive running, but I assured her that I am never one to shy away from a social event.  So I showed up, showered and joined the party.  It was great to meet tons of new people, some even willing to help me get in touch with people along the way of my running route.  Overall, it was a great time and Hannah, Nathan and all their friends and family were very welcoming, making me feel comfortable from the very beginning.  Of course, a huge shout out to Hannah and Nathan for letting me crash and feeding me 🙂

Another few stops down…

CHECK OUT FACEBOOK(http://www.facebook.com/pages/Give-Phil-5/144617748933460?ref=tn_tnmn) for new pics!

 

Big Cat

 

Ward > Blenheim > PICTON > Wellington!

11 Dec

Ward  > Blenheim > PICTON > Wellington!

Day 24 – 23.3 km/14.5 miles later…

This leg was both short and, sadly, it was the last time I would see some great scenery until the North Island.  Luckily, the North Island was only a couple days away and the anticipation of returning to Wellington was building.  The segment was initially coastal, then turned inland brought me to a place called Ward, a tiny town of a couple motels and cafes.

Day 25 – 46.1 km/28.6 miles later…

Blenheim!  I arrived to Blenheim in the afternoon of November 22, to the warm welcome at the house of Rose and Phil Bradfield, a chill comfortable home in the north-eastern part of the city.  Rose was immediately hospitable allowing me to promptly do laundry and shower, for I was in desperate need of both :-).  Eventually the rest of her family trickled in.  They were all very welcoming and carried a carefree, confident demeanor, making it easy to converse and immediately share an interesting interaction.  Philip, the father of their family, was quite an interesting fellow.  He works for the Department of Conservation and is constantly outdoors hiking, camping, hunting, and enjoying the beauty of NZ.  He is very knowledgeable about his country and showed a true passion for the role he serves as a conservationist.  I was able to pick his brain about possible equipment upgrades and it was great to discuss my North Island route with someone with extensive knowledge of the country.  Huge thanks to the Bradfields for letting me stay for the night and for being such gracious hosts!

 

Day 26 – 28 km/17.4 miles later…

And finally to PICTON!  This was the last bit before I finished the South Island and it was almost like the South Island didn’t want to see me go.  Ridiculous 30-40 mph winds were against me with rain the whole time I was running.  Rough, but it wasn’t going to stop me from catching my ferry to Wellington.  NO WAY :-)!!!!

A fantastic friend of mine, Carrie Lynch (you will see her a few times in this post, for she has been very helpful and generous), was there to pick me up from the ferry terminal and took me to a hot shower so I could come cleanly into the Wellington for a well-needed rest.

Day 27-32 – Rest!!!!

I decided that I needed a solid break in Wellington if I was going to complete my country-long goal of over 1200 miles, so I stayed a week. It was a bit of a homecoming, for I had lived there for 3 months before starting my run.  I lived in a house with 7 other Kiwis and made several amazing friends during my time there.  It felt great returning to somewhere familiar and to faces that I wasn’t seeing for the first time.

First, huge thanks to Carrie and her flatmates, Sarah and Neil, for allowing me to crash at their awesome flat during my time in Wellington.  It was super relaxing and they were hospitable and supportive throughout.

Second, a shout out to Radiant Health Centre, for granting me some treatment for my Achilles tendon, my misaligned hips, and aching back, that have plagued me on and off during my run thus far.  Richard Rust, the head therapist, was very helpful and also clued me in on some not-so-common knowledge of how B Vitamins are empirically proven to reduce cholesterol build-up in the cardiovascular system, and the intake of these is crucial in overall well-being.  This is quite interesting news, because this is a very inexpensive way to help oneself maintain a healthy heart.  It’s disappointing that the public is not well-informed about this simple way to help yourself.  When I arrived, he had all this information readily available to share with me, with numerous reputable sources supporting the research.  Certainly an eye-opening experience I will pass on and never forget.  Thank you, Richard, for being very helpful and generous.  And, of course, another thanks to Carrie for hooking this up.

It was great to see all my Wellington friends including: Jonathon, Amy, and Hamish (thanks for the arrival Malaysian dinner J), Blair, Charlotte, Liz, Davros, Samantha, Matty, Davy, Liam, Tim, Carin, Sven, and Siobhann.  Thanks for going out of your way to see me and give me some encouragement!  It means a ton!

My time in Wellington was so necessary and it was perfect to get my mind and my body refreshed for the rest of my journey.  It was so comforting to get a taste of normality again.  It was humbling to see how much I took normal life for granted.  Coming back made me appreciate face-to-face deep conversations with close friends, or wasting away hours playing video games with my buddies, or walking the water front and enjoying the sun, instead of trying to hide from it after running in the sun for 6-7 hours a day.  I started the North Island with a rested body and a renewed soul, with ambition and motivation to take on the second island of my journey.

Stay tuned…still got 10 days of the North Island to catch everyone up on…  Be sure to check out all the pictures on the facebook page and Like it if you haven’t yet: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Give-Phil-5/144617748933460

Big Cat

Oaro > Kaikoura/Hapuku > Kekerengu

4 Dec

Day 20 – 49.9 km/31 miles later…

Oaro: I left the excellent hospitality of Ange and Monty in Cheviot to traverse the Hundalee Hills of North Canterbury and make my way to the ocean and the township of Oaro. The hills were great, but I was plagued with a bit of a strained Achilles tendon so I took it slow and tried to compensate anywhere I could, to take the pressure off the Achilles long enough to get it back to peak performance status. This was the 3rd day of the 102 Trio and the excess milage definitely took its toll. I was ecstatic to get to Oaro, not only to get off my feet, but to get back to the ocean and see some breathtaking coast line. I managed to get a motel room overlooking the water and also got a glimpse of some dolphins off in the distance. Luckily, Oaro was relatively close to the next stop and a well needed rest day…

Day 21 – 34.1 km/21.2 miles…

Kaikoura/Hapuku…All beach cruising all day! Day 21 was siiiiick. Ran by tons of seals and beautiful rock beaches along the way to Kaikoura and Hapuku. I stopped in Kaikoura for lunch, then took a taxi up to Hapuku(13 km north of Kaikoura) and ran from there back down to Kaikoura to cover that land. I had plans to stay in Kaikoura but wanted to start in Hapuku for the next leg, to make it a tolerable 47 km so I didn’t have to push my Achilles more than necessary.

I stayed for 2 evenings and a rest day with the friendly and bubbly Brianna Bowman, a fellow Oxy grad who has been working in NZ on and off since her graduation in 2010. She was set up in a nice comfortable home with a cool housemate from Argentina, Andie, who has also been in NZ working for a bit now.  A huge thanks to Brianna and Andie for letting me crash and for being great hosts.

Kaikoura is certainly one of the coolest spots I have been through thus far. The coastal setting gives the area an immediate beach feel (reminiscent of beach towns in California) with easy going cafes and a comfortable aura. You add this to the mountain range backdrop and Kaikoura becomes a gorgeous sight to behold.

Day 22 – Rest

I spent the day kicking it beach side, reading and stopping into visit Brianna at her work, Dolphin Encounter, where she works in the cafe but was just promoted to leading Dolphin Encounter escapades out on a boat off the coast of Kaikoura.  A very exciting event for her, especially with NZ summer just beginning.  Other than that, I stayed off my feet and enjoyed the wonderful beach weather.

Day 23 – 45.8 km/28.5 miles later…

Kekerengu… Brianna was nice enough to give me a ride up to Hapuku to start my journey north, along the beach once again. Sadly this was the last day of coastal running I would get until a few days into the North Island.  But luckily, the weather was perfect. Brianna suggested stopping at a waterfall/stream known as Oahu Stream that runs into the ocean. It was just a 5 minute run from the highway so I said, “Why not?” and headed in. It was nice to get off the road for a bit and the thick brush provided nice cool shade for the endeavor. I arrived to the waterfall to find about 15 seal cubs playing and bathing in the waterfall’s pool. It was an awesome sight and the seals were as ridiculously cute, rough and tumbling their way into my heart.  Most of them just kicked it but a frisky one scampered over to where everyone was taking pictures and nipped at a gutsy cameraman who got in his face. The cameraman was lucky that the seal snapped at his camera and not as his face. I am sure that would have been uncomfortable, but I would have no pity on the guy. He knew the risk. They’re wild animals and there was a warning sign! 🙂

 Anyways, I eventually made my way to Kekerengu, another beach town along the way and was very lucky to get a hold of Grant and Anne at the Coastal Lodge (http://www.coastallodge.co.nz/), who sponsored my accommodation for the night. It was the only accommodation between Kaikoura and Ward (my next stop) which was about an 80 km stretch, so it saved me from pushing my ankle and running farther than needed.

Grant and Anne are a fantastic couple who have owned the Coastal Lodge for about 9 years and enjoy their time running the bed and breakfast. I had a pleasant chat with them, hearing about their family, their future plans, and their experiences as the hosts to hundreds of travellers. They were very generous and were happy to give me a comfortable bed and a great breakfast in the morning. Grant and Anne, your hospitality was excellent and I wish you both the best of luck! 

That’s up to Kekerengu…stay tuned for more catch-up writing soon. Thanks for reading…

Big Cat

Christchurch > Waipara > Cheviot

30 Nov

 Day 16 – 49.9 km/31 miles later…

TO CHRISTCHURCH…. My first stop in Papatowai (which seems like years ago) introduced me to Mary and Fergus Sutherland and through Mary, I was put in touch with her brother John and his wife Gael. John and Gael Bickley live with their 3 children and 2 close friends in a popular suburb of Chirstchurch known as Lyttelton. Lyttelton is known for its port which is big enough for some serious imports and exports but small enough to ward off intrusive commercialism. It offers functional character without depriving the locals of a gorgeous bay view.

In February 2011, Lyttelton was given a serious shake by an aftershock of the destructive September 2010 quake. The February quake condemned nearly 1 in 2 buildings in the Lyttelton community. The isolated nature of the suburb centralized the damage, due to a range of mounts separating the main Christchurch area from its southern suburbs. This range caused an aggressive reverberation of the shallow seismic waves, repeatedly ravaging the area and making the earthquake seem like an eternity. Miraculously, the Bickley’s historic house survived with very minor damage. This could not be said for many of their fellow Lytteltonians. After discussing the affect of this quake with Gael, it was clear the damage to their community went far beyond physical. Hundreds of family homes were no longer habitable, drastically limiting the bustling social community present prior to the event. Local schools were shut down adding scores of time to educational commutes, pushing families to spread themselves thin after suffering several of these traumatic events. Land slides and fallen rocks ruined famous scenic roads stealing engrained character from the unique hillsides. Fortunately, there are enough families left in Lyttelton to drive on and continue as things were the best they can and the Bickley’s are one of these families.

I was very lucky to come across John, Gael, and their bouncing family, for they were amazing hosts. They lead a lively household full of youth, excitement, and spontaneity. I was fed with amazing home-cooking and given conversation of ranging topics from real estate, to high school mathematics, to positive thinking, to childhood party games, and more. My stop in Christchurch was an experience I will never forget and meeting the Bickley’s made me miss childhood.  But it gave me an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of free-spirited youth, a notion I continually try to personify. Huge thanks to John, Gael, and their talented children for the bed to sleep in and the great Kiwi hospitality.

Day 17 – Rest

Day 18 – 58.5 km/36.4 miles later…

Waipara… A small place, not too far from Christchurch in a car, but certainly a solid run. This day was the first of a 3-day segment of running that took me 102.3 miles. Certainly, the most trying series of runs thus far.

I arrived after a total of 7.75 hours of running the coolest house I have ever stayed in. A massive, hand-built, 2-story, wood cabin, placed amongst a small homegrown farm, with a friendly family there to take me in and show me a comfortable, laid back evening. Sarah and William were the parents of Rob and Andrew, with two temporary American residents, Jordan and Sanya, who are currently traveling and farm working respectively. And to put a random feeling of mine into prespective for you all: it felt odd to be amongst 2 other Americans because it was my first time since being in the States, that I was with more than one other Yank.   Americans need to get out more 🙂 Anyways we all crashed, woke, ate and they sent me on my way. Huge thanks to these fantastic hosts!

Day 19 – 56.2 km/34.9 miles later…

Put me at Cheviot, a quaint little town with a beautiful scenic domain and a sizable community for a township in the South Island. This day was the 2nd of the 102 Trio.  It was relatively flat, other than a couple hills just before my arrival to the house of Ange, Monty and family. They owned the only place in the scenic domain/reserve, with a huge yard, and a quiet aura perfect for a relaxing rest before my final trek of the 102 Trio.

First, I will give Ange a shout out. Not only was she the contact point for letting me stay at their place in Cheviot, but she also set me up with the family in Waipara by going 2 degrees beyond her friends to connect me with someone who she didn’t know directly. Huge thanks for that connection and the wonderful hospitality despite babysitting two kids aside from her own two, feeding us all and then getting all the children to her son’s piano recital. Mind you this was all done in one and a half hours time.

The second shout out is to Monty. Huge thanks for going out and running with me for an hour. One of the most difficult parts of this NZ-running challenge is the solitude. Don’t get me wrong. Solitude is quite useful and a great thing to be able to handle.  I have learned volumes about myself and put hours of meaningful thought into hundreds of different subjects. But being alone can be taxing. But you may ask: what about all the people who pass you on the highway? Yes, cars with people are passing me all the time, but when you are on foot running for 6-8 hours a day, all these cars might as well have wings, jet engines and be 20,000 feet overhead. So, huge props to Monty for taking the time out of his day to join me. It truly was a pleasure to run alongside a great guy who had insightful things to say. Not to mention, Monty put me in touch with the hook-up in Blenheim, which I will mention when that post comes along.

So that was my time in Cheviot and this is the end of one of several updates to catch myself up to Wellington/Porirua.  You will here from me soon!  I should get a few pics up today too… so look out for those!

Big Cat

Studholme/Waimate > Timaru > Geraldine > Ashburton > Dunsandel

18 Nov

Day 10 – 43.2 km/26.8 miles later…

Took off from Oamaru and headed up Highway 1, which I have been raging a majority of the way, and made it to Studholme in the Waimate area.  I found out here that there is a runner who completed his length-of-the-country foot journey the day I arrived to Studholme (Tuesday, November 8, 2011).  Here is the website if you are interested in checking out his purpose and  success: http://runningnz.co.nz/ .  It is certainly a legitimate reason and it’s good to know it can be done!

Day 11 – 49 km/26 miles later…

Landed to Timaru in the late afternoon after a pretty average day of running and met Mr. Trevor Bowan, who I found as a host on CouchSurfinig.org.  Trevor is a retired dairy farmer from the South Canterbury region who now spends his time traveling, hosting couchsurfers like myself, eating well, staying fit, and just having a good time with friends and family.  When I arrived he graciously treated me to a home-cooked meal and we sat and chatted for hours on end, until we were both exhausted and ready to keel over and fall into a slumber late in the evening.  A huge thanks to Trevor for letting me crash in his guest bedroom in a warm and soft bed and letting me stay indoors during a terrible day of rain.

Day 12 – Rest.  After cruising around Timaru for a bit I stopped into a coffee shop and met a chill dude, Rohan Bell, that informed me about this marathon crew known as the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team(http://www.srichinmoyraces.org/).  This is basically a organization based on the ideals of Sri Chinmoy, who was a large proponent of reaching enlightenment and self-transcendence through sports and fitness.  After spending numerous hours running I figured some meditation may be a good way to pass the time.  I have tried and asked some friends for some meditation help to get started (Here’s your shout out, Carrie Lynch!).  It has been chill thus far but I feel like I got a long ways to self-transcendence :-).  I will definitely contact the New Zealand chapter when I run through Auckland.

Huge thanks to Rohan for the chill conversation, telling me about Sri Chinmoy, and offering help as a contact for finding accommodation throughout my trip!

Day 13 – 35.9 km/22.3 miles later…

Geraldine!  I arrived the opening day of the Geraldine Arts and Plants Festival.  Geraldine is a town about 15 kms from the main 1 Highway between Timaru and Ashburton in the South Canterbury region.  This festival is the busiest time of the year in Geraldine and I was very fortunate to get in contact with Chris and Neroli Richardson, in time to reserve a sponsored bed in their successful backpackers hostel known as the Rawhiti House (http://www.rawhitibackpackers.co.nz/ ).  I arrived in the early afternoon and was given a warm welcome by my hosts.  They were very helpful and approachable, and showed a strong passion for making their guests feel comfortable.  Huge thanks to Chris and Neroli for generously accommodating me during a very busy time in Geraldine.

During my time in Geraldine I was at the local supermarket, getting some food for the next morning and I noticed a familiar face.  Turns out it was Katie Harant, a fellow South Hills High School graduate of 2004.  I haven’t been in touch with her for several years, but the chances of coming across someone from high school was too crazy to pass up the chance to reminisce.  Katie has been working in New Zealand for 7 months and happened to be working in a farm in the general area of Geraldine.  I was also very fortunate for I needed a place to stay between Ashburton and Christchurch, and the she had a contact on a farm house in Dunsadel that split the two destinations.  It was great to see her and we met for a drink the day after in Ashburton to catch up and have a great chat.  CRAZY HUH?!?

Day 14 – 51.7 km/32.1 miles later…

Ashburton was the next stop.  Ashburton was quite laid back for the day I arrived was Canterbury Day and nearly everything was closed, making the place seem pretty empty.  Nonetheless I was able to find somewhere to eat and a supermarket to resupply my food source.  I met up with Katie, had a chat and was off the next morning.  Big thanks to Howard and Carolie Andrew for sponsoring my night in Ashburton at the Rambler’s Rest Backpackers (http://www.ramblersrestashburton.com/).

Day 15 – 41.6 km/25.8 miles later…

Dunsandel: Thanks to Miss Katie Harant, I was able to stay on a farmhouse just outside the wee township of Dunsandel.  As I mentioned, I was desperately in need of a place to crash between Ashburton and Christchurch and luck/Katie came to the rescue.  She put me in touch with Rika and George and they let me crash their place for the evening.  Hearty food and lively conversation were in stock and it was a great time.  However, they both had to crash a bit early to get some sleep to get up at 4:30 AM to milk some cows.  So in their honor I, too, got up early and departed at 7:30 AM for the trip to Christchurch.

That’s all I got for now, but will get some more updates ready soon and posted as soon as I can.  Thanks for following and catch you all soon!

Big Cat

Waikouaiti > Waianakarua > Oamaru

6 Nov

The time came for me to depart from hill-enshrouded Dunedin for northern lands on October 3rd.

Before I go on I have to mention a wonderful woman, Mayra Clarke of Waihola.  Mayra owns the Black Swan Tearooms and Hotel in Waihola and is the survivor of a husband who suffered from Heart Disease and passed away a year ago.  I stopped in for a rest and ordered some food for lunch.  She asked me a few questions and once she found out what I was doing, immediately comped my meal and donated to my cause, while sharing her story.  She is an absolutely sweet woman and afforded a very lively and entertaining conversation.  I am very happy to have met Mayra and she certainly brightened my day!

Ok, back to leaving Dunedin…

37.9 km/23.5 miles later…

I found myself in Waikouaiti looking for the Golden Fleece Hotel, Restaurant and Bar (http://www.aatravel.co.nz/main/listing.php?listingId=56062).  I had inquired about accommodation the  day prior to my arrival and Allan and Vicki Hall, hotel managers, were eager to sponsor me a night in the hotel.  They also had a family member struck with heart ailments and after several surgeries she survived!  Waikouaiti is a quaint little town with very inviting people and the Golden Fleece was the main hangout for the locals, giving me a great opportunity to mingle.  This is quite nice after flying solo for 5 or 6 hours at a time.  The people I met were all very encouraging and the interactions made for a great evening.   I woke up energized and ready to conquer the next leg of the trip.

46.7 km/29 miles later…

The next stop was in Waianakarua.  This place is not so much a town as it is a T-junction with two hidden lodges each a kilometer or two off the highway.  I was lucky enough to find accommodation in one called the Olive Grove Lodge and Holiday Park.  The owner, Kim, was very helpful and gave me a warm welcome after a day of excessively fickle weather, ranging from hot heat, windy rains, and horizontal hail!  It was quite comforting and cool to notice how many more people honked to encourage and stopped to offer me rides when the weather turned treacherous.  These things made the day bearable and gave me a sweet taste of the hospitality of New Zealanders.  Can’t say I wasn’t tempted to hop in a car but I kept my head down and luckily, in the end, Olive Grove was there with a warm bed, hot shower, and a washing machine for me and my smelly clothes 🙂

25.6 km/16 miles later…

Now I am in Oamaru.  The trip to here was gorgeous.  I was able to escape the main highway for the coastal road, allowing me to stop at a beachside cafe for lunch and a great view on a perfect day.  The days distance was relatively shorter than all the others, but it was sweet nonetheless.  In the second half of the day, one of the roads Google had directed me towards was closed to cars, but I took it to find the reason why.  I came upon this reason with amazement.  At some points the coastal road had collapsed into the ocean, making it obviously unsuitable for cars of any size.  In one spot, the entire width of the road was gone.  I assume Google has not updated its mapping of this part of the world since the Christchurch earthquakes.  Sadly, this is just  a mere glimpse of the destruction those catastrophes caused.

I eventually arrived to Oamaru in the early afternoon and was graciously accommodated by Kelly at Chillawhile Backpackers and Art gallery in Oamaru North.  This hostel has a great vibe and displays numerous pieces of art, while also providing several other forms of creative and goofy outlets such as musical instruments, huge Jenga, ping pong, juggling objects and several others.  The staff is composed mostly of travelers and they were quite friendly and helpful.  Here is a video about this hostel, and if you are ever in Oamaru, you should definitely check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScjwGrFy0vI

 

Well, tomorrow I am off to Waimate, then to Timaru the day after.  Hope to update you all very soon with the latest, but I am at the mercy of the internet access lords and am not sure when I will have sufficient time to write something up.  Hopefully sooner than later.

And terribly sorry for the lack of pictures they, too, will be up when I get some more time on a computer.

Cheers!

Big Cat