The chap draped in gold wearing stubby shorts and cowboy boots reminiscent of an 80’s porn star had two sentences of advice for us, as we exited the New World supermarket . “If you can’t see the mountains, it’s already raining. If you can see the mountains, it’s about to rain.”
And damn it, he was right.
Laden with worldly belongings for the two days cycle touring, it was only a matter of pedal rotations before the heavens opened up and down came the moisture from above. The vehicle spray creep slowly into the abyss of our butt cracks yet as a threesome, we grimaced the landscape undulation to reach Charleston some 25kms later.
Biking from Westport to Greymouth seemed a great idea by our friend Alannah who knew we would be up for the adventure. I could only imagine what was going through her mind as we sat hovered over hot soup and toasted bread peering through the blurred glass windows at the torrential rain. But we knew that the conditions were a test of stamina … resist a third bowl of soup; re-cloth in the wet clothes; and re-saddle to keep going.
The Lonely Planet describes the stretch of road we were traveling as one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world. The Paparoa National Park didn’t disappoint with rainforest at times coming right down to the sea.
The beaches that skirmish the foreshore is home to the world’s smallest penguin however, our attention was on safety so as not join the road kill frequently evidenced atop our bike seats – opossum, pukeko and weka. Oh, and the hedgehog of course. Nikau Palms, the type you see in desert oasis are dotted across the landscape in their hundreds of thousands, lush and green. We did wish the sand flies were too only found in the desert as well. When we stopped to absorb the view or rest after a climb, they were unrelenting at feeding off any bare skin not covered or lathered in Bushman’s 80% Deet repellent.
The grind up to Irimahuwhero Lookout gave the greatest views of the raw rugged coastline, both north from where we had originated, to the south and our destination Punakaiki. The distance covered was only 51kms, a fair and reasonable start to getting back on the bike after the bike crash last year and for Alannah’s introduction to cycle touring.
We often believe that some our best conversations have been had in a backpackers except we ventured some more to frequent the tavern and meet some locals. Not once did we meet anyone who was born and bred on the Coast with extra body parts that is often rumoured.
The weatherman porn star earlier in the day wearing his cowboy boots did stride kind of weird though.
Perhaps the weight from all his gold? Or the tightness of his stubby shorts? Or an extra couple of toes!