An early start this morning, on the road by 8.00am, as we have a long haul ahead of us. A quick cup of instant coffee in the motel, with a view to a more substantial repast up the road someplace.
Funnily enough the quality of the instant coffee in the motels doesn't equate to the cost of the accommodation. Some of the expensive places had crap coffee while the "homely" places had quite passable brews. Manapouri was actually pretty good, considering it was instant.
The day was overcast but crisp, no real threat of rain and the promise of clear skies Eastward.
First stop was a little cafe in Tuatapere, self-proclaimed sausage capital of New Zealand. They had a quite extensive menu for breakfast although we opted for toast & big coffees. There was even one listing for "Hamster Fodder with Yoghurt & Honey". The toast was excellent, freshly baked with a variety of homemade conserves, just the thing to fuel the inner man for the journey ahead.
Our track this morning takes us to the Southernmost point of the South Island before turning Northward for our run back towards home. So we head through Riverton, Invercargill to Bluff. This is where the aluminium smelter lies, a port town where the ore arrives and leaves as ingots courtesy of the big hydro electric power plant back up the road.
We followed the road to the little monument/marker that signifies the Southern Point, took our obligatory photos and left. This place is infested with sandflies the size of buzzards, which immediately set upon us as soon as we were stationary, bloody hell let's get get the heck out of here quick.
Said sandflies then proceeded to self-destruct all over our visors, just as a show of appreciation of our short visit. Indeed at one point I popped up over a hill and my visor was immediately covered by a shotgun blast of bugs.
The road itself is quite varied, at first it was rolling pastureland but as we headed North East it became twistier. The area is known as the Catlins and is quite an attraction of riders, the reason for which we soon found out as we left Balclutha for Clydevale. Woo hoo, twisties here we come.
Dougs' new tyres seem to have been scrubbed in quite well as he disappeared into the distance scraping boots along the tarmac. I contented myself with being "Captain Slow" and pootling along at a conservative 120 or so.
Despite frequent stops to clean our visors it only took a few km before they were again covered with the gooey remains of the suicidal insects. At one stop I hopped off the bike to find a bumblebee the size of a volkswagon lodged on the seat in the position of my, err, " bloke bits". All praise to the wonders of Kevlar armour, the alternative as the insect completed his last rites just doesn't bear contemplating.
Our mate on the Harley from the previous couple of days passed us as we left Bluff, he was heading in as we were on the way out. He said he was planning to overnight in Owaka, as we rolled through the town we hoped he liked his own company a lot. About the only thing of note in the town was the Teapot Museum, a house whose yard was filled with teapots of various shapes and sizes. Enjoy the hospitality buddy.
Pulling into Balclutha we decide it's time for a feed. As we still have another 160km or so to go I reckon something light might be in order so I order a BLT (Bacon Lettuce & Tomato) sandwich. These are usually only at most a couple of slices of bread with a rasher of bacon and a bit of rabbit food. Today's offering is a foot-long crunchy roll stuffed with bacony goodness. Phowar.
Not much else to report about the rest of the run to Alexandra, main highway with traffic and a consistent haul. At least it was quite relaxing.
After checking in to a nice motel, knocking over a bit of washing and generally freshening up, we repaired to the pub for a couple of beers and dinner. Soup of the day was Kumara and bacon. I love this country, you can have bacon with every meal.
So after around 500km and 8 hours on the road it is going to be another early night, to set up for tomorrows' run to Christchurch via Mount Cook.