For those that are following along on my SPOT Tracker, there seems to have been a glitch after breakfast this morning, with the track suddenly ceasing at "Pancake Rocks". I'm pretty sure I had turned it back on after our stop, but sometimes "stuff happens" and I may have neglected to ensure the "breadcrumb" tracking was active. Suffice to say, we have made it safely to Christchurch.
The morning dawned bright & fair and we were on the road by 9.00am with the air temp showing as a bracing 9 degrees. Sure wakes you up better than coffee. Doug offered me a ride of the VFR, of course I required much arm twisting to accept.
The riding position is more sports oriented than the BMW, leaning forward with narrow bars and the pegs set back. A nice ride it is too, for an 800 it has oodles of grunt and has brakes that only require the merest caress to haul the beast down quick smart. Very agile as one would expect for this type of machine. It would take me a bit of time to feel at home on it though, after about 50km my thumbs were starting to give me grief from the weight shift and I was happy to hand the bike back. As I said it would take a while to get used to it, but once acquired it would be a hoot to punt along.
Our first stop this morning was at Punakaiki (or Pancake Rocks). The local limestone here has been laid down over the years in thick slabs that resemble pancake stacks. As the rocks have eroded due to weather and sea they have formed all these cool formations and blowholes, well worth a look. Of course seeing as the rocks look like pancakes one should indulge accordingly for breakfast, including bacon, mmmmm.
We head off down down the coast towards Greymouth, where Doug suggests we take the "B" road following the Grey River up to Reefton, then through the Lewis Pass and on to Christchurch. Sounds a sterling plan to me.
The roads have opened up to river plains, wide grazing land between towering peaks off in the distance either side. Twisty roads are fun but it is nice to run along with nice wide roads, sweeping bends and good visibility for a change.
Not far out of Reefton we are stopped by a herd of dairy cattle (Fresians I believe) moving from one paddock to another. Us and a couple of cars on one side and about 15 bikes on the other. The girls were taking their time crossing but none of us were in any great hurry, except for one bloke that arrived on the other side that just had to get through. So he proceeds to force his way through the herd, fortunately the girls are pretty road-wise and stop to let him through, with the rest of us wondering why. We were back on our way soon enough with a friendly wave from the little kids in the back of the farmers' ute.
After refuelling at Reefton we set off for the Lewis Pass. This road is something else again as it winds through tall conifers on either side, the road mostly in dappled shade and that lovely pine forest scent on the air, makes you glad to be alive and out in it.
At one stage we are overtaken by a rider on a little Honda, he was wringing the things' neck and laying over the tank to get that extra couple of clicks out of it. About 2 km later he was pulled over on the side of the road having his horoscope read by the local plod. Oops. Funnily enough I had only been thinking just prior to this that I hadn't seen a police car all day, another ten km up the road there was another. Doug reckons that in all the times he has been across this road he has never seen one at all.
A quick detour off to the left and we pull into Hamner Springs, a thermal springs resort town, for a bite of lunch before a final push to our destination. Nice spot this is too, all a bit touristy but very popular. The thai beef salad was pretty good too, nice touch serving it with a slice of watermelon & rockmelon.
The final run into Christchurch was pretty uneventful, with us arriving at out motel by around 5.00pm, time enough for a quick shower,do some washing and head out for a quick look at the city before dinner.
Our motel is only a couple of blocks from the city centre, so we go for a walk to check out the status of repairs following the big earthquake in 2011.
The damage was bad, really bad, with old stone buildings such as churches fairing the worst of all. I guess stone doesn't flex as much as steel/timber. Once proud and beautiful buildings like the main cathedral are severely damaged, many are still closed and fenced off, but the city is recovering. One feature that the city has adopted is for small "gap filler" businesses to be constructed on cleared sites. Little coffee shops, even an open-air venue constructed entirely out of wooden shipping pallets, way cool. The idea being to breathe life into the area by keeping people around, instead of just having a huge demolition/construction site. More power to the city fathers for their progressive thinking. There is a vibrant air to the place that you can feel.
Tomorrow we go to explore further.