BAC New Zealand - 2015
February 12 - Wellington to Havelock
Up at 5:00. Bags to the van at 6:00. Breakfast at 6:20. On our bicycles at 7:00. Follow the leader to the ferry terminal. On the ferry before 8:00.
The Interislander/Cook Straight ferry that we sailed on was the Kaitaki. It was a huge ship with ten decks. There were plenty of places to sit - outside on the top deck and inside at several lounges, cafes and family areas. Along with some of my group, I opted for the lounge with the soft reclining seats just like the airlines with more space. Ann stayed on the open top deck. Although the sun was shining brightly and the wind was very mild, it was too cool outside for me in my bicycling clothes.
The ferry ride lasted three hours. I was able to take a short nap, eat a freshly baked scone with butter, jam and whipped cream, and chat with my friends. We were able to resolve many of the world's major issues including how to program our GPSs.
The crossing to Picton was very smooth. When we reached the South Island, the channel became narrow. The hills on each side were steep and covered with green vegetation. It reminded me of cruising through the fjords in Norway.
When we were close to the end of the cruise, we were instructed to fetch our bicycles which were tied up on the third deck. We lined up at the exit and when the ramp lowered, we were the first ones to debark.
We rode a short distance and found the van parked at the side of the road. All of us chose to leave our jackets and other cool weather gear in the van. The temperature had kicked up to 80.
Our ride to the motel was short but it included two short climbs and several rollers. Our route was along the coastline with beautiful views.
As I was descending into one of the small villages, a cyclist that I didn't know passed me, stopped at the side of the road and started spitting. I passed the scene. After he caught up to me again, he said that a bee had flown into his mouth and was stinging his throat. We determined that he was OK and proceeded to ride together as we chatted for several kms. He was a local on a training ride. He admitted that he was a bit overweight and had taken up cycling to get into shape. He seemed to be in pretty good shape to me on the flats where we alternated pulling each other. He was struggling on the hills. It was fun to ride along with a friendly local and tune my ear to the kiwi accent.
Did you know that Havelock is known for its green-lipped mussels? These are very large mussels with a bright green lip. They are about the size of razor clams that are found on ocean beaches in Washington state. After our social hour, Ann and I joined half of our group on the patio at the Mussel Pot for dinner. Most of the group ordered samplers of mussels cooked in various ways. Ann and I can't eat these molluscs so we had a chicken burger and fish and chips instead. It was fun watching the others try to finish of their huge meals. It was also fun watching customers slapping their bare legs and then running over to a side table and spraying on bug repellent. It wasn't much fun the next day when we were scratching all of our own bright red bites from the local sand fleas.