Day 17: Wednesday 30 Nov – Nelson to Murchison

152km today – 1,700 meters climbing and 1,600 meters down


It rained over night a few times but had stopped by 6am. The tent was wet but I carry a rubbish bag for this, to stop it getting everything else in my bag wet.

I was a bit daunted by the ride today, lots of climbing and a long way. Riding out of Nelson we followed mainly back roads, to keep away from the traffic.


Back roads from Nelson to Murchison

We stopped in Wakefield at approx 35 km for coffee. While drinking coffee Tony noticed my back wheel had gone flat. On closer inspection my tyre had a number of cuts in the tyre so tonight at camp I will need to change tyres. I decided to hope that it would get through the day with no further problems. To add to this, when packing without thinking I had picked up the spare mountain bike inner tubes from my bike shed, so guess what I had in my bike bag! Luckily Brett had a spare tube, and him and Tony kindly got my bike sorted while Michele and finished our coffee.

Next we turned off into quite a pleasant valley, but then the climb started. Clearly I had not paid much attention the previous night at rider’s meeting, as this climb was for the next 37km until 90km where it was mostly downhill. I was very daunted, not sure if I am up to this. This was not like the switch backs on the South American ride where it was pretty much a 5% gradient with a small flat bit at each end. This was the longest 37km of the trip so far.

At lunch at 71km there was none of joviality of the day before with 19 km of climbing to go. Thankfully not all of it was climbing, there were some downhills as well. Then yay at 90km, mostly downhill from there.

However at this point we were now back on the Kaikoura to Christchurch bypass route and trucks plus cars again. There were four in a row and some way too close. I am also not reassured by the gouges in the grass and knocked over fences when what was a clearly a heavy vehicle had come off the road. As before I would move right off when I got the chance, and was constantly looking behind me.

When you are going reasonably fast downhill the wind is whistling in your ears and you don’t always hear them. Even with all the precautions I got a few scares and rode off into a ditch once.

We stopped at the Owen Tavern at 133 km and spoke to a couple of truck drivers. They told us that there are 500 to 700 extra trucks a day on this road, and most of these drivers are not used to the road and are driving too fast for the road. Not reassuring news with 20 more kilometres on this road today and 13 kilometres tomorrow before we leave the Kaikoura – Christchurch traffic diversion.


Outside Owen Pub – Justina from Switzerland, From Canada: Bill in the bright yellow, Kelvin and Don

Off to camp, on the way caught up with Guy from Canada. It is his first TDA ride, and where he comes from there are no hills to mention, so as a consequence he is finding this ride very challenging. Plus Ray and Ursula also from Canada, this is about their 5th ride but the first time I have met them.


5km from camp my back tire started going flat again! I decided to pump it ip rather than change the tube. At 2km out it had to be pumped again and I was very relieved to ride into camp after 11.5 hours out on the bike.


Campsite (Photo credit: Michele’s Facebook page)

It was quite a nice little camp ground, some old hydro huts for rent very cheaply, but as my tent was wet I wanted to put it up. There was a nice seating area covered with a roof and along one side with a nice view of the river. Also the home of lots of biting insects, my bushman’s insect repellent was popular. There were good kitchen facilities and Yarnez the chef excelled at dinner: roast lamb with roasted potato, gravy, mint sauce, asparagus and cabbage, capsicum, slaw  yum !!!! Not quite so yum that we succumbed to cask Mystique River Red wine. That was a mistake to only be made once.


Michele and Walli with Buller river in the background


Having a sign would make me suspect this had been a problem

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