Leaving Invercargill to cycle New Zealand end to end
From: Kirstie, Stuart, Matthew and Cameron
Subject: Finally on a Bike
Place: Invercargill, South Island, New Zealand
Hello from Invercargill
Invercargill city has a good recycling scheme. Just as well for inside our 3 giant cling-film covered, mattress sized cardboard boxes we have smuggled in 2 x 75m rolls of 12mm bubble wrap, one month of back issues of The Times and seven rolls of bargain box gaffer tape. All this we kindly donate to Marion and Russell, our homestay hosts, when we transform their garden into what looks like an enormous garage sale.
Warmed by the early summer sun we reassemble the bikes, helped and hindered by the kids who squeal excitedly at the sight of their Burley trailers magically reappearing the other side of the world.
A send off by the press….
As our hosts watch with interest, the scale of our venture begins to dawn on them. They know a story when they see one and being well connected people pick up the phone and alert the local press, radio, TV and papers.
The summer sun takes off on its’ own holiday as we begin ours. We leave Invercargill with wind, rain and a local TV crew in our faces. As we leave what is known as the ‘Friendly City’, people wave, point, stare and honk their horns in encouragement, recognising us as the celebrity cyclists from page two of their morning paper, the crazy Brits who have come to cycle New Zealand from one end to the other with two toddlers in tow. Is it really that unusual?
Off to the start at Bluff
On the way to Stewart Island, the starting point for our tour. we have our first puncture and our first accident; Kirstie is blown away not by the view but by the wind which gusts across the road. On a day of firsts, we have our first argument too, at Bluff (the most southerly point of the Highway which runs end to end); in a silly debate over which way is South.
We know the journey has finally begun
We enjoy celebratory coffee, muffins and whipped cream to mark the journey’s start before boarding the ferry for Stewart Island, our first excursion. Onboard, it’s our turn to honk as the Foveaux ferry is buffetted by the wild Southern Sea. Thankfully the kids sleep soundly and leave the puking to us grown-ups. It’s not going to be an easy journey. But we knew that.