Steep hills, caves and slacklining.

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The single lane bridges here are so long, they even have passing places.

The single lane bridges here are so long, they even have passing places.

Continuing my habit of taking pictures of doors...

Continuing my habit of taking pictures of doors…

One of the many waterfalls

One of the many waterfalls

The longest straight section I saw - most of it twisted and turned through the rock

The longest straight section I saw – most of it twisted and turned through the rock

Vast open space south of Arthur's Pass

Vast open space south of Arthur’s Pass

Suppose I should have actually read it rather than just take a picture of it....

Suppose I should have actually read it rather than just take a picture of it….

I’ve made it over Arthur’s pass. The hard way (west to east). At least the climb is short and sharp the way I did it. One section is an average of 16%, that’s an average over 2km. I think it tops the steepest road I’ve climbed on, though at least it wasn’t so high, only reaching 950m at the top. The next 70km or so were pretty spectacular, made even more enjoyable by a much earned tail wind. I stopped at Mona Rua wildlife reserve which very kindly allows free camping. A good few others thought it was pretty good, as people kept on arriving, even after dark – it’s driving distance for weekenders from Christchurch. Amazingly, camping right next to a lake, there were no sand flies.

The next day I stopped by at a cave recommended to me by a German girl Liv, and proceeded to face 2 of my greatest fears (water & small spaces) by walking through it. I met an Australian guy who was heading in at the time and had done it twice before (no chance I was going in there by myself!) He had a really bright torch too which was heaps better than my mini head torch with dead batteries which helped a great deal. It has a fast flowing stream flowing through it which has sculpted marvelous shapes in the rock. Strangely, because I was concentrating on not falling over in the water so much, as well as the sound of the stream, it didn’t feel like a cave at all – more like walking up a stream in a gorge at night time. At it’s deepest, the water was up to my chest, though I was informed (half way through the cave may I add) that it is prone to flash flooding given the channel is less than 1m wide at many points and the level can go up several meters. After half an hour, we were back out back in the sunshine. I thanked my guide for the introduction to caving proceeded back to the car park, where there were at least another 20 people on their way in, many in wet suits, sturdy boots and caving lamps. Meanwhile, I had a small head torch (with even more flat batteries, a pair of shorts and some cycling shoes.

I continued down the road, my shoes squelching as the pedals turned, on through the hills, though I got a shock when I thought I had done all the climbing yesterday. I felt pretty tired following the previous days efforts (I don’t think I’ve ever cycled up a 16% hill before, let alone a 2km one on a bike with 20KG of luggage), so I stopped at the first place that had food & water. It just happens to be a town called Springfield (the town where the fictional cartoon ‘The Simpsons’ is based. Or at least it seems to think so, with the main attraction being an donut the size of a car taking pride of place in the centre of the village green. For those that don’t know, Homer Simpson is well known to eat a donut or 5). At the campsite I’m staying at, there’s a French couple doing a spot of slacklining , so I had a blast, though it’s harder than it looks, so I left it to the experts. (plus I didn’t want to fall off and knacker my hand again. Am I getting old?) Apparently the pizza shop has a DJ set at 8pm tonight, so I’ll see what small town rural NZ at the weekend has to offer.

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