96 km Waiau to Paia Point (south of Kaikoura)
Wednesday, December 17th saw us ride the remainder of the inner road, leaving the Hamner Range and entering into the Kaikoura range. It rained. I don’t much mind biking in the rain. I would ask for rain, but if it rains and you are biking, there isn’t much you can do about it but keep going and hope that you will eventually find a big lodge in the middle of nowhere with a warm fireplace and a good cup of coffee. Hey, it happened on the Big Trip as we were riding through Yellowstone, so a girl can dream (pray), can’t she? And you know, there is a biking god, because lo and behold . . . there at the top of Lyford pass was exactly that! A big ski lodge with a big stone fireplace where we stripped of as much wet stuff as would be publicly acceptable, and warmed up over a cup of joe and a generous (read, HUGE) slice of carrot cake and waited for the rain to stop. Eventually, it did, so we hopped back on the bikes (which caused the rain to start falling again) and rode down hill towards Kaikoura.
Now, just because I said that I don’t mind riding in the rain, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make me tired, and the second and third days are usually the hardest days of any trip (legs getting used to going around, butt getting used to being in the seat for hours, etc). And there were more hills again to go up (and down). But we eventually, made it to the Kaikoura coast, where we stopped again for some fresh provisions and Mike had a discussion with the store keeper as to whether or not I was “dead.” Mike assured her that I was not (I was simply conserving energy), and got some beta that there was a holiday park just a little further south.
Now, after all the many days and hours that Mike and I have spent biking, we read each other very well. He knew I was tired, but (more importantly), I knew that when he slowed (but did not stop) at the holiday park, sussed out the fleet of rented caravans packed like sardines into the small camp ground with a run down mini-golf course in the front, and only slowly came to a stop a good six feet past the turn in, and said, “What do you think? Keeping going?”, well, I knew that there was nothing that would make Mike stop at such a place (but for the absolutely insistence of the woman we loved). And so, I did the only thing a respectable wife-of-Mike would do (besides, I wasn’t staying at that place either no matter how tired I was), and replied, “You think that there are any hills between here and that place Lee recommended at little further south?” Mike said that he didn’t think so (it doesn’t matter if there are actually hills between one place and another, all one has to do is convince yourself that there aren’t sufficiently so that you can decide to continue on. If it turns out later that there are hills, there’s nothing to do at that point but climb up them to your destination), and so we continued on a couple more miles (no hills) along the coast, through some small tunnels, until we happened upon the recommended Paia Point, which was much less crowded and vastly more scenic, especially the next morning at sun up (see pic).