Invercargill, NZ to Tokanui, NZ

36.1 mi / 12.1 mph / 1133 ft. climbing
Home: South Catlins Cottage AirBNB

The “don’t know how to behave in a campground” morons next to us must have eventually passed out drunk or something (or we did, from one shared bottle of wine!), because they failed to keep us up all night. Easy breakfast in the good kitchen meant we were out by 8:30am.

A rare wide-angle New Zealand landscape shot that doesn’t contain a single mountain.

Traffic coming into Invercargill from the northwest had been heavy and fast yesterday afternoon, so I was surprised how much lighter it was exiting out to the southeast. Especially since our ride through a residential part of town revealed enormously-wide streets fitting the InverCARgill name. Not only was there very little traffic on the “Southern Scenic Route”, the drivers were unusually considerate for New Zealand drivers (and most appeared to be locals, not tourists), with only a single too-close-passing asshole all day. Perhaps something to do with the more-relaxed expecting-slow-traffic attitude that seems common in farming regions. We did notice our first logging trucks in some time, but even they treated us well (it probably helped that the ones going our way were all empty).

Mid-morning break.

A blue highway sign announced our entry to Mokotua, and I laughed to myself, because I could feel that this was one of those “towns” that only existed in the distant past, and the only thing keeping it marked on the map (and sign) was inertia. But Mokotua got the last laugh, because a small grocery shop suddenly appeared between the farm fields! We stopped, ostensibly to get some second breakfast, but we had trouble actually finding anything to buy that wouldn’t duplicate what we’re already carrying! “Stores to get 2nd breakfast” is one of the appeals of riding through farm country, but we are so out of practice we weren’t prepared to take advantage of it!

Horses, cows, green hedge walls; the only thing missing of New Zealand farm life is the sheep!

We didn’t quite have the invisible hand of a tailwind perfectly pushing us all day like we have the last two days, but the angle never got bad enough to be a headwind. The worst was a period of strong gusty crosswinds that came up at midday. They made it super-challenging to climb a steep hill (luckily there were few cars for us to worry about being blown into), but really only affected us for a couple miles. The almost-bigger problem was that shoves left us traumatized and pedaling tense and cautious for the next five miles, always waiting for the next gust to come, before we finally accepted that the risk was gone (in retrospect it was probably a local effect of passing through the Mataura River Gorge).

Our first view of the Southern Ocean, near Fortrose. Beyond that horizon: Antarctica!

We’re staying in the very small town of Tokanui, which had a great-value AirBNB available for the night. It’s our first night under a roof in a week, after six straight nights of camping, a New Zealand record for us. Even though the owners were accommodating with early check-in, we decided to dawdle a bit with lunch in front of the small store.

Rett’s Valentine to us. I’m not sure what “American Burger Corn Snacks” are supposed to be, but they didn’t really taste like a burger. They did taste American though! (hmm, this is maybe actually a 4th of July gift?)
This is what a horse looks like when he’s trying to eat your camera.
View from the front deck of our AirBNB.

With a roof to ourselves, and a restaurant in town, Rett had been looking forward to a Valentine’s night out. But it was a complete bust, partly the town’s fault and partly mine. The “bistro” side of the town bar wasn’t open on Wednesdays, so we were left with limited fried bar snacks. And while they came with huge piles of fries, they wanted to charge Rett $1 for more than the tiny pot of ketchup, which she indignantly refused.

I then just added to the ruin and misery by bringing up the plan for the next three days into Dunedin. I know that planning and finding places to stay always brings a thundercloud of stress into Rett’s head, but once I had opened Pandora’s box, there was no rescuing our date from our phones and Internet and Hopefully the silver lining of converting a tough 3-day crossing into an easier 4 days will retroactively make tonight’s sourness slightly easier to swallow, but even after returning home I was fully-occupied with that task, so did nothing to make this night better.

The Horse Whisperer, but with even better hair.
View from the front deck of our AirBNB, sunset version.
A perfect standalone AirBNB.


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