Top of the South - Day 5 - Havelock to Nelson
- Distance 76km
- Max Elevation 395m
Top of the South - Havelock to Nelson Ride Profile
The Peddler's Paradise warned us of the hills we had to climb today. The couple that we had met previously, Karen and Henry had also said that it was quite narrow and busy.
As it was Sunday there were few trucks and the traffic was generally lighter. The first 25km was virtually flat terrain until we reached Pelarus Bridge. We stopped at the cafe and paid $18 for two lousy pies and a pot of tea.
It was very hot as we started the first climb to the Rai Saddle at 247 metres. It was a gradual 2/3 gear incline all the way with good width hard shoulders for most of it. We descended through pine forests and stopped at a picnic spot next to the river to eat lunch. As we were leaving the lay-by, we met an American couple cycling in the opposite direction and chatted with them for a few minutes.
The second climb of the day was longer up to Whangamoa, but of a similar gradient reaching 357m. At the top we met a couple on a tandem and a solo cyclist, just about to start the descent. We let them go first and it wasn't long before we had lost sight of them.
The road descended through sweeping hairpins, switching back and forth down the steep sided valley and making for a very exhilarating ride. We had wide smiles on our faces all the way down.
From there it was about another 15km of mostly flat riding along the Top of the South road. The ride swept down to the Tasman Bay and we rode along the side of the estuary towards Nelson. About 7km outside of the town we picked up a dedicated cycle track, which was smooth and easy to follow.
We had planned to stay at the Accent on the Park BBH hostel. It is in the centre of town and has a garden where tents can be pitched. Unfortunately its tiny lawn was full with only two tents pitched, so we had to carry on through Nelson to the Tahuna Beach Holiday Park. The bicycle lane followed the sea front all the way to the site.
We checked in for two nights as we had been invited to dinner at Henry and Karen's house the next evening.
The next day we rode into Nelson to view the sights. Nelson is one of the main towns in the top of the South Island. It is a lovely town with a great feeling to it. There are lots of nice shops, but as with most New Zealand towns there are few real historical sights. It does claim to have the oldest street of pioneer houses in New Zealand called South Street but to be honest it didn't look much different from all the other streets in the other towns.
The cathedral stands on a hill in the centre of town. The foundation stone was laid in 1925, but for various reasons, it wasn't completed until 1969. Over this time, the designs were revised several times. As a result the building seems not to really know what style it is, a little bit like a camel. i.e. the horse designed by committee.
We went in to view the interior and found that it was just being decorated for the Festival of Christmas Trees. While we walked around looking at the trees there were carols playing and soon we were both close to tears thinking of our families and friends celebrating Christmas back in the UK. As we were leaving there was a collection plate for the families of the Pike River Mine disaster. It reminded us that although our families and friends were a long way away at least they and us could celebrate Christmas.
At 6-15 Henry picked us up from the camp site and we went to their lovely home overlooking the Tasman Bay estuary. Karen cooked us a lovely meal and we swapped stories of travelling and talked about the future, before Henry took us home and we went to bed feeling happy and contented.
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