Day 32 – The Catlins, cyclists and sea lions

Well the wind kept at it again, but I'm done talking about that. Just pointing it out as it is relevant later.

My goal was to make it to Papatowai today, a 105km trip. I've really been putting in the miles lately with this being the third roughly metric century day in a row. No mountains or headwinds let me do crazy things, I guess.

I head out of Invercargill and realized I picked the furthest possible motorcamp in the city for my journey. Odometer said 12km before I was even out of town. Anyway, I continue off and on flying down the road thanks to the wind and about 35km in I jump into a coffee shop to avoid a quick moving rain cloud. We talk about the wind for a while and about my plans. The insist its not normally this windy but say its not likely to die down for a couple days. The guy recounts a story of planting hemlock trees that he loved when he was in northern Canada but they can't survive with the wind they normally get down here. They attempt to convince me to stay safe and camp there rather than continuing. Sadly it's only 1pm and I've learned my lesson of how bored I get of my kindle if I pitch my tent in the middle of nowhere that early.

Not much further down the road I'm waved down by a German couple touring on a loaded tandem. They were going the other way and, like the French couple, were not very happy. “I had such high hopes for the Catlins but with this wind you can't enjoy anything… Sorry normally we are more friendly but after today.” I told them about the offer to camp at the coffee place as they were trying to get to Invercargill, directly into the wind.

Furtrose is my new goal at this point. It's only a 50km total trip but I want to get out of this wind and read. There is one camp site there and it's free. Perfect. Well when I arrive I find said campsite and it is on the beautiful beach (pictured below). Perfect, right? The wind is coming directly over the bay and there is no shelter from it. I'm standing there staring at it, trying to figure out what to do and I see another cyclist pushing into the wind.

Making the same trip as the Germans, but he's only starting his tour. This is day two for him and he's been ramming into the wind the entire time. Poor guy. He tells me the camp site at Curio Bay has bush sheltered tent spots, completely protected from the wind and they're cheap, too.

Well, on to Curio Bay for me. 32km with 14 of that on gravel. As I went on it started to seem like the wind was mostly calming down. I couldn't figure out if I was getting to a more sheltered area or if it was finally letting up. I kept hoping it had stopped for James and the Germans, since they had it way worse than I did.

So I make it to camp kind of late and plan to check out the touristy stuff here in the morning. I scoped out the camp site and found the perfect spot. Flat, overlooks the ocean and shielded from the wind. Only one problem, there is a sea lion guarding it. I wait a while hoping he will leave but decide to take the second best spot in stead.

After walking on the beach and exploring the area for a while I head to my tent to read for a bit and get a surprising guest. He sat down pretty close to my tent, heard my rummaging for my camera and ran over close to where he is in the picture and lounged for a while.


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