I set out on the 4th to make it to Hastings. I had only about 40km and it was primarily downhill. The only downside was it was on the very busy highway 2. Despite the heavy traffic, drivers are very cautious and give plenty of space. The only exception to this tends to be, unfortunately, logging and cattle truck drivers, the most terrifying vehicles on the road to pass close at high speeds. I try to take some comfort in the fact that these guys drive enough that surely they won't wind up hitting me but it doesn't help much.
It was a beautiful ride but due to the traffic and excitement of reaching Hastings to have a bed and a day off meant I really didn't take photos. Actually, I rarely took my camera with me while in Hastings so this two day period is pretty much a blank of pictures. There were some moments I really wanted to snap one and this was one of the times I've most strongly missed having a smartphone.
Hastings is a small town that tourists seem to only pass through. Because of this, I was maybe the only one not working staying at the hostel (Rotten Apple Backpackers). I spent a good chunk of my time at the hostel sitting on the back porch chatting there. It's still surprising to me how popular it seems to be for people to come here on working holiday visas and pick fruit. Everyone I met was picking something, though the most common job of those I met was apple thinning, which sounds brutal. Climb a later, pop off a share of the growing apples and put them in the basket you're holding.
I also met up with Rachel, a friend of an old coworker, who's one of those here to pick fruit. Was fun to meet someone from back home all the way out here.
On my day off I mostly hung out at the hostel, actually. Spent a while talking with Travis and others. Travis is one of the few Americans I've met here, though I'm not sure he counts given the fact the apparently disliked Texas so much he got permanent residency here and is staying for good.
Travis pulled me into a new cultural experience, too. I went to play cricket with the people in my bunk and some others. This of course meant someone had to explain the rules of cricket to me. I of course got made fun of for bowling like a pitcher and hitting like a batter in baseball but I got a little used to the proper way and had a good time.
Sometimes it's fun to see the level of disbelief backpackers have with the fact that I'm cycling between places. It's also interesting how the difference in form of travel impact what we find interesting. When someone asked what they should see on the South Island, I mostly highlighted the roads that I cycled through. Noting things like the road down the west coast, from Westport to Wanaka, or the road through Tekapo and the other lakes. In contrast, others all highlighted the cities and good hiking towns.
I finally had to have a mechanic touch my bike. A gust of wind knocked it over when I left it leaning against a stair railing a couple days ago and it landed on the drive train side, which left it shifting a little funny. I couldn't get it back into perfect condition myself (though it was fine to ride for the 100k to a bike shop in Hastings). The mechanic touched it for about 30 seconds and sent me on my way, shifting as good as ever.
Hey, I met Travis down in the The Catlins YHA Owaka. Small island!