Story of some Brits living in New Zealand for the Southern Hemisphere Winter in 2004
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Sunday, November 28, 2004

Cycling NZ Coast to Coast from Greymouth to Christchurch (well Redcliffs) - 160 miles or so

I'm writing this 2 years after my little cycling adventure to say goodbye to New Zealand. Sometimes I like to cycle around a place to really get the feel of it so I decided to get the train to Greymouth from Christchurch and cycle back across the country and through Arthur's Pass in the Southern Alps to Redcliffs (a suburb of Christchurch), where I had lived for several months.

nz coast-to-coast cycle route

The most memorable thing about the train ride apart from the beautiful scenery was just how long it took. This really began to reinforce the magnitude of my task in cycling back. The other memorable thing was sitting in a carriage with 4 nice Aussies. It seemed they had been placed in the back of the train away from the Kiwis (there is some funny animosity between kiwis and Aussies). Anyhow, these 4 were super and shared their food with me. Great fun.

I don't recall much to recommend Greymouth apart from Jade stores but I made my way to the sea to dip my foot in the water and was then on my way.

The road across the country, highway 73, was ok for cycling. Not too much traffic and safe enough. The only dodgey part was when things got steep and the road became a steep viaduct. It was pretty wide but I was very consious of how slow I was, which concerned me a bit.

My overnight stop was at Otira which I think was historically a railway town. It was pretty tired and old when I found it and the accommodation fairly basic.

The next day was uphill to Arthur's Pass and a much anticipated cafe stop. One thing about this trip and NZ as a whole is that the distance between places can be further than the cycle touring Brit has come to expect from back home.

Whilst enjoying lunch I was somewhat unsettled about my bike outside. Apparently the Kias (the famous, beautiful and extremely intelligent mountain parrots) that frequent the cafe vicinity have been known to eat bicycle seats. They famously eat the rubber from around car windscreens so munching on a bike saddle seemed pretty believable. I didn't fancy riding another 50 miles without a saddle. Fortunately, that day the Kias were busy trying to figure out how to open the garbage bins, which involved lifting the lid and somehow grabbing stuff from inside (funny to watch).

Leaving Arthur's Pass (where they were soon to start filming the Narnia Movie) I headed in the direction of Christchurch. Not for the first time I had mistakenly had the notion of 'downhill all the way now'. So, after a LOT of up and down I kept hoping that the very next Mountain Pass would be the last. There were quite a few passes before the last one came into view, I even cycled past Cheeseman ski area which in the past had seemed like quite a long drive from Christchurch. So, after cycling for a good long while and coming across nothing I needed a rest so just pulled over to the side of the road and slept in a grassy carpark, perhaps some deserted hiking trailhead. This was not the civilised tea stop I would normally find at least every 20 miles in the UK (even in the North of Scotland).

After a while I came upon the plains and farmland of Christchurch. Long, straight roads for miles, perhaps 50 miles. This was not the most exciting part of the journey but I was tickled to come upon Springfield (home of The Simpsons). Not seeing Homer, nor anything much else, I continued on. At least the flat roads let me get a little speed up after all the mountain passes.


  • Hi there<
    I'll soon be cycling Christchurch to Greymouth and was going to give myself 4 days to do it in. I'm not normaly a long distance rider and I'm using a cross country bike.

    How long did it take you all together?


    By Blogger Paul Phillips, at 2/27/2012  

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