4&5/2/16. After the exertions of the last few days we have been taking some time to catch our breath and do some “housekeeping”.
In addition, the West Coast has been giving us a very gentle indication of how it has earned its reputation for being “damp” in that we have had short, sharp showers both mornings (Thursday & Friday). However, we understand that we have been very lucky (at least so far – touch wood) because a month or so ago the weather was dreadful – as confirned by friends Jay and Tim (our Christmas hosts) and an old boy (Greymouth born and bred) who we got chatting to earlier today who said the rain was as heavy as he could remember.
It sounds boring (to use the vernacular) but we seem to have spent the last couple of days on little more than laundry and accessing the internet in the public library (free but, once all the backpackers arrive, ssssssllllloooooowwww) interspersed with taking in the sights of Greymouth (such as they are) and food shopping! Having said that, we have also maintained Christine’s walking regime by “yomping” about 20 km into town and back each day.
“So, what are the sights of Greymouth?” I hear you ask.
Well…… There are a couple of very tasteful monuments to coal miners who lost their lives in accidents, the most recent of which was 29 killed in 2010. (Do you remember hearing about that? We do not.) And apart from them, there is the railway to Christchurch (which we will be taking – see below), the river, the almost disused harbour, and not a lot else, to be honest.
Greymouth seems to be very transitory based on our observation of the high turnover rate at the campsite – somewhere people stop for a night between the many sights on the West Coast.
Having said that, we have seen more touring cyclists here than anywhere else in NZ. This may be because Greymouth has access to all three of the passes between the east and west coasts over the Southern Alps. But, as mentioned above, we are cheating (!) by taking the train over to Christchurch on Sunday. We do not fancy arm wrestling for space with drivers of big heavy trucks and camper vans up steep, windy roads for the best part of 90 km. And, anyway, the trip over Arthur’s Pass is supposed to be one of the world’s best short rail journeys.
Before that, tomorrow is back on our bikes for a short “out and back” trip along a cycle route which passes within 10 feet of our tent – without luggage! It should be blissful!.