Christchurch - Glentunnel: Canterbury tales...

Tuesday October 26, 2010, 61 km (38 miles) - Total so far: 61 km (38 miles)

Time: 3:40 Distance: 61.13 km Average: 16.6 Max: 22.2 Altitude Gain: 298 m

It's day 1 of my NZ tour. Time to get out of bed and roll. It seemed to take forever to get my gear packed, put my luggage in storage, then get the bike loaded and out the door. Eventually I was rolling into the city - first to get my phone working, then to have breakfast and head out of town.

When I arrived in Christchurch on Sunday, I went straight to the Vodaphone kiosk in the airport terminal. The young woman attendant informed me she had already tried to install a prepaid micro SIM in two iPhones that day, but both had been network locked. I know mine isn't locked, 'cos I bought it from the Apple store, but it wouldn't work in mine either.

The Vodaphone store in Colombo Street - the one I had waited a day to open, couldn't help - they didn't have prepaid micro SIMs. They suggested another Vodaphone dealer a few kilometres away on Moorehouse Avenue, and in desperation I went there, expecting only bad news. No, they had no prepaid micro SIMs, but yes, they could help, by selling me a standard prepaid SIM service and immediately upgrading it to a micro SIM. Within 15 minutes I was on my way with a working phone.

I headed back into the city for the obligatory photo in the square, grabbed a quick breakfast and headed out of town, with only one more stop to pick up a salad roll for lunch, but it was already 10:30 am by the time I left.

After only 10 kilometres I was was on the western outskirts, and pleased to leave city traffic behind me. Houses gave way to neatly ordered fields bounded by tall, neatly manicured hedges - shelter belts for protection from the winds. Heading for Darfield, I briefly contemplated the old west coast road, an alternative route suggested by Peter, a local resident in Geraldine, but considering my late start and the by now brisk cross wind, I decided to stick to plan.

My route initially followed the main road to the west coast, but traffic was not too heavy, and the road was wide enough that I wasn't bothered by it. Traversing the Canterbury Plains, I was passing through New Zealand's agricultural heartland - kilometer after kilometer of rich pastures dotted first with horses, later with sheep, and acre upon acre of cultivation, and watered by monster irrigation machines.

Reaching Darfield I was feeling leg-weary already, and had pretty much conceded that my objective for the day would be Glentunnel. I lingered in a café over a burger and chips. With only another 15 kilometres to go, I didn't need to hurry, and shortly after leaving Darfield turned off the west coast highway and headed to Glentunnel, where I took a cabin in the camp ground, and by 4 pm was showered and relaxing.

Cathedral Square is without doubt the centre of Christchurch...

A typical view of the Canterbury Plains - cultivation, giant irrigation machines, and sheep...

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