Flashing in the Dark

After a full-on summer in the capital, I treated myself to a stint of volunteer work at Hinewae Reserve on the Banks Peninsula. My plan was a pacey ride from Christchurch via Pigeon Bay. It dawned crisp and clear and I headed to Lyttleton for breakfast. I called in at the Information Centre to double check the hostel at Pigeon Bay was still open. Yep. I had my slicks on and was feeling James Brown good. Sadly it transpired the road had been recently been regravelled. "D'hol!." The final descent to Pigeon Bay is pretty loose. I'm hungry and tired. It starts raining as I track down the hostel. "Noooo!" It's closed for the winter. I try the camp ground. It's dark and raining hard now. I eat my meagre rations and try the doors of a few caravans - all very secure. I'm not prepared for a winter's night out with only a light-weight excuse for a sleeping bag. Using my flashing rear light, I find a small boat to sleep under. The sound of the rain stops - it had started snowing! I struggle out at first light. After a few minutes climbing I meet the snowline. Not content with my suffering, the weather gods start biffing hail at me. On my final approach to Hinewae, the hail pounds my face and road salt road stings my eyes. I make it - alive and somewhat perversely happy.

Simon Kennett