Monday 1 October 2018

Mainland tour, Day 5 - Round and round

With thanks to NelsonTasman
Today could have begun a bit better. The weather wasn't brilliant, for a start - and then there was a bit of confusion with the Nelson Cycle man who was supplying my transport for the day. It was a good cycle that he brought to the hotel for me, a nice Avanti that was comfortable to ride - but honestly, his maps and directions left a fair bit to be desired. I was to do a section of the Tasman Great Taste Trail today, but it didn't help that I was diverting to a brewery before I really got going. Thank goodness for my phone, that's all I can say.
Anyway, the Trail meanders along the coast between Nelson and Kaiteriteri, with loops and offshoots, is pretty flat for easy cycling and walking, and can be done in bits and pieces. My bit was from Nelson to Mapua, but first of all I detoured to McCashin's Brewery for a tour. It used to be the Rochdale Cider factory, went into decline, was bought by an ex-All Black to develop into the country's first craft brewery, and became a great success. It's a bit more complicated than that, so if you want the full details, go on a tour with Malcolm from Yorkshire and he'll be happy to fill you in. 
It was the usual sort of tour, which I've taken a few of now, but no less interesting for that: lots of information about hops, grains, water, and then a walk through past huge vats, boilers, pipes, gauges, conveyor belts clinking with bottles, big automated boxing and wrapping machines - and very few people. It's not an enormous place, so it was surprising to hear that one vat got forgotten about after its contents were tasted and found to be like turpentine. A whole 65 years later, they re-discovered it, tried a drop and found it had turned into nectar - which is now being bottled to be marketed as something very special. Amazing. Of course we finished with a tasting board in the very popular café, but for me, pre-lunch, the add-on berry cider went down best.
I had a very difficult time getting established back on the Trail, which really didn't seem to me to be as well marked as it should be, but managed eventually. After pedalling along beside the motorway and then past a timber factory belching what a sign insisted was just steam, I got onto a boardwalk across bits of the Waimea Inlet, the rain passed over and things became much more pleasant. I was especially enchanted to come across a paddock of Clydesdale horses, and was just sorry there was an electric fence between us so we couldn't get friendly.
There was green farmland, a swing bridge, wetlands, birdsong and then Rabbit Island, complete with rabbit, and at the end of it a bike-friendly ferry across the river taking me to Mapua where there were good eateries and interesting art galleries in the old wharf buildings. I felt I had earned my glass of rosé and slice of coffee cake at the Apple Shed over the water, in the sun.

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