Christchurch to Picton, then Wellington – Thursday 12 March

Lucky again with the weather. No rain, just a subdued Christchurch sky.

I’ve done Christchurch to Picton many times before and so wasn’t particularly excited at the prospect of the journey. And because I needed to be at Picton for a 5pm check-in there was a sense of just needing to get there, rather than enjoying the journey.

Fuel stop in Amberley. Lunch in Cheviot in a great café that had a gallery attached. A colleague from my previous life as a photographer, Doc Ross, had some large scale landscape prints for sale.

I rested my back and shoulders in Kaikoura. This incessant riding at 100kph just isn’t my idea of fun, and my bike revs quite high at that speed which contributes to my fatigue and results, ultimately, to a numb arse!

From Kaikoura I rode straight through to Picton. The only frustrations were campervans holding up traffic, and a stiff head wind.

My excitement for the day happened in Picton when I made use of the public toilets.

Instructions on the outside told me to push the green button. I did. The door slid open with a star-trekky whoosh.

I stepped inside a structure similar to The Tardis – much bigger inside than the outside indicated. Already disconvovulated (sp?) a chirpy American (male) welcomed me to the Exeloo. He spoke like he was introducing a boxer in the red corner. I looked around to see if he was in there with me. I was alone.

My new friend announced that I would have 10 minutes to ‘complete’. No indication was given of what might happen after 10 minutes of incompletion. Fortunately I wasn’t there for that type of visit.

Immediately after my riding instructions loud mu-sac (or loo-sac, or poo-sac) started playing – an accomplished instrumental version of Burt Bacharachs “What do you get when you fall in love…” A note above the toilet informed me that the toilet would flush only under two conditions. One, when I washed my hands, or two, when I opened the door.

There was a large cubbyhole in the wall – hands to the left squirted soap. Hands in the middle produced water. Hands to the right started the hand drier.

I pressed the button to unlock the door (after washing my hands) and as I left Brad/Scooter/Hank/my new best friend proudly thanked me for using Exeloo.

As I write this I’m imagining the countdown as the 10 minute limit drew near.

So, remember – if you have not been eating your bran, and are perhaps a little less than regular DON’T, whatever you do, use an Exeloo.

I’m about an hour out of Wellington now on the ghastly Aratere (the smaller of the ferries). The sailing is smooth but with a noticeable swell.

Since last Sunday lunchtime I have travelled just over 2000kms and ridden on roads I have never ridden before, including two rather exciting off-the-beaten-track experiences.

At the risk of sounding cliched New Zealand is an amazing place. And in these tough economic times it’s really time to explore our own country before heading offshore. This whole experience cost me less than $500 – I could have done it for a lot less if I hadn’t stayed in motels, or had to buy beer for the guys at Omakau Garage.

Bloody great adventure. Mission accomplished.

On a final, final note I would like to acknowledge my other (and better) half for allowing me leave of absence from family life. Thanks Sugar!