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Well I’m finally back on the trail and after a completely sodden start to the South Island, I am finally getting some beautiful weather! Yesterday and today have been more perfect than I could have ever imagined.

I spent last night in Lake Tekapo and was treated to a spectacular night of stargazing. Right now, I am moving through the Mackenzie Basin, which is a dark sky preserve. Last night was crystal clear and the heavens were spectacular. I just wish I knew how to use my camera better to capture the splendor!

Today I rented a bicycle and followed both Te Araroa and the Alps2Ocean trails (they follow the same route) 54km to Twizel. There is no camping for the first 45km south of Lake Tekapo, and since I cannot walk that far in a day, I decided to try my hand at riding a bike. While I think I would enjoy bicycle touring, I learned a valuable lesson today. The muscle groups for backpacking and bicycling are completely different.

This evening I am very happy I decided to bike this stretch (as opposed to hitching around this section or camping illegally). This is the section that brings me the closest to Aoraki/Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest peak. Given the clear day today, I was treated to breathtaking views of the mountain.

But everything comes at a price. I am currently nursing sore upper thighs, which will pass with some ibuprofen. The more serious injury was inflicted by what I’ve dubbed ‘the seat of death’.

I’ve decided the modern bicycle seat was derived from devices used during the Spanish Inquisition. Or, at least the seat on my bicycle was. My tushy is very tender this evening. And I know this will fade over time, but before I venture into bicycle touring again, I think I’ll shop around for a seat that feels as comfy as an overstuffed recliner. In the mean time, I’ll stick to tackling New Zealand on foot and for the next few days, sit very gingerly.

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