We picked our bikes up early in the morning.
Linda, the really nice lady from Cycle Journeys, was disappointed that I wasn't wearing the kilt for our big ride.
I'd been worried about sunburnt thighs so had worn my shorts.
Luckily for Linda and her friend, I had my kilt in my bag. It's probably a safe bet that I was the first person to get all Scottish in Cycle Journey's reception area. Whiona turned her back and laughed hysterically.
We had never biked this far in our lives. It was hot and we were a bit worried.
The bikes were well-speced Cannondales and had done pretty well from Ohau. But the seats weren't particularly soft and the last two fingers on my hands had gone numb after the first leg. Apparently it's called cyclists' palsy. Whiona had numb toes.
Anyway, off we went.
It was on road for the first couple of kilometres, but we soon moved onto a gravel farm track.
More scorched earth and wilding pines until we got to one of New Zealand's top photo ops.
The foot of Lake Pukaki.
More turquoise water. But this time in was topped with icing in the form of Aoraki-Mount Cook.
Tourists were everywhere. Clicking. Holding iPads up to the mountain in some weird ritual.
Apparently it was Chinese New Year which explains the lack of rooms in the area and the huge amounts of Chinese tourists cueing at the toilets and reciting what looked like prayers to the mountain...or lake. Or mountain AND lake...or something.
They had sheets of paper that they were reading aloud from. A verse facing Aoraki. A verse facing away. Repeat.
We visited the salmon shop and splashed out on an expensive slab of orange fish for our otherwise cheap, but already huge, sandwich.
Round the corner the path went from gravel to old tarseal.
You're about to get another history lesson.
We were cycling through the old Pukaki construction village. A village that isn't just a ghost town...it's a ghost of a ghost town. There's nothing left but a road that's now a bike track.
Whiona had stayed there with another hydro scheme family for a summer once not so long ago.
We stopped for lunch somewhere nearby and got salmon fat all over ourselves as we sat at the lake's edge.
Random bike stops are so much more relaxing than pulling up to a rest area in a car. You can stop almost anywhere when you're traveling under your own steam. You can choose the best spot and don't have to rely on the choice of a roading engineer.
As we road around the lake Aoraki got bigger. The ice on its slopes looked plastic as it glinted in the sun.
We were sharing the road with a trucking company who were bringing out massive loads of boulders from some nearby hole in the ground called the Braemar Super Bin. A bunch of more courteous truck drivers we'd never met before. They slowed, waved and had a smile each of the many times they passed us. If only bus drivers treated cyclists with the same respect...
Sorry. Hobby horse.
Just before we left the lake for our cross country stretch we had a second lunch and swim.
We thought the blue glacial water would be cold. It was fresh and clean, but almost warm.
We've damaged the nerves in our feet with all our walking and cold water irritates them so we're getting a bit cautious about our chunky dunking these days...but Pukaki was perfect.
Which was good because the last half of the cycle leg was mostly uphill and the day was getting hot.
Linda had said we'd be in for some uphill. We're weren't quite expecting this. It wasn't too steep...it was just relentless. Twenty kilometres of relentless.
The farms nearer the lake looked quite fertile but it wasn't long before we got back to the badlands.
Tekapo army base blankets much of the area. There were Live Firing warnings all along the road and every now and then old entranceways invited People On Business in for some target practice. Small regiments of empty flag poles stood redundant by each gate.
When you're helping the west win the War On Terror I guess flags in the middle of nowhere are a distraction.
We were hot - are you sick of me saying this yet? - and ready for a break.
It came in the form of Telephone Hut, one of TeA's coolest and most unusual accommodation blocks.
Unusual because it sits right on the side of the road and it possibly once had a telephone in it. It has a fire place, a chair, a stool and a nearby creek. It even had a gas stove WITH gas. It's a treasure.
We just stopped for water...but were mighty tempted to sample its two welcoming bunks for the night.
But no. We had a booking in Tekapo
After about a million hours of biking we finally made it.
Tekapo is in that inbetween phase all new tourist meccas go through.
It's popular but still has a state highway blasting through it.
It's got lots of shops but they were all built cheap just in case the idea was a flop.
It's full of tired people with money who are wandering around wondering why they are hanging out in such an ugly hole.
Or perhaps we were just tired.
We had beer and chips, saw our bikes back to their owners, then made our way to the campground.
It's enormous but pleasant enough and really well run.
As we pitched our tent Anna fell out of the forest beside us. This wasn't a planned meeting or anything. It was just another of those TeA coincidences we're getting used to.
She'd run 46 kilometres with her pack on her back and was ready for a feed.