We were well past Edendale by 7am, riding rim and rush south to lands end. Horse was going like the clappers, with me in pursuit, averaging in the high twenties across the great Southland plains for Invercargill. Breakfast had been ordered by nine as we sat in the early sun skimming the paper.
“Last ride Horse.” I said. Him nodding in response as he tucked into his last trail breakfast.
We pushed on south down Dee Street to where our destination showed itself – Motupōhue Maunga. Today was special and needed to be taken slow, if is was to be savoured.
Back on the bikes we rode under high cloud that looked to have been set to a slow simmering boil. Then turning wheels west towards Omaui, following the low road that skimmed barely above the marsh on its long arch around the harbour. On over the old rail bridge to Green point, Tikore Island with its memory of foundered sea-wreaks, and in that grey distance, grey and flat against a grey sea was old town – Bluff.
Bluff – close to my heart. I’ve spent a good amount of time living and working here alongside the locals. It’s a colonial seaport, one of the oldest permanent settlements in New Zealand’s modest history, forged in the bond between wahine and whaler from 1823.
It’s the very epitome of what makes it world famous here in New Zealand – its oysters. For all appearances Bluff is tough and gruff on the outside, but when you get beneath, well, there lies a tenderness.
Of all the small towns strewn along this long land, Bluff is the one I’d choose to settle. Living high on the lee, I’d spend my days looking out for the old weathered fishers and iron-bellies making port, before ambling down to the Anchorage to trade a share in a jug for a good wayfaring tale.
The end of the road
As two dusty trail men, we rolled quietly on. Passing tussock and ruin at Ocean Beach, old Joe (Sir Joseph Ward), the Eagle to the very end – Stirling point.
There you will find a great silver chain rolling over rock and surf down into a deep pool of kelp. This place is known as the prow of the great canoe Te Waka a Māui (or Te Waipounamu – the South Island). Away in the distance is Te Punga a Maui (the island of Rakiura – Stewart island) which serves as the great anchor stone of Maui’s canoe – the place where the great silver chain resurfaces. For us this chain marks the end of the road, or as Bluffies like to call it: ‘where the road begins’.
As I straddled the bike, arms at their rest on the handles bars, gazing south towards Rakiura, Horse wandered over. He didn’t say anything, he just grabbed me by the shoulders and hongi’d.
Todays’ top track: Horse called this one: Sting – All this time “All this time, the river flows, endlessly, to sea…”