A cold, dark and perfectly silent morning


Bikes at Wedderburn Cottages, New Zealand

Our bikes await us on a morning that was below freezing at the Wedderburn Cottages in New Zealand. Photo by David Lansing.

The deafening silence all around woke me a little before five this morning. In the darkness I listened for a sound. Anything—a bird, the wind, a dog’s bark. Nothing. I can’t tell you how happy that silence made me feel. Usually when I wake up this early I’ll stay in bed pretending I might fall back asleep but this morning I got up, padded lightly on the cold wood floor, and checked to see what the coffee situation was.

Yesterday afternoon when we’d checked in to our cottages in Wedderburn, Lorraine, who owns the sheep ranch and lodging we’re staying in, said she’d packed us a little breakfast in our rooms. In the mini-fridge was some yogurt, a box of Weet-Bix, two slices of bread, and some Marmite. A proper Kiwi breakfast. There was also a baggie of coffee and a French press. I boiled some water.

Wedderburn may only be 540m above sea level, but it’s the highest point on the Central Otago Rail Trail. While the water was boiling, I opened my cottage door a crack and stuck my head out. Brisk. Definitely brisk. Lorraine had warned us that it was expected to get to –10 over night. And here we were on a biking holiday.

Once I’d made my coffee and a piece of toast with Marmite on it, I crawled back in to bed. I don’t know why I was so pleased with myself but I was. The dark morning, the cold cottage, being out in the wop wops surrounded by thousands of sheep, and here I was sitting up in bed munching on my toast, sipping my coffee, and feeling as content as I’ve ever felt in my life. Go figure. One of the serendipitous joys of travel.

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