26 January 2018 at 9:58 am #7740
Wilf and Joy are travelling around NZ. The posts below are an occasional blog of their adventures.
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26 January 2018 at 10:02 am #7742
Arrived Auckland after 24 hour flight. Not at all bad – seemed to be 2 nights and little day. Put the bikes together and re-sorted kit at Auckland Airport. Unfortunately my bike had damage to chain wheel (bent so much that pedals wouldn’t turn) but airport employee helped with large screwdriver and hammer and bike ok at least to ride 20 miles to campsite. Arrived 8pm. Thursday was a “rest day” and bikes sorted by a very helpful shop. Managed a swim in the ocean and sorted the kit. Now we’re back in central Auckland ready for train to Wellington tomorrow. We were going to camp tonight but decided to go for hotel as have to be at station at 7am and getting tent down and riding 5 miles including erratic ferry didn’t seem possible in time for train. It’s really warm – Wilf says too hot! Of course we think we have too much stuff but time (and weather) will tell!
26 January 2018 at 7:12 pm #7747
Sounds like an interesting start to NZ.
Enjoy Wellington and the ferry crossing to Picton. If you need any local assistance please ring my son Wills in Nelson he is always happy to help and his camper van would fit two bikes and kit if needed !! Mobile 0064 21 193 8574.
27 January 2018 at 7:34 pm #7748
Many thanks Chris! Everyone is so friendly here, but they say ‘wait until you get to South Island – they’re REALLY friendly there’.
4 February 2018 at 9:12 am #7810Week 2.The train to Wellington was great. The commentary was excellent and we learned all about history and culture of NZ. We enjoyed Wellington and after a short visit to Te Papa museum did a round harbour bike ride to a seal colony and even saw some seals! The following morning we weren’t allowed on the 9am ferry we had a booked as they had had a ferry problem overnight and we were rebooked for 4pm. This gave us the opportunity for a further visit to Te Papa. We finally arrived Picton around 7pm and easily found a campsite. It was here that we noticed that the clientele could be classified into two groups – those under thirty on gap year or similar and those over 60. The former were all in tents or sleeping in the back of cars and the latter were all in motor homes. We were the exception!Exploring the Marlborough sounds was next on our list so rather that move on we took a water taxi with bikes to Mistletoe Bay and cycled back. The Queen Charlotte Track is a mountain bike route, but not for me on the folder, so after a two hour walk (no bikes) to a lookout we headed upwards to the road to ride back. Once there we innocently thought it would be fairly level as it followed the coast. Not so. It was dramatically up and down most of the way. It was also very hot – over thirty degrees. We’d done 11 miles and I was not at all sure I’d make it. Of course we got back fine in the end but it did teach me that NZ roads are hard with lots of climbing. The route we had planned for Picton to Nelson involved all main road and two saddle climbs, one over 400 metres, and a predicted tropical storm. We decided to get the bus!The storm was forecast for early Monday morning, but we just managed to get the tent down in the dry and escaped to the kitchen for some WiFi and coffee as the downpour started (all the campsites we’ve been to so far have kitchens with room to sit and eat). Although travelling light we had to bring the cafetière!The bus worked well and the driver was very helpful with the bikes although he did charge us an extra $10 each for the bikes. He reckoned if space was tight, full-sized bikes would have to have wheels removed, but he let another couple off that. The tropical storm was raging with strong wind and heavy rain, and the driver was getting updates about roads blocked and trees down. We were very glad we weren’t riding.The rain had stopped by Nelson, so we got the tent up in the dry again, and found a nice pub to eat.The following day we moved on intending to ride “Tasman great taste Trail“. Where it was close to the sea this had been badly damaged by the “king tide” and the storm. Our campsite at Mapua was closed due to the flooding but we found another 5 miles further on (up hill of course, and via a detour because of more blocked roads). We are now at Kaiteriteri beach site on the edge of Abel Tasman national park. It’s beautiful and we did a walk (or tramp in NZ) on part of the trail today. The weather has cooled down to around 23 degrees so great for riding and walking.We have just planned and booked some of the next few days to the west coast and down to Queenstown. Just hoping the weather will be fine and the riding not too challenging!
6 February 2018 at 10:12 am #7823Some pictures and additional gory details from week 1 and 2.A Japanese busker who claimed to be the world unicycle champion, showing us how to ride a pentacycle. But not the easy way – he really did jump onto it from another unicycle. I expect to see CTC riders doing thisWater taxi to Mistletoe Bay takes bikes – ‘no probs’ and ‘sweet as [a nut]’ are stock phrases round here.
Walking the Queen Charlotte Track. so lock up bikes and start off up Track, taking detour for Lookout. Hard going, as we go fast, always think of ourselves as hikers, but don’t keep fitness up. 80% of muscles common to cycling, but the 20% not are suffering. 416 metres high, lots of up and down. Magnificent views all over Marlborough Sounds. We get back to bikes at 3pm pretty knackered. Just need to cycle round to Picton now – it’s only 40 odd kms, but just constant up and downs – 15% at one point, and we both endured the walk of shame more than once, even with our super-low bottom gear.
16 February 2018 at 8:56 am #7855
Week 3 (rather belated!)
Fantastic week of cycling and enjoying the scenery. We cycled back from the beach at Kaiteriteri to Nelson along the Great Taste Trail. Most was reopened from the storm damage so we cycled across Rabitt Island to Richmond then into Nelson the following day. We’d booked an hotel as the bus left at 0715 and it was great to get ourselves sorted and all the electronic devices charged. Fabulous bus ride through several National parks with a short stop at Pancake Rocks then onto Greymouth and the start of the 133kms West Coast Wilderness Trail bike ride, We took four days to do this which was not as easy as it sounds as it was mainly off road on gravel/stony tracks and of course we were carrying all the kit. We were riding on tracks carved through the bush and it felt very remote. Pretty scary at some points as the path was only a metre wide and there was a water race on one side and an almost vertical forested slope the other. The first night we stayed in the garden of a “retreat”. Quirky but great and sold individual packs of cereal and other food so just what we needed. The next two nights were in Department of Conservation (DOC) sites both by lakes with very limited facilities but in beautiful places. The first was particularly special with a pitch overlooking the lake with hills all around. We took time to swim in both lakes. We finished the trail on Saturday at Ross beach, ready to catch the bus Sunday afternoon to Fox Glacier and onto Queenstown on Monday. It rained as forecasted on Saturday night and we took the tent down in the pouring rain so it is soaking. We planned a night indoors tonight in Fox Glacier but as I write we are stuck in the bus at Franz Joseph with 30kms to go and the road is blocked by a landslide! Looks like we’ll be in the tent again! It’s still pouring!
A note on the cycling – When I wrote last week I was a bit disappointed with the cycling but what we’ve done this week has been wonderful if slightly out of my comfort zone as it was mostly off-road. The roads in the north of South Island were busy and we avoided them as much as possible. One section we had to do felt like riding on the A303 on a summer Saturday. However further south the roads are much less busy and although we’ve only ridden relatively short distances I was comfortable )riding them as there is so little traffic there is plenty of room for cars to overtake. Having said that there are big distances between places and few places to get food and drink. We have felt as if we are “cheating” by using buses but they are a great way to cover distance and have allowed us to spend time doing the trails which really get you off the beaten track. As we have folding bikes so far we’ve not had a problem with the buses but we would have struggled today at least with normal bikes. The driver insisted the bikes were fully folded and still charged us $10 each. We’ve met a number of cycle tourers on our travels all of whom have covered greater distances and not used buses. Most were younger than us.
25 February 2018 at 8:38 pm #7880
Not much riding this week as busy with other activities. At the end of last week we were stranded in Franz Josef as the road ahead to Fox Glacier (and next day Queenstown) was blocked. We needed to get to Queenstown to start our walk – the Routeburn Track – a couple of days later. I’d booked this last August and was very keen to do it. We did get to Fox the next day but the onward bus to Queenstown was fully booked. We asked other coaches to take us but had no luck and I had all but given up any chance of doing the Track. We went to book another night at the campsite and after hearing our sorry tale the receptionist volunteered her boss to take us in his ute on his way back to Queenstown where he lived. Result! He (Steve) was lovely and when we said we had to hire two rucksacks for the walk he lent us two that had been left behind at his campsite previously.
We arrived in Queenstown about 9pm and was all a rush sorting out kit from cycling to walking ready for our transport at 11am. The guy offered to take all the kit we didn’t need including the bikes, store it at his house and bring it with him when he collected us and take it to our next destination, Te Anau. The walk – 3 days and 2 nights – was fantastc – lakes, mountains, waterfalls, streams, valleys, bush. The huts are pretty basic -communal dorms and kitchens where we cooked the food we had brought with us. Upgrade from last time though – they now have flushing toilets (no showers). The weather deteriorated and after a beautiful first day much of the rest was wet. Even so it was amazing and though we didn’t get the views over the mountains the bush was superb with all the trees, vegetation and so much moss and lichen. We were picked up as arranged and taken to Lake Te Anau Holiday Park. Best place we’ve stayed so far with a great view of the Lake as well as the luxury of our own kitchen and bathroom.
The following day we left at 6.30am for a booked canoeing trip on Doubtful Sound. This is accessible by bus to Manapouri, boat across Lake Manapouri, another bus over the saddle to the Sound and a further boat in the Sound from which the canoes were launched. Although there seemed to be lots of trips advertised, the Sound is unspoilt and we saw very few other boats. It is a magnificent and beautiful place.
As we had all our kit we thought about riding back to Queenstown over 2 days on one of the trails. However another storm was on its way so we decided to return to Queenstown and move on. The weather in Queenstown was noticeably warmer and we had a look around and a ride up to another part of town to return the rucksacks and then round part of the lake. Then, after packing up the tent we were off on the bus again to Dunedin.
25 February 2018 at 8:49 pm #7885
10 March 2018 at 10:51 pm #7926
Sounds like you are both having the time of your life. Did you try the Queensland burgers, keep you going for days. Shame about Dunedin, was 10 deg and horizontal rain when we were there Jan last. So enjoy the last weeks and look forward to the slide show on your return.
26 February 2018 at 5:17 am #7886
Dunedin was very wet so didn’t show itself in the best light. However we did find a guy who was able to repair my broken spoke. Ex cyclone Gita was forecast to strike and no hotels available so we pitched the tent as strongly as we could and hoped for the best. It poured all night but luckily no flooding and the tent stood up to the wind and rain. We took it down in the rain and off to the station to catch the Taieri Gorge train to the start of the Otago Central Rail Trail – 153 kms of the old railway now converted to cycle trail. Seems most people do it with guided trips that book your accommodation and carry your bags. They also do it on mountain bikes.
When we got off the train it was still pouring and we had to ride 22kms to the start of the trail. Others got off and straight onto their bus while we sheltered in the information shed and ate our lunch. But it was a great ride, with the rocks like dinosaurs poking through the mist. When we got to the campsite we were truly wet and cold – it was only 7 degrees. But we were in luck, they had a “motel room” – a cabin with kitchen and bathroom. We put the fire on and thawed out with hot chocolate. We even managed to dry everything, including the tent.
The railtrail was very interesting with lots of old gangers sheds with information explaining how the railway had been built and used to open up the area for gold mining, agriculture and transporting vegetables and meat from the farms back to Dunedin. A huge engineering feat, considering it was just picks and shovels. It’s final use was to bring material to build the hydroelectric dam in Clyde.
We reached the highest point on day two. Although only climbing at maximum 3% it wasn’t easy going up on the gravel, so it was great to be going down. Coffee shops were non existent other than at larger towns although one place had a self service option with hot water, tea and coffee, cold drinks, breakfast-type bars and an honesty box. The track winds up through one beautiful gorge, through flatter countryside, then back down another beautiful gorge. We arrived at the railhead in Clyde mid afternoon on day 3 and then rode on the road across the dam and into Cromwell. New Zealander’s generally are against riding on the road and counsel against it but it’s not too bad – better than riding the main road on Hayling. The traffic is fast but fairly light. The campsite in Clyde was lovely – much more like European ones with lots of space. Sitting outside the tent with views of the mountains and eating fish and chips bought from van in town was perfect.
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