Archive for the 'New Zealand' Category

Roaring Forties

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Guess where we are? The southernmost and westernmost city in New Zealand – Invercargill! We are at 46°24’36″S, 168°22’12″E and luckily we are traveling East along the southern coast of New Zealand so the roaring forties are working to our advantage. We currently have 15 hours of light in which to cycle from dawn to dusk in Invercargill.

Here I am having a delicious peanut butter sandwich on a mountain side.

On the way southward the landscape transitioned from the mountains of Fiordland National Park to rolling farmland. Here we are in the transition zone with the Fiordland mountains in the background and millions of sheep along the road.

We stopped off at Lake Manapouri along the edge of Fiordland National Park – it is known as one of New Zealand’s most beautiful!

I attempt to fix my helmet-hair for a glamour shot:

I almost forgot to retrieve my helmet from the beach. Luckily Jamie noticed it was missing before we started off again:

Jamie, also known as ‘Mr. Safety’, found some exciting road side treasures recently. Two neon orange flags that must have fallen off passing trucks! Our bikes are now equipped with orange safety flags in the back to help lazy motorists spot us. My Safety flag is plain old neon orange, but Jamie’s is a bit more exciting. It warns: “Don’t Spread Waterweed!”

As we’ve been making our way south the weather has been getting colder and windier. It is easy to imagine the breeze is coming straight from Antarctica! We can hardly believe how close we are. The weather has also been gray and misty-rainy for the past few days which means our pictures aren’t turning out quite as well as usual. This photo of a cute cow is pretty good though!

I walk on an historic suspension bridge built in 1899 in the town of Clifden:

We found a free camping spot in the small town of Tuatapere. We like to save money by free camping, but when the weather is bad it is not very fun to cook your breakfast while sitting outside on the wet ground. We experimented with cooking our oatmeal from inside the tent. Don’t worry, Mr. Safety was very rigorous in his inspections to insure we didn’t burn the tent down or asphyxiate ourselves!

Jamie was very excited about this picture he took of himself in a mirror alongside the road. If you look closely you can see him, but the misty gray weather foiled his plans for winning any photo contests:

We reach the southern coast at last!

Every once in a great while we see gigantic bulls in fields on the side of the road. Usually we see lots of boring steers, so we get very excited about the novelty of a new type of farm animal. You would not believe how HUGE these things are. The one was the size of a small car and had to have weighed at least 2000 lbs. Look at the giant hole he dug in the ground next to him.

The winds on the southern coast are very strong. It was an interesting sight to turn around and look back at the last few kilometers and realize that every living growing thing was so warped by the wind.

In other exciting news: Jamie’s beard is going to get shaved off very soon in preparation for visa photos needed to gain entry into southeast Asia! We can’t have him looking like a scary hippie when we’re asking for a tourist visa.

The town of Colac Bay is popular for surfing. Sam, we took a picture of this giant surfing statue for you:

In the town of Riverton we noticed this strange house. Look closely at the front of the house where the address usually goes. What kind of weirdo lives here?

A Day in the Life of a Cycle Tourist: NZ

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

We’ve been on the road for six weeks in New Zealand and have fallen into a daily routine, which means I can finally write this “day in the life” post. I loved reading this stuff when planning our trip.

Wake up around 8am. So far we haven’t used alarms to wake up at a specific time because we haven’t been in a rush to get anywhere – no buses or trains to catch, all we have to do to start the day is hop on our bikes. The weather in New Zealand has been mild enough that we’re able to cycle during the hottest part of the day with few problems.

Cook and eat breakfast until 9am; includes dish washing. This always seems to take us an hour no matter what. It’s been fun to have breakfast together every day. When we worked at Microsoft we’d get up, get coffee from Uptown Espresso or Cafe Ladro for the drive to work, then go our separate ways. We almost always eat oatmeal or toast with peanut butter for breakfast. Eggs or muesli are usually treats on rest days.

Pack up tent, panniers, and load up the bikes until 10am. This always seems to take another hour unless it is raining – then we’re super fast. We have packing the tent down to a science. We want to enter a tent packing contest when we get back to the US. We grade each other on how well the tent is rolled & how easy it is to fit back into its bag each day. I got a very rare A+ the other day. You can only get that when you complete all steps with no help, and there is actually extra room when you put the tent back into its bag. Exciting!! We also shake the tent out each morning to get rid of dead sandflies, crumbs, grass, etc. We pick up the tent, hold it in the air sideways, and then walk around our site shaking the tent and singing “Westside walk it out”. Come on, you know that song don’t you?

Roll out around 10am. We sometimes sing the Ludacris song “Roll Out!” when we depart, but that usually only happens if it is a nice sunny day and we have a lot of energy.

Ride for 2-3 hours then break for lunch. We usually try to get half way to our destination before the lunch break and we also try to find a nice picnic table with a pretty view if possible! We almost always eat peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch. We have tried Clover, Rata, Kamahi, and Multi-Flora 10% Manuka honey. So far Jamie’s favorite is Rata and mine is Kamahi. Manuka honey, made from a local flowering tree, is extremely expensive because the hippie types believe it has medicinal properties. It is NZ$43 for 100% Manuka so we can only afford the 10% blend. We are going to be serious honey connoisseurs when we get back! If we’re lucky we get an orange, and then occasionally we have cottage cheese and tomatoes on crackers instead of the PB.

Ride for another 2-3 hours and arrive at our final destination. We usually stay at holiday parks or backpacker places that allow tents. We often plan to free camp but we can’t quite figure it out – the land always seems to be full of either farms & fences or super dense impenetrable forest.

When we get bored on the road we have a few tried and true ways to amuse ourselves:

  1. Jamie discusses, in great detail, how he’s going to “trick out his bike” when he gets home. This includes animated discussion on hubs, spokes, 29″ wheels, paint jobs with flames, and all imaginable bicycle accessories.
  2. We play a modified version of the $25,000 Pyramid game. Someone lists a bunch of seemingly random things that have one thing in common. The other person must guess what that one thing is. For example: Cheese, Grass, Teeth, Deck of Cards…. Things you can cut!!
  3. Sing really embarrassing songs. Recent favorites include all songs from Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and the Blue Corn Moon song from Pocahontas. Non-Disney titles include Wherever I May Roam (lyrics: where I lay my head is home, sung in a very deep and gravelly voice), Higher Ground (sung on hill climbs), and Where Have All the Cowboys Gone. Jamie likes to sing this one when he’s about to wash the dishes after dinner. He croons “I will wash the dishes, you go have a BEEEEEER.”
  4. Laugh at the cows that stop dead in their tracks with a piece of grass hanging out of their mouth to stare at us as we ride by. We stopped for a 15 minute water break and map consultation today and these cows stood motionless, staring at us, the entire time:

Set up tent, unload stuff we need from the panniers, and then take showers (if available).

Cook & eat dinner somewhere between 5-6pm. If we’re in a place with a grocery store we walk there and pick out something refrigerated for dinner. This is often a highlight of the day, as we are obsessed with food. If we’re not in a place with a grocery store we have rice, pasta, or cous cous paired with a canned protein of some sort (tuna or beans), and we add a vegetable if we’ve passed a store that sells veggies sometime during the day.

After dinner we usually retire to our tent. We read (with our headlamps on as it gets dark). I use a pannier filled with clothes to prop my head against for reading. Jamie writes down his precious stats for the day. He tracks daily mileage, time, average speed, start and end point, money spent, and finally reconciles our spending against the overall budget goals. The other day he told me it would be my turn to track all this once we get to Asia, but I know he loves it too dearly to give it up! We upload the photos we’ve taken during the day to the laptop and look at those. Then we sometimes write a journal entry, just like I’m doing now!

We usually get hungry again before we get tired so lately we’ve been eating another peanut butter sandwich before bed. I am anticipating that I will begin to despise peanut butter in the near future if we keep this up…

Our only clocks are on our bike computers so I’m not totally sure what time we go to sleep – I think it is usually around 10pm. We both usually wake up a few times during the night due to weird noises, noisy fellow campers, or being overheated in our sleeping bags.

The End. Stay tuned for “A Day in the Life… Asia!”

A brief note from Jamie:

Stats for Week 6 (02.05.2007 – 02.11.2007)
Haast to Mossburn

5 days cycling, 2 days resting
2 mountain passes
347.88km (69.58 / cycling day)
22 hours, 35 minutes, 12 seconds in the saddle

NZ$368.59 (NZ$52.66 / day)

A Southerly

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

Today we woke up in the morning and headed to Queenstown to do some sightseeing. Luckily, we found a bike path right along the edge of the lake that we could take right into the city centre instead of riding on the busy road. From the trail, we had some very nice views of the Remarkables.

We had heard a lot of negative opinions of Queenstown, but it didn’t seem too bad to us. We expected to see a lot of hyperactive 20-somethings carrying around cases of Mountain Dew and B.A.S.E. jumping off of street lights, but it was just a small touristy town with a lot of adrenaline activities near by. We can see why it is such a popular place, the scenery around the town is amazing. From some neighborhoods it looks like the Remarkables are right on top of you.

We headed South out of town around noon and were instantly greeted by a strong southerly wind. As we were struggling to reach 10km per hour on flat ground, we realized it was going to be a long day. Then to add insult to injury, I got my first flat tire of the trip! Time to spend a little quality time with my friend the pump.

After a quick patch, we spent the next four hours riding along Lake Wakatipu with views of the lake and nearby mountains.

The wind never let up and at the end of the day we had average only 12.9kph. One of our slowest days ever! We decided to call it a day after only 50km in Kingston at the South end of the lake. Sarah asked a local old-timer if it was always this windy around here and he said yes, but the wind usually blows the other way. Hopefully we’ll have better luck tomorrow!

Highest Paved Road in New Zealand? Check.

Friday, February 9th, 2007

Today Sarah and I reached the literal high-point of our trip. We crossed the Crown Range on New Zealand’s highest paved road at 1076 meters.

The climb up was definitely the toughest we have done so far. Here is Sarah’s description of her experience:

We were ready for an 80 km day – 40 to the top of NZ’s highest paved road, then another 40 down. The first 30 km was an easy gradual climb. I was barely tired, which made me very nervous. I knew we’d have to climb all those record breaking meters soon. At 35 km the real hills began and the hot sun decided to come out from behind the clouds. I dislike hills + hot sun almost as much as I hate cold + wet weather! I struggled along in my granny gear for a few kilometers then decided to stop for a rest & drink. Jamie continued on ahead calling out “let’s keep going until we find some shade!” I knew this was wishful thinking – there were no trees, it was noon, he was dreaming.

After my rest & water I felt much better so I continued struggling along up the hill. I had to stand up (still in my granny gear, by the way) and grind on my pedals to get up one particularly steep curve. This extra exertion apparently did me in. About 500 feet of this and I had to flop off my bike again, panting like crazy. But this time I didn’t get my breath back after stopping – I just stood there panting and feeling miserable. Then my face got all numb and I almost passed out on the side of the road. Then I threw up my water. It was a quite a scene! After a few minutes of additional panting, I started pushing my bike up the rest of the hill. I pushed for about 20 minutes and enjoyed the faces of passing motorists. Usually on tough hills we get lots of thumbs ups and friendly honks. Not so when you’re pushing your bike. Instead I was treated to many slow shakes of the head & sad smiles, which I loosely interpret as “You poor bastard. What on earth were you thinking?”

Jamie came back looking for me on foot after he reached the summit, so he was able to join me for the last few meters. He even gallantly pushed my bike for me, but not before taking this lovely snapshot. I was yelling something like “Jamie, ONE is enough” right as he took this.

The climb started in Wanaka, one of the prettiest towns we have traveled through so far. We liked it there so much we stayed for three nights resting for the climb. Here is the sunset over the mountains and lake the night before we left.

The terrain of the climb was very strange. Lots of rounded peaks with grass and shrubs growing. The shrubs gave the hills a weird texture, making them loop like leopard print. Here are some images from the ascent.

From the top we could see Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, and our upcoming descent.

The descent was not fun. It was too steep and curvy for our tastes. Our ascent was 40km and the descent lost all that elevation in only 12km! It looked like a great road to climb up though. There was one section with steep switchbacks, a single lane, and beautiful views that looked like it was right out of the Tour de France.

We finally made it to the valley floor and tried to take a back road into Queenstown. After we had cycled 5km down it, we saw a sign saying it was closed ahead, so we decided to backtrack to the main route instead of risking getting lost. Sarah was worn out from her efforts on the climb (two mountain passes in one week!) at this point and was not happy.

As we neared Queenstown, traffic was pretty heavy and it was getting really windy, which didn’t make cycling very much fun. We did get our first view of the Remarkables mountain range which Queenstown is so famous for though.

We pulled into a holiday park on the edge of town and hung out in the kitchen all night eavesdropping on a pathological liar who was telling a fellow hiker of his multiple 100ft falls from mountain cliffs without injury. After such a fall, he would just find the nearest cold mountain stream and let its waters “heal” him. Yeah right! Welcome to Queenstown.

Goodbye Mr. Sandfly

Tuesday, February 6th, 2007

Today Sarah and I rode 50km through the Southern Lakes district to the town of Wanaka. Our ride took us past Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea. The lakebeds for both of these lakes were carved by glaciers and each lake is over 300 meters deep. We were surrounded by mountains the entire time and our ride was very hilly. We were both a little tired from yesterday too and that made today one of those days were 50 kilometers feels more like 150. The good news is that there are no sandflies here! We woke up at our campsite this morning and the sandflies were so thick we were inhaling them. Now we are in Wanaka and haven’t had a single bite yet!

Here are some pictures from our ride today.

Check out how steep the road up this hill is!

The view from the top was nice though!

Now we are going to spend one or two days relaxing in Wanaka before heading South to Queenstown over the Crown Range.

Break On Through To The Other Side

Monday, February 5th, 2007

Hello from the other side of Haast Pass! Sarah and I safely and successfully crossed the Southern Alps today and we are now in a new region of the country: Otago. This region is known as one of the most beautiful areas of New Zealand with majestic mountains and glacially carved lakes and during our short time here it has lived up to its reputation!

Weather and sightseeing slowed us down a bit last week, so at the end of the week, we cycled like lunatics to get to Haast and in doing so we did our first metric century and bested our previous longest day by 50%! On Saturday the 3rd we cycled 126.08km in 6 hours, 55 minutes, and 45 seconds. It was definitely a grueling day and we were wiped out afterwards so we spent Sunday the 4th resting in Haast. After the ride, we were discussing whether or not cycling 100km on these loaded touring bikes is as difficult as riding 100 miles on a racing bike. We think it is.

The epic ride started inland as we left the glaciers. Here is Sarah cycling through some dense rainforest.

As we neared the coast, things started to open up a bit with nice rivers, plains, and hills.

As we were nearing the end of the ride, we touched the coast and had to climb and descend three 200 meter hills in a row. It was painful, but the views from the top were worth it.

We spent the next day relaxing in Haast and cycled about 5km down to the beach. Sarah did a little beachcombing, hoping she would find an ancient mere, but she didn’t have any luck. We did spot a couple of dolphins in the surf though.

Today we were feeling pretty well recovered so we decided to tackle Haast Pass. Here I am getting my daily upper body workout by using our handpump to inflate our tires to 95psi.

The ride started out pretty flat; we cycled along a plain for about 50km with views of the mountains we were trying to get across.

Check out all the waterfalls coming down this one.

Sarah’s shadow was so clear in the morning sun, it looked like she was riding on top of a mirror.

We stopped for a lunch break at Pleasant Flat and were thankful we didn’t have to cross the glacier covered peaks we could see in the distance.

As we approached the Gates of Haast, the road became steep and our pace slowed to 5km/hr. We knew the pass was about 10km, so we got a little worried wondering if it was really going to take us two hours to get across?! When we arrived at the Gates of Haast, we really started to panic. We could see the road became even steeper ahead and we didn’t know whether or not we could make it. Was it really that steep all the way up? Sarah was feeling very tired, so we decided to take some action. We took her dry bag and put it on my bike, creating our first double-decker load.

We then started up; the falls at the Gates were beautiful.

As we started climbing, we realized this wasn’t a road we were on, it was a paved wall! I was out of the saddle, grinding my way up the hill. I could feel the burn of the midday sun on my back and I was instantly so drenched in sweat I could barely keep a grip on my handlebars. I looked back, worried about Sarah but she was already out of site. So I decided to leave her. If she was really this weak, I didn’t bloody want her anyway.

Just kidding people! I knew if I stopped I would never be able to start up again, so I continued on to scout out how long the steepness lasted. Luckily, the gradients eased after about two kilometers and I was able to pull off the road to catch my breath. After a few minutes, Sarah rounded a bend and wove her way up the road toward our resting spot.

When she arrived, she told me she had to climb so slowly that she wasn’t able to keep her bike upright and she fell off. When she started again, she learned that at speeds below 3.8km per hour her speedometer gives up and tells her she’s not moving anymore!

Thankfully, that hellish stretch was the worst of the pass and the remainder was actually very gradual. Haast Pass is actually the lowest of the passes in New Zealand at only 564 meters.

We spent the afternoon descending gradually and admiring the new dry landscape.

You may have heard some military types bragging about the in-air refueling of their fighter jets? Well, they’ve got nothing on us. We’ve also perfected in-flight refueling with our Hydrapaks. Here is Sarah hydrating in style.

On our way down, we stopped to visit the Blue Pools. It was a short trail off the road including a swinging bridge crossing and the water was amazingly clear and beautiful.

At the end of the day, we set up camp at a DoC site right on the shore of Lake Wanaka. We gaze out the front door of our tent and pretend we are in our million dollar lake home. Tomorrow we head toward Wanaka and Queenstown.

Stats from Week 5 (1.29.2007 – 2.04.2007):
Greymouth -> Haast
5 days cycling, 2 days resting

347.78km (69.56km / cycling day)
20 hours, 27 minutes, 42 seconds in the saddle

NZ$265.09 (NZ$37.87 / day)

Happy Birthday Sarah!

Friday, February 2nd, 2007

Today Sarah turned a lovely twenty-seven years of age. Her first birthday as my wife! What a milestone!

When we woke up, we were glad to see that the skies were clear and sunny. We decided to head towards Fox Glacier which is only about 20km South of Franz Josef, but the road between the two is very windy and hilly. At first the climbs were nice and gradual and we were surrounded by forested mountains and clear streams, so we were happy.

Soon things became very steep though. If you look closely, you can see Sarah has her “Lance” face on as she destroys this switchback.

We arrived in Fox Glacier about two hours later and decided to spend the night here so we would have time to see the glacier and walk some of the trails in the area. We stopped at the DoC office to get some information on the trails and it looks like I was right, a lot of tourists have been injured and killed because they don’t heed the warning signs near the glaciers! Think twice before crossing that barrier kids!

Fox Glacier is smaller and much less touristed than Franz Josef, but we thought it was more spectacular. It has carved out a narrow canyon with vertical walls and the trail follows the icy river right up to the terminal face of the glacier.

The ice in the river looked like the tapioca balls in bubble tea.

Ye olde terminal face of Fox Glacier.

It started to rain on us (gasp!), so we headed back to the township of Fox Glacier. We thought about going out for a nice dinner, but after looking around at our options decided we would have tea and cake instead and wait until we returned to Auckland in about a month for a celebratory dinner. After our snack, Sarah got to forget about the budget for a day and go on a shopping spree at the market here in town. She picked out “Luxury Muesli”, a nice bottle of NZ Shiraz, some of her favorite digestive biscuits, and “all the milk she could drink.” Not pictured is the ice cream bar that was devoured before the photo was taken.

While waiting for Sarah to pick out her loot, I found the perfect treat for our little kitty Robo. I bet he wishes they had this in the United States!

No comment on these puzzling little treats though.

Tomorrow we will continue South towards our first real mountain pass. Haast Pass!

Glacier Expedition

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

You would not believe how hard it rained here last night. It is the kind of rain you see at the very most intense part of a midwest thunderstorm…but it never stops. It rained buckets and buckets for many many hours. We are officially in the rainforest now, though, so I guess I’m not allowed to be too surprised. The forecast said that over the course of 6 hours they were expecting 130 – 160 mm of rain. That’s about 6 inches.

The tent sites here aren’t on grass due to the amount of rain regularly received. Instead we spent the night on a sheet of astroturf sitting over a bed of gravel. Sounds uncomfortable, but it was better than sleeping in a puddle. Our tent held up decently well in the deluge, although the floor seems to ooze water. Not sure what’s up with that.

Today we woke up to absolutely clear blue skies – I could not believe it. The city of Franz Josef is beautiful; it is set in a valley surrounded by snow capped peaks:

We decided to stay for the day & hike to the face of the glacier. We rode our bikes the 4km to the start of the glacier hiking trails. This included another trip over a one-lane bridge – this one crossed a turbulent river of totally grey water. The rainstorm last night increased the river volume and filled it with rock particles to the point where it didn’t even look like water. It was more like a giant mudflow with soccer ball sized chunks of ice floating in it:

View from the road to the glacier:

Jamie stops to pose on the road to the glacier:

Franz Josef glacier:

I managed to take this classic photo of Jamie contemplating the glacier. He stood just like this, staring at the glacier, for quite a long time. Turns out he was busy imagining what it would be like if the glacier exploded into a huge rush of water and ice, striking down all those naughty tourists who’d broken the rules and slipped under the rope for a closer look at the glacier. Typical.

A pretty reflection pool with Franz Josef glacier in the background:

Close up of a fern leaf unfurling:

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

I think Jamie jinxed us with his last post about the nice weather we’d been getting. As soon as he uploaded his journal entry in Greymouth (using the only wireless internet in town at McDonald’s!) it started pouring.

Later that afternoon we went grocery shopping to stock up on food for the next week. Here I am organizing & packing it all:

The next morning the weather cleared just long enough for us to pack up our wet tent. We set off down the west coast and it immediately started to rain. It wasn’t bad at first – just a heavy drizzle – but over the course of two hours it turned into a full blown thunderstorm. We finally decided to stop for the day at only 40km, in Hokitika. We were completely soaked to the bone, starting to get really cold, worried that cars wouldn’t be able to see us on the road, and worried about getting hit by lightning. We also stopped in at the local tourist information site and found out the forecast for the rest of the day predicted severe thunderstorms. As we set up our tent at the local holiday park I realized my hands were so frozen that I couldn’t move them well enough to squeeze open the clasps on our panniers. Everyone knows how much I love to be cold and wet, so you can imagine my mood. (See the About Us section, under “Thing you least look forward to on this trip.”) We ate lunch in the holiday park kitchen, drank a bunch of hot tea, and then the rain stopped. It didn’t rain the rest of the day and the sky even cleared to bright blue. We were both extremely annoyed – we’d just spent the absolute worst part of the day cycling then paid for a camping spot and so couldn’t cycle any further that day. Instead we hung around in the TV lounge and watched an episode of Dr. Phil.

It stormed all night, which means we woke up the next morning and packed up the still wet tent. We continued south against some nasty headwinds but we weren’t too sad because the rain finally stopped and the skies cleared! We stopped for lunch at Bushman’s cafe in the town of Pukekura (population: 2) which was extremely entertaining. We got to see a giant sandfly statue, angry letters to the proprietor from animal rights activists, and Jamie got to sample a possum pie. These pies are, naturally, the reason for the animal rights activist letters.

Getting ready to dig in:

First bite:

Verdict: delicious!

Dad, this one’s for you. The Roadkill Cafe menu:

After 75km we arrived in the very small town of Hari Hari where we decided to stop for the night. Nothing much exciting happened there. Jamie developed a new method for drying the tent out:

We had a beer in the local pub and watched cricket like everyone else was doing. We spent our time speculating what the rules & goals of the game are. We’re still not quite sure how it all works.

Next morning dawned and it was grey and rainy again! We didn’t want to hang around Hari Hari and we’d heard a rumor from another pair of cyclists that the weather would turn even more nasty in the afternoon. So, we packed up camp as fast as possible, ate a cold piece of bread with peanut butter, skipped my precious morning coffee, and took off. It rained non stop for the first 32 km. We took a break for a small snack of trail mix and a quick bowl latte at the only cafe in town then departed to ride the last 32km to Franz Joseph. It rained non stop for the second 32 km too. Aside from the coldness and misery of riding in the rain, it also sucks because you can’t see anything. You squint to see the white line on the side of the road through all the rain and you occasionally look up and see hazy grey mist. The scenic highlights were the many rickety looking one-lane bridges we’d ride over mountain rivers; the water was completely opaque but bright aqua blue – so pretty.

We were also extremely entertained by the unicyclists we saw touring the country! No joke – we passed a group of four men on giant unicycles. They were touring the entire west coast of New Zealand on these extremely uncomfortable looking bikes…I don’t know how they did it. It made what we’re doing look too easy!

We managed to get a few good pictures of them. This guy was a pro!

This guy was a little more wobbly – we were concerned for him on the hills!

Here I am: slightly crazed, riding in the rain, no hands! Impressive, no?

Even the horses were wearing rain jackets:

The ride into Franz Joseph was pretty, even in the rain. We decided to spend the night here & wait for the weather to clear – it is supposed to be better by tomorrow or the next day. We don’t want to miss all the sights on the west coast due to this pesky rain.

Riding into Franz Joseph:

Riding into Franz Joseph:

The First Four Weeks, The First Megameter

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Sarah and I have made our way down the coast to Greymouth, along the Grey river, center of the Grey district. Not surprisingly, this area is known for its torrential rains. Luckily the two days we have spent in this area have been grey in the morning but sunny in the afternoon with only a couple of light sprinkles!

The ride from Westport to Greymouth was beautiful. The stretch of SH6 between the two town runs right along the coast with beautiful views everywhere.

We have upped our mileage to about 80km per day and Sarah is feeling tired again. One morning she wanted to sleep on the bike instead of ride!

However, once we saw the ocean she was perked up and ready to cycle.

We also hit 1000km on this stretch of highway. Not bad for our first month of cycling!

Sarah was also delighted to see that we have entered penguin country! No sightings yet though!

Ah, the salty sea air!

Sarah cycles through what the locals would call some “glorious native bush.” The ferns and palms along the coast reminded us of the television show “Lost.” Once we realized the new season was about to start, Sarah seriously suggested that we plan our nights so that we could watch it.

The Nikau Palm is the southernmost naturally growing palm in the world.

Perpendicular Point is aptly named! If you look closely, you can see the road we cycled up.

We hiked the Truman Track down to the ocean. Voted the best short walk in New Zealand! It was only 15 minutes long.

Punakaiki is one of the main tourist attractions along this route. This area of the coast is a Karst region. It is an ancient limestone seabed that has been raised up and is now being worn away by the sea and wind. Punakaiki has pancake rocks which are made of layered limestone. Scientists are still trying to figure out why they are layered.

The waves of the ocean have worn tunnels into the rock forming blowholes. This one is called “The Chimney Pot.”

In Westport, we ran into a German couple who are also cycling through New Zealand. These two are the most musclebound couple we have ever seen. When we heard the guy speaking German, we wondered if he was an Austrian descendent of Arnold Schwarzenegger. They both looked like they were about to bust out of their cycling spandex and he has a tattoo on his ankle that simply says “Bodybuilding.” We were too intimidated to talk to them at first, but then we ran into them again in Greymouth so we struck up a conversation. It turns out they are following the same route as us, but they left Greymouth today so we will probably never catch them. Sarah joked that they most likely did crunches together every night and then a little bit later we saw them doing exactly that in the TV lounge! We noticed they are both carrying protein and other dietary supplements. We took a picture of our nutritional snack of beer and chips next to theirs.

We are resting today in Greymouth and are going to stock up on groceries and other provisions because we are about to enter the wildest and least populated area of New Zealand. The next supermarket is 465kms down the road! We are going to head down the coast to Haast and then go over Haast Pass towards Queenstown.

Stats from 4th Week (01.22.2007 – 01.28.2007)
Motueka -> Greymouth
5 days cycling, 2 days resting
336.95km (67.39km / cycling day)
20 hours, 43 minutes, 22 seconds in the saddle