Archive for January, 2007

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

Attack of the Sandflies!

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

What’s worse, a mangled tricycle graveyard or a swarm of killer sandflies? Sarah and I got to make that choice last night when we free camped in the Buller River Gorge.

About 6pm, we had cycled nearly 80km and were both feeling tired and hungry, so we were riding along slowly, scanning the sides of the road for a good place to camp for the night. We searched for a bit and found a gravel road leading to a clearing off the highway that was flat and extremely well hidden from the main road. We thought we had hit the freecamping jackpot. Until we saw the trikes.

About fifteen old tricycles were strewn about, all of them mangled in some way. Thrown together in what looked like it could be an art project, junkyard, or maybe the work of a demented child killer. We both had the same reaction to the site: very creepy.

However, the site was too perfect otherwise to pass up so we decided to camp there for the night. We made dinner and ate quickly since we were both being bit frequently by sandflies. We were used to being bothered by them, so we didn’t think much of it. We then retreated to the safety of our tent and were soon amazed at how many sandflies were swarming around us. So many were landing on our tent it literally sounded like it was raining outside. Every time we opened the tent to grab something or pee, we had to going on a killing spree in the tent, swatting all the sandflies that had made their way in. We were both imagining horrible situations like the tent splitting open and being eaten alive and weren’t looking forwarding to getting out of the tent and packing up in the morning.

When we woke up, the sandflies were still there, biding their time and waiting for us. We formulated a plan and then dashed out of the tent and packed up our gear faster than we ever have before.

We got bit a lot as we packed up – we had to run in place while standing to avoid being covered by flies, but we did have one small victory against the little buggers. As we were packing up the tent, many of the flies invaded it searching for our warm succulent bodies inside. Little did they know the tent was about to be collapsed and they were trapped inside to die. Here is a picture of the carnage later as we unpacked the tent again.

In happier news, we have arrived at the West Coast are now in Westport. We are now going to turn and head South towards rocky coastlines, glaciers, and the Southern Alps.

Westward Bound

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

We arrived in Motueka from Abel Tasman National Park for our rest day on Sunday. We thought the ride from Abel Tasman was going to be an easy 10k but the route we took turned out to be 25k with a truly monstrous hill right in the middle. We stopped & rested at the top of the hill before descending because my head felt like it was going to explode!

On Monday morning we decided to stay in Motueka for a ‘real’ rest day – I thought the day before (with the 25k & giant hill) didn’t count at all. The full day and a half of rest was glorious – we had fish and chips, local white wine, bowl lattes, and Mr Whippy ice cream (As documented by Jamie’s earlier photo. Those kids were so slow – they were easy to beat to the ice cream truck!) We even got to have cereal with cold milk on the day of our departure towards the west coast. That’s an exciting treat because we usually can’t have milk in the morning due to our inability to keep it cold.

Fish and Chips:

Jamie posing in Motueka:

First day out we cycled along the quiet Motueka Valley Road which meandered, slowly uphill, southwest along a river. It was perfect weather & a perfect road for cycling. We passed lots of orchards and vineyards, as well as farms growing hops. Some farmers got double duty by letting their sheep hang around under the hop vines:

The day gradually got hotter and hotter – around 3pm we stopped for a rest in the shade at a roadside fruit stand where we got a bag of freshly picked plums for $1. After 4 1/2 hours in the saddle and 75k we found our first free camping spot along a small river. We cooked dinner and hung out until the sandflies got so bad we had to set up the tent. We spent the rest of the evening in the tent listening to our radio & the millions of bugs hurling themselves with all their might against the sides of our tent. To Jamie’s huge delight this was our cheapest day ever – only $8. More money for me to spend on ice cream in the next town!

While Jamie was washing dishes in the river he encountered the most friendly bird on earth. It was a cute little gray bird with long skinny legs – he was interested in everything Jamie was doing. He even perched on the sponge while Jamie rinsed the dishes! Later on that evening he came over to our tent and hopped under the vestibule to peek in the screen door. He must get fed a lot & was looking for a handout?

We woke up the next morning to someone’s crowing rooster that had made its new home in the field we were camping. We took down our tent and had coffee & toast with peanut butter for breakfast. Here’s our highly ingenious way of making toast with no toaster.

The day started off slow – lots of small hills, leading up to the biggest saddle we’ve crossed so far. After one hour of cycling (average speed of 9km/hr -ugh!) we made it to the top of Hope Saddle at 634 meters. We took in the scenic viewpoint then zoomed down the other side of the saddle.

Surveying the scenery:

Yet another congratulatory picture. 2085 feet!

We’re having afternoon tea in Murchison right now and plan to ride another 20k before finding another free camp spot tonight for a total of 80k today. Tomorrow we’ll ride another 80k and arrive in Westport – our first stop on New Zealand’s famously beautiful west coast!

By the Numbers

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Stats for the 3rd Week (1.15.2006 – 1.21.2006):
Aussie Bay -> Motueka

5 days cycling with 1 easy/rest day
2 days tramping

219.29km (43.86km / cycling day)
NZ$459.22 (NZ$65.60 / day)
14 hours, 9 minutes, 1 second in the saddle

42km of tramping in ~12 hours

We have been pretty consistent in our daily spending at around NZ$65 per day which is approximately US$46. That comes in right under our budget of US$50, but when you add in the gear we have purchased here, transportation costs, and other miscellaneous expenses we are up at US$65 per day. Whoa nellie! We may need to curb our ice cream habit. In addition to costing us money, its getting a little embarassing as tonight Sarah beat a group of children in a sprint to the ice cream truck as it passed through the holiday park. We did get to try a Mr. Whippy though. Sort of like Dairy Queen but a little creamier.

Tramping Hurts

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

Tired. Aching. Blistered. Throbbing.

That’s the only way to describe our feet after our tramping escapade in Abel Tasman the last two days. “We want to go to Bark Bay”, we told the DoC officer with nary a thought to the distance we would have to hike or the fact that we had been cycling so much over the past three weeks that we barely remembered how to walk anymore. But, we sealed our fate when we purchased our pass for the Bark Bay Hut on Saturday night and cycled up to Marahau the night before our journey. The ride from Motueka to Marahau was beautiful, winding along the coast, crossing bluffs, and catching glimpses of the Tasman Bay. We stopped for a picnic lunch at Kaiteriteri, “the most beautiful beach in NZ.”

We camped just outside the park at a place called Old MacDonald’s farm. We had heard rumors about this area of New Zealand and they were true. This place was “dress optional.”

We woke up early on Saturday morning, excited to start our tramping, and the scenery was beautiful. So beautiful that we didn’t notice until the end that we had walked 21km and that our feet were in rough shape.

Here are some of the highlights. Our camera doesn’t do justice to the color of the water.

We went to bed in the bunks in the hut and woke up the next morning, not looking forward to our hike back. Our feet were blistered and tender and our legs were sore in places we must never use when cycling. After the first hour, we knew we had a long day of walking ahead of us. About four hours in, Sarah reached the blame state of grief. “Why did you think we could walk this far in two days?! Did you check the map beforehand?” I laughed at the time, but a short while later I was the one in the pit of despair.

Here I am, soul destroyed by the trail. I told Sarah to leave me at this point. Spending a night in the bush sounded more appealing than walking out.

After six hours, we made it out alive. Walking back to our camp, we wondered if we would walk this slowly at age 90. After a couple of ibuprofen, a lot of water, and some spaghetti, we collapsed in the tent. Today we are resting in Motueka, enjoying their “bowl lattes” and resting for next week’s cycle down the west coast.

Fun Fact:

The giant Haast eagle used to roam New Zealand’s skies. It was the world’s largest eagle with a wing span of 3 meters. Sadly, it is now extinct.

Marlborough Country

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

All is well on the South Island. Our ferry ride across the Cook Strait was smooth, so we were happy about that. We heard from one Kiwi that the seas in the strait can reach 30 feet (another tall tale?) so we were happy neither of us got seasick. We arrived in Picton on the afternoon of the 14th and rode a short way on Queen Charlotte Drive along the Marlborough Sound to a DoC campsite on Aussie Bay. As we were cycling on the shore, we were amazed at how much this region of New Zealand looks like Puget Sound in the United States. Forested hills along the coast with blue-green water and mussels everywhere. Queen Charlotte Drive was a great road for cycling. Narrow, winding, and hilly with beautiful views. We really prefer these types of roads for cycling because the cars on the road are much more cautious and pass us with much more room.

After Sarah tested the water (warm!), we were just setting up our tent when we were greeted by one of the friendliest 14 year olds we have ever met, Sam from Auckland. We instantly struck up a conversation about the differences between New Zealand and the United States and Sam laughed every time he heard us mangle one of the Maori names of the towns and cities around here. After talking for a while, Sam’s dad came over and asked us if we would like some of the fresh blue cod they caught on a fishing expedition the day before in the sound. We of course said yes and when they brought the fish over we were amazed at how good it was. Just boiled and served with a little salt, butter, and pepper and it melted in your mouth. Sarah was craving the fish and talking about it days later, saying it was the best fish she ever had! After dinner, we were invited over to the family’s campervan for tea. Our first tea in New Zealand! Yum. We have been so amazed by the friendliness of the Kiwis all over New Zealand. Meeting and talking to them has really been one of the highlights of our trip so far.

We have since been making our way along SH6 moving along the coast from East to West along the top of the South Island. Now that we are in New Zealand, Sarah has been re-reading Isa and Terry’s journal entries and she is always jealous of the coffee and cakes they ate so often, so she finally convinced me that we should do the same.

We also crossed our first two official saddles of the trip. Rai Saddle at 247m and Whangamoa Saddle at 347m. Rai Saddle went well, but Whangamoa was undergoing some construction and was covered with fresh tar and rocks. (Most of the roads in New Zealand are chip seal.) We lined up with the cars and attempted to navigate the gravel, but were instantly slowed when the sticky rocks became lodged between our tires and fenders and made it impossible to turn our wheels. Sarah got off her bike and started pushing it up in the grassy shoulder. I tried to continue on a little further and eventually got a rock wedged so tight in my front fender that it broke the fender off the support! I was then forced to carry my heavy bike several hundred meters up the road!

After a short break to catch our breath and to temporarily re-attach my fender with some electrical tape we made it to the top safe and sound and descended into the town of Nelson. After a visit to the town’s impressive iSite, we decided to visit one of the local breweries, Bays Brewery. After a quick tour, we bought a six-pack of various bottles and enjoyed them back at our camp site. One thing we have been surprised about in New Zealand is how weak the beer is. Alcohol content of 3-4% is normal here and the IPA we had from the brewery did not taste hoppy to us at all. We think we should start frequenting pubs to make money in drinking contests with the locals!

Tomorrow Sarah and I are going to do an overnight tramping trip on the Coast Track of Abel Tasman National Park. The park is supposed to be one of the most beautiful coastal areas of New Zealand with turquoise waters and golden beaches so we are very excited. After that, we will start to make our way down the rugged West coast.

Keep the comments and emails coming! We love to hear from all of you and spend a lot of time laughing and talking about your comments!

Stats from the 2nd Week:
Taumarunui to Aussie Bay
4 days cycling

188.96km (47.24km / cycling day)
NZ$458.05 (NZ$65.43 / day)
11 hours. 36 minutes, 1 second in the saddle
Longest day: 72.28km

Fun Facts:

The only indigenous land mammals in New Zealand are bats.

Almost half the world’s whale, porpoise, and dolphin population lives in New Zealand’s waters.

The Welles are in Wellington

Saturday, January 13th, 2007

Hello from the southernmost capital city in the world, Wellington New Zealand! Sarah and I arrived in Wellington today via bus. We cycled to Wanganui and then took a bus into Wellington since our guide book, Peddler’s Paradise, said the road going into Wellington is the most dangerous road in all of New Zealand for cycling. We are also staying at a hostel in Wellington since there is no place in the city that you can put up a tent. Luxury! On the bus ride here, we used Isa and Terry’s tried and true Zip Tie Method to halve our baggage count.

On our ride down to Wanganui from National Park was very pleasant. More quiet roads and green hills filled with peacefully grazing lambs. We did however have our first experience riding in the rain. We started out from National Park in the morning and were feeling a little depressed because we couldn’t see any of the views that we were told were beautiful and we knew we weren’t going to be able to avoid getting wet. As soon as Sarah got a little ahead of me on the road, she almost disappeared into the mist.

We rode for about 30kms in the rain and I realized that my heavy bike is not easy to stop on a wet road. On our first real descent, I got a little panicky when I applied the brakes and … nothing happened. I didn’t slow down. I tried a little more force and … still nothing. I pulled with all my might and finally felt like my bike was no longer gaining speed. With all the weight on my bike, it is like a runaway freight train on downhills. I used to get up to close to 50mph on descents on my race bike in Seattle, but anything above 50kph gets scary on this fully loaded touring bike. I think we will be going through a lot of brake pads on this trip.

Luckily, things dried up in the afternoon and we stopped at a country store in Kakatahi and found that the store owner was an American who had been living in New Zealand for five years. We chatted with her for a while and the most interesting thing we learned is that Americans actually travel to New Zealand because of the Lord of the Rings movies and when they arrive THEY GO SEARCHING FOR HOBBITS. We shit you not. Here is her description of her conversations with those people when they show up at her store.

“So, where exactly do the Hobbits live around here?”
“Ummm…that was a movie. Hobbits don’t actually exist.”
“I don’t know. They looked pretty real to us. You haven’t seen any around here?”

The tourists then proceed to wander farmer’s fields looking for Hobbits and have been known to dig up rabbit holes and destroy property while doing so. Can you believe that?! We are not sure if we can or not but the woman was pretty adamant that she was telling the truth. Do you think Hobbits live in these hills?

After a morning of rain and and afternoon of scorching sun, we were tired and hot so we camped for the night and cooled off in the Wanganui river. It was cold, clear, and refreshing after a long day of cycling. The cold water invigorated my beard. It really drives Sarah wild when my beard is fluffed. My moustache still refuses to grow though.

We are going to spend the 13th in Wellington and then take a ferry to the South Island on the 14th. In two weeks on the North Island, we saw a lot of beautiful farming country. We missed a lot of things we want to see like the Bay of Islands, Coromandel, Rotorua, Taupo, and Napier but we decided two weeks was a good amount of time to budget so we can see most of the South Island and we may be able to see some of those things on our way back too. It definitely feels strange to be traveling South to colder weather, but I guess that makes sense when the sun passes through the northern half of the sky!

Net Elevation Gain

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Big news – we cycled for a net elevation gain today! That means no more rolling hills. We started this morning, after a day of resting, at 170m. We ended up, after 40km, at 820m for a net gain of 650m. Most of the day was gradual uphill which wasn’t too difficult at all. There was one giant monster of a hill right near the end of the day near a town called Raurimu. Raurimu is famous for its spiral railroad track designed to overcome really steep hills & get trains from the valley to the plateau above. Too bad we couldn’t cycle along the railroad spiral…instead we had to make it up the long, steep grade. Yikes! We sat on the porch of a deserted ski chalet and ate a sandwich in preparation for the climb. Jamie gave a pep talk, the major gist of which is “Do not give up or you will be totally screwed, there is no way we can push our bikes up this hill!” I thought about trying to hitch-hike to the top but didn’t really want to face the humiliation of admitting to that on this website. :) So, as you might guess, we made it! We were even cheered along by friendly beeps from passing cars. At the top we were greeted with beautiful views of Mt. Ruapehu – a gigantic snow covered volcano on the horizon. Here’s me with the mountain in the background. You can’t really see it, but it was pretty in real life:

We’re currently right outside Tongariro National Park which is host to one of the most famous day hikes in New Zealand – Tongariro Crossing. For now we’re planning to skip the hike for two reasons:

  1. It is really cloudy, rainy, and in general bad hiking weather. We’d miss all the views. It’s not raining hard enough to make biking miserable yet, though (knock on wood).
  2. We want to haul ass to Wellington so we can take the ferry to the South Island. We’re planning to come back and see sights on the North Island only if we have time after we’re done in the South.

We’ve left the nice back roads and are back on the highway for now, but it hasn’t been horrible so far. I think we’re far enough out of Auckland to be rid of the major traffic hassles. Every once in awhile we run into a bridge where the shoulder disappears, which is bad news for us because we spend our days riding on the shoulder. At these bridges our method is to slow down, look behind us for giant trucks, and dart across when the coast is clear.

Other news for the day: we ate an entire package of cheese & and entire package of cookies today. We were also on track to finish an entire loaf of bread today, but decided to save it for breakfast. We’re both really hungry all the time, which is fun!

Hanging out in the tent:

Campsite had a flock of chickens. Jamie liked this one best:

Sarah carefully studying the elevation maps in our cycling guidebook. I spend a lot of time doing this:

Jamie tallying the daily stats:

Hot Lil’ Woollies!

Monday, January 8th, 2007

Stats from the 1st Week (2006.01.01 – 2006.01.07):

Auckland to Taumarunui
6 days cycling, 1 day resting
327.9km (54.56km/cycling day)
NZ$436.89 (NZ$62.41/day)
20 hours, 33 minutes, 20 seconds in the saddle

Today Sarah and I are taking a rest day at the Taumarunui Holiday Park along the Wanganui River. We arrived here yesterday after two of our best days so far. After talking with a man at the tourist information station, we decided to take the inland route down to Wellington and we found some quiet back roads that took us off the main route and into the heart of sheep country. The roads were narrow and beautiful and traffic was practically nonexistent. The first day we cycled to a small village called Bennydale where the local pub owner let us set up our tent behind his house. We were having a beer in his pub when a group of locals asked us if we would like to have a drink with them. It turns outs these locals were farmers raising sheep and cattle – our dream come true! The men were discussing the best way to treat a wooden fence post to make it last the longest and the different carbohydrate/protein makeups of the grass at different times of the year. The women were bragging about how their 14 year old daughters were at home making dinner while they were enjoying their beer. They were also very eager to discuss “Dr. 90210” and American celebrities like J-Lo and Paris Hilton with Sarah. The other thing we noticed is that these people really know how to drink. We were amazed at the number of 1 liter bottles of beer these people were able to put away. After seeing them, we decided it would be best not to ride our bikes on these farm roads at night! As they were leaving, two of the farmers, Roly and Maury, offered to give us a tour of a real Kiwi farm the next day because we were going to be passing their farms on the way out of town. Of course we accepted!

The next day we cycled a short way in some beautiful hills to Roly’s farm. He is a 3rd generation family farmer and raises sheep and cattle on his 1700 acre farm. We hopped on the back of Roly’s 4-wheeler and he gave us a tour of his entire farm. As we drove around, Roly filled us in on all the ins and outs of raising lambs and cattle. We learned how the animals are switched to new paddocks with regularity, based on the levels of grass, type of terrain, and needs of the animal. We heard the gory details of what you do with a “shitty sheep” which is an animal with diarrhea all over its back-end and tail. The diarrhea attracts flies, the flies lay eggs which hatch to maggots, and the maggots eat the sheep along with its shit. That is why they crop the tails on sheep when they are young. After the tour, we had some pork sandwiches with Roly for lunch and he introduced us to his herding dogs Buddy, Patch, and Bruin. A three year old herding dog is so valuable to a farmer that they can sell for up to $3000. Afterwards we headed down the road to Maury’s farm where he and his family were drafting lambs to be taken to the freezer works where they would be processed and sent off to England or the United States. The entire family was working together and it looked like they were having a lot of fun. They showed us their shearing shed and they all agreed that shearing sheep was one of the hardest jobs in the world. A shearer is bent over for 12 hours a day in the stifling heat of a shearing shed and a good one can shear up to 400 sheep a day. Maury’s family had a different type of dogs called Huntaways which were breed specifically for herding sheep and cattle in the terrain of New Zealand. After the drafting, the family was off to lunch so we said goodbye and headed down the road to Taumarunui.

Roly told us it was all downhill from his farm to Taumarunui, but he failed to mention all the rolling hills along the way. Three hours and 45kms later, we arrived at the Holiday Park. As soon as we pulled in, Sarah’s nose started bleeding. She has been getting nose bleeds at least once a day this week and every one we meet has a different theory from pollen, to heat, to the heavy breathing she does on the bicycle. As soon as the camp host saw Sarah bleeding she flew into mother hen mode and whipped out a cold compress, cold flannel, and set Sarah down in the shade to rest and recover from her horrible affliction. After Sarah recovered and we set up camp, we decided to rest here the next day. Tomorrow we will start climbing towards Tongariro National Park. This will be the start of some real climbing and we will get up to 800m near the park, so we will be traveling slowly. We will continue to head South until we reach Wanganui on the coast.

Climbing the hill to Roly’s farm:


Chasing sheep on the 4-wheeler:

Roly’s lambs fattening up on the lush grass:

Roly moving his bulls to some fresh grass:

Docile steers:

A quiet road to Taumarunui:

Sarah’s bloody nose and cold compress!


Friday, January 5th, 2007

Today Sarah and I made it to the Waitomo Caves to see the fabulous glowworms. As soon as we rolled up to Waitomo, we were greeted by the New Zealand tourism industry for the first time. We saw a lot of families in camper vans with tired, crying kids and a lot of young guys in wetsuits saying “My name’s Ian and I’ll be your guide today…”. We haven’t really been thinking about it, but we have been travelling through some rural farming country which is very beautiful, but which doesn’t have a lot of tourist activities. It still feels at this point like we are trying to figure out what this trip is going to be about. It is easy to travel all day by bicycle and enjoy the countryside and then just fall asleep in your tent as soon as the sun goes down without really doing anything.

We have both been impressed by how green and beautiful it is here and Sarah’s quadriceps have been impressed by the rolling hills. She still refuses to try clipless pedals, so she is stuck doing leg presses all day. Her bike has gotten progressively lighter every day so far and mine is getting heavier. However, she does have me as her personal soigneur and gets a leg massage every night, so life isn’t all bad and I’m sure she will get stronger soon.

It’s funny – Sarah and I are both nervous but about completely different things. She is worried this trip is going to be too difficult for her physically and I’m worried the bikes will break down beyond my abilities and we will be stranded somewhere in the toe jam of New Zealand with no chance of rescue. So far, we have both been spending a lot of time reassuring each other that everything is going to be allright.

Here are some photos from our ride today:

Tomorrow we will have to make a decision. Head for the East coast and Mt. Egmont National Park or head directly South towards Wellington which will take us by Tongariro National Park. We got some advice yesterday that the road heading directly South is much more bikeable and traffic is lighter, so we are leaning in that direction but are going to gather some more opinions tomorrow before making a decision.