A Day in the Life of a Cycle Tourist: NZ

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)

3 Responses to “A Day in the Life of a Cycle Tourist: NZ”

  1. patty Says:

    Wow… you guys are amazing. Still trucking along. I can’t believe you guys and I’m jealous (I think). Weather in California has been wet which is great since we need the water!

    Keep the logs coming. I just keep checkin in on you two.

    And no.. you don’t know me. I’m just a web surfer who was googling “surly” or something bike like when I happened upon your blog.

  2. erin Says:

    The Disney songs would totally be my choice, too. I hope you are belting “Part of Your World” at the top of your lungs whilst traversing the country side.


  3. Dad Says:

    Sarah, I love this post. Your song selections are perfect and I have one suggestion to add to your repertoire: “Rawhide”. I think this would be especially fun to sing as you guys are rollin’ down the road. You and Jamie can take turns singing parts of the chorus. For example, you can sing: “Move ‘em on” and Jamie can reply with: “Head ‘em up”. Then you can switch parts back and forth. I wish I could see you guys singing this and laughing all the way. If I close my eyes I can see the scene perfectly. You guys are laughing so hard you can hardly sing and maneuver your bicycles. At the end of the song of course you have to pretend you are cracking the whip (Just like in the original version) while wildly singing “Rawhide! Rawhide!”

    Have fun and keep up the great work on the website. We all love your work.

    Peace & Love,


    Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’
    Though the streams are swollen
    Keep them dogies rollin’
    Rain and wind and weather
    Hell-bent for leather
    Wishin’ my gal was by my side.
    All the things I’m missin’,
    Good vittles, love, and kissin’,
    Are waiting at the end of my ride

    Move ’em on, head ’em up
    Head ’em up, move ’em on
    Move ’em on, head ’em up
    Count ’em out, ride ’em in,
    Ride ’em in, count ’em out,
    Count ’em out, ride ’em in

    Keep movin’, movin’, movin’
    Though they’re disapprovin’
    Keep them dogies movin’
    Don’t try to understand ’em
    Just rope, throw, and brand ’em
    Soon we’ll be living high and wide.
    My hearts calculatin’
    My true love will be waitin’,
    Be waitin’ at the end of my ride.


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