A Third Complete

Current Location:Christchurch, Aotearoa

After finishing up a 40k ride this morning with a headwind that just wouldn’t quit it’s nice to be what I consider a third of the ride done. I’m not sure how I get to the conclusion that it’s a third done, but it seems to fit.

I’ve met a few more tourers now that I’ve started the south island in earnest. I cycled with a couple of girls from the UK but they ended up taking a break day in Akaroa while I’ve been pushing on to get to Christchurch. Another fellow from New Zealand was just starting his first ever cycle tour and he reminded me of me when I was starting my first cycle tour back in Seattle. There wasn’t much I could say to him but to keep it up, it’ll start paying off for him in a weeks time I’m sure.

It’s fitting that i’ve been reading Dune again as I entered the Canterburry area it got hot, one day it hit 40 degrees (the day we got into Akaroa) I was planning on taking a cycle trip out to the peninsula but decided against it and took shelter at a pub and had a few beers instead, a much more reasonable decision in my opinion. I’ve also been thinking I could use a stillsuit that they wear in dune, that way I wouldn’t have to carry as much water with me. Anyway the riding got pretty easy yesterday as things got either really flat or downhill most of the afternoon yesterday which had me piling on the kilometers.

I really enjoyed the Peddlers Rest though I do realize I missed the Saw Cut Gorge which was a 4hr hike up the road from there (I didn’t realize it existed until after I left) so I may detour on my way back north and head back down there for another night and do that hike. After talking to the UK girls for a while we came to the conclusion that there are so many amazing things to do in New Zealand that you really have to pick exactly which ones you want to do.

The reason I’ve been pushing for Christchurch is so I can go and see the International Buskers Festival which looks downright amazing. Max up in Pongaroa put me on to it so it has been a target of mine since then. Alex had some doubt that I could hit the mark but I was fairly certain that I could make it in time. So i’ll run off and catch some of that today and try and line up another wwoofing gig to hang out in Christchurch for a while.

I’m still looking for a computer that can work with my pictures, i’ve been getting stuck with Vista machines as of late and I can’t tell you how frustrating it is getting one of those to work on when it comes to pictures.

Edit: Pictures added, finally

A Three Hour Tour

Current Location: Blenheim, Aotearoa

I couldn’t have asked for a nicer ride between the two islands today. It was as calm as riding through Mille Lacs Lake except for a few big bumps in between. Other than that it was a perfectly normal ride, i’m guessing when I do the return trip in 5 months it will be a very different story as it should be winter by then. Should be fun! The ride through the fjords? into Picton was spectacular, a great way to herald the beginning of the south island.

A big thanks goes out to Alex for giving me a ride into Plimmerton where I spent the night before catching the train into town this morning and getting ready for the ferry. I decided I didn’t need to spend any time down there right now as i’ll be going through Wellington on my return and I can do all the hobbit tours then =D. I’ll also cycle my way out of Wellington instead of taking the train up to Paraparaumu as I found a few cycling maps of the greater Wellington area that will make my life way easier on the return.

The ride from Picton to Blenheim was great. With the tailwind I think I was averaging 27-30km an hour, fortunately or not Blenheim was only 26k out of Picton so it was only an hours ride. I met a couple of Dutch tourers yesterday who just finished up the south island and gave me a few pointers. One of which was to carry a lot more water at all times. They said that their map would often tell them a town was coming up and when they got there it ended up being only a crossroads with nothing to demark it as a town. And with distances between towns getting up into the hundreds of kilometers it can be a while before finding water. Which would then put me back to getting water from streams (I’ve only done it once so far. =D)

Getting into Blenheim camping ends up being more expensive than a hostel… I can’t believe it really but I guess it happens. But at the same time all, literally all, of the hostel beds are taken for the night so it ends up I’m camping the night away anyway. Tomorrow I’m just shooting for the Peddlers Rest, it’s a bicyclers only hostel… I’m quite excited.

Back in the Hammock

Current Location: Martinborough, Aotearoa

Great day for a ride yesterday. The ride was basically downhill the whole way. I think I started at an elevation of 1000 ft and ended the day at about 400 ft so it was a breezy day for the most part. Wings over Wairapa was going on in Masterton which is a big air show held here. I caught a couple of old planes whizzing over me as I was riding but other than that I didn’t catch any other planes. Fortunately for me once I passed Masterton all the traffic was going the other way so it was overall a pleasant ride. I cut over after Carterton to the back roads to avoid any unnecessary traffic and found that an astronomical society here has built Stonehenge Aotearoa which I thought I could just walk around and take a few pics but they ended up bilking me outta $15. I’ve found that if I go outta my way to see something I am somewhat of a captive audience as if I’ve already gone that distance I might as well see what I went there for, anyway I got a few pictures but it did cost me some time so I got in a bit later than expected.

Met up with Alex today and helped out on the vineyard today for a while. As we both have talked about the first days are always pretty interesting since were learning new things. Our job today was to tuck in the vines into the wires surrounding them. I think at some point well go through and thin the leaves out so that the grapes can get some sunlight. I tried some of the not-yet- full-grown grapes… not so tasty yet. I managed to score a homemade pizza lunch out of Simon and his wife for helping out today (stellar pizza.) We did some wine tasting around town and had a time talking to the proprietors of some of the places. Everything in this town revolves around wine, I think every cafe, store, theater, etc… can serve wine and it seems every sign has something to do with wine, quite the wine culture here.

It was nice to be back in the hammock after a full month and a half lazing about in beds but my argument still stands that it doesn’t make all that much sense for me to camp when it is just as expensive to camp as it is to get a hostel (usually $2 or $3 difference,) though I must say that most cycling tourers camp so the possibilities of meeting other tourers is greater when I camp, so I guess for that reason i’ll keep camping.

A slight change to my itinerary as monday is Wellington day (each province? has their own holiday) and it happens to be Wellingtons on monday so I figure that might be the worst time to try get into town as the train only runs twice that day, once early in the morning and then again late in the afternoon which means I would be navigating in the dark to a hostel, so I’ll put it off an extra day and just head in Tuesday. That means South Island on Wednesday!

I see on newspapers that there is an outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter, oh cruel fate what am I to do now for sustenance? Maybe I’ll switch to Nuetella and bananas, that sounds delicious.

I’ll post more pics when I get to a real computer.

Learning New Things

The (not so) secrets of cheese and butter making have been given to me today. It’s actually quite simple really, butter more-so than cheese. I’m sure Alastair will be glad to hear that butter making technology no longer requires 4 hours to make a pat of butter. Instead all that is basically necessary is a stand mixer and some 3 day old cream and beat it like crazy for about 30 minutes. After that, ta-da butter is ready. The cheese process is a little more involved but not terribly so. As Biddy said not much has changed in cheese making in the last several centuries so it isn’t that difficult. None the less it was fun to watch the whole process happen. I also meant to link Cheese & Trains in the last post but it completely slipped my mind so i’ve corrected that error.

Alex stopped by on his way through to Martinborough so he could get a look at the trains and taste some of the cheese. We went over to the Mt. Bruce wildlife reserve which is 3k from where I am currently staying. We got to see some kiwis, saw them feed some extremely large eels, and saw them feed some kaka birds. We also got in a hike up to the the top of Mt. Bruce but it wasn’t so nice as it rained. Hopefully tomorrow is better weather as I got a chance to stat at The Hut which is right next to Mt. Bruce so if I’m lucky I’ll get to hear the sounds of the kiwi at night (do they make sounds?) Should be a neat place to spend the night, sorta like camping without the difficult bits.

I am planning on leaving this Saturday for Martinborough where Alex has found his next wwoofing job on a winery there (a good excuse for me to visit another winery in New Zealand if I ever heard one.) After that I’m gonna shoot over to Wellington and finally make it across the strait to the south island, yippie. I broke out the maps to the south island last night and could hardly go to sleep, fairly strange but I can hardly wait to get to the south island and start cycling in earnest once again. Although I must say that the distance from Picton to Christchurch (where I am planning on staying for at least a few weeks is only about 400km so that basically means i’ll just be on the bike for a little less than a week. It’ll suffice, for now.

Cheese & Trains

Current Location: Eketahuna, Aotearoa

I made the ride here last friday without incident and it turned out to be an easier trip than I had imagined it could have been. I added pictures of my time with Max, Jane, and Alex at the Dovetail Equine Trust. Thanks really does go out to Max and Jane for putting me up for a month and showing some really great Kiwi hospitality. I do have a correction to make regarding days off, our trip to Castle Point was the second free day I had while working on the farm there. The first one just happend to rain all day so it was spent indoors. We had a great time at Castle Point and i’m really glad Max and Jane took us out there as there is little chance I would have made it out there on my own (it would be a full day ride to get out there and a full day to get back.)

Now I find myself in the hospitality of Biddy and Collin (Cheese & Trains, respectively.) Biddy makes her own cheese from the 4 cows that she owns and pampers while Collin has a model train set that is open for the public to come in and see. I keep thinking that Alastair would enjoy it here as the cheese is free and really tasty (I belive it’s a traditional English cheese, don’t ask me which region.) The train set is really something fascinating as well and watching Collin control them is something to behold as he can conrol 4 trains simeltaneously. He also holds once a month an event where he has 6 train guys come in and control 4 different stations on his model railway and they have to follow a schedule, I can only imagine that it is quie amazing. I hope at some time to get to watch the cheese making process as well as the butter making as well. So far i’ve gotten to try curds (they really do squeak!) as well as milk fresh from the cow (unpasturized milk, what a concept. It was really quite sweet for milk.)

Anyway the work I find myself doing is scrub clearing once again (I do wonder if that will be my job throughout New Zealand, I guess time will tell) Today I started removing a blackberry encroachment and I have all the little cuts to show for it, i’ll be glad when this area is done.

As for riding I am now a day outside of Wellington, i’ll cycle to Featherston where I’ll catch the train into Wellington. I’m doing this on the advice of Max and Jane who tell me that the mountain between Featherston and Wellington is not something to be trifled with (lots of traffic, narrow roads, and a steep ascent/decent.) Once I get to Wellington i’ll probably sail over to the south island and make a break for Christchurch. That should put me in Christchurch by the early part of February, hard to belive that would make it 3 months i’ve been in New Zealand already.