Due North

Current Location: Queenstown, Aotearoa

I honestly wasn’t too impressed with Dunedin, perhaps it was because I rolled in there on the day that St. Patrick’s day was going on so I rolled into frat boys sitting on their roofs drinking beers and throwing taunts left and right. Add to that the fact that the weather was miserable and I ended up leaving in a headwind (which lasted for 3 days.) Suffice to say my impression of the place wasn’t the fondest. But I’ve decided to give it another go now that I’ve hit Queenstown I’ll continue on and do the central Otago Rail Trail which will put me smack dab back into Dunedin when I’ve finished it. The other thing I really wanted to do while in Dunedin was go on the Speights brewery tour (I skipped it due to lack of funds,) thats something I’ve been looking forward to ever since trying their dark beer (in my mind it rivals Newcastle.)

I finally hit slope point yesterday, it was a great feeling to be there finally but i’m not sure I can fully explain why. It was a great ride through the Caitlins with lots of little stops here and there for short walks. Curio bay was kinda neat but I kinda wish I hadn’t stuck around for the 1.5hrs to see 1 little penguin make an appearance 100yards off. Other than that the days were filled with lots of gravel roads and wind again. Hopefully now that i’m heading north the wind will be in my favor but I am not counting on it. I think my total milage has rolled over somewhere in the neighborhood of 3400km (a little over 2000 miles)

I ran into 3 british cyclists who were just finishing their ride up in Invercargill (actually they were going to ride to Bluff the day I was leaving and then come back to Invercargill.) I wished them well as I left in the morning and felt a bit jealous that they were done, but I reminded myself that soon enough I’ll get to say I’m done as well. We traded books and I got a Lance Armstrong book which I then devoured that night in camp since it ended up being an easy ride. They also told me about a pizza place in Queenstown which I must try since I’ve been craving pizza for a solid 2 weeks.

I wrote the above 2 paragraphs while I was in Invercargill 3 days ago but couldn’t finish the post due to money constraints. It’s funny when I got down to my last $100 I went into a money save mode where the only thing I could spend money on was food and one night at a hostel because I really needed to take a shower. But I managed to make it to Queenstown in one piece and with a spare jar of peanut butter in tow.

The ride into Queenstown was amazing and something that most people don’t do when they come to New Zealand. The road was a 80km gravel road that dead ends into a lake which is where having a bike comes in handy because I could take the SS Earstlaw Steamer across the lake into Queenstown. A nice treat after a long day on gravel. Although the other benefit to it was I saw a total of 5 cars all day long until arriving into Queenstown so it was a very peaceful ride.

I’ve been seeing a lot of lakes for the past few days which I think will basically continue for the next few weeks, I apologize in advance for the amount of ’scenery’ pictures that will soon take up space in the gallery but some of them defy taking pictures of because I can’t fully capture what it looks like to be here riding with giants on either side of me.

Pictures tomorrow as I’ve forgotten the memory card today.

Slope Point Slope Point 

Edit: Pictures Added

Land of the Long White Cloud

Current Location: Dunedin, Aotearoa

Ever since I left Mt. Cook it has been cloudy every day. I wake up usually around 7am to try and get an early start on the day but it’s harder to get up when everything around you is a misty white. In case you’re wondering the translation for Aotearoa is today’s title, if the maori landed on the southern part of the islands I can see why they would have named it as such. The clouds do finally disappear at around 6p in time for the stars to make an appearance.

The trip to Mt. Cook was great although I may or may not have broken my bottom bracket, I won’t be able to take it into the shop as my credit cards are still blocked at the moment. For the moment I can still turn the pedals and it doesn’t feel harder to push them but from time to time I hear a metal on metal sound which doesn’t sit well with me. Other than that it was a perfectly peaceful trip through the mountains. I took roads that had signs that say road closed but I pay them no mind and just walk my bike around the barriers. Camping in that area was a snap, just about anywhere was an option to camp and I’m getting used to camping on my own now, I just have to have a book or my iPod charged.

I also realize I forgot to post anything about Akaroa, I guess I did this due to it being such a traumatic day for me. But honestly the architecture was about the only thing that struck me. Reminded me a lot of Mackinac Island and I struggled to find anything French about it besides the street names and the names of some of the buildings. I’m not sure what I was looking for but something more than just a French facade. It was certainly a nice place to visit.

I also managed to spend an extra day in Temuka waiting for the police station to open (I got back there from Mt. Cook on a Sunday) which was good so I could rest up. I think the current plan is to get out of Dunedin in a day or two and hit up slope point among a few other things down that way. Then off to Invercargill. After that I’m not sure exactly how it’ll play out but I may end up trying to go to Queenstown and then to the Central Otago Rail Trail and then take a train back to Dunedin where I can meet mom and dad in Christchurch (I promised the folks at Thornton Grange i’d visit them again). The other option being blasting my way through the west coast, I figure it would take me 6 days to make it back to Picton once I’ve left Invercargill. At this point I don’t want to predict one way or the other which way i’ll go, time will tell.

Todays ride was a lot of fun. I started at Full Day Bay where I had the whole beach to myself last night. The ride was punctuated with two large hills which made for a fun ride into Dunedin. The last hill was 8km up and 7km down, for whatever reason I hummed the Indiana Jones theme the whole way down the hill. I think some of my confidence is returning after the fall as more days go by the more I open up the brakes on downhill segments.

I added pictures a few days ago.

Monument to Richard Pearce Monument to Richard Pearce 

Riding High

Current Location:Lake Tekapo, Aotearoa

I’d certainly call this a week of highs and lows. Rather the week started pretty low and things are starting to look a lot better now. It started with my trip to Akaroa on Sunday which was going particularly well (so I thought) until I realized my wallet had somehow fallen out of my zipped up pocket somewhere in the last 20km of the ride into Akaroa. In a semi-panic mode at that point I hitched a ride back to where I took a nap on the side of the road thinking it had fallen out there (probably about 10km back) and walked back to my bike to no avail. I think at the time my funds were left to $9 in coins that I had in my pocket which meant getting a campground or a hostel was out of the question for the night. So freecamping was my only option at that point, I asked what I believed to be the priest of a church if it was okay to sleep behind the church that night and at first he was hesitant but in the end let me sleep the night back there, he also offered me some money which I refused. Anyway I cycled back to Christchurch and Thornton Grange the following morning and got mom and dad to wire me some money (thanks) so that I could continue to cycle. To make a long story shorter the police ended up with my wallet and somehow found mom and dad’s phone number and let them know that they have it. I found this fact out 2 days ago, which is another hooray New Zealand moment for me because the police say that all the money is still there and my cards are still intact. Honestly, I sorta half expected it to be returned just from the experiences I’ve had with the kiwi people but it’s nice to have that confirmed in such a huge way.

On to the cycling of leaving Christchurch I find the last 3 days I’ve been riding against a Southerly wind that just won’t give up. I saw on the news the other day that gusts are up to 120km/hr (egads!) Sometimes on flat ground I’ll be in my granny gear chugging along at a measly 10km/hr because the wind just won’t give up. At the same time the road out of Christchurch has nary a bend, bob, or bump so it’s fairly uninteresting terrain to cover add to that the southerly wind which is bitingly cold. And lets not forget the hail that rained down not 30 minutes after getting into camp one night, that wouldn’t have been pleasant to ride through. How different a month makes when I rode into the Canterbury plains it was 40 degrees on the way out it was 9. Yesterdays ride was completely different except for the wind which was unceasing all day long. The terrain was much different as I was heading for the mountains which meant hills plus wind, but I was fairly determined to make it to Lake Tekapo and in the end did make it, the highest I got was 709m which to me was a huge triumph because that was a mountain pass where the wind just howled and beat me back. After that it was a fairly chill ride into Lake Tekapo and camped just outside of town on the side of the road. I’m finding that wild camping is pretty easy, just have to make sure I have enough water.

The plan for today is to ride to Mt. Cook which should hopefully be easier, the southerly wind is supposed to be done by today and they weather forecast is supposed to be nice for the weekend, even if it doesn’t I’ll still cycle. Because if 120km winds won’t stop me I’m not sure what will.

When Pigs Fly

I think I should stop predicting when I’ll be leaving Christchurch as I’m still here. I got my wheel back again yesterday, this time it’s as true as it’s going to get I think. The last thing I have to do to the bike is to put on the new brakes and it’s ready to roll. I am starting to get worried about the weather, to the point where I don’t think I’ll stop in Dunedin and just roll on through there to try and make it up part of the west coast before having to meet mom and dad. I’m not sure if many people would appreciate that one of my wheels is now chromed, bling for my bike as they might say.

I added a few pictures from around town with Anne (I do have to apologize, her name is not Anna, but Anne) We spent far too much time at a place called the Twisted Hop which is a brew pub here in town. Bryan and Franziska both recommended it to me when we were talking about beer one day and I’ve been there enough to know the owner and all of the wait staff, definitely too much time spent there. I’ve also taken Alex there and he enjoyed it as well, it’s really a hidden gem because it’s tucked away in the back of an alley and you mostly just find locals there.

I guess I should write down stuff about the crazy German I’ve been working with for the last week and a half. The day I met her was the day after my fall so I wasn’t feeling 100% up to snuff but we mucked out a paddock as our first job. In that hour she managed to call me a girl and a wuss, I got zero sympathy from her. Which is what I think I needed at the time, because feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to fix anything. It’s been great ever since then. Shes here to work on her English which is fun for me because I get to laugh at her mistakes and she teaches me some German, which I’m hopeless at. The two things I’ve learned from her are doodlesack and a phrase that I think means I eat rabbits. Both of which I’m sure I’ll find wildly useful if I make it to Germany. Anyway her two months in New Zealand are up and she is heading back to Australia for more backpacking adventures. I wish her luck and happiness while there.

Once again I think the plan is to head to Akaroa, I can’t have cycled that far last time and not made it there to give up now, spend the day wandering around town and then head South. Slope point here I come, for real this time.

Bikes going uphill. Bikes going uphill 

Aftermath of a Fall

Not round anymore Does not roll well. 
a tear in the tyre The puncture that I think caused the disaster. 

Here are the pictures I promised to post, I was having a lot of trouble getting my camera to connect to the computer but I think it was a computer issue instead of a camera issue, thankfully. As you can see it doesn’t look pretty. I’m feeling a lot better but still sore in my chest and a little on the top of my shoulder (that bone you have sticking out of the top of your shoulder hurts like nobody’s business.) But at least I can get myself out of bed again, the day after the accident I rolled myself out of bed and managed to climb back up.

As for the wheel the news is so-so. I took it into town to the one place that wanted to help me out (once again no one is really interested in touching a 27inch wheel) and they managed to find me a steel rim which they say will be heavier (which I don’t care about too much) and that slowing down will be a little harder (which should make life interesting.) The other option was to wait 4 weeks while they shipped in a new rim from Australia, which wasn’t an option for me. Which means that my tyre (NZ way of spelling it) should be ready to roll on Monday which then puts me on the road on Tuesday, whoohoo.

On a completely different note I’m getting to work with another wwoofer again which is turning out to be super fun. This time it’s a girl from Germany by the name of Anna. I just call her the crazy German. I have to say that it’s a lot more fun working with someone, sure makes the days go by quicker. I’m really thankful that Bryan and Franziska let me stay another week, especially since they had another wwoofer coming. One thing I said after the accident was that I was sorry to crash in on them again unexpected to which they responded “that’s what friends are for” which was pretty neat for me to hear. Hopefully this time I can make it on the road successfully.